childhood sexual abuse

Managing in relationships: My Partner

Not only am I finding friendships and acquaintances difficult at times, my intimate relationships are impacted too. I’ve been with my current partner for about 9 months. I’ve recently let him know about the abuse and how I’ve been feeling. That in itself has been difficult but luckily I’ve been able to source him some help to cope too. He’s lovely, he also has issues around self esteem – but he’s loving, caring, fun, attractive and many more things…. yet I’m still waiting for him to turn into a monster.

We don’t get to see each other that much, so when he visited last night I was so looking forward to it….. but my head had already set up a barrier. Not one I’d been considering or thinking about, but just an emotional shutdown. I know how much I care for him. I just can’t feel it sometimes. I’m waiting for the pain in relationships where people are supposed to love me, waiting for the other hidden side. I was abused by my grandfather, someone I should’ve been able to trust. Someone with one face for the public, a community volunteer , a savior in my own father’s eyes as he stepped in as “Dad” when my biological grandfather died, taking on 3 young children that were not his own.. Yet he is a sexual predator interested in children. He molested me week after week, for years, on many occasions. Even at times when people were around, or there was a chance he would be caught.

This is fucked up relationship number 1…. I’m only just realising how much trust in people was broken down by his actions. How I have always relied on myself and never “needed” others. A great trait, but also a difficult one when you want to start letting people in….. That said I’m having a hard time doing stopping these inate patterns that want me to keep people at arms length. Relationship 2: My mum and dad. I’ve recently had to cut contact with them, or more truthfully I put my feelings on the table and said if the relationship doesn’t change and they don’t start to respect my feelings I can’t be in touch with them. I left this open, so that they could get in touch if they take responsibility for any actions that have hurt me, or if they can somehow start to consider my feelings in our relationship. I haven’t heard from them. My mum is quite narcissistic, and my dad just supports anything my mum wants no matter what abuse she hurls his way or mine. I’ve never relied on them, I’ve learn’t not to. They firstly didn’t protect me, but then in later years they have also offered no emotional support. It’s hard, I know they love me – but actions like lying, not considering how I feel, my mum trying it on with my partners, being drunk and abusive towards me are unacceptable and I can’t move towards being happy and healthy myself without standing up for myself….

So that’s fucked relationship 2. There have been many more, but the main recent one that really fucking hurt was my last long term partner. He encouraged me to get counselling for abuse. And when things started to get difficult he shut down on me, and then continued to be emotionally abusive for over a year. Triggering me into emotional despair most days, looking back I see what extreme level of anxiety I was functioning at. I kept trying  to explain what I was going through to him as I wanted him to listen to how I was feeling (he wouldn’t) and I’ve only just realised I think I was trying to relive the pattern with my parents, trying to be heard. Trying to get the people I love to acknowledge that I matter and that I’m hurting. I’m not saying I’ve gone about this in the right way in the past, or always will in the future. But recognising how I feel and what is happening have been huge steps towards positively managing this here and now.

Unfortunately these past experiences keep creeping up on me. After not seeing my partner for a week, or even when I see him. I don’t trust it will be him anymore, what face am I going to get? My life has been characterised by people telling me they love me, then acting in ways that are anything but love. One day you get the smiling face of love, care and support and the next abuse: be it emotional or sexual. The face these abusers put on to you and the outside world tricks you into feeling like you can trust them, or more importantly you want to trust them…. How do I let go of these past emotions and not transfer them into my new relationship? Last night I ended up in tears, I know I love my partner- but I could feel deep down this barrier, like I’d disconnected from him on a deeper level. I don’t want to do that, and he doesn’t deserve it. It is something that is going to take time to breakdown, I hope he is still there as I try and slowly break down the barrier. The truth is I don’t know how to, I’m not consciously trying to put it up.

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