My previous seven-year relationship ended over a year ago.
I’m now in a new relationship and my partner treats me so well, but I can’t let go of the past.
My ex cheated and physically/verbally abused me.
I fear that my nightmares about him will ruin my new relationship though my new boyfriend’s aware of the situation.
Nobody understood me like my ex did - despite the abuse and trauma.
I’m only in my 20’s. I know I have my life ahead of me and I’ve been told to get over it, but I think about it every day.
I don’t want to see a therapist as I know I have a problem and it’s useless. What would you advise?
Still Living the Trauma
The abusive relationship apparently began while you were quite young, lacking experience and self-confidence to end it.
Rather than “understand” you, your ex knew how to manipulate, hurt and control you.
To consider it “useless” for you to see a therapist, is proof of your dire need for help.
It’s essential, for you to strengthen your self-image to never let anyone abuse you again.
You can’t just “get over it,” without understanding what really happened, how it wasn’t your fault, how you lacked a support system to get away from your abuser.
If just being in a better relationship now were the solution, you wouldn’t still be haunted by the past.
You need inner strength and resolve, and the will to never see your ex again.
You have a long future ahead of you, and, with help, can learn to judge with certainty who’s the right partner for you.
Therapy will help you learn what you need to know now, in order to protect yourself from ever being vulnerable to such a person again.
Don’t close your mind to the wisdom and professional experience of those who’ve trained extensively to help victims of abuse and control.
Find a therapist through referral from your doctor, or an online search for your area. You may find affordable rates through community service agencies e.g. your local YWCA, an organization for abused women, or your place of faith.
I’m the single parent of an alcoholic, drug-abusing son, 24, whose irresponsibility, mounting debts and disregard for my home is making me consider “Tough Love.”
What are the chances of this method being a positive force in helping him turn his life around?
With deeply-troubled teens and adult children, “tough love” can end up disastrously, especially when addictive disorders and, particularly, substance abuse, are involved.
That’s why parents in those cases are usually advised not to engage in tough love without input from a physician or therapist.
It’d be better for you to start with insisting on stating clear limits to what you’ll accept or tolerate in your relationship with him, e.g. not paying his debts, not supplying more money for his lifestyle, not allowing him to bring controlled drugs into your home or car (to avoid any legal consequences for you).
Some parents use an “intervention” approach to tough love, whereby they explain their consequences for unacceptable behaviours and then steer the addicted person to make the right choice or face those consequences.
If the person won’t change, parental help’s no longer available.
Since you’re on your own, I strongly suggest that you not try this intervention approach without seeking counselling as to whether it’s do-able with your son.
It’s crucial that you research any new approach further.
My husband’s 63, older than me by ten years, and looks his age with his thinning, greying hair. But he’s very active in extreme sports such as mountain biking, very healthy, and he’s also young at heart.
However, when we’re out socially, people who don’t know him sometimes ask my friends who are my age, why I’m with “the old guy.” It bothers me.
He’s clearly not uncomfortable about how he looks… and why should he be when he feels great and is so active?
It seems that your concern is about you, not him.
Ask yourself why, presumably after a relationship of some years, you’re concerned about his age rather than proud of his vitality.
My answer: You’re the one with the age issue, thinking that people wonder if you’re older than they thought.
Be more youthful in spirit and self-confidence and together, you’ll be a much-admired couple.
Tip of the day:
Dwelling on a past abusive relationship prolongs trauma that wasn’t your fault. Get therapy.