JohnR

Long Term Relationship Broken By GF Father's Death

27 posts in this topic

First off, I want to thank all the regular contributors. I have read many posts on here and many have help me cope with my recent breakup. 

I met my girlfriend in college, her freshman year and my sophomore. We were definitely physically attracted at first, but as a few weeks passed and we spoke more the infatuation clearly grew into a true love for each other. A few weeks after we met we were dating. A few weeks after that I had met her family during a family weekend up at school. We all clicked over diner. It was an amazing feeling because I was distant from my family at the time, and they took me in as one of their own. We had our ups and downs, but we always endured. After the first year we decided to pull the trigger, and we moved in together (with roommates at first). It was scary and exciting, but we love each other and the pros outweighed the cons. About 2 years passed, and we eventually moved into a more private setting. Things continued to be on the upswing, but a storm was on the horizon.

I was about to graduate, and she was just beginning her grad program. This was scary for me because many of my friends were slowly starting to disappear as they would graduate. After spending a lot of time talking it over we eventually got through it, and she helped me get through some stress and anxiety of the situation. I eventually found in my heart that wherever she was is home to me. I took comfort knowing that it was us against the world as cheesy as that sounds. At the beginning of the final semester we got the news that a close family friend died from brain cancer. Only made worse by the fact that he did not go peacefully. I consoled her as she dealt with the loss. The grief eventually subsided, and we were in the right direction. Then we got some news that really shook both of us to our core.

Her father had a seizure the week prior, and after several tests they found that he had the same cancer as the family friend who died. He was given 2 years to live. This was a devastating blow. She tried to take solace in the 2 years she had with him, but the thoughts of losing him like the family friend had was always there. I was always there to accommodate travel needs, and anything that the family need. It was a tough few years to say the least. We eventually got news that her uncle had fallen and was now a quadriplegic, her grandmother with Alzheimers had passed, and her two lifelong pets needed to be put down. Why would this happen to such a close family. I grew my bond with her father and mother, as they always saw me as a caregiver while she was so far away from home. They knew I was a rock when she needed one, and I loved being that role. 

Almost two years on the dot, we got news that he had slipped into a coma. He only had a few more days. We drove a few hundred miles to see him that day. He was my friend and we shared a mutual respect for each other that came from my love for his daughter. Now he was a shell of what we both remembered him as. We made our peace, and spoke into his ear. I had to watch his daughter tell him that "its okay to let go" and "that she loves him and that she will be strong". I let him know that I would always watch over his daughter and mother. This was my last promise to a dying man. We woke in the middle of the night to her mother calling us. He was free of the pain fully body that had failed him. I made the necessary calls as my GF and her mother mourned over his body. We spent the next few days planning his "celebration of life" and hundreds of peopled filtered in and out through the day. I took their old photo albums and made a slideshow to be played during the event.

As time passed, I always tried to be supportive. Trying to be understanding when she had bad days, and amplify the good days when they came. I honestly feel like I tried, but over time I began to grow anxious of her grieving. I was scared and weak, and felt like I was failing her in her time of need. This began to put stress on us. She started to feel like I was rushing her, and she said that I was the only person who was rushing her. She was going through grad school at the same time, and this only intensified her stress. I honestly never meant for that. I just had my own issues that were now bubbling to the the surface over time. We began to fight more often in the last few months, and we both closed off.  Last week after 5 years together, she told me that she wasn't happy with what we became. I agreed and we didn't fight about it. We broke up 8 days ago. She didn't want a clean break, and she didn't want to see other people. It was about being able to cope with past and future grieving on her own. I asked if it could ever work, and she told me she didn't want to force progress on ourselves with a time frame.

I agree with her decision and I respect her so much for pushing through her grieving to become a successful professional. I just don't know what to do now. We have texted a few times, but its like we are strangers. I love her, and given that she hasn't completely closed me out, I have a hope for the future. I just wanted to get out and get some perspective.

Thanks for reading! I really just wanted to clear my head to people not involved directly.

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JohnR,

I am so sorry.  I know this pain all too well.  You have been there for each other through thick and thin and I sincerely hope this "break" changes for you both in the future.  That said, I don't know that it will...or that it won't.  The future remains to play itself out.  

I do know that death/loss/grief takes it's toll...it requires so much of us it is exhausting.  Add to the stress of her schooling and I'm not surprised that she doesn't find she hasn't anything left in her for her relationship...so many have felt the same thing and broken off their relationships, my fiance included.  At the time it happened to me, I wasn't privy to a discussion about it, I was blindsided.  Looking back all these years later, although I still don't think it was right HOW he broke up with me, I'm okay that it happened and I understand the situation he was in.  We are friends to this day, although we did have a period of no contact for a few months, which was excruciating but necessary for our being able to move on with the changes and adjustments it meant to us.

Every person's situation and details vary but I can't help but feel, given your story, your relationship is worth salvaging.  Unfortunately we don't always get to call the shots.

My only advice would be to take good care of yourself, self care is especially important when we're going through something difficult, avoid depressants you don't need like alcohol, spend time with your family/friends, and now would be a good time to spend time with hobbies and activities, join a gym, etc.  In other words, try to focus on YOU.  In addition, you might want to learn about grief, what it entails, what it means to be supportive of someone who is grieving, in case you've given that chance.
http://www.griefhealing.com/column-helping-another-in-grief.htm

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I can't tell you how much your supportive word mean. Every day I tear up thinking that I failed her and her father. I was weak.

Over the past week we have been sparsely communicating. Usually about trivial things. I tried to be supportive, but I don't want her to think I'm waiting on her beck and call. I agree I need to take care of myself, and when she broke it off I realized how hurt I really was. Every text she sent me gave me a rush. Thoughts of a happy life and family kept coming up with every message. Yesterday she texted me and then called me. Again about some silly issues around the apartment (The garage door opener broke). I needed to pick up stuff at our place anyway, so I went over there and we ended up talking for a few hours. 

We shared a heart to heart about her father, and how proud he would be of her. I told her that I miss him too, and this time has really given me some perspective on her grief. We shared tears. I didn't beg or plead. I just told her exactly what I should have before things got rough. She was firm on her need for independence, and I still stayed strong and supportive of her decision. I let her know that for now I just need a little space to let my heart heal (until she goes away for a field work assignment for school in a month). I thought this was fair considering she ended things. It's not that I don't still want her. I lover her and she loves me. Its just that I got a high off the communication, that was killing me. I told her that I want her to give me some space, but that she should let me know before she leaves. I asked for a kiss, and she let me. I still felt the energy and passion. She just clearly doens't have the emotional capacity to worry more right now.

This girl deserves the world. Was asking for a little space out of line? I just hate to think that I was extremely selfish in asking .

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Hello JohnR and welcome. I am glad you found this forum and hope you find support as I did when I first arrived just over a year ago.  I am so sorry you are going through this.  I wish it hadn't happened to any of us, frankly, but together we can offer our support and experiences to help each other through this difficult time. 

I would like to offer perspective on this comment:

4 hours ago, JohnR said:

This girl deserves the world. Was asking for a little space out of line? I just hate to think that I was extremely selfish in asking .

Please don't second guess yourself.  We do the best we can at any given moment and that's okay.  I believe you were very brave to ask for what you need as you BOTH are grieving right now and hurting.  I agree with kayc about taking care of yourself and as difficult as it may be in the beginning, find something that makes you smile and do that even just a little bit.  You will have to trust that it will get easier, and it does.  They say to put on your own oxygen mask first in the pre-flight talk, correct? That applies here too. 

There are so many things I would have done differently in hindsight, but what's done is done and there's no changing it.  And I only make myself feel nuts rehashing things I cannot change.  I choose to trust that what's meant to happen will happen and go on trying to be the best version of myself I can be.  A year ago I was a mess. It felt like my whole life had been thrown upside down and had no clue what to do. All I can say is I heeded many of the wise words shared here and put one foot in front of the other. You will know what's right for you but I believe you're off to a good start. :)

I hope you and your GF make it through this and have a bright future together.  We're rooting for you!

 

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I wanted to give an update to this situation since it really helps me to reason things out when I write things down.

Since we broke up we both have been on a roller coaster of emotion. I found out that she was messaging a random stranger in another country the day that we broke up. This small talk became more sexual in nature. I was crushed. I confronted her on the phone. I was enraged at first because it had only been a week. In retrospect, I understand the need for a emotional connection after the break especially in her condition. I do not blame her for her weakness, as I could never imagine the pain she is feeling. She clearly has no handle over what is going on in her head. That said, even broken up it was a huge violation of my trust. After all it was only a week later and she said she wanted independence not other people.

As the days pass I feel more independent in my life, and I am even having casual conversations with people online now. I look back, and I dedicated a lot of emotion and time to her. I still am in love with her, but if we will ever work in the future I know that I need to rebuild from scratch. I've shaken the feeling that I was the weak one. We aren't friends on Facebook anymore, and I've removed many of the reminders of her. Just to allow myself the time to heal. If the stars align I would obviously give it another chance, but the biggest thing I want to stress is the value of self I've learned.

She has attempted to make contact, asking to discuss things before she leaves my area for a few months. In her text she admitted being an emotional mess, making bad choices, and not giving what we had enough value (I had said I wanted counseling if we tried again earlier) . I choose not to respond. Not because I don't believe her, but a choice now is only playing into her bad judgement and could hurt even more. Relationships are trust, and when she ended it and did what she did the trust was violated. I want her, but I by no means need her in my life. I have a big heart, and so many people have come to support me in my time of need. I have not lost hope in her, but perhaps this is the best gift I can give her. She now gets to build up her emotional strength and be with her mother these next few months. 

After that maybe we can start fresh. If we became different people over time that is OK. We just need to learn about each other again, and find happiness in trust not desperation. I want more than anything to marry her one day, but for now I'm gonna enjoy life and love myself. 

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That would definitely be a deal breaker for me because she wasn't honest with you about it but only you can decide what you will or won't accept.  I agree that it would take starting from scratch and counseling if you gave it a go again.  From my perspective, I've been cheated on and lied to so many times that anything to do with that nature is a huge red flag for me.  I'm sorry things have gone the way they have, you guys have quite a history.  You're right, she undoubtedly isn't in her right mind and grief can make our brains very foggy.  I think she will live to regret this, but that is hers to deal with, you have to take care of you.  Wishing you nothing but the best.

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Another update

After some hard thought, I decided to call her to really discuss what the intentions of her texts were. I told her off the bat that I do not need closure with her. She wanted to explain herself during the call. I told her I was not gonna let her break my heart again. It seemed like she just wanted me to admit that we had flaws that were unfixable. In her mind she clearly thinks she did the right thing by us. I disagree completely. I was committed in her time of need, and this was perhaps the last straw for me. She was calling to clear her conscience. That was unbelievably selfish. I don't need that immaturity in my life. I look back, and I realize that toward the end of our relationship she started to become extremely negative and stubborn. There was no acknowledgement of my feelings or emotions, just justifications for her own feelings. This in my opinion is a defense mechanism she adopted during her grief. She talked about how "its for the better" and we are "finally doing things to improve ourselves". OBVIOUSLY, I have had to change my whole life because she decided we had no chance.

With that conversation, I knew that she only had selfish intentions with wanting to talk. So I decided that maybe its best we just see other people. She said that hurts, but she understands. I really don't care who she ends up with at this point. I deserved to be loved by somebody. I'm not perfect, but I do try and that should be enough. I love myself, and I hope that one day she can learn to love herself too. Not to sound childish, but she doesn't deserve me if she can't see what so many others have seen. We had something special, and right now I am not ready to act like it wasn't worth every good and bad moment.

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I'm glad you have come to the place where you see all this...that you arrived to these conclusions on your own without anyone else having to point them out to you is amazing to me.  You have good insight and instinct and I think you're on the right path for YOU.

23 hours ago, JohnR said:

It seemed like she just wanted me to admit that we had flaws that were unfixable. In her mind she clearly thinks she did the right thing by us.

If there are flaws in the relationship, you don't fix them by secretly seeing someone else.  
You are right, you don't need her justifications.  You were committed...she was lucky.

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The past few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster for me. I've began to focus on things that I want to do, and to some degree this has brought me happiness. I've been talking to other girls casually, and I have found that this difference in perspective definitely makes a difference in my healing. What I've found from some extensive reading on the topic of long term break-ups is that many people say that people idealize the relationship in their heads. They tend to focus only on the good times, and that gives a skewed perspective on the relationship. For me, I focus on the pain that we felt together. I can't get my mind off of all the hardships we faced internally and externally.

When I graduated from college I stayed in the area because our relationship was worth every good and bad moment, and she still had a 3 years in her program. Most of my family lives hundreds of miles away. She was the person who made me feel at home where ever I was. Now I am left to my own devices in a city far away from the people who I love. This has left me feeling slightly lost in my life. I have a good job, and an apartment with at least 4 more months left on the lease (that she is still helping to pay for). It still feels like she was making the decision to protect us both. Something that I hate and love.

I want to talk to her, but it feels like we have a giant wall in between us. If it was never meant to be, I accept that, but I feel like I am giving up a part of myself in cutting her out of my life. This is a person who taught me to love, to take care of myself, to strive for better things, to speak my emotions. We just met so young, and now I want more than anything to learn about this new person she has become. I don't have a ounce of resentment in my heart for how things happened. Lets call it curiosity. I don't even think I want a relationship at this juncture.

I seldom let people into my life, and I think as we changed as people I had trouble letting this new version of her in. All that aside it has been one month, and I definitely feel like I have grown. While there still may be ways to go, I know that I have taken more care of myself over the past month than I had in the many months before that. Bittersweet I suppose. Thanks for listening nonetheless. This forum is one of the best things to ever happen to me :) 

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You have been introspective and I think uncannily spot on, on many counts.  You are doing what you need to be doing for yourself.  Have you considered applying for jobs in the area where your family is so when the apt. lease is up you could move?  If you have friends and support where you are, that's one thing, but to be totally alone is hard.

Right now your focus is where it needs to be.

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Kayc - Thanks for always being here for support during this time. Having a person as supportive as you, without even knowing me personally, puts a huge smile on my face. I've been considering the option of moving for a while now. I do believe that it is due time to make the move back to my hometown, I just hate up and leaving because of the life I have created up here. I have began taking Jiu-Jitsu classes, I have a gym membership, and I have rekindled a few old friendships. I've lost a ton of weight (and gained muscle). I just feel fantastic physically. I will try to move home by the end of the year, but leaving any sooner would feel like I would be running away.

On a side note, I spoke to her on Saturday before she moved out. It was bittersweet. We talked about school, work, and taking care of ourselves. I did my best to avoid relationship conversation, as that would have most likely been counterproductive. Much like how she dealt with her fathers passing, I believe that she has compartmentalized her emotions toward me. it was rather eye opening to be on the other side of it. I never could break through when we were together, and now I see how she deals with things that are causing her emotional pain. I don't agree with it, but that's not my call. I'd like to think she still cares deeply, but that mindset isn't going to help me heal.

The one thing that did hurt was that she reclaimed a watch that her father had given me after he had passed. I honestly felt like it would have been a nice memento to hold on to considering I stayed true to the family and her during their darkest times. I would never compare my struggle to theirs, but it was hard to be there through it all 3 years of his decline. I still get emotional thinking about being there the day he passed. In June, it will be one year since he passed. I will most likely send flowers to the family, and write a nice note to her mother. I doubt she will want to think about me when that day comes. Either way I won't let her dictate how much I cared for her father. He was a great man, and I still have great respect for her mother. 

 

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Forgive me, John, but as I've come to know you through your posts, it seems to me that by letting you go, your girlfriend is losing a truly wonderful man. You deserve to be with a woman who appreciates how special you are, and clearly this one isn't seeing you for the kind and compassionate man you are. How insensitive of her to ask you to return the watch her father gave to you! I agree with you completely: Don't let anyone dictate how much you cared for her father or how thoughtfully you will behave toward her mother. And good for you for taking good care of yourself in the face of all this rejection. You will emerge all the stronger for it ~ and my prayer for you is that some day, you will find another woman out there who will recognize what a treasure you are, and she will never let you go. 

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John,

When my kids' dad divorced me he insisted I give him a dish his mom had given me, yet he kept my grandmother's gun and the 1800s silver dollar my dad had given him.  People are odd during breakups, even when it's their idea.  

Like you said,
 

21 hours ago, JohnR said:

I won't let her dictate how much I cared for her father.

That's the true part, they can dictate about things but they can't dictate our heart's memories and relationships we've developed with others.  My Father-in-law still called me his daughter the rest of his life, regardless of the divorce.

I know it'll be hard leaving the life you've created for yourself, and I hope you find a wonderful job where you're going.  You are taking care of YOU and that is so important!  I think you realize your own self-worth and I hope someday you find the other person that will realize it also.  You deserve the best!

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Hi john 

           You seem like an honest caring deep thinking and thoughtful guy. If i may may i suggest you listen to the wise words of Kayc and MartyT, this is their vocation and as you will see from this section of the forum, read process analyse and provide reasoned sounding board for those who need to express,release and find tools to heal in a non judgemental environment. 

When you assist loved ones as part of serious relationships you can often lose perspective because of un waivering trust and love for them. You may not see that they come to take you for granted or have made assumption that you will accept any morsel of affection they wish to give you. To this end you start to lose yourself and what you want and need for yourself- remember You matter too!! 

You have done all the right things from what i read and are gaining perspective again. Sadness and stress does not make bad behaviour acceptable. Some people and i say some not all,who perhaps can't deal with ending relationship will use grief to push you away,a child would hold its comfort blanket  at times of anxiety not try to hurt or damage it. 

For yourself try not to rationalise or over analyse anothers behaviour,only they are responsible for it, instead ask yourself- Is this the kind or relationship i want for myself?  Do i deserve this?  No   Do i want a partner who pushes me away at time of stress and is this an indicator of her true being? 

I truely believe that people show their real selves at times of stress as maintaining a facade becomes harder. Not everything in relationships is meant to be fixed, acceptance of that is a huge step.Follow your basic human gut instinct,  you have it for a reason,  you will know then that your choices are correct. 

You will be fine, consider for a while who you are  and what you need for you before embarking on another deep relationship and do not just "settle" be honest with you and any prospective partner and you will find the real one.

Good Luck

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Wil, you're right except this isn't my vocation, I consider it more of an unofficial ministry...I've learned what I know through life experience and from 12 years of being on this site, learning from Marty, reading her articles, reading all the posts, seeing patterns.  I've learned the hard way.

I think John is getting what you're saying and figuring it out in rather quick order.  I do hope he continues on the path he's learned and doesn't fawn her when she looks his way...I know how easy it is to do that, it takes time to break the hold love has over you!  That's why it's good to have no contact for a while, give yourself time to get over the addiction love can have over you and think rationally, it helps you see more clearly and things you didn't see before you can now take note of.

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Over the past week and a half, since I full went NC, I have had many moments where I truly felt happy. I have been working out and taking jiu-jitsu, and I have lost 20 lbs over the past month and a half. I've also began to study for my engineering licencing exam nightly. This was something that I put on hold once her father got sick. Some old friends from college have taken me in, and even they say they love this new side of me. This is of course a huge boost to my ego, and I definitely see the light.

As I gain a little more clarity, I am starting to understand the toxicity that developed toward the end. There were many concerns that I had that were met with hostility or justifications. She would say things like "Do you just want me to say sorry?" or "I get that, but here why I did it.". I always felt invalidated. Eventually, I just began to close off my emotions. Which she then would call me out on, citing this as the source of many fights. I would explode in arguments after repressing emotions for such a long time, and then this would just make me look like the problem. I shouldered the burden for a long time because I was the one who lost my cool. I caused the fight to escalate. I was the one who was being immature. I hated who I became during those fights. After a while I Iet myself go mentally and physically. It was a mess. That't not how you should feel in a loving relationship.

She made a big mistake in taking me for granted, yet once again I am taking the brunt of it. I don't need that negativity in my life. I will find someone who values me and my concerns. That's something that I can look forward too. Its not good to hold onto anger, but for once I feel like I deserve to be mad about it all. I don't really care, but I doubt she is even thinking about me. Or at least that what i'm going to keep telling myself. 

As always, thanks you for listening. Its so therapeutic to check in. How lucky I am to have found this place.

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5 hours ago, JohnR said:

That't not how you should feel in a loving relationship.

Right you are, JohnR. Amen. 

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20 hours ago, JohnR said:

That't not how you should feel in a loving relationship.

You are so right.  It's good to stop and evaluate our relationships now and then.  My relationship with my late husband, George, was by far the greatest and good for me.  I make cards and I bought a rubber stamp when we were together that reads:  "I love you not only for who you are but for who I am when I am with you."  That is the summation of a good relationship.

But I had many others and the same could not be said of them.  It's good to know when to count our losses and move on.

I'm glad to hear you are turning things around.  It's good to get feedback from close friends and family, it can let us know when we're on the right track. :)

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Well I'm just shy of two months, and things have been getting better (slowly...). I think the best thing I have done is just being kind to myself. I spent a lot of time over the past few weeks forcing myself to do things. This can be good and bad I've found. Its important for me to get out there and keep busy, but taking days off to just relax is just as important. Being alone in our apartment isn't really as lonely as it once was. Funny enough, I actually have a harder time dealing with my emotions at work. I think it may be the down time between tasks that really gets me thinking. I dunno if that's due to the fact that I got the job in an area where I never intended to stay, but it has been hard to focus at work more recently. Not to the point where I'm gonna get in trouble, but I do procrastinate a lot more than I used to. Maybe that's a sign to move on, but I won't make any rash decisions until I feel stronger inside and out.

The NC has been working. That's not to say that I don't think about my relationship often, but when I do it becomes quickly exhausting. I think my brain is finally starting to say enough is enough. I will not lie, I still have strong feelings/hope for her, but its not what drives me anymore. Weakness has become a good friend of mine over these past few months. Growing up I was always very guarded when it came to my emotions. These days I am more transparent with people. I do feel like I have grown stronger from this. I am more relatable, and for this reason i'm kinda glad this all happened. I don't think I could be happy in any relationships till I went through this process. The pain has allowed me to look deep within myself and evaluate my feelings on my life choices. My heart is too big to keep feelings of hatred or resentment bottled up. I honestly just want the best for everybody, myself included.

As always, thanks for keeping up with my growth over these past few months. I hope that one day someone can read these, and hopefully get some perspective from my experiences. I'll end things with a quote I found the other day.

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” 
― William Faulkner

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3 minutes ago, JohnR said:

As always, thanks for keeping up with my growth over these past few months. I hope that one day someone can read these, and hopefully get some perspective from my experiences.

That is why we so appreciate your keeping us posted on your progress, JohnR ~ and we are grateful 

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23 hours ago, JohnR said:

I still have strong feelings/hope for her, but its not what drives me anymore.

The pain has allowed me to look deep within myself and evaluate my feelings on my life choices

You have learned a lot about yourself through this process.  I am glad you are giving yourself the self care you need and focusing on YOU.  That is what I have learned is so important!

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So today was a day of great progress. I have been diving into a ton of self help resources and podcasts to learn about the stength of self. Like you guys stress on here. It has made a worlds difference.

Today she texted me about paying rent. I gave a quick short answer. She gave me the typical "hope you are alright". I was friendly in a professional sense and talked to her about school. Emotionally removed. I told her she was doing good work and she should be proud, and  she reciprocated. Then I pretty much ended it there. 

It's funny cause I was with my friend at the time, and I honestly didn't feel an urgency to respond. Eventually I cut the convorsation off somewhat abruptly. Part of me wanted to indulge in my hopes, but then I stopped and realized I don't need that right now. 

For me that is a personal victory. There's gonna be a time in the near future where we are going to have to meet up to move out of the appartment, and I'd rather deal with it as emotionally distanced as possible. That's going to be the true test.

I know I will be ready!

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Good for you, JohnR. Good for you! ;)

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That's good to hear!  More power to you!

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Well its been 2 months officially. 

I've done A LOT over the past couple months. In theory I feel like I should be feeling a little more detached, but I still find my mind naturally gravitating toward my old relationship. The anniversary of her fathers death is at the end of this month, which has been on my mind. I have this feeling like I should be doing something, but obviously she doesn't want to be thinking about me during that time. The other day I found a nice photo of him from a slideshow I prepared after his death a year ago. I had it printed, got a nice frame, and sent it to her mother who has been extremely accommodating after the breakup. I felt that this was a nice way to pay my respects without seeming to invasive. She really liked it, and sent me a nice text when she received it. I dunno, it honestly felt like the right thing to do. I want to send my ex my condolences when anniversary comes, but I'd hate for my actions to be taken the wrong way.

I know that things can't go back to the way they were. I just want the best for that family. They took care of me for so long, and now I have to act like an outcast. It just all seems so unfair. 

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