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Abigail

He's asked for space after his mother died and I'm trying to let go

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I hope I can keep this concise but I though I would provide a bit of
context. I feel less alone now that I found this forum. 


My boyfriend of 9 months called 3 days after the fact to let me know his mother had passed away and he needed time to deal with everything that was going on. When we first met I didn’t have any expectations from him, he had told me about his mum’s illness and I thought it was just going to be a bit of fun and we would both move on from the fling.  However, he was adamant in making something out of this and on
my part I was willing to give it a go because he truly is an amazing human being. I had previously experienced a traumatising break up, gone through painful years of the self healing process and was feeling brave enough to have someone occupy that space in my heart again after casually dating here and there trusting the process again. 


Anyway by the third date I knew his ex was still a major part of his life because she was still in the process of moving out 8 months after they had agreed to end their relationship. I must add that finding housing is an issue where we live and this is a fairly common post break up occurrence so it wasn’t  anything extraordinary.  To be fair he never hid that he still cared about her well-being.  Of course it didn’t sit well with me 100% that she was yet to move out but I had to be an adult about it and we communicated about it.  He was living at his mum’s and used the spare room in his apartment when he would go back to his place.  She finally moved out but was having a bit of a hard time moving on emotionally and so they agreed to cut of communication for a while given that they were both seeing other people. At the beginning of the summer he asked me to leave some personal items at his place an indication he was now inviting me into his space both literally and figuratively. This was the point at which I had officially accepted that it was time to completely emotionally commit to the situation.   I met his mum around this same time and we had a pleasant afternoon together.  

Unfortunately a few weeks after we met her health got worse and she went into remission. Spending time with her was his primary focus.  I know that if the shoe were on the other foot, spending 100% of the time with my mum would be my only concern. I tried not to make demands on his time, as much as I missed seeing him. I let him dictate the tempo of our meeting schedule.

When he asked for space I wasn’t surprised given that we had barely
seen each in person for the last two months before she passed. Her condition was getting worse and he had taken her away for their last annual summer holiday. The day he called me to tell me the news we had an under 5 minute conversation where the take home was; his family and friends were around helping with everything and so was his ex girlfriend. He stated it wasn’t the right time to meet people and so I
respected his wishes not to attend the funeral or insert myself in this space. I had seen him just 2 weeks before that and he looked extremely emaciated and exhausted.  To be honest I was relieved he had his ex around given that I can’t offer any practical help with logistics given that I am not a local.  As much as I am heartbroken for him I know my presence would introduce unnecessary anxiety and tension. Amidst all the tears and confusion on my end and the fact
that I miss him terribly.  I understand that I have to give him this given that it is the one thing he has asked of me.


But the “adulting” cookie has crumbled. I found out he is staying at his ex’s place as she looks after him as he grieves. I’m conflicted because I know it is what he needs but on the other hand all my
childish insecurities have arisen especially because I know she does
want him back. I go back and forth wondering how he is doing.  I feel horribly immature being upset that he is staying at his ex’s because as I said, I really don’t want him to be alone. His mum’s illness has been an integral hallmark in our relationship from Day 1 and I’m sick to my stomach that all over sudden I have been ejected from partaking in the grief. I’ve read a lot of the posts here after partners have asked for space following a loss of their loved one.  I am fully aware him contacting me soon if at all is highly unlikely.  If he does or doesn't I need to understand how to process the anger I feel about him shutting me out completely. My anger is filling me with shame because I know his world is crumbling around him. Yet, the fact his ex is in this space with him is what seems to be irking me the most. It is horribly narcissistic and I have tried to use every tool I can think of to put myself in his shoes… To no avail.
 

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It's not narcissistic of you to want the person in your relationship to yourself.  Exes should be out of the picture if one is having a relationship and the ex wants them back.  That is not protective of your relationship.

In 99% of the cases I've read about here, their "taking space" is a soft sell on breaking up.  A certain percentage of grievers cannot do a relationship at the same time as grieving.  However, my ex-fiance (broke up with me when his mother was dying) would let his ex-wife come over and help yet I was excluded.  

Here's my story: https://www.griefhealingdiscussiongroups.com/topic/5333-here-i-go-again/

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Thanks KayC. I think I have read a majority of your responses to
different posts on this forum and your experiences and advice have at least helped me reconcile with the fact that it will be a slow road to feeling like I have a control of my emotions again but I should get there. The last two days have been much more tolerable and I was even able to get everything on my to-do list done…Particularly my laundry. I was extremely happy about getting on with it but the weekend is here and that ‘happiness high’ was stripped away when I woke up and my first thought was if he is getting enough to eat, washing his hair,
getting enough sleep…. and I have been overcome with paralysing sorrow again.  The last time I saw him in person, 2 weeks before his mother passed away, I asked him to look into seeing a grief counsellor because he looked worse for wear.  I am sad this might be how I always remember him. I’m trying to stick to the NC rules as well as not look at any pictures or voice notes we sent each other. I don’t think I will ever bring myself to delete them in the hopes that one day I can remember our relationship fondly. 

On the other hand I realised that we probably had some underlying issues that were never going to be addressed in detail given that his mum’s illness was a governing force in our relationship. A friend helped me see that I had always been uncharacteristically calm about the situation with his ex because he was already so stressed out with caring for his mother that I didn’t want to be a nuisance.

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I went through those thoughts too in early breakup time...worrying about him.  I finally gravitated to worrying about myself as I realized he was doing him, I needed to do me.  "We" were no longer.  I was blindsided when he broke up with me.  I knew his life was in an upheaval, he couldn't leave his mom, was anyone bringing him a meal, groceries?  I wasn't allowed to yet his ex was, I didn't get it.  All I know is, they make their own choices, we have to respect their wishes, but in those early days especially the pain is so great.  Fast forward a few years, his ex is living with him, not as a couple but they are family, he took her in and takes care of her, she's like a child, simple, the relationship is toxic but it's his choice.  I'm glad I'm not part of that equation!  I haven't dated since him, and it's been over nine years!  But I'm better off alone than in that mess.  And I've learned to be open minded about what the future may hold, even though I don't seem to meet anyone I'd consider...never say never.  A friend of mine married at 82 and was happily married the rest of her life.

I am able to look back and see the good now...and also what wasn't working, with more clarity and realistically.  We're friends but drifting apart more now, we live 75 miles apart and his life involves different people now.

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On 10/5/2019 at 7:48 AM, kayc said:

I went through those thoughts too in early breakup time...worrying about him.  I finally gravitated to worrying about myself as I realized he was doing him, I needed to do me.  "We" were no longer.  I was blindsided when he broke up with me.  I knew his life was in an upheaval, he couldn't leave his mom, was anyone bringing him a meal, groceries?  I wasn't allowed to yet his ex was, I didn't get it.  All I know is, they make their own choices, we have to respect their wishes, but in those early days especially the pain is so great.  Fast forward a few years, his ex is living with him, not as a couple but they are family, he took her in and takes care of her, she's like a child, simple, the relationship is toxic but it's his choice.  I'm glad I'm not part of that equation!  I haven't dated since him, and it's been over nine years!  But I'm better off alone than in that mess.  And I've learned to be open minded about what the future may hold, even though I don't seem to meet anyone I'd consider...never say never.  A friend of mine married at 82 and was happily married the rest of her life.

I am able to look back and see the good now...and also what wasn't working, with more clarity and realistically.  We're friends but drifting apart more now, we live 75 miles apart and his life involves different people now.

I went through this exact same thing after my ex of nearly 2 years dumped me, twice, after his father suddenly died 4 years ago. I worried about him, constantly for months afterward and neglected my own well-being for a while because I was stuck and unwilling to let go of him. Kayc is right, in that their "needing time" in many ways is a precursor to a permanent breakup. He treated me, for months after we reconciled the first time, like I had done something wrong, even though he repeatedly told me it wasn't me, he loved me and that he didn't want to break up. When he ghosted me the second time, that same day he told me he loved me before leaving his apartment. I haven't spoken to him since, I had to make the choice to walk away after that.

These days, I am glad we didn't reconcile or stay together. He would've dumped me regardless, as he had a pattern of it in previous relationships and we were fundamentally incompatible. The drama, the hot n cold treatment, the saying but not showing, got old really really fast. I am glad I am no longer involved with him.

I have not dated in 4 years and I am happier because the time alone has given me clarity about what I want from life, and my relationships. You will get to this point eventually too, where one day you have that "aha!" moment, the memories will fade, you'll make peace with the breakup, and the relationship no longer dominates your thoughts.

-- Rae 😊

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Hi, great to have your input, Rae, wasn't sure if you're back in school or what, but glad to have you here, you always give credence to wisdom. ;)

I can't believe it's been 9 years since I've dated, unless you count my friendship with Rainer but I  knew it was going nowhere and didn't consider him seriously as such...finally let go of the friendship even when I got my dog's cancer diagnosis as he was a horrid communicator and arrogant and I decided that was the last thing I needed while going through that.

There comes a time to decide what is really in our own best interest and if a guy's not behaving that way, let him go.  I learned from my relationship with George what a good relationship was, we had great communication, got each other, could relate and were supportive of each other, now I have that as a measuring stick of what is good and working (he died).  Don't want anyone that does me wrong or would desert me!

 

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