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Long Ago Relationship


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This is a long story, made as short as I can make it:

I have been married for 20 years to a wonderful man who is my best friend. We have 4 children, and have thoroughly enjoyed the adventure of our life together. I met him during a dark period of my life, and he helped me to regain self confidence and happiness.

A couple of months ago, I was contacted on a social network by a man who was my first love and my greatest heartbreak. I met him when I was 15, married him when I was 18, and divorced him when I was 19 after he became manipulative and what I considered to be emotionally and verbally abusive. (He was 5 years older than me.)

I ignored him the first time he contacted me, but then when he tried again, I (very, very foolishly) responded. Thus began a catapult back into that dark place I had been in so long ago, not as bad, but it still feels at times like I’m back at square one, experiencing the anger, confusion, guilt, and sadness. I told my husband about the initial contact, but nothing else. I have absolutely no one to talk to. I feel so alone, and my mind is constantly spinning. I had been over him for so long, and I want to still think of him as the destructive person I left, not as a normal man who is doing fine in life. I did block him, so if he wanted to contact me again he’d have to get creative. But the damage is already done, and I don’t know how to fix it. Sometimes I feel okay, but at others it seems like there’s a deep, black hole trying to swallow me.

I don’t understand why this is affecting me like this after so many years, but I hate it. If anyone has any wisdom on this, I’m open to listening. Maybe just writing this will help.

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Please, please hear me, loud and clear, because if you choose to ignore this advice, it will continue to lead you down a dark path from which there is no return. If you haven't already done so, de-friend him immediately. You say you've blocked him make sure you've blocked him from email, phone, texting, any way in which you have to receive contact from him. You took vows 20 years ago to your best friend, as you say, a wonderful man...your first allegiance is to him always. I recommend you tell him what has happened. Tell him ALL so there won't be a trickle of surprises forthcoming. He will undoubtedly have a difficult time with this and you will need to work on rebuilding the trust you have destroyed. I know this sounds harsh, but I know what I'm talking about, I've been there on the other side of the coin and there are worse things than telling someone harsh truth...one of them is NOT warning a person when they're heading down a wrong path because the consequences always manage to find their way to you and they are harder to go through. This can be gotten through. You can find help at a wonderful website called marriagebuilders.com they have many, many resources to help you affair-proof your marriage, to build it the best marriage ever, to help the two of you meet each others needs. You see, there had to be a fissure in your marriage to begin with for you to allow contact from this person. It is that fissure you must learn about and fix so this can't happen again. There is a lady on marriagebuilders.com named MelodyLane, she is an expert and has very sound advice, she can offer you much help. In addition, Dr. Harley, who wrote such books as "His Needs, Her Needs", "Surviving an Affair", "LoveBusters", and many more, also offers marriage counseling that is some of the best there is. He has helped thousands of couples. Go to the infidelity section and post what you have posted here. You see, infidelity is not only of a sexual nature, it often begins with an emotional affair and starts the moment there is trust broken or a betrayal made. You will be tempted not to come clean with your husband but if you do not, there will continue to be a barrier between the two of you...he may not know what it is, but he will undoubtedly be aware there is one and will be bewildered by what has changed between the two of you.

I am so glad you reached out for help because that is the first step. You need not be trapped in this situation, there is a way out and I would love nothing more than to take your hand and help you, because I am a firm believer in good and solid marriages. You don't say if you're having an emotional affair with your XH or not but it sounds like he's reeled you in somehow or another by tugging at your heartstrings and you now realize he has led you right back to what you left so many years ago. There is a reason you divorced him and that reason did not mysteriously disappear. That reason now looms out at you glaringly and it's imperative that you get away from this man immediately. Please message me any time you want, I check in here nearly every day.

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Thank you for your response and insight. I will certainly look at the resources you mentioned. My husband and I have always had a great relationship, and have encouraged others to do whatever necessary to make their relationships work. Even though there are probably some things we can work on, we do have a solid marriage, largely because we have taken it seriously while also having fun together.

When my ex contacted me, I looked at it as something that I needed yo deal with by myself. I think that I was hoping it would be a chance to get some answers about why things went the way they did so long ago. Of course, that was totally erroneous! All it did was open old scars. I only had a very few written exchanges with him and then cut him off when I realized that everything was going southward. I very much understand the negative effects it could have on my marriage, which is one reason I ended our conversation as promptly as I did.

What I don't Understand is why it still affects me so much, when I thought it was all taken care of long ago. My doctor, to whom I confided the bare essentials, suggested that I'm going through the grieving process again, and that makes some sense to me, since it never seemed fully resolved before. But I don't know what to expect now. Will time simply take care of it? For now, I seem to be at the mercy of my emotions. Some days are bad, some are good. I just want it all to end. I feel like I'm living in two different worlds. I feel confused, angry, and guilty, and find escape in ways that aren't healthy.

I guess I'm not so sure that simply working on my marriage, which is a pretty good one, will help with the deeper emotional problems that stem from the earlier love and loss.

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It helps to know the reason why you had an exchange with your ex...I'm glad it wasn't because you were interested in rekindling anything and that you consider your marriage very solid. I have had three relationship break-ups that were not explained to me or resolved, and it does make it much more difficult to get through/past. Unfortunately, some people won't give answers when they break up and we have no choice but to just accept what is and try to move on. I think it helps to diminish (in your mind) the value of the role the other person played in your life, not at the time, but now. Another thing that has helped me is relegating it to a "time" (like a phase) in my life...I tell myself, well this person was in my life these years, but now they are no longer. Trying not to personalize it has helped, although that's very hard when it's fresh and it sure as heck FEELS personal! Understanding that it's about THEM and what THEY are going through, helps me not to take on responsibility for the break-up so that rather than viewing it as rejection or failure, I can leave it with the other person and move on with my life. (That is, assuming I've already soul-searched and found nothing wrong with how I dealt with them, etc and found no improvements I should have made, which is a given.) When someone can't communicate with you enough to give you answers, we should view it as a GOOD thing that we did not stay together, for more of the same would have been forthcoming.

One thing looms out at me in what you just wrote...that is, you had a big loss in your life 20+ years ago. Your encountering him through this written exchange seemed to serve as a trigger and brought the loss back in it's entirety. It seems when that happens, you have to do the grief work again and then let it go. It could be a counselor might be able to help you towards this end, in working through it and moving back into your present life with your husband. I'm glad you're resolved not to go there again and have blocked this man from contacting you again because he does not seem a healthy venue for you. Usually something from the long ago past is best left there.

I still feel that it would be best to discuss this with your husband, that to shut him out from something you're going through that seems significant to you will be hurtful to your relationship in the now. He undoubtedly senses something's wrong and doesn't know what or how to deal with it...he could personalize your responses and it might help him understand it has nothing to do with him, it's just something you're going through. If he can be supportive of you with what you're going through, it can bond the two of you even closer and help you as you know you are not going through all of this alone.

It also helps to express yourself...you came here saying you had no one to talk to...well you have us here, you can talk to us. I know I am the only one that has responded, but I'm sure there's been others reading...perhaps something you say will strike a chord with one of them. Expression is so important as an outlet, it helps us reestablish the power within ourselves and our connectivity...it really helps to not feel alone or bottled up. I hope today and each day forward you continue to do and feel a little better. It's like you've been through an emotional shock or jolt and it may take a bit of time for that to settle down.

It also might help to stay in touch with your doctor...it could be you might need some antidepressants for a time to help you get through this. Situational depression differs from chemical imbalance in that it can often be treated for a period of time, say a year, and then weaned off of, whereas chemical imbalance requires treatment for life. Also, situational depression benefits from dealing with the situation that caused it, while a prescription makes it more tolerable while doing so. Just something to consider.

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Thanks for your thoughts on this. It does help a bit, just to know someone has listened! I have thought that talking to a counselor would perhaps be helpful, but I really can’t afford it. I appreciate the time you took to read and respond to my post. I also have read some of the other posts on here, and it has helped some to know that others have experienced similar heartache and confusion.

I know that I need to move through and beyond this, but I don’t know how, or how long it will be. It’s like it’s something that’s totally unrelated to my current life, so I go through the motions every day, while inside my head is spinning and my emotions run wild. When I initially dealt with our break up, I didn’t do so well (I indulged in a lot of unhealthy activities, including drinking and cutting and other things I won’t mention). In my current life, I have enough happiness and contentment that I can’t afford to slip back into those old emotion-avoiding activities, and I don’t want to, but I worry sometimes. It’s like having two different people warring inside me, and I don’t know how to deal with it.

I’m not totally opposed to anti-depressants if that is what it will take to keep me from ruining my life. But I also worry that I will not work through whatever it is that I need to work through if I feel better. I don’t want to simply feel better and then have something still lurking under the surface. On the other hand, maybe there isn’t anything to fix, and I’m just obsessing over it, and it would be better to just feel better. I don’t know!!!

Today was a bad day. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

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I totally understand what you're saying...you want to deal with the root of it rather than mask it. I know I went on Buspirone, anti-anxiety medicine, when my husband left me over three years ago and it doesn't take away my feelings or change me, it just takes the edge off so I can better cope and stops that welling up feeling inside of me, I hate that!

If you can't afford a counselor, sometimes there are pastors trained to help people but you do have to be careful, not all are trained and some can do more harm than good. I have a good pastor that is educated and I would feel comfortable going to him, but not just anyone. There are some counselors that base their charges on a sliding scale so that might be something to consider too. 35 years ago when I worked for the 700 Club, we were trained to help people, but I wouldn't recommend them now, they've changed way too much.

I would enlist the help of your husband in your going through this though, he can't help if he doesn't know what's going on.

I'm sorry you had a bad day today...I know in my grieving over the loss of my late husband, there were good days and bad days and some in between...in the beginning it was extremely hard and it took concerted effort to try and maintain positive focus during that time. One thing I've learned is, loss is loss and grief takes work, no matter what the loss is. It can be a spouse, a friend, a home, a job, a dream, it can be anything, and it's hard to go through, but there is much to be learned along the way, and not all is bad, there are some positives that come from going through this journey, and one of them is the wonderful people I've met here on this site...the other is learning that I'm a survivor and I can always look back and see what I've made it through and know that I will make it through what I'm going through right now, somehow. My heart goes out to you...

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You are right about that "welling up" feeling. It's horrific. And it makes no sense to me at this point in my life. I love my husband, and don't want anything to come between us. One of the reasons I don't want to talk to him about this is that I don't understand it myself, and don't want him to be hurt through misunderstanding it. After all, it is comprised of memories of events that happened before I even met him.

So, I don't want my ex back. I don't want to ruin the life that I have now. So why are thoughts of the past constantly running through my mind? It's like I'm reliving events and feelings and reactions. And I'm doubting myself. And I feel worthless and rejected again...which is strange, because I'm the one who left him, though I feel like he pushed me to it. This all seems so ridiculous, because it was so long ago and has nothing to do with my present life, but it is all so real to me. I feel like I'm going crazy. It's two steps forward, one step back...but sometimes it seems more like one step forward, two steps back.

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You are experiencing "triggers" of the past, and it takes you right back to the day and time of the actual events. Why did you allow this man contact in your life if you are happily married and didn't want him back, not even just a bit? That's a question you need to ask yourself and figure out the answer to in order to move forward. I still think you need to talk to your husband so he can understand what's going on with you. It's not fair to keep him in the dark. Tell him what you have told me, how bad the other relationship was and how good yours with him is and the affect it's been having on you just to have that contact, what a mistake it was to allow it and that you have blocked it so it can't happen again. What you are going through is not unlike PTSD.

On marriagebuilders there was a post that helped me a lot in understanding triggers...in the thread it's referring to triggers from an infidelity/relationship, but it can apply to triggers from any kind of an event in the past. Mark1952 did an amazing job of explaining how the brain works. Here it is:

http://forum.marriagebuilders.com/ubbt/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=2243454&nt=10&page=1

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Once again, thanks so much for your reply. It has really helped me just to know that there are others who have had similar emotions, although the situations may be different. I think that has been one of the difficult things – that my specific situation doesn’t fit into most of the categories that you can find information on, which has made it hard for me to find answers.

However, I found the article you mentioned (about emotions and triggers) to be extremely interesting; it really made sense to me, and it gave me practical ideas. Most importantly, though, it gave me HOPE!!

Thank you for guiding me to some very helpful information, and for making me feel not quite so alone.

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You are so welcome! I ran across it when my (now ex) husband had cheated on me and I was having such a hard time with triggers...they took me right back to the very moment of discovery...the color pepto bismo pink, for instance, reminded me of her shirt, which was one of the first things I ran across when I discovered her belongings in our trailer. Reading the article helped me understand I'm not crazy, this is normal and common, and I can choose to relegate these triggers to a back seat in my brain and realize at the time what is happening and choose not to let the emotion overtake me, but ride it out and tell myself "that was then, this is now" and eventually I got through it. I mean, at first, I would like break into a cold sweat and become vehemently upset! It was good to learn how the brain works so I could understand what was happening, it helped me survive it. Eventually the emotion loosens it's hold and life becomes bearable again. It's almost like I had to talk myself through it though!

Good luck to you, I think with time you'll find that the past will loosen it's grips and your life will once again return to normal. Just don't ever let that guy back in again, he's not good for your well being! :)

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