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Dear Wendy

Struggling with happiness after a rocky past

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  • #854471 Reply

    I’m 31 years old. My family life is very loving and stable (which I’m very grateful for) but boy do I have a colorful past!

    My first high school love passed away shortly after we graduated college. I met my next boyfriend a year later – he ended up being abusive and we split when I was 29. I’ve had plenty of other flings/relationships that just did not work out. I’ve done therapy and have gotten my life into a very good place after leaving my asshole-ex two years ago. 

    I have a wonderful family, plenty of friends, a lovely apartment and I just got promoted at my job! I even have a lovely boyfriend of 6 months and we just got back from our first vacation! Despite all this, I still have so much fear and anxiety from all the hurt in my past.

    After both 1st my boyfriends death and ending my next LTR, I was really unwell for a long time afterwards. It took me a long time to recuperate both times.

    It also doesn’t really help that I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression since long before these events happened. My parents, though extremely well meaning, are immigrants from a poor third-world-ish country where mental health and wellness were never discussed in the open. So even though they’re fairly Americanized, they never really “got” it and thought I was just being a teenager/wanted attention when I was experiencing anxiety or depression. So I never really got proper mental health treatment until college, years after my issues started.

    I know my feelings are completely normal. Hell, I have plenty of friends in a very similar boat. But I can’t help but feel envious when I know so many women who found love and a good partner young and never experienced what I have. Also women who find an amazing partner shortly after a divorce or bad breakup (this has happened to so many of my friends) I sometimes fear my experiences have made me too “damaged” for love – even though I consider myself a very well-balanced, rational and successful woman.

    I’m not looking for advice (though I would still love to hear it) as I am solidarity. Anyone been in my shoes? What’s your story?

    #854473 Reply

    Sorry to say this, but solidarity is not going to be the most useful thing, in my opinion. You want others to say, “I know! I think I’m damaged for life too!” But you aren’t damaged for life, so putting yourself in that mind-set only reinforces it. I repeat: you are not damaged for life. Stop looking at yourself that way.

    Every single life, without exception, has obstacles and difficulties, and a lot of them happen before age 30. When one addresses those obstacles in a healthy way, as you did, it creates a bigger life. That’s what you have. The grass is greener where you water it, so focus on the gifts in your life.

    And meditate to help with the anxiety.

    #854480 Reply

    Maybe you should get back into therapy if you’re scared to be in a happy relationship with your bf of six months. Work on practicing gratitude for your fortunate life. Seriously, google practicing gratitude. Be thankful for what you do have. Stay away from social media. Dwelling on the negative events in your life is not going to help your attitude or mood.

    I actually wrote a huge long response but deleted it. It’s really not very interesting to read how many tragic life events have happened to me. I am actually perturbed that you’d consider anyone undeserving of love or a happy life because they’ve experienced some bad things and some bad breakups. That’s ridiculous. EVERYONE has a past. No one has a magical life that is always and forever perfect.

    I’m thankful for, or at least I have few regrets about all of my shitty experiences and bad previous relationships because they all led me to my amazing, beautiful husband. I would never have imagined being this happy in a marriage and I’m grateful for it all the time. Our life together hasn’t been spared from tragedy, either. But that hasn’t lessened our love or appreciation for our lives. If anything, it’s made it even stronger.

    #854486 Reply
    avatarPart-time Lurker

    Since you’re not looking for advice I’ll share some perspective.

    Years ago my life looked like a dumpster fire under a train wreck sliding off the edge of a cliff. I had more baggage than Delta. Some of the lives around me were much, much worse. Here’s what I learned, once you face all of your shit, deal with it and begin doing things differently in the future, the tragedies…hurt less often, the mistakes don’t sting as much and even though you have moments of anxiety or depression they’re more fleeting as the years pass. Eventually, you do come out the other side. My life is amazing now and like anonymousse I have a truly wonderful spouse. Other people have experienced the same feelings you are and in all honesty it really does just take time and effort to get through it.

    #854487 Reply

    You need to focus upon the happy present with your current bf, your family, friends, and jobs. The past is past, so you can only learn from it — something you apparently have already done through therapy. Now you need to forget the past and focus only on your present and future. It doesn’t matter if your parents don’t believe in therapy or pharmaceutical aids to deal with depression and anxiety. You got treatment on your own in college. You are an adult, independent woman and can get treatment on your own today. You don’t even have to tell your parents about it. You had one abusive bf out of 3 longer-term relationships and you dumped him relatively quickly as these things go, so you seem ahead of the game, compared to many of your peers.

    Allow yourself to be optimistic and happy. Therapy can help with that.

    #854498 Reply

    Hello everyone! Thank you for your lovely & kind responses – I have bookmarked them. Your replies have given me a lot of perspective.

    I do want to clarify that I actually appreciate all the advice given. @FYI was completely right – it IS much more helpful than solidarity 🙂

    #854499 Reply

    Don’t assume that those in relationships are doing so much better than you are. Many of the people who find a new partner almost immediately after getting out of a bad relationship are just taking whoever is available and that great new relationship isn’t so great. Even good, long term relationships have stresses even if you aren’t seeing them. My husband had cancer at the same time that we had a baby. Sometimes life throws things at you and you deal with them the best that you can.

    If you have a lovely boyfriend enjoy your relationship. Be thankful it isn’t like the abusive relationship. Be thankful that you’ve learned to watch for the red flags that help you to avoid bad relationships. You’ve come through a dark journey and you are in the light. There is no guarantee that there will be no further dark journeys, there almost certainly will be, but enjoy the light while you can. Otherwise, it’s like being unable to enjoy a beautiful summer day because you know that in the winter it will snow. Enjoy the beautiful day and know that you can handle the snow when it happens.

    #854505 Reply

    Everybody has baggage. It may be different from yours, but everyone has some form. Anyone who reaches a certain age is going to have past relationships that were good or bad or ended in an emotional way or whatever. Some people wish they had good relationships early and some people wish they’d had a more interesting dating life before settling down.

    I think that in your case, realizing that your situation isn’t really that much different than anyone else’s and simultaneously that everyone is different — not good or bad or “how it’s supposed to be” — might be best.

    Hopefully you’re in therapy, since that’s the best place to work out strong emotions about one’s past and one’s self-perception.

    #854507 Reply

    Definitely don’t think that everyone in a relationship is happy. Hell you were in one for a long time and you were miserable or at least so turned around that you didn’t know if you were miserable or not. And I’m sure every day you tried to present a perfectly normal facade to everyone.

    Sure some women find a great partner shortly after a divorce or breakup. Those women are lucky, but they’re also willing to be vulnerable and open. I have two friends who’ve been divorced for years and they simply aren’t interested in negotiating a relationship right now. Another jumped in with both feet, and while she loves this man, he is an emotional bully and her life with him is going to be filled with highs and lows. And another friend dated for a while, eventually found someone and is taking it slow. Her kids love him. His kids love her.

    Therapy and remember that dating is a numbers game. Or lowered expectation perhaps.

    #854514 Reply

    “Otherwise, it’s like being unable to enjoy a beautiful summer day because you know that in the winter it will snow. Enjoy the beautiful day and know that you can handle the snow when it happens.” – I LOVE this! @skyblossom

    I screenshotted it and saved it to a quote album on my phone because it resonates with me so much!

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