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I Need to Find a Support Network

I have been married and divorced twice.  I have been in a relationship for four and a half years (since the end of my second marriage) that has been very good.  My boyfriend has been loving and supportive.  I love him very much and we plan to move in together and have even been using the "m" word (marry).  I am a very passionate and emotional person.  When I am happy, I love to smile and laugh a lot.  When I love someone, I put everything I have into loving them.  When I hurt, I cry.  I work hard to temper my emotions with reason, and I work to ask my lover appropriately for what I want.  He is a very "definite" sort of person - he always has a plan and is confident of his ability to achieve his goals.  He is always working to improve his skills, or his surroundings (restoring old homes is his avocation).  However, he also has issues in his past with a dysfunctional childhood and with dealing with his emotions.  When he feels threatened or scared he exteralizes his emotions and runs internal scripts that involve his not deserving love, etc.

Last summer he overextended to buy a new home that was big enough for both of us to live in together.  He was stressed over this as he had lived in his previous house for many years and spent his savings on the down payment for the new one.  This house was supposed to be for both of us, but his language and actions were those of an animal laying out its "turf" and defending it vigorously.  When I objected and stated that I was feeling shut out he became very angry, told me he had done it all for me and that I was throwing it back in his face and dumped me.

I went home in tears and waited.  Three days later he called me and wanted me back.  He graciously allowed that I had been under some heavy stress on my own (my 21 and 17 year old daughters were living with me in too small a space, going to college at the end of the summer, and my oldest daughter was getting married within three weeks of the start of school for the other two).  He was willing to put my "overemotionality" down to the stress and give me another chance.

The wedding happened, the other two are doing well in college, and I started job hunting in his area (we live 100 miles apart).  Over Christmas we took a long trip and I was feeling very loved and like I could finally get over the major trust issues left from my second marriage.

Then three weeks ago he was suddenly laid off (sorry, we can't make payroll, go home).  I took two vacation days so that I could be there for him for a long weekend.  I spent a lot of time working on numbers and plans involving how we could live on mostly my income and not lose his two houses (Of course, his old house has not yet sold).  He came to visit on the third day and I cooked for him, gave him a bath in my big soaking tub and did everything that I could think of to be supportive.  He knew that I had ideas about what we could do together but he was very resistant to discussing them. 

Finally, I started to cry, and tried to tell him that I was feeling shut out again and that I really thought that since I was actively job hunting (at his request and desire as well as mine) that I had a stake in this and a right to be upset and want to discuss options.  I was crying.  I was not hysterical.  I was not yelling.  I was not throwing things, calling names, frothing at the mouth or rolling on the floor chewing on the carpeting.  He responded as if I were doing all of those things, shouted that he only wanted one thing from me and that was no drama, and I couldn't give him that and he dumped me again.  This whole scene took about five minutes, including the time it took him to throw his clothes in his bag and slam out of the door.  Who is the drama queen here?  In our fight last summer when he dumped me before, he was yelling and slamming the cupboard doors.  I was crying, and being very plain about how I thought he was overreacting, but I was labeled as the drama queen.

So at this point the bottom line is that I have unconditionally apologized to him for crying and for hurting him.  I have admitted that I am totally out of control of my emotions and that I will no longer inflict them on him.  Since I believe that his response was completely out of proportion to my tears, I admitted that I am not able to accurately determine when I am out of control of my behaviour.  I have given him the right to use a "kill switch" phrase, at which point I stop all interaction and remove myself from his presence (I suggested "go to your room"; he wants to come up with something a little more polite).

He has always been my main support over the last four years.  When I feel sad or upset or need support I have always been able to go to him and get sympathy and/or a hug, and sometimes a fix for whatever issue is causing me pain.  But now I can no longer show any emotion around him at all or we are done and this time it is for good.  So I need to put together a support group of people who are willing to just listen to me whine and say "there, there, it will be ok".  I have several other good friends who do this for me, but they have husbands and lives too, I need a wider circle. 

I am also willing to give sympathy, solutions, a shoulder and an ear in return to others - this isn't only one sided.  But on nights like tonight I just really need a hug, and to know that someone out there thinks I am an ok person even if I am sad, scared and hurt.

Journeywoman Journeywoman 51-55, F 1 Response Feb 7, 2009

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Have you considered couples therapy or individual therapy for you? Otherwise, I doubt you can last a lifetime without bursting into tears again no matter what support network you have. I will happen again and again. Do you want to be with a man where you have to supress a part of who you are?