Guilt

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  • #117768
    CiCi Walite
    Participant

    I’ve been married to my CN for almost 22 years, coupled for 25. We have 5 children, aged 21 – 13, who all still live at home and have been emotionally abused almost as much as I have. Currently, we are separated (since January of this year), but I’m nowhere near being done with him. I was hoping against hope that the therapy he has access to at the VA clinic ((he’s a Marine Vet) would help him change, even though I know the odds were never in our favor. I’ve finally accepted that we will never be able to reconcile and be healthy. When I told him that I wanted to start divorce proceedings, he was shocked, as I’ve never wanted that – even though he’s threatened it countless times when he’s been enraged. He tried to manipulate me with anger, threats, then sent text messages to all our kids telling them we’re divorcing even though he knew I had not talked to them about it yet. When none of that swayed me, he became depressed and extremely apologetic. He started lamenting his abandonment issues from childhood, which of course led to him asking me how could I – the only person, other than his grandmother, that he’s ever been able to trust – now abandon him, too. His voice and demeanor softened, he threw in some “please”s, along with love-bombing and promises to go get the help at the VA clinic and I lost my resolve. He’s been calling and texting multiple times a day since then begging me to come spend time with him.

    I just feel so bad for him when he gets like this – even though I KNOW it’s manipulative (he swears there’s no manipulation, and that he really wants to do better by us). He doesn’t have a new supply *yet* (cheating hasn’t been a real issue for us), and I know how much he hates being alone, and how dark things get for him when he’s alone with his thoughts for too long. He really does have some horrible emotional scars from his childhood, and I think a part of him really WANTS to stop raging against the kids and me. He just can’t. Yet, I can’t convince my heart to do what my head knows I should do – which is to stay away and start the divorce process. I have so much guilt about abandoning him, knowing all that I know about his past, and his bouts with depression and anxiety. How do I get past this without feeling like I’m being as insensitive as he has been?

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  • #117777
    Renee Swanson
    Participant

    I know that guilt!! So much!

    How can I not have compassion for him? My ex also has deep emotional scars from his childhood. He is SO wounded! I agree with you, I think mine also really wanted to stop raging. I think he truly wanted to have loving relationships with us. But he just couldn’t do it.

    We were married almost 21 years. I tried SO hard to help him. I tried so hard to build a beautiful marriage with him. I tried so hard to keep him connected with our two kids. Yet he constantly pushed me and them away. He stomped all over our feelings again and again and again.

    So am I the insensitive one for walking away? How can I be the insensitive one when I spent more than 21 years of my life caring for his feelings? When I spent countless hours, pouring so much energy into a bottomless pit? My efforts were genuine and full of compassion. I am not the insensitive one here.

    And I’m guessing you aren’t either. Your compassion shows in your words. I know it is hard, but if he doesn’t put some real genuine effort into his own healing, then nothing you do is going to work or last. You can’t do this for him. You can’t want his own healing more than he does! It just doesn’t work that way.

    I can honestly say that I truly wish my ex much peace and happiness in his future. I hope he can find it. I wish him no ill will. But I also know that it is okay to walk away and not feel guilty now.

    #117785
    CiCi Walite
    Participant

    Thank you for this response, Renee. It helps to hear from someone else who acknowledges the wounds of their CN (ex)partner, and how hard it is to walk away when you know how much pain they’re in – even if they don’t realize their pain. For me, it’s exacerbated by the fact that I am a psychotherapist, and I help so many people get healthier – just not my own husband. Breaks my heart. But if I stay, there will only be more brokenness for my children and me, so I’ve got to find the strength to stand strong.

    #117794
    Renee Swanson
    Participant

    A psychotherapist! Wow, that definitely makes this even harder!

    I guess one thought I have is to consider what would you tell a client of yours who came in and told you the story that is your life? What advice would you give them?

    I don’t think you would encourage them to stay in a situation that causes more brokenness. You would help them to continue to find their internal strength and a path of healing.

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