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Ms Chase
Ms Chase, Life Coach
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 2897
Experience:  Over 20 yrs experience with Relationships, Sexuality, Friendship, and Family Issues
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I have a complete and overwhelming fear of opening up in relationships

Customer Question

I have a complete and overwhelming fear of opening up in relationships - I know this comes from a history of abuse and loss, but I cannot find a way out of the pattern I find myself stuck in. I go into complete panic when in a relationship, the smallest set back feels like the biggest rejection, and I curl into a ball internally to the extent it effects all aspects of my life. I cannot see why anyone would love me and being vulnerable terrifies me. I just cant bring myself to talk about this to the person I love. My ex (a wonderful, kind man I first went out with 2 years ago) is back on the scene and yet again, after a wonderful night with him, I rejected him the next day, sitting with my arms folded and hardly being able to talk to him. He is very much like me and also finds it hard to open up. I haven't heard from him in the 10 days since we met, and I don't know what to do, how to talk to him - I love this man, and don't want to lose him again. Please, any suggestions???
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 6 years ago.
Hello Hetty,

Does he want to get back with you in a relationship?

How long were you with him before?

What are your ages?

How long is the waiting list for counseling?

Do you work?
Do you live alone?
Chase
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Chase.... He seemed to want to get back together, he was saying all sorts of lovely things on the phone and on the night to me - and he's not a player, he's shy and gently and spends most of his time either alone at home or with his daughter (11). It's just the next day he backs off - and was like that for most of our relationship. I know he's scared, he was very badly hurt by the mother of his child. When we first went out we were together for six months. He is 46 and I'm 48.
I'm not sure yet of the waiting list for counselling, I've only just sent in the letter from the doctor.
I work part-time and am at college part-time - however this week have not been into college - this affects me in such a big way I cannot study, in fact to be honest, I've spent most of the last two days in bed and am very shaky.
I live with my two kids (18 & 20) but have no space to myself as I sleep in the living room.
It's not just this relationship that is making me react this way, this happened too with my previous boyfriend. It's just this time I really love this man and don't want to lose him because of my fears and inability to let him in - I know there's two of us in this..... God, I dont know, I'm just really lost...
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I feel that if I can't open up to this gentle person, then I'll never learn to.... I so need to learn how to do this without having a panic attack just thinking about it....
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Sorry Chase, information overload....
I don't even know how to stick up for myself and get annoyed at him for getting back to me... I just freeze - I can stick up for myself in the rest of my life (although it's taken me years to learn how to) but i can't apply that to my lovelife.- I don't know how to be me in front of a man that I care about, I'm terrified of rejection and feeling vulnerable, and terrified that if a man sees anything he might perceive as negative (ie, anger, sadness, irritability) that I'll be rejected....
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi... I'm not sure if my replies have gotten through to you - could you please let me know if you are receiving anything from me. I could really do with some advice and look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you,
Hetty.
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 6 years ago.
Hello Hetty,

I'm here, I'm typing something up to you now, I apologize for the delay, but I had a family emergency and was away from the computer.

Chase
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 6 years ago.
Let me ask you another question

You said I don't even know how to stick up for myself and get annoyed at him for getting back to me. Can you explain that to me a little more? Why do you have to stick up for yourself with him? What are you getting annoyed about? How is the relationship otherwise?

When he called you, how long before you spent the night together?

Have you spoken to him since?

Why do you think you are like this? Have you been in bad relationships before?

When did this anxiety start?

Chase
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I'm sorry to hear about your family emergency - hope all is ok now...

When I say I don't even know how to stick up for myself, I guess I'm trying to explain that the fear of rejection stops me from showing my disappointment/anger/hurt...

I sent him a text a couple of days after we got together saying that I'd had a great night and would talk to him soon - I have heard nothing back.... I'm angry and hurt that he pursued me again and hasn't the respect to reply to me - yet I find it impossible to pick the phone up and tell him he's behaved like a jerk, even though I know it would make me feel better..

We spoke on the phone about 7 or 8 times, each time for at least an hour, before I agreed to meet him - originally I was to meet him and his best friend for a drink, but he cancelled with his friend "so we could spend some time together". I went up to his, he cooked for me, cuddled me, told me he'd missed me and had been an idiot - we also had a great laugh and talked loads (but not about us).... we inevitably ended up in the bed and he cuddled me all night, pulling me close when I moved away in my sleep. He had even postponed picking up his daughter from her mother in the morning so we could spend more time together....

I haven't called him since we spent the night together...

I was in an extremely abusive relationship with the father of my kids (18 & 20), the mental abuse was of the worst kind and went on even after I left him while pregnant with my younger child...

I have always been anxious when it comes to relationships, even before the abuse - my father, who I adored, died in a plane crash when I was 8, and my first boyfriend in a bike crash when I was 16.... my mother always treated me as 2nd best to my sister, and I think I grew up with a feeling of worthlessness - I understand where my anxiety comes from but I don't know how to deal with it..... I feel so stuck....
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for that additional info Hetty, let me ask you a few more questions. You said you were diagnosed with stress/anxiety, did they give you medication for it? If so, how has that medication worked out for you, has it helped?

What about your life other than relationships, do you work? Where are your children?

What do you do in your life aside from work (if you work), what does Hetty like to do for Hetty? Do you have hobbies, things that you enjoy? Something/anything you've always wanted to do?

Chase
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I was only diagnosed a couple of days ago and was prescribed Surmontil, 1 to be taken at night (I took the first one last night, and so far all it's done is make me sleepy Embarassed)...

I work part-time in a shop and am at college part-time in my 2nd year of Holistic Studies - I enjoy college very much but am finding it so hard to study as I can't keep my mind on anything, or absorb anything at the moment..

My son (20) and daughter (18) both live at home, but the flat is tiny and I sleep on a pull-out in the living room.

I'm very lucky with my friends - both male and female... I'm pretty broke at the moment, but when I get the chance I love going to live music gigs, otherwise, I would meet up with friends for a coffee or have a night in with a friend and a bottle of wine...

I think the thing I want most in life, apart from health and happiness for my children, is to be loved by someone that I love...
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 6 years ago.
Hetty,

Do you know that all anyone really wants is to love and be loved in return? Even people who think this is not what they want, want this. It's an inherent human trait to want to have love in your life. Songs have been built, cities and societies have been built and destroyed based on love. The most amazing books and films are based on love. There's nothing whatsoever wrong with wanting to be in love.

The biggest issue is that our whole lives are spent waiting for the time when we will be in love or in a relationship. As children we are taught that a woman is supposed to remain coy and patient and that one day she will be rescued by a knight in shining armor, or in other words, we'll find someone who is perfect, perfect for us, understands out every needs and desires and we will live happily every after. However, with your dad passing when you were very young (by the way, my daughter is 16 and her dad passed when she was 8 years old, and I am working with her now on her self esteem and relationship issues) that had an impact on you that would be hard to measure. Then you first boyfriend dying in a car crash, you are most likely dealing with severe abandonment issues. In a way you may think that if you love someone, they may leave you (whether through death or other means).

The issues with the abuse you dealt with at the hands of your children's father, is two-fold. One part is that you have to ask yourself why you got with him and stayed with him as long as you did. It may have been you refused to allow yourself to lose someone, so you dealt with whatever he gave out. Once you did actually split with him, you may have known that you didn't want to be in the same situation, but also started focusing more on loss and or losing someone.

I'm not your therapist, so I can only speculate, given the information at hand. At this point, it sounds like the man you're talking about might be a good hearted guy, but it doesn't seem as if he's ready to be what you need him to be. So may need to reassess what's comfortable and somewhat familiar with what's good for you right now and in the future. It is possible for you to find someone to love that can love you the way you need to be loved, but the only time you will be able to move forward is when you can accept the fact that people leave. People leave. Whether they leave on their own for whatever reason, or they leave by death, they do leave and there's really nothing we can do about that. That's the way life is and it's very scary.

You can choose to be alone and not worry about losing someone, but the fact is, no one is an island and this will affect you through anyone you love. We're not judged by what happens in our life but how we live our lives. You can't prevent a lover from leaving if thats what they want to do, and the reason is because you cannot make someone else happy. Did you understand what I mean? You cannot make others happy. Sure, you can contribute to their happiness, but you cannot be the sole point of it. By the same token, you cannot depend on others to make you happy, YOU have to make yourself happy, and if someone else can contribute to that, then so be it.

Until you can say:

I know that love isn't always permanent and I accept that.

Even if I am alone, I will be happy because I am the owner of my life

I will not let anyone else dictate my happiness

It's ok to be selfish when it comes to my love

I will trust those who prove they can be trusted

When I trust, I am choosing to trust and if I get hurt, it won't be the end of the world, only the end of that trust


There are more, but it will take a lot to move even to these points. I'd like to know your thoughts on what I've said and how you feel about it. I'm also here to talk as long as you need to. Remember, your life is your own, and you can change any aspect of it, even when it feels like you cannot.

The change that you want in your life can happen, even as you are reading these words you can make a decision to make a change in your life, small or large as you need it to be, or are able to at this time. There is someone out there who is willing to love you the way you need to be loved, but before that can happen, you must change the way you look at love and relationships or you will continue to repeat your mistakes.

I have faith that since you've been able ask, not just your therapist, but to even come on a forum like this and talk about it, that it's not something that you are unable to change on your own, just something that you haven't been in complete understanding of. Once you can understand your behaviors and why you do, think and act the way you do, I'm convinced that you may be able to help yourself. What do you think?

Chase
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Oh Chase, i know, everything you say is true and makes so much sense... but I just want to get rid of the pain... your letter made me cry, not cause it's harsh but because it's true...I know i need to move on, and in many ways I've accepted the losses in my life (for instance, when my sister took her own life, it was somehow easier to accept because in my heart I'd already said goodbye to her before she went - she had been mentally ill for a long time)...

Do you think it would be a good idea for me to contact my ex and tell him that I'm disappointed and hurt by his actions - it's like some part of me needs to in order to try and let go... I so don't want to lose him, but maybe it's better to be honest - at least that way I've been true to myself... If I do make that call, how do I let him know that he's hurt me without sounding angry or sorry for myself - it's not him I'm angry with (he is a really sweet guy), it's me....
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
You say that before i can find love, I 'must change the way you look at love and relationships or you will continue to repeat your mistakes' - that is exactly what I am trying to do, but I can't find the path I need to take. Can you recommend anything - a course, a book (pref a book as I haven't much money) that I can work with to do this? And thank you...
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 6 years ago.
It's not always easy....if only we could shed our sadness like a jacket or a coat, if we could shed our losses like tossing off a hat, life could be so much easier. It's said the sorrows allow people to have depth, that knowing sorrow allows you to learn more about yourself and your life.

Let me ask you a question. Do you think that your ex doesn't know that how he's acted is wrong? Do you think he doesn't know that it's possible you've been hurt by his actions?

Chase
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I guess he does know, but i feel that by saying nothing (just like I always say nothing when I get hurt or annoyed by someone i'm in a relationship with) that I'm allowing him to take the easy route out by sticking his head in the sand - I need to say something for me, to feel that I've stood up for myself for once and not let someone just take advantage of me and just let them walk away - it's not that I want to make him feel bad, it's just I want to change what I do - I want to stand up and be counted for once.... does that make sense? or am i just turning into a bunnyboiler in my old age?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I guess what i'm trying to say is.... I always curled up in a ball and never fought back physically with the father of my kids, anything I said was twisted round and used against me. I found it hard to stand up to my mother as a child/teenager and always felt guilty for wanting to do things my way. What I want to be able to do is to tell him with dignity that I wont be treated with disrespect - but I dont want him to think I'm cutting off all ties either - is there a way to do this without making a total eejit of myself....
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Chase, if you don't mind I am going to bed to sleep on things - I will read your reply in the morning (it's just gone midnight in Dublin).... Thank you for everything- you've given me much to think about... and will think of your daughter, who I am sure will be fine with such a caring, empathetic person as a mother.... thank you!
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 6 years ago.
I apologize, it's been a somewhat busy day, but I will respond to you tonight and we'll speak again tomorrow. :) sleep well

Chase
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Chase, I hope all is well with you... I hope you don't mind me contacting you again regarding how to tell this man that he has hurt me and pissed me off, without shutting all doors behind me - as I said above, I just want to stand up for myself, maybe if I learn to do it this time, I'll find it easier the next time around... I would so appreciate if you could come back to me with some suggestions, and also a suggestion for a book to help me work through my issues with abandonment and rejection.. Thank you...
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 6 years ago.
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Ms Chase
Ms Chase
Counselor
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Over 20 yrs experience with Relationships, Sexuality, Friendship, and Family Issues