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Ask Dr. Norman Brown Your Own Question
Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1200
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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I'm going to make this as coherent as possible because of the

Customer Question

I'm going to make this as coherent as possible because of the amount of thoughts in my head. So I'll start from the beginning. I met a man named Eric about 2 1/2 - 3 years ago. I fell in love with him instantly. We never pursued a relationship because he was friends with my dad, he talked to my dad a while back who essentially gave his blessing. So we started up a relationship 3 months ago. I never talked to him about how I felt, nor he to I. We had a heart to heart 3 days ago. We love each other very much, which is where the heartbreak comes in. He had fallen in love with a girl in his teen years (currently 27) that he hasn't seen in probably 10 years. She is coming up to help with his sobriety. I recently learned the extent of his alcoholism and the causes. (Molestation from close family friend and horribly beaten daily by his father.) He doesn't know how much Shani has changed and therefore if he is still in love with her or just their memories. The decision was made however to end things between us in case his love for her is still there. He had no intention of going behind my back and letting me know the whole situation. We have made the decision together that if nothing happens with Shani, that we will try us again. In the meantime, I made the decision to meet Shani, as heartbreaking as it might be. We have also decided to maintain minimal contact, but I still want to help him with the sobriety. I believe I may be the only person he's ever told about what's happened to him.
I however, am sick to my stomach over the heartbreak, literally making it difficult to eat. I wish to start the healing process in case the relationship is over for good, without cutting Eric out of my life so I can at least be there if he needs any emotional support.
I've decided to start the healing with working out. I would love advice on positive ways to keep up the healing process and anything at all you have to say about the situation with Eric. I also want to mention that I am hurt by all of this, but not angry. He never went behind my back and just recently learned Shani was coming.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.
How old are you? and what's your adult relationship history? Working out is a great start on keeping your balance. The emotional closeness you have already built is a precious experience that will be very hard to put aside, for either of you. If you can find ways to maintain some consistency in the quality of your emotional intimacy--WITHOUT the focus including his doings and thoughts about his teenage flame--he's more likely to discover that an adult emotional relationship is more rewarding than his resuscitated adolescent mindscape. But if he's been heavy drinking since his teens, he might not know the difference.
How painful it must be to have been with him in the idealizing early months and watch him revive his idealization of an old flame.
How long has he been aiming for sobriety? If that's in his early months too, then HE MAY NOT BE READY FOR committed relationship anyway, because he can't be sure what he's going to be like if&when he gets over his previous love (Alcohol).
I'd advise you NOT to plan a holding pattern--like an aircraft circling in the skies until Air Traffic Control signals that it's time to touch down on his runway. It's better for YOU and for HIM if you focus on your own Creative Life, on YOUR OWN GROWTH PASSION, not on loving him. For he also needs to NOT land his carcass in somebody's bed, because that's using love as a reward-drug and to distract from the disciplined work he needs to do to design, launch and operate a new lifestyle for himself. Did you know that AA discourages recovering addicts from using romantic & sexual affairs to cushion their descent from artificial highs by getting the "natural high" from love's endorphins? Yet He seems to be hoping to pick from two young women to soften the pain of changing his physical, social, emotional and spiritual self-management.
So what are your own creative passions? If you were NOT yearning to have a journey of love with an older(?) guy, what great adventures could you embark on--of travel, learning, career development, artistic creativity, entrepreneurship, spiritual growth? Are you young enough to be trying out different directions in higher education, work-life and creative self-development? (The twenties are fine for experimen-ting with intimate relationships, but also for exploring all the other main aspects of adult activities.)