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I agree with Realguy about your ex, Nini--I have a lot of trouble believing being with him was that awesome and amazing and wonderful because from what you've said, it sounded like he didn't even come close to treating you with consistent love and respect. I wish I could somehow let you into my memories so you could see what differentiates true, unconditional love between equal partners from the kind of unhealthy love your ex was capable of providing. I always felt weird and strange--other girls regarded me like an alien for being so assertive and forceful, having not yet realized that most men who don't have major control or anger issues are happier taking it easy and letting the woman run most everything her way in order to keep the peace and enjoy all the benefits of her strong desires and fierce determination to get what she wants between the sheets. Now that I'm older and have had a chance to observe other relationships, it never fails to baffle me when a woman DOESN'T seize control from the start of a relationship and set clear boundaries that her man knows better than to even try to cross. Girls who saw me as overbearing and mean for being extremely demanding in my relationships seemed really confused and resentful over the fact that they bent over backwards to be just what their men wanted and to keep their men happy, yet dealt with a lot of blatant lying, cheating, rudeness, and other blatant disrespect while my partners always treated me with adoration, kindness, affection, and respect. One very pretty, smart, and nice girl even went after three of my boyfriends right after I left each one, I guess figuring she already knew they were wonderful and devoted boyfriends, but my exes complained to me that she lacked self esteem and was much too accomodating and flexible when they each repeatedly came back to me looking for another chance or at least some side action. It never occurred to me to consider settling for less, and while in retrospect I feel fortunate to have enjoyed a number of fulfilling, nurturing love affairs, I don't think that luck had that much to do with it. I really think that men want to be with a woman who knows her worth, knows what she wants, and has the confidence and assertiveness to demand nothing less and never allow anyone to sell her short. The vast majority of the men I've known, befriended, dated, and/or hooked up with have been thrilled to find a woman who would take charge in and out of bed (as long as she doesn't emasculate him in front of other people or try to take away his freedom to do the things he loves), and the few who haven't would have made horrible, abusive and completely untrustworthy boyfriends. I love and admire men and certainly don't mean to be sexist here, but I feel very lucky to be a straight woman, as I've always found dealing with men to be vastly simpler, much more straightforward, and considerably less treacherous than if I had to navigate the minefield of romantic relationships with women :eek:.

While I know you have reason not to fully agree with this, Nini, except for in cases of abusive or otherwise disturbed people who torment others indiscriminately, people really do treat others as well as they believe (AND DEMAND!!) that they should be treated. That's why it really saddens and concerns me whenever I read comments from you that glorify, excuse, and/or defend your ex's behavior, especially toward you or statements that place the blame for that failed relationship and your unhappiness squarely on yourself for not being able to save your relationship with your ex. Do you really think anyone can imagine that you, loving your ex as wholeheartedly and conditionally as you loved him, didn't do her very best and try everything in her power to make that relationship work? I also find it impossible to believe that you were all really that objectively happy (I'm not talking about being happy relative to your other life experiences, which is an intrinsic part of the experience of one's first love) with a man who treated you the way your ex did. You had to know that everyone deserves better than a lover who tells you he loves you then takes it back when you say those words back to him, who displays no qualms about chastising, criticizing, or outright yelling at you in front of friends, who relentlessly tries to tear apart your confidence in your musical talent, which he had to know was one of the things that mattered most to you, who attempts to break up with you repeatedly and only grudgingly takes you back after you plead with him, who doesn't seem to respect or even consider your feelings while he ogles other girls and talks open about his sexual desire for them, and who makes you feel like a horrible, immoral, unworthy, dirty, and trashy influence on him whenever you didn't fully (and sufficiently enthusiastically) agree with all of his ridiculously rigid, uptight, judgmental, oppressive, misogynistic, and generally despicable opinions.

Please keep in mind that everyone's first real love seems perfect and destined, but that's almost always because the people involved have no basis for comparison and are experiencing the magic of first love, which is the belief that it will never end. So much so in fact that even though I could not get along with my first love to save my life, there were many times when I believed we'd spend our lives together...actually, it's still important to me that he be a part of my life, but no one who knew us then could understand how we didn't kill each other all the time we were together except when we weren't sneaking off all over school to fool around. The first love thing was so powerful to me that even while I was pulling away from our relationship toward the end and starting to socialize and experiment sexually with other people, I didn't leave him officially until another man and I were totally head over heels in love. I don't think I would remember that first love affair, despite all its intensity, passion, and how close we were deep down, very fondly or nearly as wistfully and tenderly if he hadn't been the first man with whom I really truly fell in love. I think the fact that your ex was your first (and only) love definitely plays a role in why your memories are so glowing and happy, along with distance having blurred out a lot of the day to day, neither wonderful nor awful times you must have spent wondering how he could repeatedly try to dump you, not demonstrate much interest in being around you, being negative or critical toward you, and generally not acting as kind and loving as a man who is mature enough for and committed to a serious romantic relationship should act toward his lover.

Please don't misunderstand me here and think I'm out to bash your ex and ruin all your good memories of that relationship (though I do think you need to take a good hard look at whether these times were really so precious and wonderful, along with whether they are helping or hindering you to be happy in the present). I do think that your recollections seem quite skewed in favor of your ex, though I know that numerous examples of his bad behavior toward you are still etched vividly in your mind. I also think there is a great deal of truth to what Opie said in one of her latest posts about the large amount of energy you expend denying that any of the advice offered you is worthwhile and/or feasible compared with the very small amount of energy you devote to carefully weighing and considering the plethora of suggestions that pile into each of your threads and expressing optimism or positivity about the future. If you redirected all the effort you expend defending yourself and your past experiences, particularly your ex, against any suggestions (which you almost invariably summarily reject) to help you feel more optimistic and positive about your life and your future. It just doesn't seem to me that it's benefiting you in any way to put so much effort into detailing how great things were with your ex and how awful life is without him or explaining that all of your experiences have taken such a toll that you can't do more than what you've already tried in order to try and be happy. Just as he factored into nearly every aspect of this response to you, your ex is such a major component in your assessment of your present and future prospects for a content and gratifying life that I think changing the way you think about him (at least breaking the obsessive feedback loop which is keeping you tormented and treading water ever since you heard about the marriage, but ideally I'm talking about being able to put him more and more out of your mind and confine him completely to your past) is an essential, unavoidable step in making progress toward feeling less unhappy and hopeless. If you still see having been with him and lost him as the major obstacle standing in the way of moving on and being happy, then I couldn't disagree more with your assessment of therapy intended to break your cycle of obsession over your ex as unlikely to help and not worth the time and expense. I am sorry to be so blunt; I am just really concerned that your interpretation of the issues and obstacles you face is influenced more by wishful thinking and the force of habit than by reality. For the sake of your happiness and future, we are trying to help you see how paralyzing and debilitating this fixation has become and make you understand that you need to fight this with any and all possible means. Please Nini, just reconsider what we've been saying without dismissing it with your usual one is trying to be mean or unsympathetic, but I'm worried that you're not really listening to us and giving our advice fair and careful consideration, and I truly hope you rethink that approach for your own benefit and happiness.
Whoa...should I lay down on a couch for this?? LOL! just kidding. You know I always appreciate your thoughtful and insightful posts, Stacy. Well, let's see, where to start, this may turn out to be a looonnng one, but I'll try to keep it as short as possible...

I remember you saying that you felt the same way, particularly when you were younger. I'm wondering to what extent you still feel content and satisfied with your own company? Obviously it'd be best for you to be happy on your own, but a lot of things you've said have suggested that you aren't content with spending most of your time alone. I guess I'm just a little confused on that and think it might help if you could clarify a bit more--is it that you are fine on your own being a homebody but that you aren't okay with not having someone in your life to provide love and company? .[/QUOTE]

Well, I think it's a rare, rare person who is totally happy and fully, perfectly content with always being alone, with no friends, no one to ever talk to, etc. Scientists have proven we just aren't designed to be alone. But as a child, i didn't have many friends, or many good friends, so I didn't have much choice. I learned to enjoy my own company, singing along with my records, or whatever. I spent almost all of one summer vacation in my room, knitting and listening to the radio, and I remember that summer as very enjoyable. But I also enjoyed the times I did get to go out to the movies or a party or whatever. But it seemed that the other kids were never interested in the things I said or wanted to talk about, and weren't very impatient with me. I used to hang out on the playground with a few girls and we'd sing songs on the swings. One day they were singing all these hymns from their church I didn't know. After about the 4th song, feeling very left out, I suggested we sing something from the radio that we all knew and one snapped back that I shouldn't want to punish them just because I had no class and didn't know any church songs. As the years went on, I withdrew more and relied more on myself for company and entertainment, but still feeling sad that for whatever reason, I didn't seem to be welcome to join in like the other kids. In 6th grade we had a school dance, and when we were deciding whether to have a dance or a picnic, I said "oh, a dance would be fun, I think we should have a dance!" one of the girls sneered at me "why would you want a dance? No one would ask YOU!" Well we did have a dance, and no one asked me. I was one of three girls out of the whole class who didn't go, the other two being outcasts as well. As I got to high school, and kids started dating and going to Homecoming and Proms and such, the sting of not being included got more painful, but by that time, I really didn't know how to break out of the shell I was already in. Then when I was 16, my brother got sick, so it was even harder to have people over at the house, and dealing with something no one could even really understand (my best friend thought he was "faking it.") I spent my 18th birthday visiting him in the mental hospital when other kids were partying and having fun, and I didn't even feel like I had the right to feel bad about that because at least I still had my mind. He was the one who really suffered. Anyway, I guess I didn't realize the anger that had built up in the form of depression and low self esteem, and it took me several years to start to heal. When I got my first car, I was driving my dad somewhere, and the car in front of us was in the middle of the right and left turn lanes. I wanted to turn right, but couldnt' get all the way in the right lane, so I got caddycorner behind him, I guess in his blind spot, and he started to back up. I put my hand on my horn, but I couldn't make myself press down on it. I just couldn't make myself say "hey!! You're about to hurt me!! Stop!!" by honking my horn, even as he got an inch away from hitting my car, I had been that conditioned to believe I didn't have the right to say "ow!" My dad finally had to reach over and honk the horn for me. It was then that I realized I really had to work on my defense mechanisms!

I think now the main problem I have with being alone, is that before, I had all the time in the world, but now, I'm 40. If I'm ever going to have a family, I need to have one right now, and I'm just one of those women whose religion, background and sensibilities tells me that my life is not complete without a family. Plus, I just really want to raise kids, teach them, play with them, clothe them, check homework, send them off to school, shop for prom dresses, all that stuff, and to have warm arms to hold me at night, and oh yea, it would be kind of nice to get to have sex at least once before I die! To me, having a loving, happy marriage and a couple of beautiful kids would just be the deal, because let's face it, that's what it's all about.

I am also wondering about that numb, disconnected feeling you described when you were playing pokeródid you have that feeling being around other people before, or only after, your experience with your ex? Other than when you were going through a good patch with your ex, did that feeling ever subside or at least diminish, and if so, can you tell us under what circumstances you felt it lessen? Is there any way you can imagine feeling happy again and truly enjoying your life? What did you see as your purpose and motivation in life before your ex came into the picture?.[/QUOTE]

Yes, I experienced it before, but never to such a degree. Like when I went with my old best friend and her husband to a club to go dancing, and she met up with a bunch of her friends from work that I didn't know, and they all talked about work and work people, so I couldn't contribute too much to the conversation, and I got sort of irritated that no one was asking me to dance, so she said "well, go out there and dance on your own!" So I did for a song, but I felt kind of stupid. One by one, they all left the table and I later found they were all on the second level and hadn't even told me they were all up there. I usually feel that way in a crowd of people who all know each other better than they all know me and better than I know them all. In fact, the longest period of time I ever went when I didn't feel that disconnected, I'm not really welcome here feeling was when I was with my ex. Most of his friends were really accepting of me, except for one or two. Unfortunately the one who I talked about before, the "birds" guy, was the one my ex chose to make his best bosom buddy, and that was part of the beginning of the end. But in my ex's arms was the time I felt safe, welcomed, accepted, and "right," like I had a right to be in this world, a place and a person to call my own. I guess I sort of got addicted to it. But now that I know it wasn't real, I guess that's why I really don't believe I'll ever find it again. I never really found it for real to begin with.

Oh, and p.s., before I forget, I can't remember exactly where it was, but I think you or someone said something about my ex grudgingly taking me back after I begged him? Well, just to clarify, I never begged him. We did the "just friends" thing, so I am guilty of hanging around, but both times we got back together, he initiated the actual reconsiliations, nervously the first time, as he told me he was afraid to tell me he wanted me back since it was his desire to break up in the first place.

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