In terms of therapy, you can go to someone and say, "I need to break up with a messed-up boyfriend, and I need backup."
You probably don't need years of inner work; you spotted that this relationship was not OK pretty early. But it seems like you could use practical tools for *how* to deal with the situation. Taking concrete steps to take care of yourself will build your confidence and sense of your own worth like nothing else. I recommend it!
Dear Red Flag, what is your question? Is it not obvious that you need to break up with this scary, angry, misogynistic man? Or it's obvious, but it's so hard when you love him and the good things have been so very good?
You don't have to stay with people just because you love them. He is bad for you. Any relationship you could have with him will be miserable. I think you know this.
Suspecting he has BPD is only going to make things worse for you. We tend to think that if there's a diagnosis, it could change. But he won't change fundamentally. Once the shiny-new wears off, what do you have? A guy you have little in common with (see: different in every way), who is volatile, jealous, angry, and thinks it's OK to hurt you on purpose. WTH is there to stick around for?!
The danger of sticking around until the shiny-new wears off, then breaking up once the awful outweighs the shine, is that we humans bond so intensely. If you wait to break up, you will be more deeply attached to him; it will hurt more, not less, and in the meantime he is undermining your sense of self-worth and your equilibrium, which will also make it harder for you to detach later.
It's your job to take care of yourself. If it's too painful to dump him yourself, pretend you're your friend, and you're helping her break up with a scary, angry, misogynistic guy. Breaking up is the kind, protective, loving thing to do for yourself. You can do it.
But -- and I don't mean to scare you or impugn the guy more than I already have, but -- do it cleanly, firmly, and all at once. Guys similar to this have been known to stalk/rage at/call thousands of times crying and begging/do scary things to women who break up with them. Tell him it's over and then stop taking his calls, or this could draw out into an ordeal.
Take care of yourself, Red Flag.
Oh, hon. You feared for your life on your wedding day, after spending grad school being bait for behavior that barely stopped short of violence? It is no wonder you feel traumatized.
Maybe this is what Heather said, but even so - there is such a thing as asking too much of yourself. It's great that you and your husband have cut his terrifying mother out of your lives.
Planning to roll with someone trying to assassinate you during your wedding? That is asking too much if yourself. I understand why you did it, and it probably seemed like the generous path at the time. And it was - incredibly generous. But you had just lived through a very similar trauma -- pretending you didn't see a threat barreling toward you, in service of a higher purpose.
Fortunately, you are not Georgi Markov. These threats are behind you now. Of course you are upset, now that the threats have receded, that the danger was too present during your wedding for you to plan everything the way you now, in your relaxed state, could do it.
But at that time, you were in survival mode. They don't award points for style when you're running for your life. You get points for staying alive. Good job. GREAT job. Now, be good to yourself. Keep your regrets only as reminders not to ask too much of yourself in the future.
Even though you are strong, even though you are a fighter, even though you are a scrappy badass superhero, you don't have to be those things every time an opportunity arises for you to be one. Cutting Evil Mother-In-Law out of your lives shows that you know how to take care of yourself. Take it just one step further and acknowledge that heroes pay a price for their heroism. Your wedding regrets are that price.
@Tamamat This is a good point. I had stuck grief once, and it was because I kept getting annoyed and telling myself I should be over it by now.
Once I gave myself permission to stay devastated and never get over it, to cry as much as I wanted to, it faded in about six months. It just wanted me to acknowledge, accept, and embrace it as real.
@RobotsNeedLove Love the image of the boulder and the and.
@paddlepickle I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.
I lost my husband to cancer 6 months ago, after 18 months of torturous treatment. One thought that has helped me keep going is that while I need to feel everything -- not all at once. Not all the time.
I feel sad, I cry. But while I do, I don't keep feeding the story that made me cry; eventually I find myself wondering what to have for lunch. I know that I'm not done crying forever. But I'm done for now, and, hey, lunch.
@jfruh This was my first thought, too. I spent my 20s and early 30s worrying because I didn't have a big job.
Then I realized that I didn't have a big job because I didn't *want* one. I'd rather work my 40 hours and spend evenings and weekends seeing friends, going for walks, and sticking to a budget. Am I capable of doing a big job? Sure. But I *don't want to.* And that's OK.
LW, the thing you're describing is *how your BF is.* There is nothing on God's green earth you can do to make him be different. He's 30, for goodness sake. He is a guy who doesn't want to listen to your heavy stuff, and he never will be. He might be lovely in all other respects, but either he's not the guy for you, or you will need to go into an LTR with him knowing that this thing you want, you will never get from him. You could get it from someone else; the rules of monogamy don't state that you absolutely need to get your feelings of heardness from your partner.
But this isn't going to get better. I'm sorry.
This is a really beautiful answer. I came from someplace closer to the prep-school than the hardscrabble end of the spectrum. I think it must not be easy for someone who knows in her bones that she earned every. thing. she. has. to recognize what it looks like when someone feels defensive about their privilege. Getting into top schools *is* much easier when you have all the right connections, but it's not, y'know, *easy.* Her BF still did the work. At the same time, he probably wonders whether he'd have succeeded as notably as you have, had he grown up in your circumstances.
I agree that this is something that can enrich your lives if you commit to being openhearted with each other. He didn't ask to be privileged anymore than you asked to be working class. It's no more fair for you to tease him about his silver spoon than it would be for him to tease you about your cousins' grammar. (That may come, if you work through this issue to the point of genuine comfort, but clearly you're not there yet.)
I would also say, if your family teases him about being an effete elitist, ask them privately to tone it down. Unless that will make them pile on more. You have learned how to operate in two cultures, and he hasn't. Help him learn, make sure he's willing to do this for you, but cut him slack for any missteps. Reassure him that *you* won't interpret his missteps as snobbery, which was a fear I had when interacting with my husband's redneck cousins.
These two sentences: "I don't like the way he never speaks with certainty. I wish he took more interest in my career or we had more shared passions." Look at them squarely. These three things will never change. Never ever. Can you accept these things bothering you for the rest of your life? Will you respect him in 40 years if he still has never spoken with certainy? Will you trust him if he never takes an iota more interest in your career than he does today?
I have to say, it's concerning to me that you started an affair right after you got engaged. Seems like some part of you inside was shouting "Noooooo!" I'd recommend trusting your gut here.
With the affair, was part of you hoping you'd get caught and then you'd have a get-out-of-engagement free card? But then he was surprisingly forgiving and wanting to work it out and now you're feeling stuck?
Even though he's being all sweet and thus you might think you owe it to him to go through with this, you don't. If you think you're likely to be unhappy in this marriage, it is kinder to *him* to get out now, as well as kinder to yourself.
Don't worry about feeling silly about the on-again-off-again-on-again thing. Don't worry about what other people might say. You are the person who has to live your life.