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I would do anything to have my ex-partner back in my life, even though she demands complete separation

heart to heart The questioner's philosophy
I have a positive and energetic approach to life and believe that love and family life is all that takes to achieve happiness and realization in life. I am of Catholic roots but since focused on the spiritual faith.
The questioner's hopes and aspirations
My goal in life is to build the family I never had when growing up: that is, to marry a woman and have kids and a happy life with my daughter (1st marriage).
My partner of 5 years and fiancée of 8 months left me after being diagnosed with deep psychological issues (covert incest and inner child issues) as result of a traumatizing and abusive upbringing by an alcoholic father and an absent gambling addicted mother.

After 5 months of the breakup, with alternating highs-lows contact, my partner became more dissociated and refused all attempts I tried to be part of her healing and makeup processes. She's having therapy since the breakup and has become emotionally unstable in her interactions with me and others (the mom she's living with, the married brother she "raised" and her drunk dad living 1/2 hour away). The pattern of our contacts have been wonderfully caring and loving meetings followed by almost certain resentful and negative discussions. She now demands complete separation and isolation. She pledges to one day come back "if she feels like it" but refuses to breakup in a definite way with me. I'm terribly confused and her repeating statements to "demand space" and to "take care of herself" and "I don't know whether I want you in my life anymore" make my life pure torture. I'm devastated for losing the woman of my dreams and a terrific partner.

What should I do? I would do anything in my reach to have her back in my life. Is there anything I can do to help her healing or to decide whether to come back to me? I would do anything to have this wonderful woman back into my life.

Reply by Coach Maurice Turmel
Maurice Turmel
I've read your letter a couple of times now and there is no easy answer for you. From experience I can tell you that recovery from childhood sexual abuse is difficult with the best of help. It is impossible without it.

The only thing you can do is be supportive. You cannot fix this for her, much as you would like to. You cannot change places with her, much as you would like to. You're going to have to set aside your manly need to control things and let this one unfold as it should.

If she is getting the right kind of help then it's only a matter of time before this all comes out in the wash. How she will be after recovery remains to be seen. Be patient and supportive, but do not get in the way of her recovery because you so desperately want her back in your life.

A better use of your time would be investigating why you so desperately need a damaged woman in your life right now. What need is her disability and illness meeting in you? Why do you need to save her? Why not try and save yourself from whatever dysfunction you may be wrestling with? Sometimes being in love with a damaged person keeps us from looking at our own needs.

Questioner's response
Thank you Dr. Moe, I deeply appreciate your response. In the dysfunctional contacts with my partner, during these 5+ months of separation, she eluded that my spiral down in grief may indicate some issues of my own. Since I spent quite some time comparing the loss of a promised happy family life with future wife and the dysfunctional home I grew up in, I'm sure that is something I can explore and perhaps to get some help to understand.

I'm fighting depression and the obsessive feeling towards her these days and that is very difficult for me, as everything in my house, city and situations reminds me of the life we shared. It's like she's absent in all this that constituted "our life". I struggle to dissociate from that. Some days I just wake up better and can deal with the separation in a positive way but, most days depression takes over and I feel powerless and fearful to do anything.

I am considering to get professional help to deepen my soul-searching but, please I would appreciate your direction of a best course of action for me, right now.

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Joyce Carr (age 75) comments, Jan 2010:
I would ask this person what he thinks the experience means about him. Based on my life experiences, I have found it helpful to identify (1) the event ('what happened' physically as seen by a fly on the wall) and (2) the story he tells himself about the 'what happened.' This process will help him identify what's really going on. Failure to distinguish between these two experiences always results in suffering.

It is important to recognize that if one 'makes up' a story, even a 'victim' story, then it must stand to reason that one can also 'make up' a story that is empowering. It all depends on what your intention is -- to suffer or to be empowered. I hope this helps a bit.

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