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Getting married and not sure how to cope

sparrowhawk
Community Member

Hi everyone! Little backstory to me - I’m in my 30s, have a fair bit of childhood trauma (was born with a physical condition and went through a lot of misunderstanding, discrimination and bullying, though my family is awesome). In my twenties I lived in a religious community where I experienced emotional and psychological abuse. I left that community two years ago, very unwell with anorexia (which I now know was triggered by trauma). Since then I’ve had a lot of PTSD issues. Flashbacks, irritability, nightmares, heightened anxiety, self-blame for what happened, and social/situational avoidance. I’ve not really been treated consistently for the PTSD. I met my fiancé last year and we are getting married in October.

 

My fiancé is wonderful, honestly the kindest person I’ve ever met, and he has been so accepting of me and my issues. I really want to marry him and I know we are meant to be together. But I just can’t cope. I can’t cope with the fact that someone wants to be with me because all I hear are the messages from my trauma. I don’t feel good enough, I don’t feel deserving of goodness, and being loved and wanted just feels like too much. I’ve been having a lot more crying episodes (picture full-on sobbing) and triggers lately and I wonder if it’s connected to that. Talking about this makes me feel a bit dumb, because who would be upset or anxious about being loved??? My natural instinct tells me it’s much better for me to be alone, because then I can’t be hurt and I can’t hurt other people, but I can’t really do that in this instance. I think the crux of it is that I feel so incredibly undeserving of all the good things I have, I just can’t cope with goodness, and it just feels like way too much. 

I’ve talked to my fiancé about this a little and he always tells me I am deserving and he loves me, but I don’t want to overwhelm him with this. I’ve felt very happy planning our wedding day, but now thinking about it makes me feel a little apprehensive - not that I don’t want to marry him, just that having such a day celebrating us feels like way too much for my brain, because I don’t deserve it. 

7 Replies 7

Croix
Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Sparrowhawk~

Welcome back.

 

It must be so frustrating and upsetting not to be able ot accept love, with you mind putting up reasons why not. I would be pretty sure that 10 years in a very strict religions community and the symptoms of PTSD would have a lot to do with it. In other words they are symptoms -and not the real  you.

 

You did mention that your psychologist was very repetitive, and other times you are not being properly treated for the PTSD.  Can I suggest you  back to your GP and discuss getting another psychologist. Hopefully in time, like myself, the symptoms wil lessen and become more manageable.

 

Now as for getting married. My vision is to be with somone you love and enjoy being with. You trust them and know they have your back - a source of safety.  Also you would want to ease their path through  life and for them to be happy.

 

Marriage is a two-person thing. Now I am sure you would naturally do all those things for your partner , and will in time come to expect those things for yourself. You have as much need and right to these things as your partner -you are an equal person too.

 

If at any time you start to feel overwhelmed just tell your partner and you can just sit quietly together and hold hands.

 

It can be confusing, do you have anyone, a family member or freind perhaps, who you can talk with  about this? It can help.

 

You will be welcome back here anytime

 

Croix

 

 

Hi there, Croix. Thank you! You have been so helpful to me in the past and I’m grateful you have taken the time to assist again.

 

It is frustrating, but most of all I’m ashamed. I have a lot of good things in my life. There are people who don’t receive the love I do. I feel so ungrateful for finding it hard to accept. 

During my time in the community I was in, the people I lived with became my family. I joined very much wanting to belong and to feel connected. But love and approval were very conditional and essentially given on the basis that I would be “perfect”, or the version of what others wanted me to be. There were people who were very manipulative and duplicitous, and who would act very hot-and-cold which made me question their care for me and made it very hard for me to trust them. I often felt like I was being punished when love and affection were withheld from me. I got very used to just going along without that. So to have someone in my life who loves me as I am, and who chooses to love me, feels sort of wrong. 

I think I do need to see someone else; I was seeing a great psychologist helping me with some gut issues, but he discharged me once I recovered enough. 

 

Since the early days of my relationship with my fiancé, I have found it really, really hard to accept that he loves me and wants to be with me. There have been times when I would look for proof to tell me that he didn’t really love me. He is a wheelchair user and has had female support workers, and I would often feel like an inconvenience or in the way. If I did something wrong or messed up, I instantly convinced myself that he was going to leave me. It felt strange when he didn’t get angry at me in those times. He is such a beautiful person and I just don’t understand why he wants to be with me. But I am not sure I need to understand.

All those things you said about marriage are pretty much exactly what I have with him. I just find it so difficult to accept love, and I think perhaps part of me is prepared for him to leave or to hurt me. But at the same time, I trust him and am trying really hard to believe the nice things he says — it’s just so difficult to.

Talking about it does bring me a lot of shame, because I feel like I should be happy and excited instead of anxious. I feel very ungrateful. My sister has been very supportive and I know I can talk to her about it, but there’s also a sense of not wanting to be a burden. 

Croix
Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Sparrowhawk~

Yes I'm here, and think you are doing OK, even though you do not feel it deep inside. Your religious group held you conditional love which was snatched away if you did not tow the line. That is NOT love, it is coercion.

 

I would think that what you get from your fiancé is the genuine thing. Hard to tell the difference at first until you find love and family includes great forgiveness, not something to worry about if you break down or are angry and distant at times.

 

The other thing about a partnership is that not each one gives at the same time. When my PTSD, depression and anxiety was at its worst I was VERY hard to live with and my wife had every reason to leave me, but did not -out of love. I owe her a lot.

 

Many years later she contracted a long illness and after 9 months passe away. During that time I had the opportunity to return strength, support and love, an opportunity I'm grateful for.

 

It is OK to take, there will be lots of ways (even just small ones) to show gratitude and support in return. There are no books to balance.

 

Seeing another psych is a good idea, I could not make it unassisted, but am now in very good place.

 

Sing out whenever you feel like it

 

Croix

Thanks so much, Croix. I know I’m definitely doing better than I was, but I just feel so bad about how I feel.

I think you’re right that it was coercion. For so long I’ve wanted to believe that they did really love me.

I’ve honestly done a lot to hurt my family since I left my community - especially because I was so unwell with anorexia and didn’t want to get better at all. They forgave a lot, and my fiancé is forgiving a lot too.

I’m sorry to hear about your loss, and am really glad to hear you had the opportunity to care for your wife in the way she cared for you. That is beautiful. I’m so glad you’re doing well. 

Thanks again for your kindness! 

Croix
Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Sparrowhawk~

Imagine just sitting and feeling calm, loved and happy. Knowing you have the strength to both give (easier) and receive (harder).

 

True htere can be times when one feels unworthy, or not trusting. With the help of a psychiatrist and family those times became less and less, now in a place I"d not have believed possible.

 

If you can overcome anorexia then you can overcome the rest. No instant fix, and sometimes not a smooth progression, however you have strength and love inside you and good people outside. You will make it.

 

I forgot to mention I'd be very surprised  if there was not grief and loss  as well -undeserved but present nevertheless. Be patient wiht yourself, it does take time to heal, just like physical injuries can.

 

Talk whenever you would like

 

Croix

 

Hi there Croix,

 

I have tried a few times to just sit and feel loved, and it can help, but most of the time it just feels overwhelming. But that’s perhaps because I think too much, and don’t just allow myself to feel. It is definitely much easier to give love than to receive it. 

 

One time I was finding something really difficult, a while ago, and my dad said something like, “You’ve been through a major surgery and you can’t get through this?” That resurfaces a bit when I wonder why things are so hard. I still have my challenges with anorexia, but it’s much better than it was, and even then I spent a lot of time not wanting to get better and not caring about life. 

Oh you’re spot on. Significant grief and loss. Because my whole identity changed. Everything I did, wore, ate, said, and so on was tied up in and guided by the community. It was my identity. So when I left, I had to work out who I was. I had to learn things that most people learn during their 20s. And I’m still discovering who I am to an extent, which is painful at times. People around me sometimes don’t understand the grief. Some of those who know what happened (immediate family only) think that because it’s good that I left, I should be happy and move on. It is so very hard to move on and the feelings are so deep. 

Thank you so much.

sparrowhawk 

Dear Sparrowhawk~

You dad does not understand, and I guess that is because he has not lived though the same thing. I find in my own case when people say to me "move on" or "arn't you over it yet" or similar it makes me aware of the gulf between their experience and understanding and my experiences. They may mean well, but simply cannot really understand. It does not mean that love is not there, just different lives.

 

It is not surprising that it is taking you time to find out about yourself and the world. You life was all-encompassing and now that's gone, at least mostly. There are some things to carry over, for example if you were ever shown kindness that is worth remembering and emulating.

 

There are new standards, some of which, such as truth and honesty and love, that may have the same names, but mean different tihngs. As you found out they would have paid lip service to those words, but did not act them out. In the world outside you will find, despite all that is wrong wiht it,  some people genuinely are honest and truthful and give love.

 

It's hard, there is so much to assimilate, however there is no rush, take one tihng at a time. You are of great value, just as you are.

 

Croix