Difficulty relating with others... and now...
I've been struggling for the past few months with a variety of factors causing me to find it difficult to relate to others, including family and friends.
My absence and fogginess has been clearly noticed by others and in particular has taken a strain on my family and marriage. On a daily basis I feel like I'm on the edge of an abyss and just can't find space to be a truly available and centred husband and father. I've basically just been getting by, which differs from how I was in the past.
At this critical juncture of time, an ex of mine (one of those you never seem to get over), who is from overseas, has reached out to reconnect with me. It might seem innocuous, just a "Hi, how are you" message, but my intuition (and past experience) tells me it's more than that. I have a particular history with this ex, where we spent a short and extremely intense period of time together 20 years ago, and then broke up for reasons that were never quite clear.
After that short period of time together I admit to pursuing her, first to to resume our relationship, but then as friends when it became clear she was suffering from depression and unable to be in a genuine relationship with me. This ended up being unhealthy for us both. I only wanted to be with her and when I would get close she would end up running into someone else's arms. The worst part was that deep down we both knew that we would only be happy if we were with each other.
Despite both sides trying and dreaming of it working (changing countries, jobs, etc), we both made that unspoken decision to move on with our lives (at least on the surface) rather than keep hoping and praying that things would somehow work out. I can't speak for her, but I made a conscious decision not to have her in my life anymore because of the pain it created that we weren't together.
Why I'm writing this post is that I'm really torn about replying to her message. This is someone I know I will consciously and unconsciously love for the rest of my life. I am tempted to write back to her, but fear that even though we have other lives now (we both have spouses and children) that I'll likely get sucked back into that space from the past and feel compromised and dependant which is exacerbated by the fact that I've been struggling lately.
I don't want to dishonour this person who I feel is likely my one soulmate in this life, but am concerned about getting into a highly charged contact when I'm in such a vulnerable space. What should I do?
Welcome to the forums. It is nice to meet you here and I am glad you have posted because it sounds like a very confusing time for you.
I think the first thing I should say is that I'm not trying to give advice on what to do and what is the "right" thing. I have only lived my life and the only person who has lived your life is you (duh!). So perhaps it is better to treat what I say as observations.
From what I understand, it sounds like you have had some issues recently which is causing you to disconnect from your current family and friends. At the same time, an old ex has reached out and you are hoping, even slightly, that this will turn into something more than just friends.
My own opinion is that when we enter into relationships with people, we have some kind of unspoken agreement to, generally, be as good to them as we can. At the present, the people you have relationships with are your current wife, your kids, and also to yourself.
It sounds like trying to reconnect with this ex would be trying to do something for yourself, which is an entirely fine thing to do. I think we need to do what makes us happy.
Of course, the trouble is we don't know what makes us happy. I know you describe this ex as your soulmate, but I have always been a bit skeptical of the idea. What makes more sense to me is: will she make you happier in the long term?
History seems to have shown that, no, she won't. We can love someone more passionately than anyone else, but if it just causes us pain in the long term, perhaps it's only meant to be a temporary love.
So maybe it is good for you to have a think about a few questions:
1. Are you in the right frame of mind to make such a big decision which affects multiple people?
2. If so, who do you think will bring you more happiness in the future?
3. Is this workable with the kids?
4. Would it be a better choice to, instead, seek help with your recent issues that have caused this disconnection? This may be counselling, individual or as a couple.
Hope that helps!