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Does a relationship give you an identity?

Community Member

I have been seeing a man on & off for almost a year now. He is in his early 50s, lives at home with his parents, he suffered a job related PTSD breakdown around 6 years ago. I am in my late 40s & have 3 kids (2 in their late teens, the other 13). My husband passed away 2 years ago. When we first began seeing each other I was still coming to terms with the loss of my husband as were my children. He was extremely caring, wanting to "counsel" me, to be a "better person", he would listen intently. I am very empathetic, I do always look for the good in others & I am guilty of fence sitting and keeping the peace. I have been working on for myself since my husband passed away to find my inner strength, to be there for my children, to grow & to be in control of my life.

Our happy relationship didn't last long, then it turned almost narcissistic (as mine & his friends told me) he tried control every decision that i would make, selling my home, parenting my children. When I did not take his advice he grew angry and would lash out verbally. Things came to a head & inevitably he lost the majority of his friends & me, as they felt he was abusive and disrespectful. We broke up for 4 months.

During this time I regained my strength. I joined the gym, I studied mindfulness. I was healthier physically, mentally and emotionally than I had been in years. But he was always on my mind. So I contacted him, he had done very little with himself during this time. His brother had taken him in, to "protect" him. We were happy.

We both agreed we would take things slowly, keeping things between us until we made sure we were in a good place. We have had many ups and downs again. For me, I feel pressured to bring him into my home, which should be a natural occurrence, but I am fearful with his personality type, he can be extremely upfront & judgemental; my kids wont tolerate that, they don't think highly of him anyway.

I have tried to help him, as he is not happy in his life, suffering job related PTSD he has lost all identity but he wants someone else to find it for him. His happiness is upto everyone else. He has lost his identity in our relationship and therefore this is why he is so negative all the time. I dont believe this is true, you shouldnt be identified by your relationship?? Am i wrong in thinking this? I am at a loss as to what to do. I dont like being pushed, i have explained this, but my past, my feelings are all excuses to him. I feel worthless, maybe I am as he says.

6 Replies 6

Community Member
hi widowed mum of 3, having a relationship is hard especially with children and your loss, feelings of saving or adapting to his life are normal,you and your 3 children will always be a first, give him the truth of how you feel, take time out and look back. Instinces, always go on them. Take care...

Thank you gentlydoesit.

Unfortunately when I tell him how I feel & open up, he tells me these are just excuses for not doing what I should be doing - bringing him into my family. I am concerned that I am his escape from the life that he dislikes. I just wish he would let things progress naturally.

Thank you again for your response πŸ™‚

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Widowedmumof3

In my opinion, you are far from worthless. From what you write, you are stunning in the way you have risen to the challenges you've faced, especially since your husband's passing. We are only worth less than what we believe our self to be when we believe more in the lies others tell us. So the question becomes 'Do you believe more in his lies than you believe in yourself?'

I imagine what he is giving you is nothing more than feedback based on his perception. You're fully entitled to question and challenge his perception. If he insists that you're making excuses, he may actually be right but from a more positive point of view. Are you excusing your kids from having to face the everyday challenges that would come with him moving in? Should the kids have to face such challenges based on his own need or desire to move back in?

You do sound deeply mindful. I believe you to be spot on when you say you can't be identified (at a soulful level) by your relationship. I believe, all you can do is identify yourself by what you put into it. In your relationship with him, you could be easily identified as someone who raises him carefully, thoughtfully and cautiously (intuitively knowing how toxic the household could become if he moved in). In regard to him identifying himself based on what he brings to the relationship, whilst he may identify himself as loving he should also be honest in admitting he is demanding, selfish and degrading. I'm not meaning to sound harsh here, just reflecting on your current natures. As you would well know ,given how far you've come, our nature often changes based on the challenges we rise to and evolve through. His nature may change in time, in positive ways, under certain circumstances. Being Mum to a couple of beautiful teenagers who I absolutely adore, I wouldn't bring anyone into their house who threatens their mental well being, until they've first raised them self to greater mental health.

It sounds like the current significant challenge you face comes down to remembering how to love yourself for the stunning incredible person you are. Myself, I have found that whilst others may threaten to dis-member me (in numerous ways) from a life and self I love, re-membering my life and my self takes practice, faith and a the recognition of an undeniable truth - we are beautiful.

Take care

Hi there widowed mum of three,

ok, I'm going to jump right in now,you have moved on in a positive way. This a mature man living with his parents and now with his brother to whom you have opened up to,I read your letter again,as you said he has lost his identity and his happiness is up to everyone else and is negative, pushing you to enter your family. Children are very good at seeing there mum unhappy,and then not tolerant of the reason, which would

be him.Unfortuantly we can't save people, at the end of the day it is up to him to work out the clearly many problems he has.If you feel he is trying to push you to let him into your family to find "himself"and your feelings are excuses, then your not worthless, far from that, your a kind person with 3 children,posative and giving have moved on from your losses. everyone deserves to be happy and fullfilled, I too thought i could help and change my childrens father, in the end it was them or him.

Confronting people are exactly that, move on, take a look at him from the way you have dealt getting yourself on track. listen to your doubts about his behaviour, and the affect on your family. So widowed mum of three, your kind, giving, lovely person, and you deserve respect. Take care, sorry about my spelling, my now adult, well, sometimes, children want me to make pancakes again. I'll always look out for your posts.

Thank you for your response. You are so right in that I do seem to believe in his lies/words more than I do in myself. I have tried so hard to remain strong but I do get tired, worn out, I then question my own self & start to believe what I am told.

I thank you for your words, I just need to stay true to myself& keep trying.

I guess that’s the, not so good at times, part of me, always wanting to help others even at the detriment my own self. I naively believe the way in which I treat someone they in turn would treat & do the same for me; at my age I probably should know better, but I always live in hope.

Thank you for your reply to my post.