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gotitsowhat

I fear my own weakness (long post)...

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gotitsowhat

Now that I have come back to life after over 10 years of being in hiding from dating, relationships and even my entire social life...

I have done some analysis of what I did wrong in my relationship so many years back. My true love, RJ, gave me the herpes. He got herpes from his secret lady love whom he was seeing behind my back, married her a couple of days before he passed away (of lung cancer), leaving me to find out about the cheating and his marriage on the day he died.

And then I discovered the herpes 3 months after his death. It's been devastating.

The warning signs I should have picked up on: He avoided letting me do much socializing in his crowd of friends. When we went to events (film premiers, he was a screenwriter), he went with me but did not act as if he was actually with me, made excuses to disappear into crowds, not sit with me or only sit with me by taking his seat in the dark. In other words, it looked to me as if he had some kind of shame at being seen in public with me.

I had a number of discussions and arguments with him in which he vigorously denied it and said I was just being insecure. I could not budge him on this.

I blamed myself for being overweight (only a little back then) in a world (the film world) where all the women were so slim and glamorous. Also, I thought that, as a school teacher, I did not fit in with the film world, even though I am some kind of writer and had, at one time, a screenplay optioned by Warner Bros.

One clue that it was not about my weight happened when I met his former girlfriend, a visual effects artist, with whom he had lived for five years: She was outright obese, had a face with plenty of acne and her idea of a hairstyle was a shaved head. Not exactly a Hollywood glamour stereotype. At that time, I really began to question the reason he seemed to avoid acting like a couple with me in front of his friends. Now and then we had lunch with one or two of his friends but it did not happen often.

Other than the above, he treated me very well, was kind, considerate, generous, fun to be with and, yes, good sex, too. I enjoyed the time I spent with him very much but worried about why he was so careful not to act like we were together around his friends. He repeatedly denied this which made me question myself, my judgment, and wonder whether I was, indeed, as he said, just insecure.

Later, I came to realize, after he died, that he had several women in his life and liked to keep each one secret from the others. He went to some fairly clever and complicated lengths to do this. He was, in a sense, leading a double or triple life. The women he wound up marrying just before he passed away was married and sneaking around on her husband. Her divorce (husband caught her and my guy in bed one day when he came home early) took place right before my guy died and then they were free to marry and did so.

So...why didn't I see this coming? Why didn't I believe myself instead of him?

The answer is obvious though uncomfortable: Because I was a miserable fat school teacher with a mother with Alzheimer's, several close friends newly dead and a job I truly hated...in other words, he was the best thing in my life, the only good thing, really, and I did not want to lose him. There seemed to be no way to discuss it with him since he wouldn't admit it and there was no other evidence of it except my feelings when I went out with him to some public events. So I decided to endure and not to lose him.

And then I lost him anyway in the worst possible way. I felt so ashamed and sometimes I still do.

So...what's to keep something like this from happening again? In other words, I think I will be, if anything, not wiser than I was, and even MORE inclined to put up with stuff now because I am still a semi-fat schoolteacher, still hate my job (a lot), still have no friends (even fewer now that I've been a recluse for so many years)....I am lonely and unhappy in my life as I was then and now I also have this heartbreak in my past and herpes.

I do believe that in some ways I am a bit stronger. I am more assertive, for one thing. I am certainly more cynical but am not sure if that is a good thing or not. I would not be as quick to believe what I wanted to believe.

But...how much would I put up with? It kind of scares me to think I have not really progressed to a place where I know I would not put up with the same kind of thing.

I guess the whole relationship thing scares me and what scares me the most is my own weakness, same as before but worse because of the herpes. Would I be able to hang on to my own dignity, would I be able to have confidence in my own perceptions and would I be able to act on that?I am not so sure about this; it seems as if all the cards would be in the guys favor and I would have to learn to be humble all over again. Don't know if I am up for that.

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catiesmom
The answer is obvious though uncomfortable: Because I was a miserable fat school teacher with a mother with Alzheimer's, several close friends newly dead and a job I truly hated...in other words, he was the best thing in my life, the only good thing, really, and I did not want to lose him. There seemed to be no way to discuss it with him since he wouldn't admit it and there was no other evidence of it except my feelings when I went out with him to some public events. So I decided to endure and not to lose him.

You don't have to be miserable, fat, or even unhappy. I like to think i was none of those when i met Catie's father, and i still let him convince me his version of reality was true. He had several women he lived double lives with behind my back as well ( and one damn near in front of my face) but i continued to believe him, as he continued to lie. My best friends knew there was something off - they even told me later that i recalled events with him with sarcasm, but somehow i still managed to stay.

I've often asked myself why i would put up with that, and if i've moved beyond that. I'm not so sure. The last guy i dated ended up being the farthest thing from what i needed as i could get, and yet i still continued to give him chance after chance. At least he was, as far as i can tell, honest.

If you figure out the recipe for recovering yourself after an experience like this, let me know. I'm still cautious in the dating world because i don't know how much to trust myself. Perhaps having HSV and being FORCED to take it slow and reveal something life-changing early in the relationship is a blessing, at least for me. The reaction to news like this is telling, as is the aftermath.

Still, i don't know how much i'd mind ending up a single old maid.

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gotitsowhat

Thanks..

I already AM a single "old maid." Actually, I never liked family life that much and for the most part it doesn't bother me.

But I'd like to find someone to keep company with who would NOT lie to me and someone who wouldn't sap my confidence. I am underconfident enough.

I guess, for both of us, the lies were easier to deal with than the truth and the fact that someone we loved and trusted was so cynically betraying our love and trust. It's a tough one all right. If I get any wisdom on it, I'll post it for sure!

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chay5

Yes, Brainyblonde

Heart has ist own reasons that the mind knows nothing about - here's how I have translated this old French proverb

To follow your heart or to follow your reason? - that is the question

Some lucky people, I guess, have their hearts more connected to their common sense mind.

But as for the rest: their love is blind

I wish your next time will be wonderful and will make up for all the bad things that happened in the past.

I think you have enough curiosity and desire to move forward and to have fun.

And then, life is just a theatre

Let's play it again :D

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Lifeislife

Long response

Alright...here is the darker part of the story of the man who infected me. I am loathe to share it, but think it could help you.

Very early into the relationship, I found out he had an "exclusive" girlfriend. Without wanting to, without meaning to, I had become the "other" woman. He had me convinced that he was really bad with confrontation and that he wanted to end it with her but could not face it. Said he had not even been sleeping with her anymore. (I still imagine donkey noises to myself on this one).

He pulled on my weaknesses, one of which is to help people who want the help. He lead me to believe that he was weak in how to end things and it ended up being me encouraging and guiding him on how best to do it.

He did finally do it. I moved in with him...even after a random girl showed up at his door un-announced while I was over and he was on a business call. She played it up like she was a friend, but made remarks to him about how her ass looked in her jeans.

I tolerated it...me....there it was, big neon signs for how bad a situaton I was really in.

Then there was the pregnant friend he hung out with. I gave him the chance to come clean. Anything that happened before us, I would not fault him for. If he had something to do with this kid, I would be there for him and I would help. He swore up and down that it was not his and he just helped her because the father was out of the picture.

I found out when I was pregnant that it was his and he had been ignoring the mother and child to help conceal the secret.

There is so much more I put up with...even seeing another woman in his car when I passed him in traffic.

Why? I was overweight, disabled and had herpes. He was well liked, fun, successful and relatively handsome. I liked my home and did not want to leave. I had roses that he planted for me in the rain. I had a garden he put stones around and dug for me. I just couldn't see doing any better.

The reality is that he had cultivated this thinking in me from day one. He made me into something I was not and stripped my confidence. It sounds like your guy did the same. It looks like he had a pattern for going for women who did not fit into his "scene" because there was less threat of them ducking and running. They were more likely to grasp onto any little shred of good he gave them like a starving dog begging for scraps. They would tolerate the abuse, because in reality they felt "blessed" to have a guy who was handsome, good in bed, successful. Our insecurities caused us to believe that we had gotten someone in our lives who would socially be out of our league and somehow their stature would bleed down to us and make us feel worthy.

Want to know what? I am still overweight. Very much so. I am still disabled and in pain all the time. I have herpes.

I got in a relationship afterwards that started to become unhealthy. I stuck through until I felt there was nothing else I could do for him or us. Then I left. Done. After that, I decided I was not going to settle anymore. If I could not have a relationship in which I had all the things I wanted out of it, I would rather be alone.

I am fat. I am unemployed and sick. I have herpes. I also have a warm and welcoming personality, a good, if off, sense of humor, a caring nature, a bright mind and alot to offer someone. It did not take long for someone to take up on my offer. In actuality, quite a few tried that I turned down.

Despite my ailments and flaws, I have a wonderful man in my life now who is intelligent, insightful, devoted, honest, caring and driven. He loves me and does not treat me differently for my flaws. He doesn't even view them as flaws. Just as more pieces that have made me into the person I am.

To summarize, you might get into another relationship and you might tolerate more than you think you should, but because of the heartache you have suffered, you will probably realize you have limitations this time that you didn't realize were there until the guy crosses them.

After that, you are golden. Your mind will be cultivated into realizing that you DON'T have to tolerate that kind of behavior. Take a moment to stop looking at your flaws and look at the rest. You know what good you carry inside and the moment you decide those are bigger than your flaws, others will notice it, too.

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gotitsowhat

Thank you for your story and insight

"To summarize, you might get into another relationship and you might tolerate more than you think you should, but because of the heartache you have suffered, you will probably realize you have limitations this time that you didn't realize were there until the guy crosses them.

After that, you are golden. Your mind will be cultivated into realizing that you DON'T have to tolerate that kind of behavior. Take a moment to stop looking at your flaws and look at the rest. You know what good you carry inside and the moment you decide those are bigger than your flaws, others will notice it, too."

I really appreciate this post. It does sound as if we've had something in common; we both allowed ourselves to become the victims of men who knew how to use our weaknesses to their advantage.

A light went on in my mind when you described the bad guy you were with for too long. And I did remember that at least one of the chicks my cheating lying lover was involved with was obese, had acne and had a shaved head for a hairdo. Now that I consider what you've been through and what you've posted here, it seems clear that my guy made a point of picking vulnerable underconfident women.

Not only did these guys know that we would be extra grateful and not be as likely to challenge them or to disbelieve their stories but they also knew that we knew we were insecure so we would be confused when we tried to figure things out. My guy would always tell me I had a problem with lack of confidence and insecurity--and he was right!

But nevertheless, no matter how underconfident and insecure I was, I should have known that when one's feelings tell one something strongly, when that reptillian part of our brain alerts us to something wrong, then, no matter what our personal problems, we should listen to it respectfully. Just because you are underconfident doesn't mean you are delusional and/or that your feelings and instincts are not accurate!

Have you ever read the book, The Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker? It's a really good read, a book all about how tuning to our instincts can save our lives. It's really worth reading if you haven't read it. I now realize that this respect for our protective instincts also applies to our instincts to protect ourselves from emotional distress.

And I do know that you are right and the more I can focus on what's right about me instead of what's wrong, the more I am likely to find someone else who will. I am trying hard to do that right now.

I had the world's most critical mother, an extreme emotional abuser who did everything she could to convince me I was unlovable and a pathetic mess--During my middle years, I took care of her in her old age when she was developing senile dementia and she intensified her tactics during those years. Mom has been gone for a couple of years now and was sweet in her last years (our happiest time for sure, she was on meds), but I think all of those years of extreme criticism and screaming accusations left their mark. I found my cheating "true love" during the years I was taking care of good ol' Mom as she got crazier every day and I am sure that played into my decision to accept RJ's treatment of being kind to me when we were alone but distancing himself from me when we were in public. I needed someone being kind to me, I needed some good time amidst what was a very difficult time. Being slightly humiliated in public seemed the price I had to pay and, besides, he kept convincing me I was wrong, just imagining it all due to my "insecurity."

What can we do except learn to appreciate ourselves and determine not to ever settle for second class (or third class) treatment again? I have sworn to myself that, from now on, I will value myself, overweight or not, and will listen to myself not some guy who tells me to ignore my feelings.

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Lifeislife

I am glad my experience could give you something to empathize with. I am also damaged goods emotionally, though I have developed over time in a way that I have begun to look past what was embedded into my brain through the course of my life.

I am glad for the sweet years you could have with your mother before the end. While I am sure it could not erase what had transpired between you both, I am sure it eased some of the pain.

I am happy that man is out of your life and has no way to be a part of it ever again. I still have to risk seeing mine in traffic or on the street, but I really don't care much about that anymore.

What can we do except learn to appreciate ourselves and determine not to ever settle for second class (or third class) treatment again? I have sworn to myself that, from now on, I will value myself, overweight or not, and will listen to myself not some guy who tells me to ignore my feelings.

How you feel about yourself should not be dependent on someone else. It's a tough change to make and it is okay if someone else adds to the foundation of confidence you have already built, but if they even think to start knocking out bricks, then it's time to drop hot oil and send out the hounds.

There ARE people out there who will treat you first class, no matter what you look like, how tall or short you are, how heavy you are, if you have black and white checkers or pink polka dots. The things that apply to building confidence for the sake of attracting the one, also apply for attracting good friends.

Even a person who has not been gifted with good looks or the pre-disposition to be slim can walk and talk sexy and confident (just avoid sleezy or plastic looking, naturally). I don't have any idea what your personal style is, but I can say people notice when you take care of yourself, dress nice, fix your hair, etc. It shows them that you are confident and comfortable with yourself. Even making yourself do it when you are not feeling it can bring the feeling of confidence in. It changes your aura. Don't be afraid of change. Lately I've gone from jeans and black t shirts to skirts and colored blouses. :cool: I feel like I can take on the world.

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MsLucy

I'm a firm believer in intuition myself, and the most terrible times of my life have been when I ignored my own. If you feel as if something's wrong... it is. But even though I know my intuition is more reliable than what I can see or hear in the true sense, I still ignore it sometimes, and I always regret it.

In my personal experience, I've found that those who prey on the insecurities of others are generally even more insecure themselves, and having control over another person, either emotionally or physically, makes them feel powerful. They hide their insecurities and weaknesses well, making the other person feel dependent and even grateful to have a strong presence in their lives, but strip away the facade, and you find a weak and needy person underneath. Maybe that doesn't apply to the people you're referring to in your posts, but I've known, and been involved with, several people like that. They're like emotional parasites who feed on the needs of others.

It's almost impossible to expect someone to love you if you don't love yourself. It's impossible to demand respect from someone else if you don't respect yourself. And it's impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone else, without first having a healthy relationship with yourself. If you can't be happy being alone, you leave yourself wide open for emotional predators who sense your neediness as if they had radar. Need is not the same as love. If you need someone to prove to you your own worth as a person, that's not love, it's dependence, and it almost always will leave you wanting.

I'm not saying that this is the case for anyone who's posted here. These are just things I've learned (the hard way) through the years. When you've come to the point that you don't need someone else in your life to make you happy, and make you feel complete, then, and only then, are you ready to actually love someone, because you can stand on level ground, and love as equals. Then you can say I want you in my life... not I need you in my life.

Bear in mind that I can say these things, and I know they're true, but I haven't achieved that level of independence and self-love as of yet. I'm trying, but it's tough when I look in the mirror and see a somewhat past middle aged woman whose self confidence is sometimes shaky at best. But I'll keep trying, and hopefully one day I'll arrive. And when that day comes, I'll turn to my partner and say.. "I love you, but I don't need you, so unless we can love one another equally, respect one another equally, and give to one another equally, I'm better off without you." And won't that feel good? :)

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Lifeislife

Very wise words. I took a year to myself after my diagnosis, then another year after the first relationship I had after it. In that time I came to be at peace with being alone. I stopped "looking" for that missing part in other people. No doubt being desperate to fill that void is what caused me to become involved too quickly with someone before I realized he had it planned and was holding the reigns.

However, that feeling of being "incomplete" was not from my own self esteem. I came to realize that in the time I was doing my soul searching. It was my desire to share my world with someone and to have the family and life that I have always longed for. I switched gears in my thinking that despite I have never married for lack of finding the one I could spend a lifetime with, that I should not be even getting involved with anyone who was not promising, who might not be good for me. I learned to pay attention to the signs that were always there that warned me not to proceed. The ones I used to ignore. I stripped away loneliness as a factor when getting involved with someone.

In turn, I don't give someone a chance if the warning signs are there, even if what I see and hear seems appealing. Even now, that I have this love in my life that seems genuine and fulfilling, that has lacked any warning signs what so ever, I am still mindful of anything that could turn up.

I spent too much time knowingly passing time with the wrong person so I would not be lonely. Bad girl, no cookie.

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catiesmom

There was an interview done with Ashton Kutcher i read recently where he talks about his relationship with Demi. He said the reason he likes her so much is because "she doesn't need me. She just doesn't." (or something to that effect). That really hit home for me - to even have a GUY admit that neediness in women causes an unbalanced relationship is a clear sign if ever there was one.

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