This afternoon I spoke to a lady whose partner is need of help – the warm, generous, fun guy gets lost in a haze of alcohol, self destruction and denial. She wanted to know what she could do to get him to ask for help. Her partner is ex Forces and I suspect he probably has PTSD. My question to her was this – ‘What if he never accepts he needs help, what will you do?’
This isn’t purely ex Forces and PTSD and this isn’t just a gender issue, many men wonder who the woman is who turns from being a loving partner into a seven headed serpent spitting venom from every orifice. In truth, there is nothing we can do for those who won’t help themselves. That’s why so much hurt and destruction has to happen before they see that they are the one constant in all their problems.
We have choices sure – we can make out that we are the only person alive who will offer help, support and guidance. We can gloss over the bad times and work only with the good. We can cry ourselves to sleep 90% of the time, wondering when this particular bout will end. We can accept what they tell us – that the problem is ours, not theirs.
I asked this lady, a warm, gregarious lady in her late 40’s when she’d met her partner. It transpires it was 2.5 years ago. When I enquired further, it turns out that within a few weeks she realised he had problems. This wasn’t a couple who had been together from a young age committing to one another and building towards a dream they once had at the age of 18. This couple hadn’t gone through ups before they had their downs.
What is it that makes people choose such partners? To be honest, it’s usually because both of them are in a hurt place when they meet.
The lady in question has many of her own issues to deal with and at my suggestion, she’s agreed to work with me. She’s had two marriages, in one she was physically abused. In the second she pretended she didn’t exist until it became too painful. In this latest relationship, she is the saviour, unfortunately he doesn’t want to be saved. Meantime, she takes every rejection and knock with a sage nod of her head, saying ‘the real him doesn’t mean it. I know there’s something deeper than this’.
Well of course there is, I said – I then asked her how long she was prepared to be his stooge and allow him to treat her with little respect. By the way, I agree with her, it’s not him that’s doing the talking or behaviour, it’s his coping strategy. Nonetheless, it’s not a basis for a relationship.
Here’s the interesting part – what if the way to save him was by leaving him? What if she could make very clear how much she loved the man who is warm, generous and fun? What if by saving herself she might save him? Do we know what the tipping point is for someone? No we don’t.
If she stays and allows herself to be used as a doormat, is that serving either her or him? No. Is she actually saving him, or is it just a dream she has which keeps her going? Yes, it’s just a dream. Currently she’s signed off work with stress. Currently after the latest rejection ( a week ago) on a scale of 1-10 where 10 is blissfully happy – she’s feeling about 2.
It’s her intention through working with me to build a strong foundation on which to build any future relationship – be it with this guy or someone else. It’s my intention to help her find strategies for her to use either with this guy or others. In her own words, at the moment she is like a moth to the flame. The cause of self destruction isn’t always clear, and it is rarely someone else’s fault and is never our own conscious decision.
This is part one of a series. We will be looking at partners who aren’t together because they’re separated by war, the other side of the story from the PTSD sufferers point of view, the married and forgotten, the need for affairs, the effects of being nearly murdered by your partner and the relief when they die .
This will be a harsh, realistic series. Read it or don’t. If it touches parts of you you’d rather not be touched, then get in touch with me and ask for help.
Thomas Kempis said that the acknowledgment of your weakness is the first step in repairing your loss. Sometimes this is the hardest thing for people to do. Yet self-truth and truth with others about where you have fallen short almost ensures that you will go a long way. Everyone can see you anyway, why not admit what everyone is seeing?
You cannot let go of anything if you cannot notice that you are holding it. Admit your 'weaknesses' and watch them morph into your greatest strengths. Neale Donald Walsch