Impossible to be open?
So my BF and I have been together for 5 years. We've been through a lot of ups and downs. I was in a sexually abusive relationship about 5 years before I met him. He was the first one to care to notice that there was something off about me (I would completely dissociate during sex), I got therapy and improved greatly.
That's not the only type of intimacy I seem to struggle with though. I have a hard time being open, or just talking/starting a conversation about what I'm feeling/thinking with him in general. I think part of this might stem from the part of me (and my past) that is terrified of conflict, raised voices, or disagreement. My BF can get passionate at times. I definitely notice though, when he asks me introspective questions I get severe anxiety. All my defenses go up, I get indignant, egotistical (always right mentality), and eventually always end up telling him that I'm not as deep as he thinks I am.
Mostly I'm just content with my life, at the moment, and so I don't try to stir the pot or dwell on questions I don't have the answers too. He always says that relationships are supposed to be open and deep (and that sounds right to me too, but for the life of me I can't apply it). BF is very eloquent and thinks in words. I think in pictures and feelings which makes it really hard for me to communicate effectively (I've always been bad at reading, writing, etc). Then when certain topics come up I get that horrible anxiety. As soon as there's a prying question I get a pit in my stomach, and it's frustrating because I want to have an answer, but the more I want to have an answer the farther one moves away. The anxiety just puts up a huge block.
At times I'm extremely emotional (see a Disney commercial? Balling.) And at other times im completely stony and empty feelings.
Ex: we were looking through my sketchbooks and BF noticed trends in my sketches. He asked something like "how do you think your life at the time influenced your drawing?" My answer was "it doesn't/didn't" but I had to talk through my whole process of drawing, history of sketching, (beat around the bush) to get to that concise answer. I usually feel this way and it hurts our relationship. I have to babble on and on (like I'm thinking about it on the spot because I haven't put much thought into it before, so i have to think out loud before I get to any conclusion), and he just wants to grit. The meat and bones of it.
My BF asks why there's a lack of "effort" on my part. I love him, I want to be with him but I just don't get it. I don't know how to be "open"
the way he wants. So at least now I guess I'm "taking action" but I never really did before (besides going to therapy).
I don't know how to combat this... I don't know how to dig deeper. Even when I do try to sit down and think about myself it's extremely hard to keep my mind on track. Usually it plays the association game and goes off on a tangent. A thought that started on "Why don't I treat my health better?" ends up on "when's the last time I changed the sheets?" in a span of 30 seconds.
I tend to talk more about trivial, every day, practical things and not have many deep conversations. But I don't want to be missing out on something better than a "shallow relationship" (as my BF would title it).
I don't know a) how I got this way b) how normal/abnormal I am c) how to get to where I need to be
Any thoughts are welcome.
(Ps: no diagnosed mental disorders, I have a group of close friends, and am very close with my family, so this doesn't seem to effect me in those relationships).
I can relate in a different situation. I'll give you an example and reading to my not being able to put my heart on my sleeve and how it effects me. If nothing else maybe you will realize your not alone.
So me and my girl have been together roughly the same time. In the beginning of our relationship she had just come out of a long term bad marriage and I had been single for a long time. Anyways I had made a comment about a stupid movie we were watching and after I said it I knew she was going to take it personally. She felt as though I had insulted her but really I just made a stupid joke about the movie. Remember I've been single for a long time at this point so if it was just me and the guys they all would have taken it at face value. To continue their were maybe two maybe three more times in the first year I said something stupid that offended her and did not intend any disrespect. Now she has directly disrespected me and with every intention of hurting my feeling has said things to me that are belittling and just flat out rude and disrespectful. She has done this at a time when I was expressing myself ( putting my heart on my sleeve) genuinely stated how I felt about a situation whatever it may have been. Now like you it's awkward for me to express myself anyways so when I do it's a true effort to let her into my true feelings and I would expect my loved one to respond with advise understanding maybe relate to how I'm feeling to allow me to start being ok with the issue I'm having like something that hurt my feelings. The response I get would be. "Oh just stop your blabbing about nonsense and being a little bitch" this not only hurts me but angers me and to the point of i say anything else it's going to be rude and very disrespectful instead I bottle it up and assume she loves me she will feel guilty for it later and that's enough for me as far as addressing it. Know just so u know I know why she responded that way it's one of two reasons like I said I don't express my self very well so I would use an example and it would come out wrong and that's all she would here and respond rudely as she said because of the comments I've made in the past that were so disrespectful to her and I'm talking about the stupid comments that I shouldn't have said but had no intention of hurting any feeling. So this happens a number of times and aside from a response she has intentionally said things to me with the intention of being rude and hurting my feelings. I personally except one time in our third year have said anything directly to her with intentions of hurting her feelings other than that the time I have hurt her feeling we're all in that first year saying things without thinking. Ok so now here we are in our fifth year and she brings up something she had done to me that had bothered me to get it addressed because she knew it was wrong out of line and had guilt for doing it. In this conversation she states it would go along way with her if I ever showed emotion about things it would be a huge for her to reconfirm I do love and care about her by reacting with some type of emotion other than nothing. So to explain I started expressing myself how I feel in general the goods and the bass and the reason I don't share emotions or show them to her like she is suing she needs. I get to the reason I don't express my feelings and I tell her with all honest I'm afraid to because of the way she responds with her disrespect and belittling and name calling. Intentionally putting me down after I just explained open heartedly how I feel and why. She at some point in the middle of me giving some examples of times and what was said to simply put valid reason as to why I'm saying I'm afraid to express myself and she starts crying and says we need to stop this conversation. I'm confused right I didn't get loud I didn't put her down I didn't even make a statement of her being a bad person for the way she has treated me just examples to justify my reason of never saying how I feel.
So I'm really confused and ask her so why are you crying?
She says to me because I have been bashing her for the last ten minutes and all she wanted to do was address a situation get passed it and move on. I said ok but in no way was I bashing you I calmly told you I don't express myself due to your rude response and disrespect when I have so I learned simply done express my feelings I'm setting myself up for being disrespected. She has explained she does this due to the few times I made maybe 4 stupid comment that effected her and she was simply paying it forward. I said ok so five years ago I said some thing not even directly at you and never once having the intentions of hurting her. Truthfully in all of our relationship one time I looked her dead in the face and called her a bitch. That is the only time I've ever called her a name or said anything with the intention of being rude.
Just to be clear I'm not the perfect guy I can get destructed and ignore her at times I've lied to her about things and I've just simply not done enough quite often to show her how much I love her so again I'm not the perfect guy.
My point is I'm telling her I don't express feeling to her good bad or sad because I know what to expect and that is her popping off with some rude comment. Anyways she is crying I ask why and like I said she felt I had been bashing her. Correct me if I'm wrong but by answering her question with honestly and examples of what she said and also stating that I've never don't that to her but the one time and that's not bashing her. I never said she was s bad person or she owes me an apology just flat out you get nothing from in the emotional department because your rude and treat me In a way u only treat someone you hate. She try's to justify it for those comment from year one and that's not equal or close to a reason and truthfully most guys would slap her in the face. So there's an example of a reason I don't express myself even if I do and the response isn't rude she is offended to point of crying and says I'm sorry that you think such bad things of your wife.
Um ok I would understand maybe crying cuz of feeling guilty at least. Anyways to wrap it up and now have vented my frustration there is nothing wrong with someone that doesn't get deep or express themselves it may be because it's not easy. Maybe you will say somethings the wrong way or whatever. Either way in my case she doesn't get that depth from me because of actions and responses when I have tried maybe in your case an ex gave you an underlying reason to not get deep about something either way when you love someone you try to understand you don't get butt hurt do to a lack of feeling or depth you try to learn the reason and if nothing else you leave it alone. But in my case the last thing you have a right to is to cry or make me feel sorry for you that I'm not expressive about emotions or really anything at this point because of her.
So anyways he needs to just love you learn to understand how you love and allow the each person there right to be who they are and be supportive of what that is. I'm sure he is very good to you all he wants is that depth to confirm or to made feel that he is loved on that deep level its rewarding for him. I know it is trust me. Good luck j hope the difference never causes disrespect between you guys and I hope that in your case it doesn't effect your relationship in to bad of a way. I do know that my wife has done me wrong I shut her out because of it and then she cries when I'm honest and tell her it's her fault and why. She has mental problems so do I. She should be crying from guilt for ever treating her loved one that badly that many times he never shows emotions to you and frustrated that what your lacking is something you caused to not exist. So really I just needed to vent and show its ok not to be an expressive person maybe it's not you maybe in your past you experienced what I have but one thing I will say is give something if he needs it that bad and expect something from him in understanding that's just not you. If you don't it will grow to a grudge filled situation with resentment and an chance of not loving each other enough to give just enough to remind or show that you care. Good luck I don't think my story helped but there are many reasons why people are that way this is mine I stay for my kids and she is growing unhappy because I've grown distant it's sad but a few sill comment took the wrong way years ago caused her to resent me and she has been rude to me at the worste of times when I needed a friend so really it created a work she has been the cause of and she doesn't get something she needs due to her actions. Learn from this and reslize if you don't get a little or give a little to make your loved one feel secure safe happy and loved it will dwindle away all together and you won't have anything. That's my advise so good luck. See ya
The problem isn't that I don't want to be open... It's that I don't k ow what to say."Tell me things you know id want to know about our relationship or me." Is the requests usually get... But I honest to go just draw blanks. The only conflicts I bring up are petty things (pick up the laundry, you're spending too much, etc). It's like he's waiting for this big revelation or truth to come out and I just don't have one...
+9I don't think its about a big revelation it is about coming with honest and expressing whatever your truth is. Anyone in mental/physical abusive relationship may build a defensive wall to protect themselves. When he asked you "how do you think your life at the time influenced your drawing" say whatever your truth is..so did the abuse effect your drawing if any?
Not being able to express your feelings is a direct residual effect.By admitting you just don't know how to be open is your truth What he perceives as a"lack of effort" when the truth is you don't know how and that is what you tell him.
Continued therapy to address questions A/B/C is a great starting point. The trivial talk is just a diversion defense mechanism. All marriages require work so get to work the effort is well worth a closer loving marriage.
Good Luck to YOU