Brenda Breaks it Down: Wanting to forget a relationship

Hi Brenda,

I’m a gay woman and I spent the last 5 years in a relationship with someone with borderline personality disorder and PTSD. It was on again off again many times over and I’ve finally walked away for good. She is in therapy though it’s not seemed to help, in fact, over the years her condition has worsened. I know she’s not been honest with the therapist. She drinks heavily with the meds she’s on for her disorder. I’ve seen so much, the out of control days and nights. The lies and the threats of suicide and the one attempt that landed her in the hospital. That one was supposedly to keep me from leaving.

I did walk away. I’ve finally realized I can’t fix her and I can’t be happy and healthy with her. I’ve pretty much gone through the four steps of battered woman’s syndrome, though I was never physically abused, it was all mental.

I have no idea how this will affect my future relationships and trying to explain this to someone that’s never “been there” is frustrating. I went through the depression and I’ve coped with the ideology of “fake it till you make it.” It’s working, though I still think about what I went through often. I feel like I’ve talked about this to death and I just want to forget and move on. My job is definitely an escape and I am cultivating my social life more and more. Do I just keep telling myself to give it time? I could go to therapy but I’m really not wanting to re-live it all again.

Dear I-Just-Want-To-Forget,

Wouldn’t it be great if I could tell the future? What I can tell you is that if you’re starting a new relationship with the same story you just shared with us about your last girlfriend, I guarantee you, you’re heading toward the friend zone faster than you can say “Dinah Shore Weekend” or “Meet Me in Michigan.” It’s frustrating because you’re leading with the frustrated you, the you that carries the shame or embarrassment or remorse or regret for getting into this relationship in the first place or for having it fail.

Here the deal darlin’, it’s okay to be human, to fail at something, to outgrow a lover. It’s okay to say yes to your own health and happiness. Yes, give yourself some time and while you’re at it give yourself some compassion and forgiveness, too.

Mental illnesses aren’t like other conditions, often they are hidden unless our potential partners share that information or are even healthy enough to do so. It’s up to us to know what feels right and to know that we deserve health and happiness, too. You walked away; you knew you deserved more, so there’s no need to “forget” what happened. You need to only remember what you’ve learned. I think you’ve got that covered.

– Brenda

When Love Gone, Pack Up The U-Haul and Move On

Dear Brenda,

I met my partner online, we are a gay couple and my partner has a medical condition that I knew of before, but I still love her. We’ve been in a relationship nearly four years.

I care for my partner when she is very ill and sometimes I don’t get any sleep at all. Her daughter is twenty years old and she never talks to me, just ignores me or speaks around me and my partner doesn’t say anything about her behavior.

It was great for the first few months, since then I’ve been trying to fix things in this relationship trying to make it work. She has a Facebook account and in her profile I found out she put “single” but she’s with me?! She hasn’t told her family about me, which I find strange and for some time now we have stopped having sex because she didn’t want to anymore. I’ve tried to talk about working on our relationship and she keeps saying, “It’s all good.”

I love her and have been there through all her illness and hospital stays. I’m not by nature mistrusting but something made me peek at her emails and she has been chatting to a guy saying she was single. Am I trying to hold onto something that isn’t there anymore or have I been a fool all along? What do I do? Honestly I love her very much and I wonder if she loves me or has she ever.

Dear Honestly-I-Love-Her,

I believe you love this woman and you do it admirably. Taking care of her while she’s ill and putting up with her bratty daughter requires a generosity of time and spirit that her daughter has yet to understand.

That’s quite a commitment you took on and I just don’t think from your letter that she is as committed as you are. She doesn’t set a boundary for her daughter to respect you as an adult and she hasn’t told her family about you. So I wonder if she is still closeted or if she is clear about her sexuality preferences. Also, the response of, “it’s all good” to your bringing up concerns in the relationship is dismissive and diminishing. Mature love doesn’t do that. And of course in the Internet age, social media and email come into play. Her online persona seems to that of a single straight woman. The lack of physical intimacy backs that up. Like you, I wonder what gives here?

Here’s the deal HILH, being in love doesn’t mean someone gets to treat you disrespectfully. You deserve to be acknowledged, respected and loved. My advice is to move on. This was over after the first few months. She will be okay, and so will you. It will hurt for a moment, it always hurts when it’s real, but keep looking ahead, for someone who can love you openly and respectfully, it’s what you deserve. Good luck.

– Brenda