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Realizing the damage done

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Kintsugi posted 6/26/2020 11:48 AM

Editing with a question, what has been your experience dealing with anger and fights in a relationship post divorce once back in the dating scene? Do you need space, deal with it directly and how does your partner handle it if some space is needed?

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I'm almost 5 years post D-day and 3+ divorced. I've been in a pretty good relationship for about 3 years. We fight periodically, which is normal in any relationship. It's how we both deal with it that recently fractured the relationship to a point we're broken up.

When we fight, my way of dealing with it is to ask for space, normally involving her going back to her place. Usually the next day I'm fine, sometimes in would take a few days. While good for me, she takes this really hard, effecting her emotionally and mentally. A secondary issue of this arises when as I'm coming down, she's ratcheting up. It acts like pouring gasoline on a smoldering fire.

Recently for example, this situation happened and we were supposed to go out of town. As I'm coming down she decides that maybe she shouldn't go out of town with me. This angered me and I went anyway (had to go to take care of some things). While away, I just didn't want to text or talk to her, I felt it would have evolved to saying things like wishing she was with me (it's a beach area), we missed each other, etc. I get this "I'm being manipulated feeling" when this happens, and just didn't want to communicate, thinking to myself, "ok, you made your bed now lie in it.". I was hurt she didn't go. Not communicating hurt/angered her further to the point where she moved most of her things out of my place. When I realized she did this upon returning, that further hurt/angered me.

Well, we had agreed to talk when I returned. Our talk was really her breaking up with me. Right out of the shoot she broke up. My head just wasn't at that space, didn't really see it coming, I thought we were going to talk through the issues of the week, and decide what we wanted to do. The thing that hurt the most for me, was she just went for it. Didn't want to engage in discussion or anything. Ok, I thought and said, breaking up was a great idea.

I can't help but think all the damage done post D-day doesn't somehow play into me needing and asking for the space that in turn hurts her. All this has me second guessing what I thought was a pretty good recovery out of infidelity and thinking, what the hell is up with me and relationships. Just a vent if nothing else, I guess, this relationship stuff is not easy and writing this is making realize if nothing else, maybe there was a compatibility issue, if not some issues on one or both of our parts.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 1:49 PM, June 26th (Friday)]

Phoenix1 posted 6/26/2020 14:02 PM

I may be completely off base here, but based on what you wrote I see communication (lack of) as being the real problem. It is one thing to walk away from a heated moment for the purpose of letting cooler heads prevail to discuss the disagreement later, but it is a recipe for disaster to just walk away, cool down, rugsweep the underlying issue, and carry on without discussing calmly.

The latter is what Xhole used to do to me. He felt that if he was no longer angry, it was no longer an issue and life went back to normal. For me, it created a build up of resentment because he wouldn't talk about the issue, or he would laugh it off as being a non-issue. Neither of which addressed the underlying issue, which just ended up simmering below the surface.

Just my two cents.

Palmetto9213 posted 6/26/2020 17:19 PM

Could it be that by 'not going out of town with you' and taking advantage of that time to move her things out, this is something that had been planned for longer than you realize? I agree that ineffective communication is at the root of things between you, and not just with this incident...it sounds like it's you and your partners style....with my ex, I didn't know how to 'fight' with him, resulting in me just shutting down to avoid listening to his scathing insulting responses towards me....ultimately, we couldn't fix/change our communication style including how we fought. It's going to take a lot of work, and both of you need to be willing to put forth the effort to change things.

Kintsugi posted 6/27/2020 10:56 AM

Thank you for the responses, they've made me think about alot of things. I know she doesn't feel validated when we're having a argument. I truly try to listen and understand her point, but I could do better. I know what set this all off was over something that I thought was a kind of dumb thing to say, and I gave it an eye roll. I just devalidated her statment, so I've learned doing some reading. My sense of her idea of validation might include me agreeming with her point of view which maybe contributes to why I need the space. But space has always been my style for sure.

He felt that if he was no longer angry, it was no longer an issue and life went back to normal.

Yup, that's me. Nailed it. We never circle back to discuss anything, in my mind it's water under the bridge, and life went on, at least for me. Me asking her to leave cuts her to the core. I never understood this but reading up on validation led me to the issue of the term emotionally sensitive. An overly emotionally sensitive person reacts exactly like she does, to the point where she takes in personally, judging me as being hurtful to her, she feels belittled or without value. This results (like many things) from someone who has been hurt in important childhood relationships, probably her dad. In retrospect on one of the incidents she mentioned she praboably reacts a certain way because her dad "thought she was stupid." So when I do an invalidating roll of my eyes, it takes her back to that feeling.

She probably has been planning this for awhile, it's at least been building. The infidlity-survivor in me can't help but sense there is more to this, like the two things that happened on two consecutive days which ignited it all wasn't just picking a fight, hoping I would react a certain way. Probably crazy thought, but nothing surprises me anymore. It sure feels the same.

Anyway, we're effectively broken up. She's stopped all communication and feels like she's lost herself. We'll see where it all goes.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 11:19 AM, June 27th (Saturday)]

nekonamida posted 6/27/2020 12:28 PM

Putting the communication issue aside for a moment...

Anyway, we're effectively broken up. She's stopped all communication and feels like she's lost herself. We'll see where it all goes.

How about not seeing where it all goes and instead taking the initiative yourself to make this break up permanent because the relationship is not working?

The most important thing I have ever learned in my interpersonal life is when to let go of a relationship that wasn't working. It doesn't always matter why. It doesn't always matter if you are the bad guy or if she is the bad guy or if she is secretly cheating. What matters is that you've been fighting periodically, it devolves into a complete mess where both of you feel angry, manipulated, unheard, and disrespected. If you absolutely had to do it, it could be worked through. Maybe. If you had years of a good, stable relationship to fall back on and have built up your life together, it might be worth it. In no way is a 3 year relationship that's already failing in which your lives are not entwined worth a "maybe" and months/years of therapy. That is time and energy wasted that you will never get back.

What is worth it is investing in yourself while you're single. It's getting an IC and telling them specifically that you want to work on the issues that fueled those nasty fights. It's picking up a copy of "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and possibly some other books about things like communication, boundaries, coD, and whatever else your IC may come up with that is adding fuel to the fire.

If your XGF comes back and you are now compatible and able to disagree like healthy adults, congrats! You now have a good starting place to work with. If she's done with you or you realize that the two of you are incompatible, these lessons will carry you through every relationship to come. So don't focus on her. Focus on yourself and your recovery.

Kintsugi posted 6/27/2020 14:11 PM

The collective insight here never ceases to amaze me!

Thanks neko, great advice. Clarification, maybe it means nothing, maybe subliminally everything. We were engaged prior to the break up. We hadn't set a date but were contemplating something small but not solidly working toward it yet when Corona seemed to solidify no plans until things settled down. Long story short, the day of the second argument event which got things rolling, we were on a day trip and we put the ring in a gun safe which she doesn't have access to. It remains there and she hasn't asked about it. So, I at least have that going for me

I have a copy on No more Mr. Nice Guy and will definitely get reacquainted with it. Yep, back to basics is a great course of action!

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 2:12 PM, June 27th (Saturday)]

Hedwig posted 6/28/2020 14:59 PM

My WEXBF did the 'walking away' or 'shutting down' thing, too. It's completely okay to take a breather in an argument, it's actually very healthy, but he would just not circle back to it and would even stop me if raised the issue another day and tell me to just please have a nice day today. Even if I started a conversation to apologize..

It built resentment over time. I didn't even want to bring up stuff anymore because I expected he wouldn't have "the headspace". It was exhausting.

Also, taking a breather is like 20 mins. Two days is way too long. This festers, like an infection.

John&Julie Gottman (two marriage therapists) talk about repairs after fights. Maybe you should look into that. There's lots of ways to do it, you can probably find something that works for you.

Kintsugi posted 6/28/2020 15:06 PM

Ok, so I received a little more information today. She claims there is no one else. She also stated as she set no contact boundaries that "she needs to clear her mind and dig in deep inside herself to really ask if I am thriving in this relationship." She also stated that she's had things building for awhile and didn't want to talk to me about it because she thought I would convince her otherwise.

Huh? I have to ask myself, do I think for a second that someone who needs time to find herself, will have an epiphany in 30 days and come to any different conclusion based on only her perceptions of what has been transpiring in the relationship?

I also have to ask myself, do I want to be with someone who thought so little of me or the relationship that she wouldn't talk to me before coming to such a decision or respect it so little to try to work on it in a meaningful way?

She's seemed to have painted me as a monster given it's all my behavior at issue, maybe to appease her guilt of breaking up (I'm guessing), and I sense she is posing this 30-day thing to ease into a complete break up. I wrote earlier about the issue of overly emotional sensitive, and she's hitting on all the points, "harsh in judgments of others, wounded deeply by the criticism of others whether it is real or imagined, instinctive response is to defend yourself by using justification, anger, retaliation or withdrawal."

This is particularly interesting from some of the readings: "A person with healthy boundaries is willing to take responsibility for his or her behavior in the relationship. Overly sensitive people cross this boundary line and center their attention on the other personís behavior. All kinds of negative assumptions are made about the other personís behavior and then reacted to as if these assumptions are fact. Overly sensitive people concentrate on this negative interpretation and then search for additional ďproofĒ that the other person is being critical or rejecting of them. Of course, they think they find it and that proves they are right. Sadly, they end up being angry and alone in a false reality they have constructed." Maybe this is exactly what she is talking about, I'd talk her into it ??

I know I'm not perfect, and have made alot of mistakes, but I truly would have welcomed her thoughts and feelings and tried to figure it out and try to grow from it. As I write this, I have to note, she seemed to be a right fighter, saying "you always have to be right." It was the exact opposite, I just had another opinion and felt differently. Any argument there had to be a right or wrong from my sense of her. There was never a place to respectfully agree to disagree and I have to wonder whether some of my need for space that drove her so crazy played into simple conflict avoidance. I definitely think my desire for space was my way of trying to insulate from old patterns of behavior such as emotional outbursts and saying things I'd regret stemming from the old infidelity days and my short comings. I'm not proud of that. That's my take at least.

I guess the bottom line is, this has to be a blessing, and yes, very hurt and angry at the moment.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 3:24 PM, June 28th (Sunday)]

Kintsugi posted 6/28/2020 15:20 PM

Thanks hedwig, my post above and yours seemed to pass each other. I'd like to think I would have welcomed a circling back, we just never did...and adding, there may have been times I dismissed a circling back, but I just don't remember. I may have poo pood it, and that was WAY wrong. It mostly seemed to be over stupid stuff, but I guess there is no such thing. Longer space timeframes definitely festers, and I never fully realized the full effect it took on her, sometimes it would be longer than a day, but I was trying to get better and think I was - at least in my mind. I'm a little familiar with Gottman's work, but only superficially. That would have been exactly something I think we could have used if given the chance.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 3:25 PM, June 28th (Sunday)]

Hedwig posted 6/28/2020 16:24 PM

This stuff is super hard, man. One other thing I picked up during the past couple of months, is that people want to feel connected to their partner. They want to know: "Do I matter to you? Can I trust you? Do you trust me? Am I special to you? Do you appreciate me? Will you be there for me when I need you?"

Small fights are never just small fights, it's one of these questions that threatens to be answered with a no in the perception of one or both partners. And if people are threatened, they start attacking (nagging/criticizing) or they flee (shutting down).

I tend to criticize, is what I learned about myself, and I am working towards more healthy behaviours.

You can do this work by yourself, to be a better partner in the future, but to make something out of this relationship, you need her too. And it feels she's checked out. Kudos for taking responsibility on your part, try not to label her with too much stuff you find on the internet, though, it might become a self-fulfilling prophecy if you look at her behaviour through a specific lense. You don't really know what's going on in her head.

Kintsugi posted 6/28/2020 18:12 PM

Yeah, I'd say she checked out. I honestly and sincerely don't know most of what she is referring to.

I am saddened to say that I am not thriving in this relationship.

I read some of the email you sent about emotional sensitivity. I believe we are all sensitive with our emotions, but I donít feel that I honestly have all issues with it for except I do hold back from you. When I texted you about my dad calling me stupid and how maybe that triggered me; it was not all true.
I only said that because I did not want you to continue to be angry and tell me to leave and then ignore me.

I was wanting you to validate me and not tell me what I am being.

I hold back my true feelings and what I want to express often because I know it will lead to an argument and not be validated. I have always felt if I just donít do or say anything that may upset you; then things will be okay. It is like walking on eggshells. I donít feel like I can be totally myself and that I can say what I want to say or feel 100% of the time. It feels like my motives are being questioned and it has affected my self-esteem.

I am not responsible for your behavior

Therefore, I am responsible for taking care of myself.

My wanting the break is so much more too.

I have asked myself, Is the way Iím being treated healthy and supportable in the long-run (marriage)?

The answer is No.

I no longer feel like Iím the person I used to be. I am more anxious and less confident than I used to be.

I doubt myself and I feel like what I do is not good enough for you. I am often confused about what transpired in an argument/fight.

Iím made to feel itís my fault when things go wrong and Iím always the one to apologize often. We donít really talk about it often afterwards either.

Iím always hesitating or questioning my actions in my response to you out of fear that it will make you angry or that I would be ridiculed.

I am made to feel guilty; you say Iím being exaggerative, insecure, defensive. Iím made to feel blamed for when it goes wrong.

I am told how I should feel or what I am feeling, and I am not heard and not understood by you.

Your faults are projected to me and I am being gaslighted. Your words and behavior impact my life.

I expect and deserve to be:

Appreciated
Valued
Respected
Validated

I want more for myself. I want to feel emotionally safe. I am not getting that from you. I donít believe things will ever change and we will always go in circles.

I do not feel healthy mentally, physically and emotionally. I do not want to live like this or be like this.

And I feel that it would be best if we went our separate ways. I care for you and love you, but I need to make this decision that is best for me.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 6:24 PM, June 28th (Sunday)]

Hedwig posted 6/29/2020 08:31 AM

Kintsugi, is that the e-mail she sent you?

If she wants to talk, maybe you can hear her out. At least to better understand what behaviour she is referring to and learn from that.

Anna123 posted 6/29/2020 08:56 AM

Two quick points:

A new partner taking days (as opposed to a few hours to cool down) for a break would be a deal breaker for me from her point of view. And when you come around, and then rug sweep---it really ramps things up. That being said, something in this relationship makes you feel you need this space, which is legitimate. Trust your gut.

This relationship may not be good for you at this time anyway. Just my opinion but after being married to a cheater and moving away from that, that last thing that is going to make life better is a new relationship that causes so much angst. Even if you are both good people and she is being honest, there is something there that is telling you you may not be so good together.

All this time spent figuring out this relationship, building it etc., could be spent on building your new life further, or other more healthy relationships.

Good luck however this goes.

EDIT: Oh --- I just read the last post, was that an email from her? The last poster has a good point.

[This message edited by Anna123 at 9:01 AM, June 29th (Monday)]

Kintsugi posted 6/29/2020 09:16 AM

Hi Hedwig and Anna. Yes, she sent that to me yesterday evening.

We exchanged some texts late last night, ugh. She shared this blog post from a site called Love Planet that seems to be fueling her. MEN YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP. It's about a woman's journey to leaving a man. They just don't wake up one day and leave and men's reaction that there must be someone else. A man's actions his words, the way he makes her feel builds up over time. "When she stops trying to get you to see things her way..." "So no, she didn't leave you to find someone else. She left so she find HERSELF."

I do understand that message, I just can't wrap my brain around that it was that bad. Her email makes me sound like a monster. I'm the type of guy that was always trying to show her affection, holding her hand everywhere went. Honestly, I got little of that in return. I wanted her to talk to me, confide in me. I guess the only thing that matters is, she did see me that way.

Things seemed to go down hill in the relationship weeks ago, when she started playing some word game app as part of team. I knew it was trouble when she started and that it would be a time and attention drain. She's been withdrawn and distant since, and I voiced my concern with it, and she defended it. She talks about feeling belittled with looks I give her, I remember we were trying to get out the door one morning, getting an early start, and I'm running around pulling things together, and she's sitting at the kitchen table playing this game. Yeah, she got a look all right. It said, "seriously?"

Deep breath, No More Mr. Nice Guy.

A new partner taking days (as opposed to a few hours to cool down) for a break would be a deal breaker for me from her point of view. And when you come around, and then rug sweep---it really ramps things up.

Yes, she has her own place, but spends a lot of time at my place. But when we would fight, not every time, but when I felt me hitting a boiling point, I would ask her to leave. I'm not proud that I can spill over, and get really heated. Getting that way with her scares me. Oh geez, maybe I am a monster.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 9:34 AM, June 29th (Monday)]

heartbroken_kk posted 6/29/2020 09:37 AM

I'm sorry that your fiance broke up with you. Are you accepting this now? Are you moving forward with the knowledge that you are no longer in a relationship with her, that it's over? Or are you clinging to some hope that you can entice her back?

I'll offer my perspective on the situation. I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with somebody who got into fights and arguments with me. I wouldn't want to stay in a relationship with someone who asks me to leave after a fight and go back to my place and then acts as if he's fine the next day.

I mean the following with sincere hope that it helps you: You sound emotionally immature, like someone who doesn't have good emotional self control, and who doesn't know how to be supportive to their partner.

What do you think is the lesson here for you? Have you considered getting into therapy for a while to see if you could figure out what has gone wrong and how to move forward as a better person?

Hedwig posted 6/29/2020 09:43 AM

You're not a monster, you know that. Gently, don't use that statement, as it can be used to not work on actual behaviour you can change.

As you can only control your own behaviour, I would focus on that. Read up on the 'Four Horsemen' by the Gottman Institute. Stonewalling and Contempt (eye-rolling, nasty looks) are two out of the four.


TKOGA posted 6/29/2020 10:10 AM

Her email claims some serious gaslighting. If any of that is true, you have work to do. I agree with a previous poster. You seem emotionally immature.

[This message edited by TKOGA at 10:11 AM, June 29th (Monday)]

Kintsugi posted 6/29/2020 10:49 AM

Thanks Heart TKOAG. I think in many ways you are correct about being emotionally immature. Interesting, I would have described her that way.

I'm trying to accepting this, it's hard. New beginnings suck, lol. I can recall going out of my way to be sensitive to these things in particular that she wrote. ,

"I doubt myself and I feel like what I do is not good enough for you. I am often confused about what transpired in an argument/fight." This resonates with me when discussing something about a fight. She had her POV, I had mine.

"Iím made to feel itís my fault when things go wrong and Iím always the one to apologize often. We donít really talk about it often afterwards either." True, we wouldn't talk about it much afterward. I really tried not to be accusatory to make her feel guilty.

"Iím always hesitating or questioning my actions in my response to you out of fear that it will make you angry or that I would be ridiculed." This is really harsh IMO. I've tried to be sensitive to not ridicule.

"I am made to feel guilty; you say Iím being exaggerative, insecure, defensive. Iím made to feel blamed for when it goes wrong." I honestly don't know when I was accusatory calling her exaggerative or insecure. Defensive may have come up but in context that I didn't think she was acknowledging her ownership and role in an issue.

"I am told how I should feel or what I am feeling, and I am not heard and not understood by you." When we would talk about serious issues, I would give my opinion to help figure things out. It's what couples do. She was always free to feel or act however she wanted.

My response to her email.
---------------------

This relationship stuff is super hard. I understand and respect your decision.

I wish I could fix all of this, I reallyÖ. reallyÖ really do. But I donít think I can. Even then, I donít agree with much of what you wrote. Iím not for a second discounting what you wrote, I get it, thatís your perception and feelings. I hear and acknowledge that. I just have a different take on it all, that doesnít make it right or wrong, just mine, just yours. So from the bottom of my heart, youíve been heard and wish I could do something different to impact how you feel. Sometimes itís healthy just to agree, to disagree.

Babe, If I havenít made it clear lately, you mean everything to me. You matter to me and I value you. You are special to me. I appreciate you. I respect you. I will be there for you when you need me.

Iíve ALWAYS wanted to know your true feelings. Intimately.

Iím not perfect, neither are you, but I always wanted us to work through that and never give up on each other.

I appreciate everything you do.

Iím so sad to hear you donít feel emotionally safe. That cuts to my core. My #1 job and I failed.

I have sensed distance and shortness in the last few weeks, and Iíve been frustrated by that. I didnít understand it.

I donít know whatís expected of me sometimes. How am I supposed to react to certain things, moving things out, not going to NY? I just know things between us have hurt.

We fight sometimes. People fight sometimes.

It wasnít but three weeks ago that we were dancing around a fire like teenagers.

Or boating

Or at the beach, with excitement for the summer.

We talk. We argue. We donít always say the right thing, or in the right way in the heat of the moment the best wayt. Iím exaggerative at times, we all are, same for insecure and defensive. Weíre human.

I wholeheartedly acknowledge my faults, Iím about as self-aware as they come given my history, but I have failed myself and you in ways that pain me, and you more. Asking you to leave is out of fear. As I feel frustration building when weíre in an argument, I donít want to have an emotional outburst, or say something I will regret. Nothing saddens me more in that moment when asking you to leave, itís like having an outer body experience. Iím at tears as you walk out the door, knowing what I just did. Knowing I hurt you so badly, and knowing it could have been worse. I never meant to hurt you that way, but I understand how I did, and in my mind, the only way I can process it at the time, I pick the lesser of the evils. Ask you to leave, or risk something worse happening.

Weíve had so many good times. I never imagined us here.

Waking up next to you is the single best thing Iíve ever experienced.

Cooking dinners together was the best.

Holding hands in church. Iíve never felt closer to anyone. Gripping our hand.

But we all have faults. This is a relationship between two people who each bring their own experience, perspective, opinion and faults.

I often feel your take on things is more about who is right and who is wrong, and not so much about how we can have a difference of opinion or perception. I feel that my opinion is held against me.

I donít ever recall telling you how you should feel, or what you are feeling. I want you, all of you in its rawest form.

Do we talk about a lot of stuff and Iím literally listening to you to understand, and offering advice? I do. I thought you welcomed that, and I remember you thanking me for talking you through it.

Iím learning small fights are never just small fights. Weíre all just a work in progress and words and actions really do matter no matter how big or small.

I deserve to be happy, so do you. I love you.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 10:52 AM, June 29th (Monday)]

Kintsugi posted 6/29/2020 11:28 AM

Venting. Getting my head right.

I have to share this, it was a HUGE frustration for me in the relationship. She remembered nothing. Dates. Anniversaries. Prior conversations. Stories shared. I gave her as a gift pillows with the dates we met. "It started with a shoulder tap... August 6, 2016. She wasn't listening. She would never remember, I'd jokingly/curiously ask her the date. I've never experienced anything like it in any relationship I've been in. I felt devalued at times, like I was literally wasting breath and energy. I'd wish her happy anniversary on the 14th of every month. The date we went on our first date. She never remembered. She seemed detached. Aloof. I literally got so tired and frustrated saying the same thing, over and over I got to the point I would say, "if it's not important for you to remember, I'm not going to repeat it." Maybe that was wrong, but my frustration was immense. I think this formed the basis for our recent problems and many of the things she raises. It was becoming a huge issue for me, but in many ways I accepted it as our normal even if it frustrated me. We went to a couples course one time, we wrote one word on a rock that we each needed to work on...hers was listen. Maybe I inadvertently created unrealistic expectations in the process and beat her down with it .

I feel like this is unfairly all getting dumped on me. To me, that's a red flag. I don't honestly feel like she's owning her part of it. God knows I could have done things differently at times...better. I need to work on that big time. But I think back to many things, and she just seemed disengaged. She's kind of aloof by nature, like going through the motions. Why was I with her? She's the best person I've ever met. I often told her that. Even with her flaws, she was. Does that mean we should be together? I guess not. I'd like to think there are other genuinely good people out there.

Adding...

One of our biggest challenges was our ages. She is 10 years younger. I'm at the stage where I can retire and able to go where ever, when ever. Her job tied her to the area we live and she couldn't telework. It's always been a background issue, we would say we'll make it work somehow. But I think we both knew it was going to be an issue eventually. We were kidding ourselves.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 12:58 PM, June 29th (Monday)]

Kintsugi posted 6/29/2020 12:51 PM

Realizing the damage done. Why do I ask her to leave when we argue? That's what happened during R. I'm wired that way...still. My ex WW moved out, got her own place. She moved back in at one point when we were attempting R. When we fought, it would invariably go in that direction.

I knew this and STILL couldn't control it. I'm so damn disappointed in myself.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 1:29 PM, June 29th (Monday)]

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