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Old 01-21-2019, 03:29 AM   #1
MaggieRose
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Default Is this behaviour quite usual?

Background: Young guy with alcoholic mom and parents always fighting - says he doesn't even remember whole days of his childhood. Severely traumatised and no therapeutic intervention to date.

Is this behaviour fairly typical for a guy who's been through this kind of traumatic family experience? He had a major crush on me, then ran away from me. We became friends (just friends) as I realised he had major issues. We would chat for hours and hours. He messaged me on Valentine's Day (at night). I once told someone I might move to another town (it was actually a joke) and he got so upset he didn't speak to me for a week. If another guy flirts with me, he looks incredibly hurt and also retreats from me. Many times, he returned my friendliness with suspicion, fear and misery until we made a significant breakthrough and he decided to trust me. Since then, we have been getting closer and closer and even talking about overnight hiking trips (both love hiking). Then he suddenly shut down and didn't respond to my messages. Eventually, after a month, he came back and said he just doesn't have feelings for me and we can only be friends. He did this once before when we got closer. This despite the fact that he has shown clear signs of caring for me as well as being attracted to me (remembers my birthday, takes me for coffee if something bad happens in my life, etc.). I guess he's just unable to take that step? I'm going to gently introduce him to the ACOA group in our area when the time is right (and only if he opens up about needing help, which he sometimes does)...but I guess what I'm asking is: is this fairly typical behaviour for adult children of alcoholics who have been severely traumatised and may even have PTSD? He said he was an unwanted child, practically raised himself and doesn't know what a normal family is like.
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Old 01-22-2019, 05:21 AM   #2
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Default Re: Is this behaviour quite usual?

The push-pull dynamic can possibly be part of his learned dynamics Certainly childhood wounds and trauma can affect adult relationships. I think it's difficult to categorise everything into neat little labels. I get the notion of wanting better understanding, though, in order to be involved. There's relationship dynamics that are creating distress, no doubt. Hopefully, he is open to the encouragement to seek support and improve his own skills as it pertains to your relationship with him.
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Old 01-22-2019, 08:05 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by MaggieRose View Post
Is this behaviour fairly typical for a guy who's been through this kind of traumatic family experience? He had a major crush on me, then ran away from me. We became friends (just friends) as I realised he had major issues. We would chat for hours and hours. He messaged me on Valentine's Day (at night). I once told someone I might move to another town (it was actually a joke) and he got so upset he didn't speak to me for a week. If another guy flirts with me, he looks incredibly hurt and also retreats from me.
What indicators did he give you that made you think he had a crush on you? Did he come right out and say anything? Did a friend of his tell you? I only ask because it seems like he made it clear he wanted friendship but you also mentioned running away. What was that like? Did he give you an explanation or just ghost you?

Quote:
Many times, he returned my friendliness with suspicion, fear and misery until we made a significant breakthrough and he decided to trust me.
What was involved with that breakthrough? Being suspicious of a good friend is not exactly typical- so maybe he did have more-than-friends feelings for you. What happened when he decided to trust you? Did he say " I trust you now"?

Quote:
Since then, we have been getting closer and closer and even talking about overnight hiking trips (both love hiking). Then he suddenly shut down and didn't respond to my messages. Eventually, after a month, he came back and said he just doesn't have feelings for me and we can only be friends
So it sounds like this is the second time he had done this to you? Is he interested in other girls for friends or girlfriends? I just do not think you need to tolerate this, at least without having a conversation with him about it. Were you able to bring it up?

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. He did this once before when we got closer. This despite the fact that he has shown clear signs of caring for me as well as being attracted to me (remembers my birthday, takes me for coffee if something bad happens in my life, etc.).
What signs did he give you to make you think he was attracted to you? i think that issue happens a lot with co-ed friends. i am not saying a guy and a girl cant be friends I am just saying its not uncommon.

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I guess he's just unable to take that step? I'm going to gently introduce him to the ACOA group in our area when the time is right (and only if he opens up about needing help, which he sometimes does)...but I guess what I'm asking is: is this fairly typical behaviour for adult children of alcoholics who have been severely traumatised and may even have PTSD? He said he was an unwanted child, practically raised himself and doesn't know what a normal family is like.
i do not mean any disrespect by this but it really isnt your responsibility to help him treat or manage past childhood issues with family alcoholism. I mean if he explicitly asked for help i get it, but he may not welcome your intervention (however helpful it is). He may resist simply because he did not think of it himself or not think the issue was important. I look at it from the perspective of the alcoholic. I am an alcoholic in recovery and I also am a child of an alcoholic father. I did not appreciate anyone telling me or trying to suggest to me any kind of treatment or therapy even though I desperately needed it. I am not saying he will be this way its just something to consider.
Then again maybe it will bring him relief to have your help and try it out or thank you for the suggestion. But based on his history of fleeing, it may trigger that pattern of behavior. I guess I mean you should take care yourself.
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Old 01-22-2019, 08:53 AM   #4
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Thanks, that's great feedback - I appreciate your taking the time.


[QUOTE=sarahsweets;6410060]What indicators did he give you that made you think he had a crush on you? Did he come right out and say anything? Did a friend of his tell you? I only ask because it seems like he made it clear he wanted friendship but you also mentioned running away. What was that like? Did he give you an explanation or just ghost you?

We did martial arts together and it was pretty obvious - staring, blushing, grinning, running over to greet me, getting physically aroused, stalking me quite a bit. But at the same time, he was very scared. It took a long time for him to even be able to talk to me in the beginning. Later, he managed some very awkward conversations. Also, on two occasions, when hugging, he held on to me exceptionally tightly with a lot of feeling but never brought that up. He said his greatest fear is rejection/abandonment. He would always ask me, "How do you know you can trust someone?"

When we had a breakthrough, he stopped running away and opened up to me. He said, "I trust you now. That kind of trust takes a very long time. You just have to give me time - that's all it takes. Nobody else has ever given me a chance, they have just given up." As for other girls - he said he doesn't have luck with them and has never had a girlfriend as he's just too scared of rejection. He said sometimes he likes girls but "it's just lust" and he doesn't act on it because it's not "significant".

I only thought of suggesting therapy because he brought it up first. He said he is well aware that he needs therapy but doesn't trust anyone enough to open up to them. He said he knows therapy will help him to get over his fears, but his fears are preventing him from going, therefore it's a vicious cycle. I would never recommend therapy to him 'out of the blue' - only if he brought it up again and asked my advice, which he does very often.

He said he is trying to work through his issues, triggers, fears, etc. and I have played a huge role in helping me and he is very grateful. He said he believes we can still be very good friends and he has a lot to learn from me. To me, it feels like he starts getting comfortable with me, lets his guard down, talks about possibly being more than a friend...then gets terrified and denies everything. Yet when he saw another guy flirting with me one day, he had a complete meltdown and literally couldn't talk to me. He was angry and upset for a week. That doesn't suggest friendship to me...

I am so glad you are in recovery! That's awesome. How's it going?
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Old 01-22-2019, 08:57 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by healingme4me View Post
The push-pull dynamic can possibly be part of his learned dynamics Certainly childhood wounds and trauma can affect adult relationships. I think it's difficult to categorise everything into neat little labels. I get the notion of wanting better understanding, though, in order to be involved. There's relationship dynamics that are creating distress, no doubt. Hopefully, he is open to the encouragement to seek support and improve his own skills as it pertains to your relationship with him.
Thanks for the response! Yes, I think it's part of his relationship with his mom. She was a largely absent and uncaring mom, but at times has said she's really proud of him, etc. But she is not in recovery, is still drinking, and I think there's just so much childhood trauma around that, which he can't fully look at just yet. When we used to go out to talk, he would insist on going to a quiet park, away from people, and he would literally tremble and be unable to look at me when telling me about his past. It has taken years for him to open up to me. Years.
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Old 01-22-2019, 09:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggieRose View Post
We did martial arts together and it was pretty obvious - staring, blushing, grinning, running over to greet me, getting physically aroused, stalking me quite a bit. But at the same time, he was very scared. It took a long time for him to even be able to talk to me in the beginning. Later, he managed some very awkward conversations. Also, on two occasions, when hugging, he held on to me exceptionally tightly with a lot of feeling but never brought that up. He said his greatest fear is rejection/abandonment. He would always ask me, "How do you know you can trust someone?"
I know you mentioned acoa but would he consider any other type of therapy? A lot of times the chaos, inconsistency and unpredictability of growing up in a house where there is addiction can really affect your ability to have meaningful relationships when you are an adult. Personally (And I mean this to protect you) I would avoid any type of intimacy (emotional as well as anything else) until he sees someone. Even if you have to pull away or level with him and say it. I know it wont be easy and he may get hurt, pull away or get angry. But there is just no way he can be a good partner to you in the future if he doesnt get help. I speak from experience. An addict parent really shapes a child good or bad. Its so hard to break that cycle of keeping people at arms length, one minute being emotionally connected and the next completely pulling back. If it hasnt already, it will hurt you even if he cant help it. There is a sort of 'tunnel vision' when it comes to adulting when you have grown up that way. Most people have developed certain coping skills good or bad and they just dont get how to change that. They may want to but I feel that without professional help it is almost impossible.
Quote:
When we had a breakthrough, he stopped running away and opened up to me. He said, "I trust you now. That kind of trust takes a very long time. You just have to give me time - that's all it takes. Nobody else has ever given me a chance, they have just given up." As for other girls - he said he doesn't have luck with them and has never had a girlfriend as he's just too scared of rejection. He said sometimes he likes girls but "it's just lust" and he doesn't act on it because it's not "significant".
Ok, he has decided to trust you for the time being but he has already done that and then pulled away right? What's to stop him from pulling away anytime something feels bad or off or even a little tiny bit uncomfortable? trauma and growing up with an addict as a parent sort of affects our "window of tolerance". Basically due to pain we have experienced the tolerance for anything remotely uncomfortable good or bad triggers old behaviors as a form of self protection. Therapy helped me expand and almost eliminate my window of tolerance.

Quote:
I only thought of suggesting therapy because he brought it up first. He said he is well aware that he needs therapy but doesn't trust anyone enough to open up to them. He said he knows therapy will help him to get over his fears, but his fears are preventing him from going, therefore it's a vicious cycle. I would never recommend therapy to him 'out of the blue' - only if he brought it up again and asked my advice, which he does very often.
No, I get that and I do not think I was very forthright in explaining what I meant. Basically, depending on the day, mood, which way the wind blows- it will affect how receptive you can be to ideas, even if you know they are good for you. The fear of rehashing or bringing forth anything painful just throws you back into old coping mechanisms even if they were not healthy ways to cope.

Quote:
He said he is trying to work through his issues, triggers, fears, etc. and I have played a huge role in helping me and he is very grateful. He said he believes we can still be very good friends and he has a lot to learn from me. To me, it feels like he starts getting comfortable with me, lets his guard down, talks about possibly being more than a friend...then gets terrified and denies everything. Yet when he saw another guy flirting with me one day, he had a complete meltdown and literally couldn't talk to me. He was angry and upset for a week. That doesn't suggest friendship to me...
Hard as this is to hear, that is totally unfair and inappropriate. i feel like you are giving him too much power in the relationship-whatever that is. He does not have the right to be upset when he cant even be honest with how he feels and can easily turn off his feelings and pull away. i know this is not what you want to hear but I really feel like it is valid. Just try and put it into perspective- would you allow another friend to act like this and accept it?
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I am so glad you are in recovery! That's awesome. How's it going?
Recovery has been awesome (6 years). I am not the same person I was before. I am 100% a better person. I am so comfortable with who I am that I would go through the pain all over again if I knew I would get to be the person I am today.
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Old 01-22-2019, 02:19 PM   #7
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Thanks for the response! Yes, I think it's part of his relationship with his mom. She was a largely absent and uncaring mom, but at times has said she's really proud of him, etc. But she is not in recovery, is still drinking, and I think there's just so much childhood trauma around that, which he can't fully look at just yet. When we used to go out to talk, he would insist on going to a quiet park, away from people, and he would literally tremble and be unable to look at me when telling me about his past. It has taken years for him to open up to me. Years.
If he's willing to explore therapy, I'd recommend a more holistic or generalized approach, if he's asking for your recommendations of course. Yes, he has a mom that drinks, at the same time the focus needs to be on himself and any types of behaviors that are troublesome to himself. The other *aha* moments will eventually fall into place.
I'm trying to think how to explain this. I, personally as an adult, returned back to therapy wanting to work on my anxiety types of reactions-catastrophizing, learning boundaries etc despite knowing that I was struggling with my marriage and also wanting to adjust things in my relationship with my mom. One skill built upon the other. Then I could step back and see where my reactions/feelings/emotiins etc were coming from.
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Old 01-24-2019, 03:50 AM   #8
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He says he know he needs intensive therapy but is just not 'up to it' right now. Don't know when he will be, though - he's almost 27. I hear you - I think his ability to understand a loving/meaningful relationship has been completely warped by his upbringing. He pretty much admits it himself. Yes, I have distanced myself emotionally in the sense that I don't expect anything from him any more (I don't mean that in a disrespectful way towards him, but in the sense that I now give myself all the love I want/need in my life, so his behaviour doesn't shatter me!).

I will definitely wait for the right moment to call him out on any BS. He, too, knows he can be hurtful - he said he doesn't want to hurt other people any more. It's nice that we're now at that stage in our friendship where I can say, "You're being a pain in the ***," and he doesn't take it the wrong way! I will, however, make it clear that unless he goes for therapy I can't be a better/closer friend to him. I'll still be there, but won't play a bigger role in his life. He needs to take some responsibility.

It's great that therapy helped with your window of tolerance! He definitely needs some assistance with that. The least little sign of 'rejection' terrifies him and he runs away.

Soooo happy for you re: recovery, and well done, it can't have been an easy road to walk at all. Congrats!
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Old 01-25-2019, 02:30 AM   #9
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If he's willing to explore therapy, I'd recommend a more holistic or generalized approach, if he's asking for your recommendations of course. Yes, he has a mom that drinks, at the same time the focus needs to be on himself and any types of behaviors that are troublesome to himself. The other *aha* moments will eventually fall into place.
I'm trying to think how to explain this. I, personally as an adult, returned back to therapy wanting to work on my anxiety types of reactions-catastrophizing, learning boundaries etc despite knowing that I was struggling with my marriage and also wanting to adjust things in my relationship with my mom. One skill built upon the other. Then I could step back and see where my reactions/feelings/emotiins etc were coming from.

Yeah, I hear you. I think that's a good idea, actually. At this stage, I guess anything wold help him as he's pretty badly damaged (his words, not mine). In the meantime, I will try to be a good friend to him when I have time (since I can't over-invest, given that he's just not ready for anything more at this point in time...).
Have a good weekend! And thanks for the response.
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