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Relationship I need suggestions on how you cope with partner separation & keeping a positive outlook

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I will try to make this as short as I can, although there is a lot to unpack, and honestly I am not someone who can ever make something short so I will just own that 😂

Just to preface - I am Polyamorous. Me and my partner I will be talking about (he has PTSD) met almost 3 years ago online. He was then in an extremely (emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually) abusive marriage, of which he had been with her, including dating, for close to 15 years. We became friends and I instantly knew something was going on with him. After a bit, he came out and told me all that was going on. In the short time we knew each other, it had already progressed and gotten worse. Despite his tendency to excuse his wife's actions as a way to cope, he eventually agreed that he needed to get out of there. He is albino, and cannot drive due to poor eyesight. He also didnt have anything in savings due to his wives impulsive use of their money.

So, my husband flew across the country to help him escape and move in with us, in which we provided a guest bedroom. He filed for divorce with his wife. We ended up falling for each other, both ignorant and too blinded by our feelings for each other, to not truly realize the depth of trauma that have built up inside of him.

Before he came, I read up for hours on how to treat someone that had been abused, how to support a friend through abuse, the damage of abuse, and how people might manifest that in how they act. That, paired with my own traumatic past abuse, I thought, naively, that we could navigate through this and it'd be okay. That being said, I had never been with, nor around, someone who had PTSD. The thing is.... he didnt know he had it then, and neither did I.

He did know right away though that he needed to sign up for therapy, because he did not want me to be his therapist - he didnt want to treat me that way. Sadly, it was during Covid, and it was especially hard for him to get paired up with a therapist through the VA. It meant waiting for months and months.

During this time, he started to dive, and started doing things that had been against his nature up to this point. Nothing overly devistating, like cheating, but he did have a tendency to lie and hide, because he had to from his ex to escape abuse. Up to this point he had been very very open with me about everything and so it was a 180. I continued to be patient with him because I understood what was going on, but the things kept piling on.

He had a friend group, but they were so very poorly supportive of him and what he was enduring, and a couple women in the group started a smear campaign against me and were very mean, talking behind me and my partners back about me and spreading rumors and lies. My partner did not defend me during this time, and instead protected his friends because he didnt want to lose them despite even the poor treatment they were also giving him. I left the friend group. I understood the friend group was important to him, but it hurt so very much to be, what felt like betrayed, by him.

He spiraled more and more, and distanced himself more and more. He eventually started to get nightmares every single night, which were reenactments of his ex sexually abusing him. He would wake up crying. His dreams eventually morphed to it being me that sexually abused him in his dreams. He was so very traumatized, and pushed me away, not even being able to see me because it would make him scared. For about a month, he didnt really leave his room, and I would bring him food to his bedroom door. I felt very bad for him and didnt take it personally.

Eventually, this did pass, and he attended his first therapy session. From that he realized he isnt ready for this, and very suddenly, like the day after therapy, broke up with me, and instantly started planning to move nearby the very same friend group that there were problems with. I felt incredibly shocked and hurt by this.

He promised me he would come back for me and this isnt over. I understood if he needed time on his own, but to so suddenly run, I didnt understand. He was gone by the end of the week. I had to see the very people that perpetuated lies about me pick him up from the house, and pack his things.

Shortly after, he changed his mind due to missing me, and it turned into a long distance relationship. Things were pretty ok during this period of about 6 months, except I was so shocked from the break up and everything with his friend group that I was struggling with resentment. We had our fair share of arguments, but generally things improved. He was going to therapy and working on learning self love and self care. After 6 months, we both (again, NAIVELY) thought things were good. We didnt realize how deep the well of pain he had really was.

So, he moved back, leaving the friend group behind because he realized that they were not healthy for him and the way they treated me was wrong. Things were ok for a bit, but very slowly he started to push me away again once he started Trauma Therapy specifically. Over time, our emotional intimacy faded, and then our physical intimacy. He was defensive, easily angered, and would result to forms of emotional abuse. He would get triggered randomly, and it was hard to pinpoint how. I would even bring up boundaries I had and he would push back, insulting my boundaries, telling me they were ridiculous. It came at much shock when he would react this way because he never had before. He would tell me I was safe to come to him for a listening ear, but when I would, he would then switch and get mad at me, and become cold. He started harboring resentment for me, treating me like his ex wife, and thinking all my intentions were the same as her.

All of this, on top of him spontaneously leaving me before left me very traumatized, and fanned the flames of my childhood abandonment issues. He was trying hard to change, and address his past issues, but it was hard to balance while being with me in a relationship. He was very remorseful for all hes done, and would yo yo from emotionally there and supportive, to emotionally abusive and distant. He realized he needed to leave again, that this wasnt working. He couldnt work on his past and us at the same time. But this time, he wanted to work with me, and not just run. So, we took a few months looking at places in the area and figuring out where he could live close by to move. We found a place, and moved him there.

This was about 3 months ago. We are on a break, but still committed, and he is taking his time and space to work on himself and his past. The transition has been immensely difficult, especially with it happening twice. With my abandonment issues, I have been struggling hard. I go to a trauma therapist as well, twice a week. Some days are freaking horrible, and other days are great.

I found out during this time that I also have PTSD, which adds to the difficulty. My trust has been broken numerous times in this relationship, and I already have trust issues from the past. Regardless of what has happened though, I consider this relationship worthwhile to be committed to. He is going to trauma therapy, his self care has improved immensely over the years. He eats great and makes his own meals of proper size (this is a big deal because he once had an eating disorder, and continued to suffer with body image issues to this day), he works out each day and takes care of his body, he is going to trauma therapy and doing therapy homework and workbooks daily, he manages his finances well, he reduced (and in some cases, eliminated) his sources of escapism, he is working and slowly improving on his workaholic tendencies (hes actually taking time off! unheard of), and even developed a healthy sleepy schedule and sticks to it despite insomnia. All in all, he has made great progress in the years I have known him.

Our break and his healing has no time limit, but he knows that when he is ready, he wants to date me again, and *slowly* this time. We catch up with each other once a week and talk about how were doing, my husband takes him grocery shopping, and I see him about once a month. He still continues to tell me he loves me, and he looks forward to a future with me, and shows that through his actions. Because of all these things listed, I am very hopeful for our someday future.

All that being said.... I would love some suggestions on how to transition to not having him as that form of emotional support anymore. He cant handle it right now, but its so hard to transition to after almost 3 years together. I am trying to lean more on my husband, but as others who are poly probably know, another partner does not and cannot replace another one. I have many hobbies I do, and I also signed up for classes of various types of interests I have. I also have therapy, and I journal and do workbooks and self help books of my own that I try to inculcate.

Despite all this, I still have hard down days where I miss him deeply, and struggle knowing I cant go to him to talk. Its like this huge force is screaming at me to run and talk to him when I cant. Therefore, after this long winded story... lol.... I guess I am just looking for suggestions on what any of you do during times like this, or any sort of CBT or thought processes you use when your mind goes to dark places. I dont want to push him away or smother him with my own issues right now as hes healing. How do you keep a positive (yet still realistic) outlook for the future after all the hardship of PTSD, and the damage it can cause on relationships and yourself? How do you personally endure difficult times?
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So… roughly half the time he is “him” (that you know); & roughly half the time he is “him” (that others know).

Sounds as if he has a decision to make.

As well as, you, yours.
So… roughly half the time he is “him” (that you know); & roughly half the time he is “him” (that others know).

Sounds as if he has a decision to make.

As well as, you, yours.
Id say, thankfully, thats not so much the case anymore. For the first year though, yes. In the beginning there was a much larger discrepency. His priorities have changed more towards me now, but he has realized and acknowledged he has to heal his past first before being able to devote himself to a healthy relationship that he desires to give me, and what I deserve (his words).

We both agreed before the break happened what the break would mean and what it was for - we are remaining committed but on pause for now til hes ready mentally and emotionally to focus on the relationship and not be so stunted by the past. Now his priority is his trauma therapy and healing, which I think is good, but the future we have both agreed to pursue after is our relationship together. So I think our desicions *have* been made. We both want to make it work and the committment is there. Its more so that I am just trying to understand how to navigate this transition to not being able to lean on him during this time and instead focusing more on my own self, and what suggestions others had for how to essentially detach from him while he goes through his healing.
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