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Anxiety from a past relationship ruining my new one

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
I spent nearly 3 years in an emotionally abusive relationship with someone who would cheat, lie and break promises on almost a daily basis. I stayed because I was scared to be alone and lose all my friends. Through this, I developed severe anxiety and became very depressed. When he was out at any time I'd obsess over over it, worrying that he'd be doing something bad (I was usually right). I'd have panic attacks, wouldn't eat or move from my bed and cry uncontrollably.
After a long time I finally had the courage to leave, because I was sick of my life being a mess. I lost all the people I knew those 3 years.

A few months later I met my current partner. He's wonderful, faithful, does everything right, but my problems are still there and he's nearly left me a few times already because of it. Even though I know he would never do anything to hurt me, when he goes out and I don't hear off him for a few hours I become hysterical. Nowhere near as bad as I used to be, but it still happens. I say stupid things because I get so upset, and I understand how it can take it's toll on him.

I've been trying so hard this past month to really tackle the issues that I have with trust. I've tried thinking more positive, trying to actively change how I think and question myself whenever I'm feeling sad or anxious. For a while it worked and was starting to look up, but last night I feel like I lost all my progress.
The fact that I don't really have any friends anywhere near where I live sort of makes it worse. I have nobody at all to see or talk to when he's not around, I'm always alone. Basically it means I probably rely on him more that I should be.

My goal is to somehow, eventually end this cycle. Sooner the better. I would do anything not to lose this guy, literally anything. I came here because I thought it may help, and I could get some advice from people who understand me.

I would appreciate literally anything anyone has to say about this. I'm fully willing to admit that I'm the problem.


  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi Meg, welcome to The Mix discussion boards. Thank you for reaching out.

    It's good to hear that you appear to be in a better place now after you used your own initiative to do what's best for you - many people unfortunately don't even get to this point. It's a very tough and (as you mentioned) courageous thing to do.

    It sounds like you genuinely care for your current partner, and it sounds like you've identified trust as a key issue here. It's common to keep your guard up after you've had experience of an emotionally abusive relationship. The Mix has expert advice regarding trust here: http://www.themix.org.uk/sex-and-relationships/relationships/trust-13956.html .

    Have you tried having an open conversation with your current partner about what's going through your mind? Do you know how he feels about your anxious behaviour? Maybe he feels tired or even annoyed at it, but part of this is perhaps because he's worried about you. Emotions are often very complex and it can help to get them out in the open. It may also reduce any possible tension and increase trust. Getting to know his thought process more can also help you to stay rational and not be as worried.

    Getting more friends may indeed help ease any pressure between you two, but as with many things, this is easier said than done. However, even if you're struggling to make friends in your area, it can at least help to have some regular people to talk to online! A lack of social interaction can be very detrimental to someone's state-of-mind, regardless of their situation.

    Please keep us updated, and don't hesitate to ask anything at all!

  • MaisyMaisy The Mix convert CymruModerator Posts: 407 Listening Ear
    What you wrote reminded me of myself quite a bit! At the very least, you aren't alone in this!

    ​I'm sorry to hear that you were in an emotionally abusive relationship for 3 years. Understandably this would make you feel less able to trust others and perhaps more suspicious instead. And being in an abusive relationship is bound to have made you feel depressed and anxious as well. It's really good that you were able to recognise the relationship was harmful to you and to leave!

    ​Unfortunately, when we have been betrayed and hurt in the past, it can still affect us and our relationships in the present. But it's still really good that you have recognised that there are things you need to work on, and I hope that your current partner will be supportive!

    ​It sounds like when your current partner is out, you get really anxious and upset, perhaps thinking of all the things he could be doing, especially when you don't hear from him. Since you can't control when your partner goes out, what he does, or when he can get in touch with you, then it can be helpful to learn how to manage your emotions when your partner isn't around. Perhaps if there are certain thoughts or trail of thoughts, you can write them down and then challenge them with opposite thoughts e.g. 'He might be cheating' becomes 'He might be enjoying himself with his friends', or 'He is late, maybe he is in a car crash' becomes 'He is late, maybe there is traffic'. It can be helpful to challenge negative thoughts as this can lessen anxiety, when you are able to see that thoughts are just that and the reality could be different. You've got the power to control your emotions, and equally, the responsibility as well. While it can be very tempting to say things to your partner when you are upset, it's not fair on either of you. Notice when you are getting upset, and try to distract yourself. Turn off your phone and computer and do something nice for yourself instead. If you don't feel like doing that (I know how strong those emotions can be!) then curling up with a blanket and crying can be helpful too (just remember that this is all the past hurt that you are feeling, and has little to do with your current partner if he is honest and caring).

    ​It's okay to have relapses when making progress. We often think of progress as something straightforward, but it's sometimes a case of backwards and forwards. It doesn't mean that all progress is lost because you are in a much better position than you were at the start- you have come a long way since then!

    ​As you have noticed, not having friends around can also make things worse. We need friends for the good and the bad times, and it's lonely without them. It's also healthy to have friends when we are in a relationship so that we aren't depending on our partners a lot. When we rely on our partners too much, it can be unfair and cause tension and anxiety. But having friends can increase our support network so that we aren't overly dependent on our partners. What are some ways you can try to change this and make friends instead? Any groups in your area that you might be interested in joining, or even volunteering? It can be hard trying to make friends, but taking a proactive approach can make it a bit easier.

    ​It's really great to hear that you want to overcome these issues and you definitely deserve a relationship that is free from mistrust! Sometimes though, it can also help to have professional support, so don't be afraid of seeking counselling as it may help to help you!
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  • LaineLaine Fruit loop Gone for gooDeactivated Posts: 2,762
    Hi Meg,
    i'm really glad you have managed to open up about this and i'm sorry to hear about what has happened, I too was in an emotionally abusive relationship for about 2 years and I almost lost my friends through it but luckily they got me out of it. I did struggle for quite a while after it and I even lost 2 new relationships because of it.
    have you tried to talk to someone for professional help? therapy like CBT really helped me along the way so it's just a thought. everytime your partner goes out write down exactly what your thinking and try to challenge it. instead of thinking he's late and something bad has happened stop and think that it is more likely he's just a little stuck in traffic because the roads can get busy. try and think about the far more likely scenario.
    I agree with Maisy groups or volunteering can be a great idea and if that's a little scary maybe just practice making some online friends first. I wish you well and don't hesitate to ask us if you need more advice :)

    Take care

    🌈Positive thoughts🌈

    "This is my family. I found it, all on my own.
    It's little, and Broken, but still good. Yeah. Still good." ~ Stitch

    "Lately, I've been struggling with all the simple things in my life" ~ Cian Ducrot

    "I don't know if it's because my heart hurts or I'm insecure" ~ Juice Wrld
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi Meg,

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    It's a big step to share your story and realise what it is that's affecting your current relationship. As easy as it is to say, 'don't let past relationships ruin your present/future ones' there is so much more that can run through your mind.

    I haven't had an experience like you're previous relationship but I can only imagine you're very strong and brave. It can take time to overcome the feelings you have in your newer relationship - longer for some than it is for others.

    Be yourself and try not to beat yourself up too much. I'm sure your partner understands with the great deal of hurt and betrayal you went through. Try to stay strong together. Patience can test us all, but in time, I hope you find a way to relieve the thoughts you have at the moment, or at least, reduce them.

    Remember that, you have us, we are always here. :heart:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thank you so much to all of you for taking the time to reply to this with so much helpful advice! I wish I could reply to you all individually as it would be so much easier to do, but I'm new here and pretty sure I can't.

    I've been really focusing on what I think and why. When I do this I usually calm myself down but sometimes it feels impossible. I've been doing a lot of research on how to cope and manage with the feelings I get when alone. I've found that making goals and to do lists are helping me a lot. They keep me focused on what I need to do in my life - find a job, organise my work space, start sewing again. and for the past few days it's really kept me going. I have also decided to start learning how to use fire fans ( metal fans that are set on fire used in performances) as something to keep me occupied and progress at.

    The thing I don't think I mentioned is that my boyfriend is in a band. He tours quite regularly, mostly only weekend dates for 2 or 3 days at a time. But next year he has at least 5 different countries lined up going to 2 more this year and it causes me a lot of anxiety. My ultimate goal is to be at a point where he can go to these countries without me and I won't spend the whole time panicking and waiting by my phone to hear from him the whole time I'm awake. This will obviously take time, maybe I'll never be at that point but it's a goal all the same.

    It makes me feel a lot better knowing there are people here that know how I feel, in a sense that I feel a lot less crazy and alone. I'm so thankful for everything everyone has said. And be assured that I'll be going over everything again to write down everyones recommendations for things to help :)

    I was also wondering, is there anywhere like this, or a chatroom, thats open 24 hours that I can go to when it get's really bad and I need immediate help?

    Thank you:heart:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi Meg,

    Hobbies are a fantastic way to take your mind off things! It's cool how you seem to be so supportive of your boyfriend even when you're feeling so anxious - he must be very lucky to have you :) I really hope you'll be able to get there and I believe that you're able to!

    The only 24/7 helpline I can think of is The Samaritans on 116 123. Some people may think this is only for people with suicidal thoughts - but I can assure you this is not the case (most people who phone up aren't). You are free to talk about whatever's on your mind, so hopefully this will help. More information can be found here: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/what-happens-when-you-contact-us

    The Mix has regular group chats (you may even see some of us there!) and other, more personal forms of support. These can be found at the top of this page, under "Group Chat" or "Speak to Our Team". The group chats require a password that changes daily which can be found on the discussion boards here: http://vbulletin.thesite.org/forum/chat-debate/live-chat-announcements - you'll be very welcome here!

    All the best,
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