Hi. I'm Ana.
I'm 25. I'm a single mother to a 4 year old boy.
I have had a weird childhood and uprbinging. My parents separated a bunch of times while I grew up, and I was my mom's emotional caretaker during a separation in my teens. This influenced me to hate my dad until adulthood. In my teens, I was dating a guy who raped me, cheated, and threatened to kill me and himself. I broke up with him after almost 2 years and he stalked me and got another girl to come to my house to beat me up. He faded out of my life finally. Then my parents got married. I spent two or three years black-out drunk and dropped out of high school despite having been an honor roll student with university credits under my belt by age 16. Every relationship during this period ended the same way - cheating, and sometimes physical abuse. But, every single man I was with cheated on me, without exception. My best and only female friend made a point of getting close to and/or sleeping with every man I so much as said hello to. Eventually I stopped drinking and started working 6 days a week instead. My relationships degraded to brief, angry, drunken stints. I fell in and out of touch with all of my friends.
When I was 19, I met a guy and we dated for about six months before I tried to call it off. I discovered he was involved in running a grow op. I was in college full time and working two jobs to pay for it at this point. I found out I was pregnant the next week after I broke things off. My mother had an abortion as a youth and was adamantly against me doing so (very co-dependent relationship at the time.) She insisted I keep it and that she would raise it were I incapable or unwilling. I did, and tried to make it work with my son's dad once he left the grow op thing.
In that relationship I was emotionally abused as he pressured me endlessly and exhaustingly for sex, accused me of cheating on him, and kept me awake til 4am regularly to harass me about my male friends and my history.
My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was 6 months pregnant and on top of working (my ex did not work) I was her caregiver as she was quickly bedridden. I stayed with my parents in their home to be close to my mom as my dad had to work to pay her medical bills and she wasn't able to care for herself.
My son's dad began threatening to beat my son when he was still a newborn. I could never leave my son alone with him, so I was exhausted (emotionally, physically, etc) between caring for my mom and son while still sleep deprived from my ex's cajoling. He then cheated on me when our son was 4 months old with a girl who was barely of legal age (literally a few months legal - in Canada, where legal age is lower than in the US. Think 9th grade.) This and the mounting fits of rage from him and threats to hit our son finally drove me to throw him out for good. He stalked me and harassed me for the next year. Most of the time I was just barely clutching on to my sanity, I felt.
My mom died just after my birthday that January (and my son's 1st birthday as we are just two weeks apart) after several months in hospice care, on February 15th. In March I applied for sole custody. I won sole custody and guardianship that December, with supervised visitation only for my son's father.
Today, my son is happy and healthy. We have a good relationship and I am grateful for him and even his timing in my life. I'm back in school again (for health sciences). His dad still sees him on weekends, under my supervision, and I have developed the strength and authority to draw clear boundaries there. He and I are on good terms as far as people with our kind of history can be.
For the last three and a half years, I avoided serious relationships because my son was my priority, and because I felt like my ability to attach to people was broken. I dated very casually for nearly a year in 2011 (in loosely termed 'open relationships'/polyamorous type settings as I had lost my faith in people to be monogamous after so much cheating.) Surprisingly I had only good experiences through this, but I was crushingly lonely as I also had no family support and had been emotionally/intimately 'shut off' for a while.
I began to date one of my best friends (I have been close with since I was 13, before any of this story even began) last summer. The first four months were a unique experience for me. I was happy, and comfortable, and felt completely able to be myself. I trusted him and felt some sense of 'hope' returning.
Now (in winter, which I have noticed always stresses me out and gets me very emotionally chaotic since mom's death) it is not the same. I am not doing my day-to-day tasks to DO them, I am doing them to keep myself distracted from immense anxiety. Any time I sit still I start to feel completely sick, with this creeping ominous feeling like he is going to cheat on me/is cheating on me/I am a joke to him and X woman that he is cheating on me with. That if THIS man can cheat on me, there is REALLY no hope and I am truly worthless and unlovable. I get little waves of nausea and the anxiety keeps me up very late into the night. I read a lot and paint a lot and try to keep distracted, but then my distractions keep me up late and when I hit the sheets, those thoughts and fears are there waiting for me.
I am exhausted by this. I have not been myself recently with my boyfriend either as I have had trouble with affection with him. (I should mention that probably as a result of rape and abuse I have an issue about being touched and I feel sick if people who I am not intimate with touch me, including family members other than my son.) Normally affection with him is lovely. Lately it makes me feel tense and panicky and like running away. I love my boyfriend and am very close with him, but there is a part of me that wants to leave him just to make this sick terrified feeling go away. I was miserable alone too though. I feel trapped inside my own head and unable to even gauge my own actions and reactions properly as I am afraid everything I say and think and do is jaded by my fear. I am even afraid that I will act so weird from being afraid, that he will leave me because I'm so neurotic.
My boyfriend is not very aware of any of this. I have briefly described it to him by noting that I am anxious, and he knows my history, so it has been a short explanation as to why. He has seen me have an outburst over a text message from a girl we mutually know (who has a reputation for cheating and trying to lure in coupled guys) and understands that it is not 'me' but like a knee-jerk angry 'validated' reaction because of all the anxiety.
I know he wants me to trust him. And I do not want to be the person who teaches my son to hold the world at arm's length. But I simply do not know how to have a healthy relationship. I am terrified of the pain that has ALWAYS come - and virtually always by this stage of the relationship. I feel like my ability to just 'be' is broken. The stress of this is making me temperamental, tired, distractable and less productive.
I don't think I have an anxiety disorder. This stuff happened circumstantially, for me, and built up with each of life's little blows. It's not an innate way I feel, it's always to do with trust and loss. At the same time I don't know if I have symptoms of PTSD. I do get flashes of my mom's condition at the end as her body was starting to more or less rot. I have memories of her falling to the ground and bleeding etc, that make me feel sick when I think about them. I imagine up scenes with my boyfriend and other women (involuntarily) when I am at my most anxious. I don't know if that stuff is normal. I am just tired of living like this. And it is not my boyfriend's responsibility to calm me down or reassure me (nor would it make any difference objectively in what the future has in store. people can be reassuring and still cheat.) So, I just feel very alone.