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Being pushed away - why?

Old 03-26-2011, 12:32 PM
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Being pushed away - why?

I am at an absolute loss for what to do right now. Two months ago, my sober alcoholic boyfriend of 2+ years was diagnosed with cancer. To deal with pain, he has been prescribed an oxy- drug, which he has been very careful taking due to his history with addiction.

A week and a half ago, we were planning a life together, discussing a home purchase and enjoying each other. We had a wonderful vacation this month and, to me, we have felt closer than ever.

On Sunday, he exposed great weakness to me, cancelling plans we made at Christmas and relying on me to take him to the ER. He was not admitted, but was prescribed heavy-duty cough syrup containing codeine to combat bronchitis... 3 chemo treatments have weakened his immune system. He admitted the cough syrup made his mind feel chaotic. My top priority right now truly is his health. And I made that known to him. Plans can happen anytime...

On Tuesday, he sent me an email saying he needs to end our relationship, that he can no longer deal with my emotions, which I feel I have shown very little of, and none (to him) relating to the cancer diagnosis. The email threatened to cut me off completely if I played any "emotional games". I was paralyzed to respond, but did by voicemail last night, asking that we meet for coffee.

Again, by email, he has asked for his things back and says he needs closure. I am not OK with this at all, but I am willing to give him space to deal with the cancer if that's what he wants. I am strong, I love him and want to be by his side. I understand from what he is saying that he doesn't want me there.

Could this abrupt change in attitude be the result of an addict taking strong medication, dealing with a life-threatening diagnosis or showing weakness to someone he loves? I have a close relationship with his sponsor and know he is aware of the situation. I do not feel it's appropriate for me to ask his sponsor's opinion of what's right. I can't compromise the trust between the two of them.

I know he is not doing this TO me... I am searching for guidance from my Higher Power... I am actively speaking with a therapist who specializes in addiction and is himself a cancer survivor. And I am confiding in a friend who is a cancer survivor to better understand the emotions the man I love is feeling.

What else can I do? Has anyone been through something similar? Any/ all resources or advice you can share would be so appreciated. All I have for him is love and I only want to do what's right.

With immense gratitude...
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:45 PM
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I've come to a conclusion after being 'shut out' by someone (who is in recovery) is that it doesn't matter why, how or what his thinking is. The only thing I can have any control over is myself and how I will or won't let it affect me.

I spent weeks going over and over what could 'possibly' be going on but the truth is, until he reveals what his reasoning is, you don't know. Just live your life. If and when he decides to talk to you about it, maybe you will get better insight into what triggered this.

That isn't to say you shouldn't feel confused or sad but don't rack your brain thinking you will get to the root of his actions anytime soon. You'll drive yourself nuts. That said though, you have every right to feel slighted and the part about not doing this 'to you'.. well that goes only so far. He did send you the kooky email and it hurt. So he did that to you for sure, quite purposefully it seems like.

It took me a long while to feel angry at the RABF. I kept making accomodations (his recovery, his rehab, etc) but that isn't an excuse to hurt the ones we supposedly love. I understand but I am also not a doormat. The reasons may not be 'about you' but does it matter if you are the one hurting?

I realized that I will not know what happened until he choses to talk to me about it then what can I do? Take care of myself, distance myself and wish him well. Be selfish because they are and as much as I have total compassion for someone in recovery or addicted, it isn't an excuse to treat others poorly.

p.s. Understand your emotions fully and work with those. I doubt he is sitting there trying to understand how he hurt you or talking to his therapist about it. If he were, he would be doing things differently.
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Old 03-26-2011, 04:36 PM
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Sorry for what's going on, that's gotta be painful no matter what the reason.

It could be any number of things. It could be him projecting what he thinks he would be feeling onto you. It could be the medication. It could be the cancer.

I agree with Bb that you can make yourself nuts trying to figure it out. About all you can really do is to honor his wishes and let him know, if you want to, that you'll keep him in your thoughts and prayers.
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Old 03-26-2011, 06:12 PM
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Thank you both so much for your thoughts. I have come to recognize that his cancer diagnosis has really triggered some co-dependent behaviors on my part. I'm scared to lose him. But being scared isn't going to help me or him. Being honest is... and this hurts! Whatever it is... the addiction, the cancer, the drugs or his honest feelings... it hurts. I need to get past this sadness, and I am working on it. Al-Anon and these message boards help. Thank you all.

I'm about to watch '127 Hours' for some perspective on how desperate life can really be.
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Old 03-26-2011, 07:32 PM
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Yup it does hurt. Being shut out is awful. But if someone slams the door on my hand, I move my hand and take care of it... and prevent it from happening again.

Some people are just avoidant when it comes to stress and your bf is under LOTS of it. Staying away may actually be of benefit to you now. He is doing you a favor of sorts.

But yeah, it bites.
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Old 03-26-2011, 07:56 PM
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I don't think this is about addiction.

I think this is about his fear of the Cancer diagnosis and what it means for him, you and the future that you had planned.

I think this is common in those w/ such a serious diagnosis. The fear sends them running. They don't want to burden you. They are afraid they are going to die.
I don't know what to tell you but can say that this may be out of your control.
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Old 03-27-2011, 06:24 AM
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I agree. When I was going through chemo for colon cancer, I just wanted to be left alone. My husband supported me a lot cause I had to deal with colostomy bag and if he didn't I would have the feeling to want to kill myself, it was that disgusting and awful and depressing. THe chemo in itself is a very very trying time. You don't know how much hair you're going to lose, the nausios feelings, the thoughts about dying, uselessness, etc.....

I felt many times like I was totally useless to my husband and my family.
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Old 03-27-2011, 06:50 AM
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kiki5711, thank you for sharing your personal experience with cancer. You talk about it in the past tense so I hope things have improved in your life now. Congratulations on your survivorship!

I think you understand a fear I have. If I walk away like he's asking me to, am I enabling depression and isolation to set in? When he was first diagnosed, he asked me point-blank to not let him isolate. Do I have a responsibility as someone who loves him dearly?

But if I fight to stay and keep our relationship alive, am I adding to the incredible stress he is already facing? It's easy for him to shut the door on me because we don't live together.

All rhetorical questions, but thoughts I am struggling with. Searching for answers, perspective and patience.
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Old 03-27-2011, 07:46 AM
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May I ask what kind of cancer he has been diagnosed with?

If I was you, I wouldn't disconnect. I"d give him space but not disconnect. I am totally sure he'll appreciate it even though he may be angry at his situation and many times confused and too sick to deal with stuff.

All the chemo and meds really kill any kind of sexual feelings so he may feel he's not giving himself to you as he should as a partner, but yet still wants you around as a friend.

It may be a long process, depending on the type of cancer and type of treatment. Also, after the chemo, there's still meds he'll probably need to take that affect might affect his moods and well being.

I think, in the long run, if you're there for him, he'll appreciate it very much.
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Old 03-27-2011, 12:17 PM
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Thank you for your words, kiki5711. He is being treated for colorectal cancer, although no primary tumor was found in either organ, rather on the outside. His oncologist has recommended a specialist at a nearby research hospital, although he wants to see if the first 3 months of treatment lead to improvement before taking that step. Therapies such as intraperitoneal chemo treatment can be quite debilitating, from what we've read, and he is not ready to consider those options.

Because you were treated for colon cancer, I would imagine you are familiar with the drugs he's on and perhaps experienced similar side effects. The third treatment for him was the one that prompted the realization that yes, in fact, he has cancer and must take care of himself.

My gut says step back and allow space but don't let go completely. I'm glad to hear you as a cancer survivor say that, thank you. I am strong enough to do that, with the support I receive here, from trusted friends and my spirituality.

I am not sure I am strong enough to walk away completely given the current circumstances. It may hurt now to be kept at a distance, but the thought of letting him go without being 100% certain that's what he wants would hurt me more.

I believe I will see him this week to talk and exchange some belongings. If I don't express myself for fear of his reaction, I'm giving him control. If I express myself, at least I'm bring true to myself. I cannot control how he responds.
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Old 03-27-2011, 12:48 PM
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I'm not really sure what you mean "on the outside".

I survived colon cancer going through chemo with a colostomy bag for 9 months before my colon got reattached. By the time I knew I had it, I was in the emergency hospital and was told if I had not come in, my colon would have ruptured which usually means death.

It wasn't even 5 months prior, that I had a mastectomy for cancer in my right breast.

So pretty much after that emergency surgery and finding out I had another cancer and I had to wear colostomy bag, I was freaked out beyond imagination.

So tell your boyfriend it is possible to recover. He will recover.

If I did it with two cancers, he can do it too.

Best of wishes, with love
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Old 03-27-2011, 05:25 PM
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Thank you for sharing your strength, kiki. Stay healthy and strong. Sending love...
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