First, I want to thank you all for allowing people like me to post in this community. It means a lot - well, to me anyway - that you welcome those with questions and those who seek advice. I've been fighting back and forth with myself for quite a while now; trying to think of the best, most appropriate way to share my situation and ask for your input. Please know that I'm not here for me but for my fiancé who I believe has been sexually abused. I hope that my presence in this community doesn't cause anyone any discomfort. If it does, I completely understand and will leave immediately. I'm just hoping that I may be able to receive some insight into what is going on in my fiancé's head and in our relationship. For your time and help, I thank you so much.
I'll try to explain the situation without going into too much detail. I'm also not sure exactly what constitutes as "triggering" for some so would rather tread lightly.
I know for a fact (as was told to me by her Mom) that she was molested in day care/preschool by a teenage boy. I have very strong suspicions that her Dad also molested her as a small child as well as a young teenager. My fiancé remembers next to nothing from her childhood so has no memories whatsoever. As much as we've discussed it, she says that in her heart she believes that these things have happened but since she has no memories of any of it, she can't say for sure. Many, many aspects of her personality are "typical" (for a lack of a better word) of someone who has been sexually abused. Two of the main issues we have in our relationship are: 1) she has cheated on me three times in the last 5 years and 2) she has a very hard time accepting and dealing with negative emotions or any sort of emotional discomfort at all.
As far as the cheating goes, she feels that she has a strong fear of abandonment where she sort of adopts the mentality of "do unto others before they do unto you." She has little to no self-esteem and just can't seem to control herself when a guy shows her that he's physically attracted to her or generally interested in her. Her answer to all of my questions such as "Why did you do it?" or "What were you thinking?" is "I don't know." She does show guilt and remorse for her actions and gets visibly distraught. However, trying to talk things out and understanding the whys and hows of her cheating doesn't get us very far because she just locks up and shuts off. Our conversations consist of me doing all the talking and her sitting in silence. If I don't talk, there's no talking whatsoever. People seem to think I'm crazy for sticking around after being cheated on so many times but...I don't know...things just go much deeper than they appear. She tells me that I'm perfect, that she loves me more than life itself, that she's so happy with me and with our relationship. I've asked her millions of times if there's anything that I'm doing wrong or NOT doing, if I'm somehow pushing her away from me or if I'm not giving her what she needs, etc. All she really says is, "It's not you, it's me. I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't know why I do this." I think perhaps if she would just tell me that either she's not in love with me anymore or that she's not happy with me or something - then I could just walk away. But because I know she's a good person, I know that she loves me, I know that she's happy with me and with our relationship - I just can't walk away from her. There's just too much worth fighting for and I'm willing to stick it out for as long as I can.
In regards to her not being able to deal with negative emotions or any emotional discomfort. I'm not too sure how to even explain this. If any of you experience this yourselves, you might know what I mean. When we discuss the things that have happened to her, she shows little to no emotion. Both of her parents were god awful parents yet she tries to maintain normal, functional relationships with both of them; never once showing her anger and hurt towards them. She's never confronted either of them about anything negative that she experienced in her childhood. I think she just turns all of the negativity inward and it's just eating her alive. I think that maybe her not standing up for herself just creates more self-hate and just eats away at what little self-respect she has.
Goodness, I don't even know, guys. We're in therapy together right now but since tonight is only going to be our second appointment, we really haven't addressed anything or got anywhere yet. I try so hard to be patient and understanding and supportive...but I just don't know what she needs or what she wants or what she's thinking. I don't think she does either.
Have any of you been through something similiar? Was/is there anything your partner could do to help? Is there such thing as being too supportive?
What breaks my heart the most isn't what this is doing to our relationship...but what it's doing to her as a person. I just don't know what to do to help her.