I'm not an emotional punch bag. Or am I?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2010
I'm not an emotional punch bag. Or am I?
Tue, 11-20-2012 - 8:04am

[Some background]

My girlfriend (32) and I (36) have been together for three years now, having met when I came to Germany for work. We moved in together a year ago and I'm very happy to stay here and settle down.

She has a child of eleven from a previous relationship that turned sour. Thankfully, she's on good terms with her sons father, so her son gets to spend most weekends with his Dad, and one night a week too. It's all nice and amicable. Her son has accepted me; we get on really well. I love him to bits and it seems like he loves me to bits too.

About six months ago my girlfriend decided she wanted to improve herself with some home study. The topics are pretty varied: Physics, Maths, History, English and German (e.g. Grammar). When she began her studies she worked in a kindergarten on a morning and a youth club on an afternoon. She soon realised she didn't get enough time to study. I had no problem helping here and supported her so she quit the kindergarten job. This meant she could study on a morning, in addition to the hour or so on an evening when her son has gone to bed. She still works in the youth centre, from 4pm to 7pm. I took over paying the rent completely to counter for the loss of her kindergarten job.

I help out as much as I can. I get up with her at 0630 and help prepare the breakfast. I leave for work at 0730 and work my eight hours plus lunch so I can return home as soon as possible to clean around and get some dinner ready. At 1850 I cycle the ten minutes to her work and meet her because she likes cycling home together. We get home, have dinner, and clean up. Then she makes sure her son is ready for the next days school, has done his homework, puts him to bed, massages his feet, reads to him, and sings a bed time song. Some evenings I help him with his English and Vocabulary. By the time my girlfriend is ready it's getting late (around 2145-2200) but she starts studying. I'm always there to help if she needs me and try my best to support her. If she doesn't need me, I make sure the ironing is done, get the next batch of washing on and take care of any tasks that need doing (e.g. fridge cleaning, floor cleaning, etc). Once these are done, I then settle down in front of the computer and have a blast on a game or read the news. Of course, I don't get that much time for a game, if at all as there's so much to do and I'm usually very tired after the days events. But it happens occasionally. :) I don't go to bed until she is ready too. She doesn't like me going to bed without her.

[The Problem]

Despite my being English and having a decent enough command of my native language I'm not able to help my girlfriend as much as she would like. When she wants me to sit with her and go through vocabulary, I'm there immediately. But... I just can't explain some of the deeper concepts of grammer. It confuses me. I need to do a course first too! I'd love to help her more but it's very difficult. I try though. I search around on wikipedia and google. It's almost impossible to help her with German grammar until I learn the language more myself.

What's bothering me is this: When she gets frustrated with her course (which is often!), when she feels like she can't do it (which is often!), she takes it out on me in quite a nasty way. She starts shouting at me and accusing me of enjoying her suffering. She tells me that I "don't want her to progress", that I'm "happy for her to struggle". I try to sympathise with her, to empathise, to listen but also I try to defend myself a little and ask her why she feels that way because there is no part of me that enjoys her suffering or wants her to fail/struggle. Quite the opposite!

This morning I phoned her up. Our brief daily calls are nice and something she wants. She oftens mentions to me not to forget calling her. When I called I could tell from her abrupt answer, and tone, that she was angry. I knew immediately that it was the german grammar giving her a headache. Walking on egg shells, I asked her "how are things going?" (in a sympathetic tone) only to receive a torrent of abuse and claims that I'm "laughing at her problems", and  "not giving her enough help". That I "don't want to help her". She was shouting. Then she hung up on me. I've had this happen in the past and have always called her back. But today, I have had enough. I'm not going to call back like some puppy that's been kicked, running back to master for love and reassurance. This situation leaves a bitter taste in my mouth considering all that I do. And that's the point really: considering all that I do, how I support her financially, emotionally, and so on, why do I deserve to be treated like this? I understand she's frustrated but I don't agree with how she handles it!

I hope someone can offer some advice, support and perhaps a little sympathy because this can't go on. I'm not a punch bag. I'm not a dog to kick when times are hard. I deserve better.

Hope someone can help.

M :)


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2010
Thu, 12-13-2012 - 11:51am

Thanks for all the comments. Things came to head last week after my parents visited. I hardly see them as I live in Gemany and they live in England.  Even so, the one night when I couldn't ride to her work to ride back with her (because i was cooking a lentil soup and cleaning the rabbits and waiting in for my parents and had a puncture) resulted in a big fight because I had promised we'd spend some time together. The fact is, I didn't have the time to go, gave her plenty of warning, couldn't exactly leave my parents in the cold, and had a puncture so would have had to walk for about 30 mins there and 30 minutes back.

Despite this, she gave me such a hard time and was pretty nasty to me about it all. In the end she started threatening the end of the relationship which has become a real constant over the last year.

So.. on Thursday morning of last week, the night after she had made this threat (including "when can you move out?, can you do it tomorow?") and then she decided to spend the night at a female friends house, i decided i couldn't take enough of this. A few friends mentioned a web site which is about emotional abuse in a relationship. It sounds like a pretty classic case. I gathered my things and moved out. Now I'm dealing with the relationship meltdown. Fingers crossed. I love this girl so much and miss her. But I feel like I was mistreated and can't take it. Such a shame. Ironically, she's now telling me she didn't mean all this stuff about me going and wants me to come back. But I have to let this go. :(

There were some wonderful times in the relationship. We had a connection. But the bad times, the anger, jealousy, controlling, isolation from friends/family, isolation from going out, pressure to run around after her, walking on egg shells, just became to much. In the end I thought of her as a kind of Jekyll and Hide. I tried my hardest to nurture the Jekyll and lived in fear of the Hyde. I read somewhere about unconditional love, and giving love even if your partner is horrible to you. But I can't do it. I can't live like that. I think there's only so far that unconditional love can take you. You can't unconditionally love someone who treats you this way? Surely.