Hey Papa Bear! I've written to you a couple times when I was younger and I've gotten good advice from you that has helped me get through some things in life. Thank you very much for what you've been doing in the community.
It's been a good 5 years since I last wrote you, and I can gladly say that my life has been going in the direction I've always wanted it to and I'm pursuing a dream I've had since I was in 7th grade. I got admitted into my a college at the end of my senior year in high school and I've been a student at Purdue University since August so I can study to become a Materials (Science) Engineer. I also have a boyfriend who I met through a mutual friend of ours (we were actually set up by said friend, who is more than overjoyed that we're together. It was a funny realization that he went through all that trouble for us.)
But just because my life is all and well doesn't mean it's that way for everyone. Before I met my current boyfriend, I was with a different guy. I'm going to call him "Jamie" for the sake of his privacy instead of his real name. When I was 16, I met him, we became friends and we started dating. I met him through the fandom and was kind, respectful and loving to me. At the time, it was like a dream come true since the last few boyfriends I've had weren't so great and I ended up with a broken heart and with more than a few tears being shed. So, back to Jamie. He fell as hard for me as I did for him. Everything seemed fine; we went about our lives in relative happiness despite the 5 year age gap between us and his social and economic situation in his life. Even though the guy went through hell and remained a stable, kind person, we weren't really right for each other. The first red flag came to me two months after we started dating. After only 2 months, he asked me to marry him. Being young and stupid as well as love drunk, I said yes. Jamie was happy at my answer and we stayed together. I didn't tell my parents, obviously. I did tell some friends o mine and they said that it was too early, and that the age gap was concerning and that my parents would flip their shit if they found out. I ignored them because I truly loved Jamie and I believed we could have a future together. When I was admitted into college and began to plan for my future career, I began to realize how difficult it would be for us to be together. His "history" would make it extremely hard for him to find a job, leaving all the pressure on me to pay bills and taxes and what not. Even though engineers get a pretty good pay and that I was going to be C-OP'ing later in college, I wasn't going to be rich and I'd have to work a lot. Also, I was having mental issues since I had depression and I knew it would strain us because of the pain it would cause me and Jamie would be powerless to help me significantly.
Jamie and I sort of broke off while I was still in high school but the relationship never officially ended until my first semester in college.
Ever since I broke off completely from him, he's been a wreck. I can see it in the way he talks to me and in the FA journals he posts. He's in a deep depression along with trying to find a job to support himself and his mother (who is handicapped, I'm not sure how, I just know that she is. I never asked about it.) It hurts me to see him suffering and I know I can't help him. I don't have a whole lot of money to my name that is truly mine. My parents have paid for my college fees and I've paid for text books and other necessary things myself. I can't send him money. I also can't get back together with him. I broke up with him already and I fear for unhappiness for both of us if I stayed with him and I'm very happy with my current boyfriend. I have no clue how I can help him, let alone talk to him without seeing his heart break right before my eyes. Seeing it threatens triggering a depression relapse for me, which has happened twice already and I really want my mental health to be stable, at least for a while. (I've always had a hard time dealing others' emotions because if I could perceive them, I felt them too.)
I'm not sure how to help him or if I should. At this point I'm not sure what to even say to him. It also doesn't help that I'm in a different state currently because of college. I'm just struggling to decide if I should just cut off from him completely or if I should try harder to help him or make him happy. I still do love Jamie, just not in the same way that I did when I was 16. It's hard not to care for him still.
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I’m so happy for you! Finding a great guy in your life and pursuing your education at a prestigious university! Kudos!
But Papabear understands your feelings and wanting to help Jamie, and although that is a noble sentiment, it is a misguided one.
We cannot help everyone on the planet who needs help. Imagine for a moment that you and Jamie didn’t have this history together and he was just a passing acquaintance. Would you contemplate giving him money and spending days or months or years emotionally supporting him? Probably not.
There are, literally, billions of people on this planet who are having some kind of struggle in their lives. While they can, and should, find people in their lives they can hold on to for support, ultimately the only person who is responsible for their lives and happiness is themselves. (You’re not too specific about his past, but I’m guessing he might have gotten into some trouble with the law?)
You and Jamie didn’t work out for logical reasons, and you’ve found that by leaving him you were able to find a new person in your life who was better for you, which really proves you made the right decision for you. There’s nothing stopping Jamie from doing something similar and finding a new girlfriend, which would certainly be a healthier pursuit than trying to get back together with you. He needs to move on and you need to stop looking backward and feeling guilty about his life when it’s not your responsibility.
Saying that, it doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk or cut him out completely. You can be friends and listen when he wants to talk, even offer advice (NOT money!) if you can, but just be sure that it’s clear that the two of you will never be a couple in a romantic sense. Again, his life, his choices, and his troubles are not your responsibility. You have enough on your plate with school and being a good girlfriend—oh! and don’t feel guilty that you are happy! That’s a good thing!
My mother always told me, “Guilt is the most worthless of emotions.” She’s wise.
Be happy. Live your life. Be kind, but don’t be a tool or someone’s rug to step on.
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