My partner ghosted me after I miscarried our child. What did I do wrong?

Where did you learn it was up to you to make things better? Now focus on healing yourself

I had a lockdown romance with someone I met through online dating. He was the first man I’d dated after coming out of an abusive relationship, and it was refreshing. He was open and relaxed, and made me feel really good.

We met up when we could, and earlier this year I found out I was pregnant. It was a complete shock to me, as it was to him. Having said that, I realised that, at my age, this was my chance to have a child, and I wanted it very much.

He refused to talk about how he felt about me keeping the baby, and I got used to the idea of being a single mum, unless he came round to it.

Sadly, 11 weeks into the pregnancy, I miscarried. It was devastating. While he drove me to the hospital, he didn’t talk about how he felt. Instead he did the slow fade, spending less and less time with me, until he ghosted me completely.

I think it’s the worst thing to do with someone who miscarried. Should I have forced him to talk about his emotions? It was obviously something about me that made him go away. Not only do I have the trauma of having a miscarriage, and the memories of being on my own in the bathroom when it happened, but also of being rejected in this very cruel way. I just want to feel normal again.

I’m so very sorry to hear about your miscarriage, and the profound loss that goes with it. I consulted Julia Bueno, a psychotherapist and the author of The Brink of Being: Talking About Miscarriage. With regards to your relationship, she says: “The focus on self-blame, for your ex’s departure, really struck me. I’m curious about why you think you’re responsible for his emotional welfare and blame yourself.”

Bueno and I would have loved to dig deeper into this. Where did you learn it was up to you to make things better?

Your ex’s behaviour is entirely his responsibility; it’s not a case of you “just trying harder”. Bueno went on to say that if the adults who are around us when we are children don’t explain things and take responsibility for their actions, children can internalise this and think they did something wrong. They can grow up to think everything is their fault. “If only I’d done this or that” becomes the mindset – we can become very punishing of ourselves. In a weird way, it makes us feel more in control of a situation.

While I don’t condone your ex’s ghosting, some people just don’t find it easy to talk about how they feel, no matter how much they are pressed.

Regarding your miscarriage, Bueno stressed the need to take your feelings seriously: “A pregnancy of 11 weeks is a long time to be imagining your child [and your future].” For a while, things must have seemed hopeful for you. You need to give yourself permission to grieve. The physical effects can also be huge. “To miscarry … can be as painful, and terrifying, as full-term labour, so don’t underestimate the physical trauma,” says Bueno.

You mentioned no friends or family, but I hope you have someone you can talk to. Bueno recommends the Miscarriage Association, which has online support groups and a helpline (01924 200799). She also recommends the charity Tommy’s, and Kristin Neff’s book Fierce Self-Compassion.

Please give yourself time to process and deal – compassionately – with everything that’s happened to you, and to regain your equilibrium.

• Every week Annalisa Barbieri addresses a family-related problem sent in by a reader. If you would like advice from Annalisa on a family matter, please send your problem to ask.annalisa@theguardian.com. Annalisa regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

Conversations With Annalisa Barbieri, a new podcast series, is available here.

Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure the discussion remains on the topics raised by the article. Please be aware that there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.

Contributor

Annalisa Barbieri

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
My abusive ex-husband is about to visit and I don’t feel safe | Ask Annalisa Barbieri
Disengage from this visit, says Annalisa Barbieri. Explain to your children that you don’t want to see your ex

Annalisa Barbieri

29, Oct, 2021 @2:30 PM

Article image
My son seems to blame me for his anxiety. How can we reconnect?
You are trying so hard, but at 22 he needs you to take a step back so he can breathe

Annalisa Barbieri

22, Oct, 2021 @2:31 PM

Article image
Do I need to leave my partner for the sake of my fragile son? | Ask Annalisa Barbieri
It’s all about your partner, your son, your dad, your friends. You need to find a way to include your own needs in whatever you decide

Annalisa Barbieri

26, Nov, 2021 @3:30 PM

Article image
Is my son, 14, a gaming addict? He spends all his time online in his room | Annalisa Barbieri
Computer games may be filling a void left by friendships that fell away over lockdown

Annalisa Barbieri

24, Sep, 2021 @2:30 PM

Article image
Why does my younger sister hate our older sister?
Each sibling has their own memories of growing up; you and she are both entitled to yours, says Annalisa Barbieri

Annalisa Barbieri

12, Nov, 2021 @3:30 PM

Article image
My teenage son constantly lies to us. How do we get the trust back?
Try to find out why he’s lying – curiosity is a useful tool in parenting, says Annalisa Barbieri

Annalisa Barbieri

03, Dec, 2021 @3:30 PM

Article image
You be the judge: should my husband spend more time with our baby?
We air both sides of a domestic disagreement – and ask you to deliver a verdict

Interviews by Georgina Lawton

26, Nov, 2021 @8:00 AM

Article image
My sibling has stolen our late mother’s will. Is this a crime?
Ask for it back one last time and explain that you will instruct a solicitor if they refuse. But this should be a last resort

Annalisa Barbieri

01, Oct, 2021 @2:30 PM

Article image
You be the judge: is it ever OK to put eggshells back in the box?
In our new column, we air both sides of a domestic disagreement – and ask you to deliver a verdict

Interviews by Georgina Lawton

25, Sep, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
You be the judge: should my girlfriend stop reusing teabags?
We air both sides of a domestic disagreement – and ask you to deliver a verdict

Interviews by Georgina Lawton

12, Nov, 2021 @8:00 AM