42 Days Alcohol Free: Running in (Mind) Circles

It’s weird, but I just realized how much of my mental space in my recovery from alcohol has centered around other people. Particularly, how much of my time I’m spending trying to figure out my current relationship. It’s absurd, almost. I love my boyfriend, but I’m slowly starting to see how all of the little frustrations that have built up over the past 9 months are now starting to bubble over the top. I keep going back and forth in my head about whether or not I need to say anything at all, and if I do, what do I even say?

“Hey, I know that things seem to be going well for us right now, but I’m actually pretty distraught and unfulfilled, and I feel lonely being with you.”

Or maybe

“Hey, sorry if this kinda blindsides you, but ever since I stopped drinking, I’ve gotten a lot of clarity about how I feel about our relationship, and I’m starting to think that something (okay, a lot of somethings) need to change.”

Or even this

“Jake, I know you’ve listened to my requests for more communication in the past and you’ve been making attempts here and there to work on it, but it’s not enough and I’m not happy.”

Sounds good, right?


The things that makes it really frustrating is that despite my best efforts to really work on myself during my first few months of being alcohol-free, I’ve inevitably fallen into trying to analyze and figure out my relationship, and I’ve spent my time wondering if it’s really as big of a deal as I make it out to be.

Some people I know have stated that they think this relationship is exactly what I’ve needed – after a divorce and a few semi-serious relationships that followed, it seems like a low-key relationship without many demands or expectations is what I need.

Other friends, with whom I can be a bit more open and honest, have been supportive of my reflection and have encouraged me to do what’s best for myself.

Even more, my therapist – who I pay $100 out-of-pocket for a 50-minute session – says that she thinks I’m not living authentically with my boyfriend, and that I need to take the plunge and talk to him about my unhappiness.

And what about me?

I want it all. I want to be okay with having a low-key, low-maintenance relationship that doesn’t have the weight of expectation on it. I want to be true to myself, though, and not remain stuck in a place where I feel paralyzed by voicing my emotions and needs. And even more, I want to be authentic. I want to embrace the sober me as the authentic me, and as far as I can tell, authentic me doesn’t dig the low-key relationships because it seems to float too far into the boundaries of being an unknown.

I keep wondering to myself, what are we? What are we going to be? Are we going to be anything? Is this guy someone I can see myself moving in with? Marrying? Raising a child with? Do I feel emotionally supported by him? Do I feel like I’m an emotional support for him, as well?

The answers right now are: I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, not likely, not likely, no, not really, and maybe (but I don’t know).

What the fuck?

As someone who feels things very deeply whether I’m sober or not, I don’t know why I’m trying to fit my square peg into the round hole of this relationship. After 9 months of “being okay” with things that made me feel bad, I don’t know why I feel so utterly paralyzed by indecision.

The fact of it all is, I care deeply for him, and I do love him. Even though our relationship doesn’t have the depth I want or need, I enjoy spending time with him and the last thing I want to do is cause him pain. The frustrating part is that I’m back-loading my own pain in an effort to avoid creating any for him.

And even worse? He probably has ZERO idea that any of this is floating around in my head. The thought of bringing it up terrifies me. I get tight in the chest and I can feel my heart beating in my temples when I’m around him and I’m thinking of saying something.

Why?? He’s one of the most mellow people I know. He’s never been intentionally mean. He’s never told me to NOT talk about my feelings. There have been times when I haven’t exactly felt supported when I needed him, but nobody is perfect, right?


This is what frustrates me most. I can hyperfocus on something outside of myself and spin my wheels around how someone else is going to react to me, rather than trying to assess what’s best for my own sanity and my own peace of mind, and just going with it. I know that I need to have a serious conversation with him but all I can think of are all the ways he might be able to poke holes in my thought process. I know that I need to be able to release this, but all I can think about is how anxious it makes me feel to bring it up.

For fuck’s sake. I’ve survived a high school eating disorder, a 2-year abusive relationship, a traumatic divorce, and several other shitty breakups, and yet I feel paralyzed by telling a kind, sensible person that I’m not getting what I need from our relationship?

What am I scared of, that he’ll actually LISTEN and WORK with me?

This stupid brain of mine is enough to make me want to dive back into a bottle of wine. But I won’t. I can’t. I’ve come too far to submit myself to complacency.

The only thing left to do is figure out how I can get this shit over with so I can move on to the next big thing.

Here we go, day 42…

One thought on “42 Days Alcohol Free: Running in (Mind) Circles

  1. Lily 🌷 says:

    Going to say to you what I wish I had had the courage to do myself. This will not get better without communication. Try. If he can meet some of your needs to talk about stuff – and is listening , you may have something. If not , better to know now. Sorry this is brief. I’m in the throws of my own breakup and struggling. But my advice to myself 5 years ago would be the above…


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