“Falling Out of Love is Writing”

So, day 320 sober today. I’m inching closer and closer to that 1-year mark and it feels a little crazy to me. Being sober is both easier and harder than it was in the beginning. I’m not constantly struggling with the desire to drink, or battling myself on the pros and cons. I’m not knee-deep in the muck of the emotional crap I had to trudge through – all the pain, and crying, and rage, and confusion. 

But these days, as I get closer and closer to 365, I find myself quietly wondering what continued sobriety looks like to me, and I keep trying to define what role sobriety is going to have in my identity going forward. The thing that makes this hard is that I can’t come up with a good answer. I know that sobriety is going to be my long-term answer no matter what, but figuring out how I operate within the world as a long-term sober person is going to be more difficult.

How do I talk about it with the new people I meet through work and school? Do I correct them and say I don’t drink when they say we should grab beers at happy hour? Do I smile and just quietly handle it in the moment? And what about long-term sobriety in a relationship with a man who likes to drink? Not a lot – never a lot – but one or two drinks a night isn’t abnormal for my boyfriend. I still go to breweries with him for trivia night, or just to hang out, even though there’s rarely any N.A. drinks that I find palatable. And how am I going to deal with being a counselor at a drug and alcohol rehab center, with clients whose struggles may mirror my own, but who I can’t be particularly open or revealing to about what I’ve been through? And what about those odd nights when I do happen to get a weird, out-of-the-blue craving for a glass of wine or a pint of beer?

I’m sure these are all things that I just need to continue to experience and work through as I encounter them. I should know that I won’t ever have these things totally figured out. It doesn’t happen that way – there’s no way to have complete control over any situation regarding my sobriety, except when it comes to my own actions and reactions. Those things will just have to come naturally.

One thing I’ve really be struggling with lately, as is evidenced by my last post, is the feeling of something being “not right” with my relationship, even though there’s nothing wrong. Does that make sense? My boyfriend is a kind and gentle person, he’s very nice, and we have never had an actual fight (in 1.5 years of dating!) He’s level-headed, gives me my space, and is good at not making assumptions about anything, at least not out loud. We enjoy going to concerts together, going to movies, watching Netflix, and just generally hanging out. There’s literally nothing that is outwardly or apparently wrong with our relationship, and yet my heart keeps drumming away at the feeling that it’s not right.

I’ve been battling with this since last summer, right around the time I first got sober. I heavily contemplated ending the relationship in early fall but decided against it because I believed that the struggles I was having were almost 100% self-induced, and that the issues could all be resolved by communication and simply letting him know what I wanted.

And I tried to tell him. I don’t think I got my point across as clearly as I would have liked. He was open to listening and wanted me to tell him what he could do, yet I know I held back because what I want him to do — literally, what I wish I could tell him I want and need — is quite a lot, and it seems so demanding when I have to spell it all out.

But what I wish I could’ve told him is that I want him to act more proud to be with me, to give me compliments and act interested in my schooling/work. Sometimes I like to feel adored, or that he finds me irresistible outside the context of being in bed together. I want him to be naturally curious about me and my story, and to initiate thoughtful conversations about our lives on the fly. I want him to be more compelled to talk about us — what’s good, what’s not so good, what we want to do, how we see our lives developing together. I want him to be an active supporter of my sobriety – which would require me to include him on recognizing and celebrating my milestones, which I haven’t done because I feel uncomfortable tooting my own horn around him, or talking about being sober in the way that I do here. I wish he would be more proactive when it comes to planning activities, or taking the lead sometimes when we’re out and about rather than just agreeing to whatever plan I make up and following along. I wish he would be more romantic – we’ve had just a few truly romantic moments in our 1.5 years together – and I wish that when he says he loves me, it would be more of a confident affirmation, rather than a question mark.

You see, I say there’s nothing wrong because truly, on the surface, we get along very well, and we like doing a lot of the same things, and we don’t argue. But there’s little depth. What depth we have goes more into the intellectual realm, rather than the emotional one. And I feel so alone. And as I’ve written before, being lonely makes me want to drink. I won’t, but it makes me want to.

So I feel kind of paralyzed in my position right now because on the one hand, I feel like if I keep holding on, there will be some point where we cross the threshold of what I need from him as a partner, and I’ll be glad I stuck it out. On the other hand, it’s been a year and a half since we first started dating and I’m still battling with myself about whether I should break it off. Even though I know he’s listened and tried to implement my requests into how he acts with me, in my heart I feel like shit because it still doesn’t feel like enough.

Another layer of uncertainty is piled on when I consider what a breakup would mean for my current social life: much of it would evaporate into thin air. I’ve again made the mistake, for the hundredth time in my life, of placing my partner’s friends above my own, and building myself into his friend group while effectively ignoring or failing to truly connect with people of my own.

I’ve been working hard to get my own circle of friends going again over the past few months, and to be completely honest, I don’t need tons of friends or a fully-packed social calendar to be happy. But there’s no denying that my partner’s friends are a big part of my life. To break off this relationship would effectively mean losing a whole group of friends that I’ve really had the pleasure of getting to know over the past year and a half.

Now, I know this is generally how breakups tend to work. I experienced this during my divorce, and to some degree when breaking up with my last semi-serious boyfriend of 6 months. It sucks. Every time. I am so tired of losing people that the prospect of this keeps me locked in place, even when I feel like I should be trying to figure out my next move.

One huge part of it is I really, really hate the idea of hurting him. I hate it. And I know it’s not fair, to him or to me, to prolong something that I personally know isn’t going to work in the long run, just to prevent him from feeling pain or sadness in the short-term. The last person I broke up with – the boundary-crossing stalker – had such a shockingly bad reaction to my leaving that I think it traumatized me in some small way, to the point that I am actively avoiding causing that type of pain or disruption because of how much the dumpster fire of a breakup last time messed me up.

And as I write this, it all makes sense, but I can’t expect myself to take action on any of this within the next month or so, because the last thing that keeps me feeling like I need to stay is the fact that we have several things planned together over the next month and a half. Cabin trips, weekend festivals, camping, pizza parties, etc. Thinking about wanting to break up, even knowing that I’m considering it as a possibility, makes me feel sick, because admitting that makes me feel like I need to commit to taking action…and I just, can’t. I can’t commit to action right now, even though sometimes I wish it were as easy as ripping off a band-aid, saying my sorrys and moving on with my life. I’ve become so paralyzed by the fear of hurting others that I am literally extending my own discomfort and dissatisfaction, telling myself that it’s not so bad, and then writing it all out in my secret sober journal because it really has to come out eventually, somehow, in some form.

I am exhausted. Loving my boyfriend yet knowing he isn’t the one ramps up my anxiety and drains my energy on a daily basis. Loving someone yet knowing you can’t continue breaks the heart constantly, and being the dumper is considered a near-crime in society. How dare you reject and hurt this person? How dare you leave? You’ve been together this long, why throw it away now?

Why can’t we live in a society where we understand that, while being dumped really really sucks, dumping someone is a fucking hard, heartbreaking ordeal for most people too. Why do we constantly cast dumpers in the role of being cold and heartless? My heart is aching, and I know that the sooner I can speak my full truth and have it done the better – it’s just getting myself to that point that is grueling, ridiculous, drawn-out and painful.

Sigh. Well, at any rate, I want to figure this out. I am going to figure this out. I’ve recently arranged to meet with a new therapist who accepts reduced-fee clients, which is really good for me right now since my hours are getting cut starting next week. I’m going in for my initial meeting on Friday and am hopeful that I can get some consistent, affordable therapy, especially as I get closer and closer to becoming a therapist-in-training, myself.

These days are long, yet still not quite long enough. I’m sober and sipping faithfully on a cran-raspberry LaCroix. The rest can wait ’til tomorrow.

❤ Em

2 thoughts on ““Falling Out of Love is Writing”

  1. ainsobriety says:

    Wow. Big hug.
    It sounds like you have some pretty intense self awareness.

    Do what feels right for you. Forget about what others think….if your heart tells you you can’t be happy with this person it is worth listening.

    Have you talked to a therapist? It might help you sort out what your feel and why. But even if you can’t, sometimes we just need to do what we need to do. In hindsight you will know it was the right choice. Today it might be painful.

    My limited experience with drug and alcohol rehab is that most counsellors are sober themselves. If this is true where you go to work perhaps you might be more open about your own struggles and success. I taught yoga at the local treatment centre and I told them about my personal sobriety every week and they always gave me a warm reception (even if they then didn’t want to do yoga).

    You get to be you. Only you can decide how that works. It sounds like you don’t want to hurt anyone. That is very kind. But don’t sell yourself short to protect others.

    Stillness and peace

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lily 🌷 says:

    You write so well and so movingly. I think it’s wonderful that you have the courage and self worth not to settle with the wrong man … it never works – and there is better for you . 🌷x

    Liked by 1 person

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