Taking a Step Back to Find Myself

So I’ve been living in a complicated mess of emotions and thoughts over the past 3 days. Since the moment I left my boyfriend’s (ex-boyfriend’s?) apartment and I got in my car, I’ve been wracked with feelings of anxiety, guilt, dread, confusion, and regret.

Yes, regret. There have been a few fleeting moments of feeling OK about what happened, but for the most part, I’ve felt disoriented and anxious and on the verge of tears.

I have never felt this way at the end of any other relationship, save for the ending of my marriage, but that was because the ending was traumatic and combined with several other major life events. Granted, every other relationship I’ve been in have been ones that I’ve decided to end — except for one instance where it ended mostly mutually — and the decisions never felt wrong or anxiety-inducing.

This time has been very, very different, and I have been having a difficult time trying to figure out why. But I think it ties back into much of how I’ve been feeling for a long time of being disconnected, lonely and unsupported in my relationship.

I’ve started mulling over that idea and why, why, why did I feel that way? Certainly it wasn’t anything I was doing wrong. I talked to my boyfriend about it! I told him things! I asked him to do things!

And it’s been hitting me in the gut, ever since Thursday, to think that despite my best efforts the relationship still failed.

And when I think more deeply on it, I start to realize that maybe – just maybe – in my frustration, disillusionment and anxiety, I viewed myself as contributing more to the relationship than I have, and I viewed myself as giving much more of myself to my ex then I actually did, and I believed that I had been completely vulnerable when, in fact, I hadn’t.

There are things that I haven’t talked about with my ex/boyfriend in the entire 1.5 years that we’ve been together because I have this incessant fear of revealing myself and being rejected because of my most painful realities. Things that I am more willing to tell strangers on the internet through an anonymous blog that is in no way tied to my identity, that I am not willing to tell him.

I am more willing to muse on my blog about how disconnected I feel, but I build up reasons in my head about why it’s more his burden to carry than mine.

I am more willing to detail the struggles and joys of becoming sober on my blog, while never inviting my boyfriend into the process. With him, I downplay the role that sobriety has played in my life because I still feel ashamed to admit my struggle with it to his face. I struggle with admitting that I have struggled with alcohol, and that staying sober is my mental health lifeline. I don’t give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to believing that he’ll understand my struggle with this or empathize with me, or that he could be a good support. Because I haven’t given him the honest chance. I don’t bring this part of myself to him with honesty, and then I get upset because he has no idea what importance it carries for me, and so doesn’t know what kind of support I need.

I am more willing to process my past traumas in my own head, and I don’t give him a window into the deeply-ingrained parts of my vulnerability because I feel confusion, anger, shame and frustration with it. I have never told him about how my ex-boyfriend in college raped me, or that that ex’s alcoholic uncle molested me. I haven’t explained to him how that same ex-boyfriend broke me down through verbal abuse and intimidation, how he weaponized intimacy, and how his actions had a direct impact on the acceleration of my alcoholism and my views on intimacy.

He has no idea that I had an eating disorder in high school and that, despite being much more comfortable in my skin as I grow older, I am still have a certain fear of my belly becoming too round, my legs and hips becoming too wide, or my arms getting flabby.

I expect him to read my mind and understand when I’m in pain, yet in the 1.5 years we’ve been together, I’ve given him only small windows into these parts of my pain. Similarly, I’ve given him small windows into the things that bring me joy. I’ve failed to bring him into celebrating my sobriety with me, or recognizing the symbolic importance of the passing of my 2nd divorce anniversary or my my 4th would-be wedding anniversary.

I have withheld much of my pain and processing and even some of my joy because I have issues with trusting my own vulnerability, and trusting others with my vulnerability.

Instead, he only hears about it when I’m ready to blow. Or when I’ve already blown, as was the case with breaking up. He only has a wider window into what’s going on when I’m ready to throw my hands up out of frustration.

I carry these things in silence, or in anonymity, because I fear it will be “too much” for the person I’m with. And it just… sucks. I am actively sabotaging the intimacy and closeness I claim to desire. And I’ve brought it to the point of potentially fucking it all up – fucking up a relationship with someone who didn’t get a fair shot at being what I asked or needed, because he didn’t know. Because I didn’t tell him.

So today, I asked him to come over to my place to talk. I explained that I want to give our relationship another chance and that I want to ask him to consider the same. I explained that I was ready to be the type of partner he deserved, by being vulnerable and not withholding things from him anymore. I also told him that I would not blame him if he decided that he could no longer trust me. Because I get it: if I were him, I’d probably be pretty confused and distrustful, too. He told me he’s been spending the last 3 days in “move on mode” and that there isn’t a way for him to just put a stop to that and turn around.

So, we’re in relationship purgatory: still technically not together, but in reconsideration mode. He asked me for some time to think and process. He wants to keep in contact over the next week or so, but only casual conversation – no talking about serious things if we’re not in the same room together. He says that eventually, he wants to hear about the things I need to tell him – the trauma, the sobriety, the depression, the other struggles I have – but that hearing that today wasn’t something he was prepared or emotionally ready for.

I dunno, folks. I may have messed this one up beyond reparation. Then again, maybe I haven’t. Regardless of the outcome, I’ve somehow unwittingly forced myself into a rude awakening about myself, and how I self-sabotage and push partners away subconsciously, without really knowing. Until now. Whether he decides he wants to try again or whether he decides he’s gone, I’ve got a boatload (and then some) to unpack with my therapist over the next several months. I’ve got depression and anxiety to manage, trauma to process, self-sabotage to understand, and vulnerabilities to expose.

One thing I feel I need right now is to gently set this blog aside and give myself the room I need to breathe. I do a lot of silent, secret, anonymous processing here and I feel ready to bring these parts of my life forward. I will continue with my sobriety and check in if I really feel the need for sober support, but I think right now, the best thing I can do is step from behind the veil of secrecy and walk back into my own life. I’m ready to stop hiding.

So much love to everyone here. I hope to return at some point in the future, when I’ve figured out how to make my public and private lives more well-aligned. You’re all wonderful, and I will continue to not drink with you all.

❤ Em.

6 thoughts on “Taking a Step Back to Find Myself

  1. soberisland says:

    Oh honey. I read your stuff today and I wish I could give you advice but I don’t really have any…. except long walks until your feet hurt and then keep going and therapists. You don’t have to find yourself- You are already there, living in your body, interacting with folks, try just letting it be and saying that you are good/ok/sufficient. It takes time. (Sorry, lots of advice)


  2. ainsobriety says:

    Take care of yourself.
    It sounds like you need some time to deal with your own stuff. Stuff a therapist would help you with. Give yourself to know you before you decide to be someone for someone else.
    You deserve to be happy and content. It is possible.
    And the blog world is always here to listen.
    Stillness and peace

    Liked by 1 person

  3. NoWineImFine says:

    Big hugs ❤️ I’m not a therapist or qualified but think your writing could be a wonderful start to healing. Like you, I write about a bunch of stuff here that I typically wouldn’t chat about with my friends. Keep writing, keep being open and honest, we all need to start somewhere ❤️


  4. Paul S says:

    So much here and so much I can say, but for the sake of brevity, learn to know yourself, almost “date” yourself. Sounds corny as shit, but I remember this being told to us at treatment, and it works. My wife and I split up for 6 months after my arrest and entrance to detox/treatment and I had to rediscover myself in many ways. It was in that healing that she and I found a new way to come back together, and it’s been great since. Shame and guilt are big things, things I still struggle with sometimes, but they can be worked out.


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