Learning From Challenges
This year continues to challenge me to grow through large life changes. Change has presented itself in every large aspect of my life; family, personal, home and professional. At the end of July I moved out of the apartment that I have lived in for the last 8yrs. My lease was over July 31 and I could no longer afford to live there. I have a new place that I’ll be moving into, but not until sometime in September. In the meantime, I have a sublet for the next month and a half. I also ended an almost 2yr relationship a few weeks ago. This was not a decision I was happy to make and I know that it was a decision that I had to make for myself.
I had been making personal compromises in order for us to work as a couple and got to a place that I was no longer willing to wait for him to do the same. I also saw the commitment he has put into his relationship with alcohol, which left him unable to offer any sort of productive commitment in order for us to grow as a couple. As I have been processing the end of this relationship I encountered an emotion that I have not felt in quite some time…SHAME. I was ashamed that I had put so much effort into a relationship with someone that has a problem with alcohol. That shame manifested itself into anger at myself because, “I should have known better”. I grew up seeing my mother being emotionally and verbally abused by and abusive to my father. One of my sisters had a very emotionally abusive first marriage and many female friends have had similar stories. As much awareness as I’ve had to emotionally abusive relationships, I have no awareness of a relationship that is plagued by alcoholism.
For some time I thought that the largest obstacle in our relationship was his inability to create time for us as a couple and I chose to find ways to make that work for us. I was genuinely willing to work with that. When I saw that alcohol was added to that equation, I had to be honest with myself that there was no amount of work that I could put in to make us work as a couple. If someone had asked me how I would handle a situation like this before I had experienced it, I would not have known how to answer. For all of the shame that I felt, I have also felt just as much pride in knowing that the choices to make the relationship work as best as I could and also the choice I made to end it were choices that I MADE FOR ME. I stayed as long as I did so that I wouldn’t look back and ask myself if there was more that I could have done and I walked away when I knew that investing in ME would grant a healthier return than investing in US.
Saying goodbye to him was very difficult and until just now, in writing this have I understood why that is. It’s because I truly said goodbye to him. With most of the other men I have dated, we have been able to create a friendship and be a part of one another’s lives in some way. Some more directly than others, but at the end of the day I have even a peripheral awareness of what’s going on in their lives. And for only the second time have I every believed that I would have little to no communication with an ex. It won’t be possible for us because I don’t trust him to take my feelings into consideration and that lack of trust is at the core of why I left. It became very clear to me that I was not a consistent priority in his life. Were there times when I was, of course, but only getting pieces of a relationship is not what I see as a growing and healthy relationship, romantic or otherwise.
And may I be VERY clear in that I carry no anger or hate for this man because what he has is an illness that has been magnified by a pain that I am not aware of and one that he himself is not willing to address. It is TOO SIMPLE to default to anger and hatred when any type of relationship comes to an end. What I strive for in any situation that offers some type of discomfort is a personal willingness to seek understanding. What I came to understand in this relationship was that he is not prepared for the type of person that I am and I am not prepared to be with the type of person that he is now. There is so much that I want for him and his life and I also understand that he isn’t in a place to want more than what he has right now. And when someone isn’t able to embrace that, I have to then embrace what I want for me and I have done just that.
What I have learned is that alcohol abuse/dependency has many faces and can have a very subtle presence. It took me some time to put the pieces together and by coming from a place of love towards him and most importantly, a place of love for myself, I was able to do what was best for me. As I continue to grow, I grow into knowing that I am not afraid to love myself more than I love someone else. In loving myself in as powerful a way as I can, I am setting a foundation that will support me in any relationship that I have. It also sets up that I won’t look to just any relationship to be my support.