Lie. Lie. Truth.

While writing this title the tune of duck, duck, goose chimed in my head. I seek lightness in all of this. I find myself being sarcastic in moments where it’s completely inappropriate but it’s my way of escaping for just a second. The truth is duck, duck, goose is a game, and this is our lives…

One of the hardest mountains for me to climb on our journey is learning to trust again. It’s new to me. I’ve been lied to before. I’ve had secrets kept from me, white lies and even some gut wrenching moments of after-the-fact truths, but I’ve never loved anyone enough to stay. I’ve always seen that as my time to walk away.

I can’t help but feel like my title is yelling at me while I write this. LIE. LIE. Truth. It haunts me in a way, reminds me of the compromises I make by being in love. I’ve never been good at lying. I’m actually horrible at it and I hate it.  I’ve always expected those I love to have enough respect for me to be able to tell me the truth. People in my life who showed this to be difficult never really lasted, they couldn’t. I become someone different when I lose trust. A shell of the all-in best friend, girlfriend or person I was in the  relationship. I seek answers, become inquisitive and in the spirit of being truthful I become someone no one would want to spend their time with. So before losing myself because someone else didn’t care enough about our relationship to be truthful I’ve walked away.

I’ve posted before about compartmentalizing. I guess in a way I am trying apply that here; to separate who he is in these “bad” moments. It’s not hard to know the man I am in the presences of. If he’s looking at me with shining blue eyes, that feel warm and safe. If he’s loving, appreciative and feels like I’m home when I am in his arms; he’s clean and he’s all I ever want. On the other hand when he is using his eyes are dark, his temperament cold and defensive, and every other statement out of his mouth is generally a lie or at best a half truth. This version of him belongs to something else. It may seem strange to separate these versions to anyone who hasn’t cared for some one facing addiction. I would have to guess it’s hard to understand. Like I am making excuses or letting him get away with things. In full honesty I guess in some ways I am, but the version of my partner that I love makes standing by the other version as he heals worth it to me. As he is learning how to be healthy and happy after his struggle, I am learning too…

So what about now. How do I let myself be fully in this as he fights that “something else”? How do I act like a loving girlfriend and not build a wall to protect myself? All I’ve come up with is day by day. I wake up making a conscious effort to not question him, to give him the chance to help rebuild the trust his lies and “something else” damaged. I’m not perfect and I guarantee I’ll have bad days but I continue to hold out hope that just like his addiction will have one last bad day, that one day I won’t even need to make an effort to trust him again. I just will.

“Forget what hurt you in the past, but never forget what it taught you. However, if it taught you to hold onto grudges, seek revenge, not forgive or show compassion, to categorize people as good or bad, to distrust and be guarded with your feelings then you didn’t learn a thing.”

-Shannon L. Adler

Your Drug of Choice is a Thief

There are moments I’ve struggled with how to direct my emotions on this journey or even how to identify exactly what I’ve been feeling. I’ve been sad, scared, lonely, hurt, hopeful, happy… and then I’ve been angry. My anger has never been at the person I love but at the addiction and oddly enough at the drug. I realize the drug is an inanimate object and it must seem foolish that my anger is targeted there. But that “thing” has stolen so much from him, from me and from us.

Trust. The only secrets and hard moments of distrust in our relationship will always be tied back to “it”. I’ve never questioned his love or loyalty when I was looking healthy him in the eye.  I know who he is when he is clean and day by day I will make an effort to trust again.

Happiness. This may seem dramatic. I don’t mean we were never happy and I am lucky enough to be able to say if we kept track on a calendar having marked days with smiley faces and frowns the smiles would far out way the frowns. Like trust I have no doubt as we continue on the road to recovery together and he finds happiness, we will only have days filled with joy again.

So, here’s where the thief just makes me angry. We can work on trust, this path to health will bring our happiness back but we will never get the time we’ve lost back. Time. Time is what “it” has stolen that angers and hurts me the most. Holidays apart were devastating, the days where something important had happened and I just couldn’t wait to share while seeing his reaction felt lonely. I missed my partner and best friend. Of all the times I wish I could have back  I missed all those basic days together the most. The simple way we started our mornings in this pattern that perfectly avoided each other’s routine while interacting sweetly. I missed walking in after work directly to his arms, dinner together or bad television and the couch after a long day. I found that the most common moments missed were what made me the angriest. I just wanted all of our time back and this thing he struggles with stole that from me.

I do realize how selfish I sound. It has stolen this time from us, but it stole hours, days and even months from him. I also realize I just took the time to rant at an item that will never feel remorse or comprehend my hatred towards it. But simply put “it” stole from us and I will forever hate “it” for that. I only hope as he works towards recovery and our future he finds the same hatred for this thief.

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”

―Harvey Mackay

And Sometimes You Just Need a Good Cry

I was never a crier and I definitely did not cry in public. I prided myself on the ability to hide that side. I’m not sure why I found it so important to keep this tough facade. Maybe because I was the youngest and only girl or that it was always me with all the boys doing anything to not act “like a girl.” Either way showing tears and emotion always felt like showing weakness and that was something I was not okay with.

This journey with my better half has not only been his opportunity to assess and grow but mine too. There have been times that I would retreat to the “never let ‘em see you cry” mentality. I thought it was what he needed and although I don’t think that I was always wrong; in any relationship what you both need is to be honest and pretending I wasn’t hurting and felt like breaking at moments wasn’t fair to either of us.

This change for me has not been a perfect path and I am definitely still navigating when the strong side of me is necessary and when the more human and honest side is best. I know, I know, the latter is far more important but old habits and instincts die hard. I am working past this stage of holding everything in until it feels like I might explode. And at some point I do. I let myself feel, generally over something that at any other time would seem completely irrelevant, and yet tsunami sized tears roll down my face. SO not only have I showed weakness, I look crazy  overacting to something completely ridiculous and childish. I am aware this is not healthy and I continue to work on this character flaw and I guarantee “he” wants me to keep moving forward through this stage too.

There are many different sources and articles that will tell you all the benefits of a good cry. Physically it helps nourish the eye and clear nasal passages, it relieves stress and improves mood. I have no scientific research to support any of the above statements but stating on experience alone let’s sometimes a good hard cry just feels good. As I get older  (I’d like to say wiser, but I’ll just stick with older for now) I am learning to embrace the emotional benefit that comes with just letting it all out. Lessons learned: I am not alone in all of  this and I don’t always have to be strong. Being real and allowing myself to feel and react has greatly helped my mood and feeling of anxious-nous, it has also strengthened mine and my other half’s communication and relationship.

So go ahead turn on that one album or movie let your brain and heart feel the same pain and just have a good cry. Nourished eyes, a clear nasal passage and less weight on that heart may just feel good.

” A strong person is not the one who doesn’t cry. A strong person is the one who cries and shed tears for a moment, then gets up and fights again”

-Unknown

 

I’ve Got a Story to Tell

But here’s the thing it’s my story. I’ve been asked a lot of questions about “him” as I started this blog and I get it. It makes complete sense. I understand that at times it feels like I am dodging your questions or my answers may be concise or even vague.  This blog is my narrative, my account of certain events and feelings. It’s mine alone. Will I talk about him? Of course, most of the time with a smile stretched across my face and green eyes beaming. In case it hasn’t become clear I adore him, but I also respect him and his privacy.

In this journey I have always hated the addiction but not for a second have I ever stopped loving the person who is recovering from that addiction. I know with this blog and audience at times more details would add value to the read and additional insight. Please know I will never lie or make accuses for him in my writing or in our life. But, I will always protect his name by not sharing anymore about his path than necessary. It’s not my life, they aren’t my emotions or experiences. It’s not my battle. So, I’ll answer the questions that make sense and add what is essential to help you understand the person who plays the leading man in my life. But these posts are strictly from my point of view.

I hope you will continue to follow me as I find my voice in all this. I’ve always been a private person but this openness feels like the right outlet while connecting with others.

“If it’s not your story to tell, don’t tell it…”

― Iyanla Vanzant

 

Eye Spy… But I Don’t Want To

The act of finding things, investigating and playing detective were a part of most childhoods and the memories may still bring a smile to our faces. Who didn’t love Hide and Seek? Where’s Waldo? or Clue? I remember my Mom bringing out a box of Nancy Drew books that had been saved through the years, swapping Babysitter’s Club Mystery books with friends, and of course there was “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego” a computer game based on sleuth like skills to find Carmen and her henchman.

Now finding things and playing detective are a gut wrenching act by a person that doesn’t feel like me. It’s not a game I want to play and it definitely doesn’t bring a smile to my face. No matter what I find (or don’t find) the end result is the same; I feel terrible.

I’d like to start off by saying I am not proud to do this and my level of sleuth is not something to brag about like I may have as a child getting the next round finding Carmen in Paris after only two clues.

My search is based on unnecessary worry. I find nothing. I should be excited. He has continued to be stronger than his addiction and I am so proud of him for it. I am relieved that I find nothing but I feel like an utter ass for spying on him. He is an adult, my partner, and without a doubt the man I see myself sharing a life with. This is where it is my turn to put in the work. Trust is such an important factor in a relationship and after the road we’ve traveled on it needs work. However, I know it is not fair to expect him to make an effort to gain my trust but not actually give him the chance to do so.

Yes, there have been other times where my instincts said something wasn’t right and opening that one drawer or asking a few additional questions opened my eyes to the beginning of a relapse. But again, this is a me thing. I need to work to understand my “role” in all this. It is not my responsibility to stop him before he falls. He is the only one who can truly control this process and his path. This obvious doubt in him has the potential to do more harm than good if I make him feel like I am being critical and don’t have faith in him. I am not saying that I ignore signs and I am naïve to the world we share but I try to be thoughtful in my actions and approach. I made the choice to stay in this relationship and I need to show my other half the same respect I did before our struggles.

This blog is still new. I’m not sure the direction it is going in but I can promise you my thoughts are honest. I absolutely do not talk about compartmentalizing or learning to trust again as though I have mastered it. I talk about it because it is part of the battle I fight every day. I have my own path to navigate through this and although I proudly stand side by side with an amazing man my motivation in writing is to work through my journey and hope that sharing provides comfort or support to others along the way.

“Love is weak when there is more doubt than there is trust, but love is most strong when you learn to trust even with all the doubts.”
-Unknown

Photo Credit: Flickr – Kara Allyson

If You Could See What I See

I found myself reading a Reddit post the other day that I just had to respond to. I read a recovering addicts struggle to understand how his girlfriend wasn’t embarrassed to be with him. He struggled to see how she viewed his fight to overcome addiction as courageous. These words hurt my heart to read. I knew this sentiment all too well. The man that I love has these same doubts. Even when he doesn’t voice it I can see it in his eyes and it kills me.

I’ve tried so many times to explain to my other half what I see; what those who love him see. He has a heart of gold, he’s intelligent and funny with a generous soul all wrapped up into this amazing person I love. I’m not naive to the broken pieces that he is trying to mend and I will support whatever his journey is to forgiving himself. I can only hope in time he starts to see his true worth and all the happiness he deserves. My focus, however, will never shift I see someone that it would be impossible not to love and I plan to remind him of that every day.

Sadly, as I navigate this path beside him supporting his battle against this disease I started to understand why he struggles to see himself worthy of love and happiness. Addicts are labeled in the most horrible of ways; manipulating, heartless, selfish junkies who will only break you as you are trying to save them. But what about those who are trying to save themselves? Those who are finding their way after a tough fall. They are caring people who are struggling enough to love themselves after their mistakes. Addicts and recovering addicts wake up every day facing a battle so many of us will never understand. Many seek support and guidance as they want to make this addiction part of who they were and not have people see it as who they are.

I could be angry and target this post at those who will never understand until this horrible disease touches their lives, but I won’t. This blog is a place of support and hopefully a different voice in this epidemic. So, I’d like to end by targeting it towards those facing their demons and tell you how incredibly resilient and strong you must be to continue this daily battle. Be proud of the work you’ve done. Do not take the words of strangers or the addiction demons still lingering on the inside. Listen closely to those who really matter. Those who have never stopped seeing the good in you. We are here to remind you of who you truly are and hold out hope for all you still have ahead. In time, hopefully you will see this too.

“Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.”
-Dave Willis

Photo credit: http://www.odysseyonline.com

Compartmentalizing

I woke up one morning after a relapse, nothing catastrophic and life altering, just enough to awake all the inner fears. I hoped it was just a small bump, that he isn’t falling backwards. I watched him sleep. I hate that he’s asleep in this moment. I had questions, I needed to hear his voice. My instincts screamed don’t go to work. Lay beside him and let him know he’s okay, that it will be okay. Stay by his side so that he can’t make a bad decision today, it was one night, we are not allowing anymore of these.

Now  I always follow my instincts but in this situation, I learned that I can’t.  When I first started googling online in all of this I  would get so bitter at all the quotes and sayings that refer to the addict’s ability to destroy me and that I should just leave. He’s not just an addict. He is sweet and kind. He’s a loving son, brother and friend. He is the man that I love. So, what do I do? I keep loving him. I am aware that fighting his battle for him won’t help him and could potentially destroy my successful career; I kissed him goodbye. I left him a note reminding him how much he is loved, not to be too hard on himself today and that this journey isn’t perfect and walked out the door to work. It’s not easy and I almost turned around at the first intersection and every one after that. But it is what’s right. I walked in the doors of work, I took a deep breath and focused on my challenges for the day. It doesn’t mean I didn’t think about him all day, send an extra text or two, that he doesn’t cross my mind constantly. It just means that I am going to be the best version of me and my life to be strong for both of us. I am in control of whether “I am saving him, while he’s killing me.” I choose to stay in this relationship and fight through the hard days but I also choose to not be any more of a victim of his disease than I must be. I am constantly working through my thoughts and our journey to determine the things that I can control; my career is one of those.

Compartmentalizing is not a skill that all possess. I do believe, however, it is a survival tool in the world of loving someone with or recovering from an addiction. At times this action feels heartless. How can I act as though all of this isn’t happening and go on with a normal workday or attend a family outing? The how isn’t as easy to answer, that’s a personal approach we must look inward and figure this process out on our own. The why on the other hand is an answer I feel strongly about. In order for any relationship with the potential for co-dependency to work you must be aware of that risk and work diligently to not let it creep in. You must be able to keep your strengths and successes. You may not be able to celebrate them with the same gusto through this struggle but you must do everything you can to keep any normalcy you can. It is important for your own health and well-being and overall for your loved one.

As you seek advice anywhere online remember that each of us are individuals. Our own journey, experiences and choices. I would never convince anyone to stay in a relationship with an addict or recovering addict if it felt wrong to them, I just want to be sure that no one in a tough moment is persuaded to leave because that’s what everything out there seems to encourage. Stay strong, make an extra effort to be self-aware, and talk to someone. There are great groups, therapists and online resources. The act of talking about it allows us to hear our own voice, assess how we are truly feeling and take each day in this fight the way that works for us.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”
-Steve Maraboli

 

The Scary Good Days

How is it possible that some of my worst days of worrying are when he is and has been at his best? I don’t want to brag but I will tell you when my better half is clean our relationship feels almost unbelievable. What I found in “us” was a sense of partnership mixed with passion I didn’t believe truly existed. We share a sense of wonder and adventure that is balanced by how content we are in the moments of nothing. He reminds me without saying a word that I don’t have to face the world alone. I drive him while he calms me, just by being.  We are best friends who just happen to be good at being in love.

Now that I have all of you rolling your eyes reading through my sappy bragging words I must admit it is sometimes hard for me to stop and truly appreciate these moments. The longer he is clean the easier it gets but I found that the happiest days were when my brain would start to worry the most. I’d be thinking “I don’t want this to end”, “I can’t go backwards again”, “I just want this with him, please let this last”. Then the heavy heart feeling would roll in, and my chest would tighten and shit… here I go. I’m planning for the worst. I’m creating an unnecessary moment of anxiety and I am going to ruin the time we are having.

This has happened to me more than once. I started to feel so guilty, I was planning on him relapsing. He was working so hard. He was putting in the effort to not just be clean, but to get healthy and to be the best damn partner I could ever hope for. And me? I’m over here over thinking, under appreciating and just plain old worrying about something that hadn’t even happened. It’s learning how to handle these emotions that gets us through. Its being able to appreciate where you are both at and what you are sharing. Finding what helps you stop your brain in its tracks. My go to is structured breathing. There are breathing exercises designed just for such anxiety reactions and I have found them to be really helpful. An example: 

Breathe in for four seconds, hold for five seconds, breathe out for six. Repeat four times and then take a few moments to relax in your normal breaths. This  causes an autonomic shift in your nervous system that will help you step out of this worried state and and help you feel at ease.

It’s important in any relationship to appreciate the good times, but be patient with yourself. The journey we are on loving a recovering addict makes it hard to not be scared that these good times could end. I will always hold out hope that there will be a last bad day.

“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.”
― Randy Armstrong

The First Post

This is my chance to make a great first impression; no pressure right?

It only seems appropriate to share why I am even writing this blog. To me it’s the opportunity to share thoughts, support and hope with those who may be new to it, in the middle of one of those horrible lows that we can all relate to or someone just looking to not feel alone. It seemed like a positive way to express myself and find a voice about this taboo that is loving someone who’s path not everyone understands.

I think its important right from the start to establish these posts are based on my opinions, my experiences and the way that I choose to love a man that I can only describe as my perfect person. My words are not meant to influence your decisions or approach and they have absolutely no professional training. They are just the words of girl who fell for a boy who happened to be fighting addiction.

So first post in books. You now know why I choose to write. Maybe just maybe you’ll choose to read a little.

“Owning your story is the bravest thing you’ll ever do.”
-Brene Brown