I’m drawing some funny parallels with my relationship with alcohol and that with my ex P.
My relationship with alcohol started when I was about 14, and waitressing at a community event. There was alcohol present and plenty of opportunity for the ‘staff’ to have a few glasses. so I did. And expanded up pretty drunk. The rest is predictable . Unlike some others I have always had a difficult relationship with alcohol, drugs didn’t interest me and my profession – on call one night in three or four saved me from drinking every day for many years. But I have never really had a ‘off’ switch, or an ‘enough’ switch…
I met my ExP fairly quickly (4 months) after my marriage ended. Red flag no 1. I honestly didn’t realise it, because I felt relief that a marriage that had made me very unhappy was over, but I was extremely vulnerable. I met him entirely by chance, but the only opportunity I had to avoid falling in love with him would have been to walk away right then and there. I didn’t. And so I fell deeply, swiftly and irrationally in love. Lost myself. Lost my values, my own opinions, lost my sense. But like drinking, I knew in some little corner of myself that this was risky, potentially dangerous, but I did it anyway. And when I look back, he “told me” exactly who he was, via anecdotes quite early on. I ignored these warning signs, just as I ignored all the warning signs that my taste for alcohol was slipping out of control.
And both of these relationship’s damaged me. Damaged my sense of self esteem, damaged my relationships with my children and my family, damaged my development as an adult woman. Cost me financially, emotionally and cost me my health. I damaged my liver by drinking ,as well as my mental health, and the strain of living with the horrible toxic relationship between ExP and my eldest son lead me to a “nervous breakdown” for want of a better word.
I found it impossible to imagine life without either alcohol or my ExP. If you had told me 12 months ago I would be sitting at home , dry for almost eight months and single for almost 3 months, I would have wondered if that could possibly be me. How I would ever find the strength to do those things.
Giving up alcohol is, for all of us who have done it,a hard slog at the beginning, physically & emotionally it’s difficult. At the beginning you think about it ALL the time, miss it, fret about how you will manage, can’t look too far forward, are afraid to relapse, but also aftraid of an alcohol free future. For me, those exact same emotions are replicated in the breakdown of my relationship with ExP. It was started by a moment of anger, blind fury, but quickly replaced by the same feelings of physical (all the stress made me feel physically dreadful) and emotional preoccupation with HIM. I missed him, fretted about the loss, was anxious about how I would manage without him, could only go day to day, was afraid of weakening and having him back, yet terrified of going forward without him…
and like alcohol, the period of abstinence has calmed my feelings. Well that, and opening up a bit to those close to me, ( similarly to my sobriety I have not shared widely that my relationship has broken down) I now don’t think about him all the time, as time goes by and I seeem to be manageing – new boiler this week – I’m losing the fear that he engendered that “I couldn’t cope alone” . My therapy has provided me with a safe space where I can be honest, exploring things that are hard to do even with the closest friends, and the professional questioning shines light on aspects of my life that I haven’t really thought about / have been avoiding.
The best thing is the peace in my head. The peace from not drinking, no headaches, no hangover, no embarrassing things to squirm over, no more cognitive dissonance as I watch him treat my kids in a way I disagree with, no more choosing between him and my children, no more feeling of failure as a mother because he tells me how shit my children are. No more stress and toxic atmosphere at home; yes the kids argue sometimes, yes there are disagreements about who’s turn it is to empty the dishwasher; but critically the children are treated equally, everyone knows they are loved, we do stuff together and I can be the mum I want to be. Similarly with no drunkenness, I’m present emotionally, and responsive in a way I have not always been.
One of the stop drinking books I read in the early days did a lot of comparing giving up alcohol to leaving an unsuitable lover. It really irritated me at the time, if fact I stopped reading those bits because it felt like there was no relevance for me in the comparison. Looking back now, there may have been more than I thought!
I’m having a down day today, very very busy week at work, and just exhausted. But I’m going to try not to beat myself up about it, and just rest, blog, and take care of myself.