A Broken Heart is Not a Broken Soul

Breaking Up

There was a city parade going down the other morning and something urged me to go.  My daughter wanted nothing to do with it so I went alone and got there early enough to poke around at the festival stands before they actually opened.  I felt a little bit alone, but not exactly lonely.  Lately when I’ve gone and done things by myself and when they are interesting, I miss my former boyfriend.  We used to do a lot together and for the longest time, I believed we were going to be together for the remainder of our lives.  We had fun and we liked the same things.  At least I thought we did.  After several hikes, and tons of outings I realized that he was growing restless with me.  I wanted to be outside all the time, and he was beginning to complain about it a lot. We all do things to impress people in the beginning of relationships.  I guess that’s a normal mating ritual.

Anyway, I was at this parade feeling kind of alone as I reflected on our relationship, sitting on a tile bench in the town that brought us to the decision to move across the Bay together.  It is weird how life changes, and how it often changes suddenly.  I don’t look back thinking that I made any wrong decisions, or regretting opening my heart to this man.  What I’ve learned in all of this is that you’ve really got to see things for what they are and not get deluded by seductive words or heartwarming emotions.  Emotions are good because they lead you back to yourself and indicate where you are in your life, but when it comes to another human being, the emotions that arise for them in a relationship, are proof of where they are too, and its important to be aware of that.  The other thing is that people want to believe that they are a certain way when their behaviors tell you otherwise.  We all do this.  I’m so blind to myself, and as much as it hurts, I welcome people pointing out my behaviors now.  We are all blind to ourselves.  We see ourselves through a deluded filter – get into a relationship and you will discover all of your faults. It’s guaranteed. I certainly know mine now, but the good news is, I’m aware and I’m working on myself instead of resisting the truth about myself, or hating on myself for not being perfect.

During this break-up I’ve put it out in the universe that I want to make some friends here. We’re still fairly new to the area and now that I’m not involved in a relationship, I have a lot of free time to make friends. Out of the woodwork, people have suddenly come into my life. I’ve met a woman whose been here over 30 years who knows all of the hiking trails. I met another woman who is excited to teach me how to surf. A woman in my Sunday meeting hooked me up with a place to live and she calls me all the time. We’re becoming friends. As I was sitting on that bench by myself the other day, I recognized a woman who came up and gave me a great big hug. “What are you doing here?” I asked in amazement. She lived in Berkeley and went to the same treatment center as I did. “I live here now,” she responded. “I knew you were living over here, but I didn’t know where, and here you are!” We talked for quite a while as we watched the parade. She asked if I like to go hiking, and we exchanged numbers. It didn’t surprise me at all that I saw her there. Something urged me to go to that parade and I have learned to follow that inner pull that has the capacity to turn my life into magical experiences. I’m not talking fairy dust and rainbows here – I’m just saying that when I follow my intuition, really cool shit happens.

A lot of emotions are coming up for me during this break-up, and now that I’m moving out of the home that we created together, I’m feeling a bit drained. It’s not easy. In the beginning while I was looking for a place to live, I had all this amazing energy, but now that it’s happening, I’m feeling all of the raw emotion that comes up with the experience of change. I know if I hadn’t of been sober for over three years, this sort of thing would be way too much for me to handle. Relationships bring up a lot of emotion and if you’re not ready for it, it can be hazardous to your sobriety. Breaking up is no easier now in my late thirties when I’m sober, than it was in my late twenties and barely sober. I mean, I’m not exactly miserable now, but the pain is quite there and if I allow myself to reminisce too much, or to think about what could have been, it becomes too great. I’m living moment to moment and I have to fight myself to stay present instead of sink into my sorrows about the whole thing. The sorrows want to take me back to the beginning of our relationship when everything was loving and fun. That’s not real. It’s not here anymore, so I keep reminding myself to move forward and to remain present.

The one thing that gets to me the most (and I’m sure others can relate here, which is why I’m putting it out in the open) is that the person I gave to this man, was the best person that I’ve ever been in my life. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. The happiest. The most open. The most loving. The most loyal and genuine. The most aware and giving. This man got the best me there has ever been, but it’s not what he wants. I’m also at a place where I’m not too stubborn to admit when I’m wrong. I’ve apologized a lot in this relationship without much resolve or reciprocation. Stubbornness is one of my defects of character, but the thing is, I know it is, so I’m really working on that, and I’m watching myself grow out of it. It’s a slow process, but it’s happening. You see, I know how much I’ve changed. I know where I’ve come from. This other person only sees my awful faults, and notices where I’m lacking. He also says I’m too much of a “project” for him, which indicates to me that I really need to move on from this person. I have a great relationship with my children. I am close to my parents and grandparents. I have several friends. Most of my exes still contact me, and we are still friends. I know myself enough to know that I’m not limited to his point of view. If I didn’t have any self-esteem, I would be a train wreck right now. When you are doing your very best and someone tells you that you are not good enough – RUN! Get away from that. Remaining in a relationship like that is the quickest way to slide down into the drenches of low self-esteem. Do your best and hang out with people who love you for who you are.

This isn’t a happy-go-lucky post, but it’s real. I’m in a lot of pain and I feel defeated a lot. I am so grateful that I’m actually feeling all of this, and that I’m doing well during the process. I’m glad I can talk about it and write about it. I’m really glad that I don’t buy into a belief that I’m “less than.” I know how far I’ve come and I know how much I have to give another person, but for now, I’m going to give that love to myself because I really need it. And everything else I need, like friends and especially women, are being provided. I’m not buying into a belief that I’m not whole or complete. That’s what people tell you when they don’t want to admit that they too, have failed the relationship. This pain is not going to ruin me, and I certainly will not buy into a belief that I am not good enough. Just because I failed this relationship doesn’t mean that I am a failure. The difference now is, I am able to remain in tact while the frenzy is going on within me. I have the ability to watch all the emotions without getting sucked into them. Just because I have a broken heart, doesn’t mean that I am a broken person. I’m going to learn from my mistakes and be a better person because of this relationship.

Dating in Recovery and Relationships After Sobriety

Dating in Recovery

Many of us who have suffered in our addictions discover that we are addicted to more than a substance, once the substance is eliminated.  It is difficult to go through recovery in the beginning, and so easy to become distracted with a new love interest.  It is heavily suggested that people do not date for a year in their sobriety, but how many of us do it regardless of the suggestion?  I know how lonely I felt in the beginning of my recovery, but I also know when I got really serious about staying sober, I got serious about the suggestion to not date.  It is such a slippery slope, and if you are truly in recovery, the one person you need to learn how to have a relationship with, is yourself.

Recovery is an inside job.  There is a lot of emotional baggage that comes with our addictions, and though we don’t need to jump in and dig out everything all at once, we have to be very diligent about things like integrity, being honest, being present, and taking life in slowly rather than running through it like we did in our addictions.  Facing ourselves on a day to day basis, as a sober individual, is like discovering a whole new world, and then learning how to maneuver in it.  If you expect to be a good partner just because you are finally sober, think again.  There is a great deal of self-worth that must be established before you can be healthily involved with another human being, after several years of self-sabotaging.  There are habits that need to be broken, and behaviors which need to be looked at and changed.  This takes time and patience.  Recovery is something that takes a lot of inner healing, and self-love.  It is not fair to yourself, or anyone else, to take away from the process.  A relationship is a very big deal, and it also brings up a lot of emotional energy, which you may not be ready to face right away.  People bring up our emotional baggage – it’s just the way the universe balances us out, so that we have the ability to face it and then to heal.  In early recovery, it isn’t very wise to bring up all that turmoil through the likes of another human being.  It’s difficult enough doing it one day at a time living with yourself and everything that comes up for you on a day to day basis.  It’s even more difficult when the honeymoon phase of a new relationship ends, and you are sitting there raw with a partner without a drink in your hand to make everything seem dreamier than it truly is.  Anyway, don’t you want to learn to take care of yourself before you take on the heart of another human being? 

As far as continuing a relationship that was already established before you get sober, well, this is something very personal that must be dealt with delicately.  There are many factors that contribute to a person’s addiction, and sometimes, it’s a co-dependent partner.  Everything shifts when one person becomes sober, including the dynamics of a relationship.  Many partners are not comfortable with their newly sober mate, and on the other end of the spectrum, some partners are extremely supportive, but no matter what, nothing comes easily.  It takes work for both parties, which is why support groups can be extremely effective in helping people through relationship changes.  

We do not realize while we were busy getting high and drunk, how little changes in day to day activities can affect our moods, our state of being, or our focus.  We diluted life, so there was either UP, or DOWN.  There was no taking true responsibility, nor was there any clue to the nuances of day to day life.  We had drama, for certain, but we didn’t really know what we were feeling, because we were always trying to change how we felt.  Being sober is being raw, and this is kind of exciting, but it can also be confusing and scary.  Sometimes I change moods so often in one week, I question if I am mentally stable, but what I really get out of this, is that I am no longer able to hide behind a bottle, so I’ve got to face myself and all of these moods.  Instead of fighting myself, I look at my diet, my intake of vitamins, my sleep patterns.  I get curious about myself and take an interest in what is going on with me.  My point is, it takes a lot of time to establish our own patterns and to get to know ourselves when we are sober.  Having a partner brings up even more emotions, so it is really worth it to take that full year, or even longer, before you begin sharing your life with someone else. 

It’s a question you need to ask yourself – AM I SERIOUS ABOUT MY SOBRIETY?  If the answer is yes, then you will quickly clear a path for your life so that you have the space to run the distance.  Don’t let people get in the way of your recovery.  Don’t be distracted from healing.  Don’t be anxious to do anything because it will all fall into place at the exact right time.  It just will, because it simply does.  Life falls into place if you will only allow it to.  You will meet the right person, and you will be healthy enough to love that person when they come.  Just give yourself some space and allow yourself to do this thing without all the nonsense in between.  For once in your life, love yourself enough to abstain until you have no doubt that you are able to truly and unselfishly love another human being.