The Relationship Myth - part 2
This is the second instalment of my ‘Relationship Myth’ series. You can read the first instalmenthere.
The following extract is taken from my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: Journey to freedom.’
I wrote two chapters focussing on relationships, as I have found that for alcoholics (drunk or sober) relationships are particularly troublesome.
And the most troublesome of all, are the romantic variety.
I was three years sober when a break-up brought me to the point of suicide. I was about thirty at the time, and there was nothing I could do, but watch another promising relationship disintegrate. Whilst that empty black hole appeared within me again.
This wasn’t meant to happen.
I was sober now. My life was meant to be on track, things were meant to be working out for me.
But the exact same things that happened in my relationships drunk, were happening sober.
And I was scared because I didn’t know how to make them stop.
It was then that I realised I didn’t want to drink or pop a pill, but I was making a decision to not kill myself today.
Which is when I realised I was in trouble.
You ‘see the ‘myth’ part was that I believed a relationship would save me. I had bought the ‘lie’ that a romantic relationship would be my salvation.
Instead they crucified me.
And at that point I knew I was either going to die or I had to find a way to solve this.
So I worked harder on myself then than I had ever done before.
This is what I learnt:
Relationships: our life task
The thing about human relationships is that they are always moving, changing and growing. They are organic in nature and just because we are in a relationship right now doesn’t mean we always will be. They are a task we have to work at constantly.
Different circumstances and events can have an impact on our committed relationships, as we learn new ways to respond to these changes. It’s not just romantic relationships that we need to work on, but also relationships with our friends, families, colleagues and acquaintances. They can all be improved. This requires conscious effort on our part.
Identify your relationship patterns
If you look back over the last few years, what are the patterns you’ve ‘acted out’?
Disapproval, abandonment, rejection, possessiveness, intensity followed by apathy? Are you a serial monogamist or a serial adulterer? Uncommitted/overcommitted? Look at all of your past relationships objectively and see if you can begin to identify a pattern of behavior on your part.
By identifying our patterns we become more intelligent, more informed, more self-aware. When we wake up to ourselves and get honest we can see that we often knew what we were doing, we just chose not to acknowledge it. We lied to ourselves, and we did this because we were scared, scared we wouldn’t be loved, so we clung onto relationships that weren’t right for us.
Not only do we have to deal with the stuff from our family of origin, but we have to clear the wreckage from our past relationships too. All of our past relationships, no matter how bad they were, have great lessons that we can take from them and grow from. By doing this we then have a chance of creating the relationship we want, instead of just repeating the same pattern.
Many of us have a relationship pattern. This is the behavior we repeat over and over again with different people. At first we might think it’s the other person who’s doing this to us, but in reality it’s something we are doing. If we can uncover it, we can change it. It’s much harder to do keep on doing something when we see what it is we are doing that harms us.
My pattern in relationships was this: I would meet a guy who would be completely dazzled by me. He would pursue me and tell me how amazing, beautiful and incredible I was. We would have sex and I would think we were in a relationship. He would then become indifferent to me and eventually push me away, and I would be heartbroken.
This happened every time.
And every time a little piece of me broke inside, to the point that I seriously considered a life of celibacy and aloneness, because I simply couldn’t go through that level of pain again.