I *should* know this, right?

Old 12-09-2014, 09:42 PM
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I *should* know this, right?

Hi Everyone,

This is my first time posting over here but I do read frequently as a reminder of how much I stand to lose by ever picking up a drink again. And how very lucky I am that I still have people in my life that love me to begin with...

So in addition to being an alcoholic, I am also an ACOA (my dad drank himself to death when I was 20 and my mother is still active). I go to Alanon occasionally but admittedly not as often as I should. I am in AA however, have a sponsor, am going through the Steps for the second time right now, and am approaching two years of sobriety in February (God/Universe willing).

My question is not about my parents, however. It is about my ex-boyfriend.

I feel stupid even asking this question because, as an alcoholic, I figure I should know this stuff already but I am so twisted up right now I am not sure what I know and don't know any longer.

This is the first completely sober relationship I have been in since I was in my early twenties (I am in my late 30s now) and I waited the suggested year before getting involved with a guy. I also chose to get involved with a friend and someone in the program, sober two years, because I thought this was the "safest" option. It was fine for about three months and then turned into perhaps the single most confusing relationship I've ever been in (and I have been in some doozies while drinking).

A lot of the behavior I recognized from being an alcoholic myself and having been around them my whole life. But others? I am still reeling. Beyond the usual needing to borrow money from me all the time, never seeming to be able to save anything, constantly being sick or having some other "affliction" that he was constantly dealing with, he also systematically began to cut off all intimacy (physical and emotional) and affection in our relationship from about the third month in. He didn't have physical issues but it was like, with each month, there would be a new excuse for getting more and more distant. Or, if he wasn't physically distant, something always felt "off" to me. Like he was acting or forcing himself or somehow removed from any interaction. On the outside, he seemed like the nicest guy on the planet and there was never anything that he did that was in any way violent or overtly mean...but still I just felt like I was with someone who wasn't really there half the time. It was and is deeply unsettling.

He would say, "It's not you, it's me, I just need to get through this," but he'd never actually get through it. Whatever "it" was. I tried to cut it off numerous times, thinking that was what he wanted, and he'd flip out and beg me not to leave him. He had a way of making me feel terribly sorry for him even if I never knew exactly WHAT it was that I was feeling sorry for. But I vaguely felt that I must have caused it. And then he would pull out the charm and flip back to being the person I fell in love with in the first place. Until the distance started again...Then wash, rinse, repeat...

I would talk to people (my sponsor, sober friends) about it in the beginning but then he made me feel like I was betraying him for doing so and I stopped.

In the meantime, my self-esteem crashed and insecurities I never even knew I had started coming up in spades. I've been in some bad relationships but never unsettling ones where I couldn't figure out what, exactly, was "wrong." I also have never dealt with a male that was so cut-off physically and emotionally at certain times while seemingly perfectly normal at others.

So too long of a story short, I eventually ended the relationship but I still talk to him every now and then (we have the same friends although most sided with me during the breakup, which was undramatic) and oddly feel compelled to entertain thoughts of getting back together with him to see if I can get to the bottom of whatever was wrong that I couldn't figure out.

It's like now I am obsessed with trying to figure this out even though my gut tells me I'm going to get back on a never-ending road to nowhere.

Anyway, I realize that I should probably know these answers but this is the first time I have dated someone in recovery and, being in recovery myself for a relatively short time, I am pretty new to the whole sober relationship scene. So I can't help thinking maybe it's me and not him, like maybe I am somehow to blame.

I'm certainly not soft-spoken or retiring by any stretch of the imagination and often would interrogate him as to what the hell was going on. That, naturally, made things worse.

So please forgive me if this is all dreadfully obvious to you all but, I guess my questions are: What the hell is this about? Is this normal behavior for an alcoholic, even one in recovery and seeing a psychologist? Am I codependent now, is this why I am obsessed? I never thought I had codie tendencies but maybe I do. Is Alanon the answer? A lobotomy? I'm afraid to even think about dating again (in recovery or outside of it) because what if I caused it and it happens again? I don't know if I can take another relationship like this...

Again, sorry for asking what are likely stupid questions but this guy did a number on my head and I just wonder if anyone else has dealt with this particular problem?

Thanks so much for hanging in there long enough to read this missive and I am grateful for all responses, even those of the "Duh, this is SO OBVIOUS!" sort .
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Old 12-09-2014, 10:03 PM
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Ptcapote, Hi there, and welcome to this side of the forum.

No questions here are dumb or obvious. What you are feeling is very real. He's a push/pull guy. He pushes you away, isn't emotionally available, he feels you leaving, so he needs to suck you back in. He probably plays on your insecurities. He knows them, so he goes after them. It always leaves you questioning what is wrong with you? This isn't a relationship you want. I'm not going to say that you are codie, I'm going to say that he is effing with your mind. I was married and lived with someone like this for 25 years.

Congrats on your sobriety. I wouldn't talk so harshly or give suggestions, or be so open about things if you weren't in a program, but I think you already know this is all wrong for you and that you just need some validation so that you can make things right in your own head.

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Old 12-09-2014, 10:16 PM
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I pretty much agree with Amy. You sound perfectly lucid and articulate and I would be pretty certain that you are reading the situation well. Lots of people have all sorts of relationship issues, commitment issues, and all sorts of issues about all sorts of things, whether recovering alcoholics or not. Its a real pity that he has not been able to explain this to you in an adult mature way that allows you to understand what is going on and this has therefore led to huge uncertainties and put you in a position that you felt and still feel is unworkable. From what you have said it seems pretty clear that the relationship is not working for you. Maybe he is messing with your head with all this push/pull stuff and maybe he is just immature and maybe its something else. To be honest you have just put your toe back into the water so to speak and I don't think you should beat yourself up too much about it. Move on, enjoy your life and the amazing progress that you have made. the right guy is probably just around the corner.
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Old 12-10-2014, 03:40 AM
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Hi, and welcome--congrats on your sober time! I'm six years sober, myself, in AA.

As I said to someone else here, recently, it really doesn't matter if it's his alcoholism or his basic personality, it sounds like he's lousy relationship material. I sometimes think we feel compelled to go back with these guys just because it seems like if we try HARD enough we'll figure them out and things will finally be "normal". Sort of the same way most of us alcoholics were so stuck for a long time on getting a handle on our drinking, if we did this or that. It's a desire to control a situation that is beyond our control.

Hugs, don't let this derail you. Sounds like your head is screwed on right. I'd throw this one back, though.
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Old 12-10-2014, 04:52 AM
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ptcapote....I think that it says a lot that you were able to end a relationship that was not meeting your needs. You do have some sense of self preservation, after all....LOL!
Good for you.

To be honest...and, since you asked...yeah, I do detect some reactions of yours that could fall under the umbrella of "co-dependency". Also, given that both of your parents were alcoholic....puts you at a special vulnerability...
I think this guy was, perhaps, the "perfect storm" for you.
This guy certainly seems to have some deep seated issues..even if he IS sober.
There is nothing like a wounded soul to trigger our own inner baggage that might have formerly been kept subterrainian. For someone with co-dependency issues...this can sent us spinning like a top! Hence--the perfect "storm".

Have you read "CO-dependency No More"? It is pretty classic reading, around here. I suggest you give it a, I suspect, you will find a lot that might resonate with you.
Another short read which I think may address some of your relationship questions is "The "Saber-toothed Tiger". It addresses dating after recovery from a "bad" relationship

I hope this is of some help for you....

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