Self-Realization, Self-Reflection, Self-Forgiveness.

Old 01-25-2017, 10:26 AM
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Self-Realization, Self-Reflection, Self-Forgiveness.

Been a bit of a blah week, I guess, but I've had a bit of a breakthrough. Looking at what I allowed in my relationship, I realize I am just as much an addict and am stumbling through recovery as well. MY addiction was settling for too little in a relationship and accepting bad behavior and a bad relationship, because I felt like having something was better than having nothing.

This realization - My own addiction to bad relationships - also continues to allow me to be passionate and forgive and not hold anger inside. Anger never solves anything and just makes you feel terrible. Some days though, I still feel angry that my relationship failed, that she chose to stick with the booze, that she chose to just find a new guy instead of try for me. But at the end of the day that anger is just not doing me any good.

So, with renewed determination I will try recovery again. I've been succeeding in some areas of being good to myself, yet failing in some areas of holding onto hope for a relationship that wasn't fair to me for a very long time. I'm not sure I can explain why that is, same as why I'm sure some addicts can't explain why the go back to their own drug of choice time and time again. But it at least gives me a renewed enlightenment of both what my own addiction as a codependent is, and the ability to forgive myself and work on those shortcomings. I think it is from that same understanding I can at least be more forgiving of the fact things didn't work out the way I'd wanted them to.

I am realizing that I wasn't truly ready to accept that she was out of my life forever. I knew I couldn't take her back into my life if she was drinking, but there was still some sort of hope she would somehow be back in my life -- I am trying to come to terms with why I am having so much trouble letting go of a relationship that was just so one-sided due to her drinking. I have reflected back, the case has been made, the facts laid out, yet, I realized I was still holding onto some sort of hope of a reconciliation...despite having to continue to remind myself that we couldn't be together, because she was drinking.

I have work to do, as I definitely need to understand more about why I was fighting for a relationship that I was constantly getting shorted in. Part of it may just be that I am not a quitter. Not necessarily a fixer, I certainly didn't do much to try and alert her lifestyle other than express discontent, but I also really hated the fact of admitting defeat and I need to come to terms with that. Just because the relationship was long-term and we built so many memories together doesn't give it the unabashed right to continue.

Despite my stumbles, the moments of contact or weakness that led me to hope for an unrealistic recovery, I continue to at least be happy that I didn't break my own boundary this time -- I know that can not go back to a relationship with alcohol abuse in the picture. That has been the hard fight with MY addition though - Convincing myself that being alone and having no romantic partner to spend my life with is BETTER than being with someone with an addiction who I only get part of the time. I know the right answer of course. But my brain plays games - I reason with myself that even a fragment of someone is better than no one. Which is probably how this lasted 10 years. I remember having nightmares about her doing awful things, only to wake up relieved that she wasn't doing those things, and that she was still there in the bed next to me. Someone was at least present. But the feelings I felt in the nightmares were the same way I often felt when I was awake and she was drinking. Yet, I was somehow relieved. That's how bad my addiction was to being in that relationship. Crumbs were better than nothing.

When I finally put my foot down it got ugly, then sad, then regretful, then mournful, all of those different things rolled into one experience over weeks and months. I wish I could say I had a perfect exit and an amazing recovery but I have realized in the past couple of weeks that I have a long way to go, and I am not nearly as far along in my own recovery as I thought I was or need to be. So, I'm working to get there.

From the start I knew who she was and she didn't try to hide it. In the first months, we drank together, every time, she often more excessively than I due to the point of drunken rage or blackout, yet, for some reason, I pursued the relationship anyway. I had the chance to exit early yet I stuck with it for 10 years. Even worse, now I compete with thoughts in my head of her in a new relationship and getting sober for it and question why she didn't want to do that for us. I realize that the typical recipe of a new addict relationship is early deception, then the problems eventually come back anyway. Yet, I stayed for 10 years under these conditions! Plus, Valentine's Day is coming, my first one alone in 10 years, and the holidays stink. I am future tripping and need to work on stopping that as well and work on living in the now and somehow keeping all thoughts of her out of my head completely.

So really, two things need to happen here - I need to forgive myself for not having a picture perfect recovery. And (though not as important now that I am finally realizing I need a full NC to keep the hurt away) I have to remember that this is what she went through as well with her addiction to alcohol, in the same way I was unable to let go of something that was toxic to me. Funny how it all parallels out like that. We can't let go of them, they can't let go of their booze.

I've been considering if I need support groups or meetings which may be where I head next, but oddly enough, just reading and researching, and especially, seeing that I am not alone and also reading stories with such similarities that they could be my own, helps tremendously. It helps to confirm I was not crazy and not wrong to want something more.

If anything, the latest news of her being in that new relationship has pushed me to the next phase. I need to move on and start planning and visualizing of a future with a new girl in my life, a new, healthier relationship with a partner who is more present and supportive and respectful of my feelings. I need to have a relationship that doesn't give me stress or depression and feel like I have a real partner in life. I hope I can find her!

I continue to thank everyone who reads, posts, and shares -- Knowing you are not alone or the first person to have to go through this is one of the most supportive ways I have had in going through this experience this year. Thank you all!
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Old 01-25-2017, 11:09 AM
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I need to move on and start planning and visualizing of a future with a new girl in my life, a new, healthier relationship with a partner who is more present and supportive and respectful of my feelings. I need to have a relationship that doesn't give me stress or depression and feel like I have a real partner in life. I hope I can find her!
Don't mean to be a downer, Wells, but maybe just concentrate on YOU for a while instead of planning for your new improved partner? Get comfortable and happy on your own, so that you can then take your time and choose someone who truly does add to your life rather than accepting someone who seems "good enough" to fill the hole...yeah, your X has a new partner, but the bar is likely set pretty low, and besides, she hasn't "won" just b/c she has gotten involved w/someone else before you did.

And I get where you're coming from, I think--I am 56 and this is the first time I haven't gone directly from one relationship into another. It's not that the fear and loneliness that drove me before have magically disappeared, but rather that I'm finding there is a strong and solid base underneath it all that will hold me up. I don't need to depend on another person to do that for me. Not that I can't or wouldn't ask for help if I needed it, but again, it's an option, not a requirement.

Make peace w/yourself, learn to depend on yourself, get comfortable w/your own company--and then think about finding a partner. At least, that's what I'd suggest.
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Old 01-25-2017, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Wells View Post
I need to move on and start planning and visualizing of a future with a new girl in my life, a new, healthier relationship with a partner who is more present and supportive and respectful of my feelings. I need to have a relationship that doesn't give me stress or depression and feel like I have a real partner in life. I hope I can find her!
Start with being more present and supportive and respectful of yourself. The most important relationship in our life is the one we have with ourselves. Trying to find someone else to fill that void leads us all back down the same old road. While "you complete me" was a romantic way to end a movie, real happiness and contentment happens when we are able to complete ourselves.
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Old 01-25-2017, 11:19 AM
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I think for many of us the term “relationship” is seen through distorted and unrealistic vision. We tend to have unrealistic expectations about what a mutual loving and caring relationship actually is. We tend to pick people who will never fit our expectations then spend years trying to make them/us fit that mold. We want a deep loving emotional connection yet we pick people who are running from feeling.

Relationships are not about winning or defeat, they are about 2 people mutually coming together and working together towards the same goals. When one person’s goal is to medicate with booze or drugs the other person’s goal will never come about yet we stick around waiting and watching like standing in front of burning building hoping that it won’t be as bad as it looks.

One of my very good friends told me, you can’t begin to heal until you fully extricate what you are trying to heal. Meaning for as long as I held onto hope/fantasy/dreams of a reconciliation I wasn’t going to fully heal. And once I fully accepted that even if my ex were to get clean/sober for a year or more knowing what I know about addiction now there would never ever be a chance of me going back or any kind of a reconciliation friends or lovers – NEVER and that was the day my healing finally began.
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Old 01-25-2017, 11:21 AM
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Ditto. The first relationship you have is with yourself. If that ain't right, bringing in another person is not only going to be ineffective in terms of your own happiness, but it's very unfair to the other person.

I understand that you aren't necessarily putting up a dating profile tomorrow, or even next month. The point is to adjust to the idea of being happy, complete person in your own right. Do that, and you'll someday (and don't worry about the "when") be in a position to really have something substantial to share with someone else.
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Old 01-25-2017, 01:57 PM
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PLEASE don't make "finding another HER" your goal!! that is not our mission or quest here on earth. as long as we BELIEVE we are incomplete UNLESS we have (own, possess, control, hold captive) another human being we will never feel comfortable resting in the here and now, in our own skin.

perhaps examine instead why you feel you need to start visualizing and planning for a new HER. why instead of the journey inward, you seek to have and hold another. why does your ONE feel less than enough??

all those things you "want" in a partner? BECOME them yourself.
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Old 01-25-2017, 03:12 PM
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I appreciate the sentiment!

My original post may have been a bit misleading - I am certainly not suddenly in a great rush to fill a void or start a new relationship out of spite or competition with my ex or anything crazy like that.

I only meant to convey that it occurred to me that perhaps it was the hope of a reconciliation or some such fairly tale that had been closing me off to the idea of a new relationship. It's been 7 months or so now, not counting the days, but I do have to at some point decide, if a relationship is what I want, to get back out there. It may have just been the realization that she has moved on that was the kick in the butt I needed to understand that I shouldn't be afraid to do the same.

Of course, I want this to be for the right reasons, not just filling a void. I have definitely realized a relationship is something I'd like to be in. I am surrounded by a circle of family and friends who all have someone, and I'm the only single one in a sea of couples now (we're talking 1 in 100) so it's also a bit of a weird position.

But again, that's not the reason, just to be "like everyone else". I've had these many months now to be with myself, catch up on activities, see family and friends more, essentially, write my own ticket and schedule for the better part of a year. I'm productive and content with myself but I'm also realizing as time moves on that I'm getting more sensitive to the quiet. To the empty bed. To sitting on the couch alone. Eating alone in the kitchen or at the restaurant counter. As time has wore on, I'm starting to realize that's bothering me a bit more.

I need to be sure I am not looking for someone to make my life complete, or replace the last relationship I left, as you have wisely noted -- I just want to enhance what is a good (albeit somewhat empty feeling now) life and share it with someone. It may just be that the intersection of time passed, time spent with myself, and the finality of knowing my ex moved on, that has started to nudge me closer to wanting to put myself back out there again.

Not rushing out there, mind you, but starting to feel like being a part of something again, instead of just being with myself.
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Old 01-26-2017, 07:45 AM
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What is your dating history like? Prior to this past relationship? Did you date a lot of different woman?
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Old 01-26-2017, 11:42 AM
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Insightful question.

My dating history is poor. I rarely dated around, I typically started dating someone and it quickly turned into a long term relationship. Also started dating very late in life, no real relationships in high school or college.

After that, 3 relationships, two of them 4 years long , this one 10 years long, and that's my entire dating history of any relationship. Never dated in high school or college, so zero short term dating history.

If I could go back in time, would do things a lot differently. At this age it's tougher to casual date I think.

In retrospect, all 3 of the relationships had different types of issues and red flags both early on and throughout, which I basically tolerated or ignored, just because I felt like being in a relationship was better than being alone/single.
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Old 01-26-2017, 11:54 AM
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Wow, that right there really tells you something.

Dating is, ideally, a way to find out WHETHER you want to get to know someone better--you seem to view dating as a means of getting someone--anyone--into that "partner" role as soon as possible. You aren't valuing yourself enough to be discriminating--to be willing to say (to yourself), "Nice, but not exactly what I'm looking for."
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Old 01-26-2017, 12:03 PM
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I agree. Which is why it was a great question!

I think I missed out on this dynamic by not dating during my high school and college years, which are typically the times you do a lot of that sort of experimentation without any sort of long term plan (not always, but often how it works out).

Since I had no serious relationships until after that, I got into this weird mindset of just latching onto the next person to come along, good or bad. My inner rationale basically being that I'm so easy going that I will basically just settle for anything.

That's not to belittle any past relationships or say none of them were not without positive things, though it also shows that none of these relationships were necessarily slam dunks, either - obviously.

my exAGF pretty much admitted to me that it is her pattern to latch right on and move right into a new relationship as quickly as possible so we were like gasoline to the fire when things started 10 years ago, which I later learned is often the perfect conditions for codependent::alcoholic relationship. We were "perfect" for that dynamic.

Not to say obviously that over 10 years of being together we didn't love one another, or that we lived in misery. We grew together and had many common interests and lots of fun. We did a good job coming together but the addiction was always that little monster hiding in the closet waiting to jump out at any given day. The early signs were there which would have avoided me being where I am today, I just chose to ignore them and try and push on (more of my classic codependency).

If nothing more, I continue to learn a lot about myself from this experience.
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Old 01-26-2017, 12:04 PM
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Yeah, along the lines of what Lexie just said...one does have to be willing to throw some fish back.....

I am wondering if you are less of an initiator...more content to wait for someone else to make the first move? Perhaps, you are a bit more introverted than extroverted...?
Now, before you go all defensive, about this....I am only speculating to trigger your thoughts...not criticizing.....lol.....
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Old 01-26-2017, 12:12 PM
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In retrospect, all 3 of the relationships had different types of issues and red flags both early on and throughout, which I basically tolerated or ignored, just because I felt like being in a relationship was better than being alone/single.
It’s not that dating casually at an older age is the factor it’s the whole concept we have about dating and relationships. As you said, you ignored red flags just to be in a relationship and not feel alone. We settle for behaviors that we should never settle for. When I look back today I wish I had the knowledge I have today about dating and the courage and ability to just end it and move on.

Dating should be fun, easy going, relaxed and taking our time in getting to know new people and maybe learn some new interests. But often codies show up for dates with a Uhaul and wedding plans! (joke) They want to skip through the dating as quickly as possible with plans of rocking chairs on the front porch and growing old together – securing that “relationship”.

Ever hear the expression………….

Booze is an alcoholic’s trigger

Drugs are a drug addict’s trigger

And, relationships are a codependents trigger

If you don’t feel secure about yourself or have doubts about dating then don’t, because -------water seeks it’s own level, and you’ll end up in yet another unhappy/stressful/struggling relationship.
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Old 01-26-2017, 12:33 PM
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I love the uhaul and wedding plans analogy! I appreciate the humor and while thankfully knew enough not to get married when I sensed the relationships were on shaky ground, I certainly allowed things to progress from 0 to 60mph. I definitely seem to find ways to "move them in" very quickly. And always seem to find the ones eager to do so as well.

So yeah, no defensiveness necessary at all, I agree with what is being said for sure. I think I just want to learn how to approach relationships in the proper way, not in the way I have been.

Other than this issue, I am a well balanced person. Healthy, career-minded, decent enough looking, financially stable, outgoing, personable, wonderful system of friends and family. I'm the person that's always receiveds the "you're the whole package!" comments often and the "you're such a great catch!" stuff (and I don't think they're even saying it out of pity, at least not all the time!)

So my thoughts when relationships happened fast and people latched were always - "Of course they are! You're awesome and they just found you and you're the best person they've ever met!" Etc etc. So it is a self-esteem boost I suppose but also deep down I definitely feel like a GOOD person. I feel successful in basically all things, except love.

So knowing that I am a decent, loving, stable, successful person in most other ways, I just need to determine the way to bring that stability and mindfulness into relationships. I wish I'd have learned this skill years ago but they don't seem to teach it in books or in school (or at least, not back then -- with the internet you can probably learn everything now).

Hopefully it's not too late for me to learn the right way to move forward.
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Old 01-26-2017, 12:51 PM
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Other than this issue, I am a well balanced person. Healthy, career-minded, decent enough looking, financially stable, outgoing, personable, wonderful system of friends and family. I'm the person that's always receiveds the "you're the whole package!" comments often and the "you're such a great catch!" stuff (and I don't think they're even saying it out of pity, at least not all the time!)
Wells….wanna go to dinner and a movie Saturday night?? lol

I promise I won't bring the Uhaul YET!!!

I think it is all about how we approach it and keeping our expectations in check.

Figuring out what we don’t want in a potential partner before we can understand what we do want.

And as Dandylion said……. be willing to throw some fish back.....
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Old 01-26-2017, 01:01 PM
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Hah! I love it.

That's the issue I guess - I'm pretty easy to like and as such my past relationships have started off QUICK. I always get along with once I meet people. I make lots of friends. Few if any enemies. And I will go to bat for anyone I know, any time they need me.

So, suddenly I'm dating someone, and I guess they tend to get close rather quickly...That's what has happened in the past. I just need to learn to be able to shut things down if I see red flags. A definite skillset I lacked. If I told you about some of the early (first months of the relationsship) violent outbreaks involving booze and my exAGF - You'd slap me for being so silly for hanging on. Yet I hung in, chalked it up to "she's young, she'll outgrow it" and here we sit, 10 years later!

As dandy also said, I am a bit of an introvert at least initially, very bad at making the first move, but good at proceeding once doors are opened. I just need to learn, some doors that get opened can be closed. Some fish can go back in the water.
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Old 01-26-2017, 01:05 PM
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Hey, I was pretty much the same way. I did throw a lot back in, but I was definitely on the "hunt" for that next person.

I've been single now for over 10 years. I honestly don't know how terrific someone would have to be for me to give up my freedom. Actually, I haven't had a DATE in all that time, and really haven't missed it. I go out and do fun things with friends (male or female) when I want company, but I really haven't missed the drama.
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Old 01-26-2017, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by atalose View Post

And, relationships are a codependents trigger

If you donít feel secure about yourself or have doubts about dating then donít, because -------water seeks itís own level, and youíll end up in yet another unhappy/stressful/struggling relationship.
So as independent, successful, college educated and adventurous inverts why don't we meet those healthy relationships? We must spend too much time hanging on to the bird in the hand instead of allowing it to fly away and search the bushes.
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Old 01-26-2017, 01:36 PM
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And I will go to bat for anyone I know, any time they need me.
That can be an admirable quality to have to a FAULT! Picking those at bat times is very important. I would go to bat for a friend in need at 3AM who’s mother, father, brother, sister, BF, GF, child etc. was rushed to the hospital and was too upset to drive or be by themselves, I’d drive them in a heartbeat. But now if that same person asked me to loan them $5,000 because they racked up their credit cards, no way! Learning to say no is something else we often need practice with.

and I guess they tend to get close rather quickly..
That’s because we allow them to. Bonding so quickly with a stranger can be dangerous and un-healthy. If I know about someone whole past and all the details of their past relationships by the time desert rolls around on a first date then there certainly won’t be a second.
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Old 01-26-2017, 01:37 PM
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I definitely, absolutely do NOT Miss the drama. It's the big thing I remind myself, every time I feel low -- How many months it has been since I have had to deal with the drama that came with the drinking. I was living each day just HOPING it would be a good one and not a bad/drunk one. What a way to wake up each morning!

Hearthealth, we do indeed spend too much time staring at the bird in hand don't we? Great analogy.

This is how deep my OWN illness goes - In the months since we separated and remained in contact, there were glimpses of hope, she reached out showing remorse, desire for recovery, etc (all before she started a new relationship of course) and I remember, my initial thought was...

"This feels great! She's sorry and wants to get better and wants us!"

Quickly followed by...

"Oh NO! She's sorry and wants to get back together!"

It was the initial feeling of exhilaration that we were going to try and work it out, followed quickly by the realization of all the issues, problems, stress, concerns, trust issues, that would come with trying to work it out.

It's wild.
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