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Blindsided by breakup

Old 01-02-2020, 02:59 PM
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Blindsided by breakup

Hi everyone,

I'm new here and am seeking some wisdom. I had been dating a man with 8+ years recovery for almost two years when he broke up with me a few weeks ago with no prior warning, discussion, or change of tone.

(Apologies that this is so long, bless you if you read the whole thing.)

We lived in another city when we began dating, he had a strong network of sober friends there. I know he wasn't actively in AA meetings but he referenced the program often and seemed to be open to working through behavior and seemed extremely devoted to making our relationship work. He is an artist by trade but wasn't actively creating work while we were together. He said he was taking an intentional break. He had a day job and started applying to grad schools.

About 8 months into dating, we decided to move in together, as I had just graduated from a school program, and he had been accepted to one in another state. We began to talk about moving together but wanted to make sure that we were compatible roommates. We were, and we had a great, loving, communicative relationship, as far as I could tell.

We moved to another city together, I started working right away, and he began his graduate program. He became obsessive, staying on campus from 8am until after midnight each night. A couple months in, he began to make excuses about not being able to spend time with me when I tried to invite him out to the activities I was getting involved in. He made me believe that there was no choice but for him to do this, because of how "intense" the program was.

Along the way, he spent more time with his cohort, all of which are the partying type and drink and use drugs often. He simultaneously seemed to reach a rut in his art practice, despite how much time he was spending in the studio.

Instead of revealing how he was actually feeling about all of this, he continued to just act like everything was perfectly fine. He checked in with me regularly, acted affectionate, and continued to say things that made it seem like we were in this situation together even though he was essentially neglecting me in action.

About a month ago I started feeling stressed out and broke down crying in front of him. I didn't mention it being due to us. Of course, looking back, I don't know why I couldn't acknowledge that his behavior was making me feel like ****. He acted concerned but didn't say much. The next week his family came into town for Thanksgiving for several days.

The week after that, I took a trip out of state with a girlfriend. He had been MIA all week supposedly because of his finals. But he dropped me off at the airport, texted me the whole time, showed no changes, and picked me up from the airport.

The following day, I came home from work and he looked like he had seen a ghost. He told me to sit down, that he wasn't able to eat or sleep and that this was physiologically affecting him: he thought we need to break up. I was in utter shock when I realized whenever I had pried or asked him if anything was wrong the weeks prior he had so readily lied without hesitation to make me believe nothing was wrong. He had been planning this for weeks. I had a nonrefundable flight to spend Christmas with his family, had already bought all of them Christmas presents with his approval, etc.

He had written an extremely petty list of nonsensical reasons, trying to turn it around on me. But he had never mentioned any of these "issues" before, and they were in opposition with things he had expressed just a month or two earlier. In the end he said things like "I think if I loved you more this would have been easier to make work," and "I just don't see a future with you and you would think at this point in a relationship I would be starting to think about it," and "I can just see us continuing to go on auto pilot forever, but I don't think we're meant to be. We have to break up."

I was extremely stunned but let him leave to sleep wherever he had already planned to that night. Everything in the apartment is mine, so he picked up his few things while I was at work and we haven't spoken since. It's been a few weeks now.

With time I'm reflecting more on the warning signs. He had gone to a few AA meetings when we first got into town then stopped. He hadn't been going to any meetings for a few years. He hadn't gone through any counseling or therapy outside of AA during his 8 years sober. I was his first relationship outside of casual Internet dating.

I'm being strict about NC right now and know that this was not meant to be, but I'm still hurt by the ease with which I was lied to and abandoned. It's like he manipulated the situation to make sure I had no say in it, and never admitted any of his actual feelings, if he could even make sense of them himself.

I could use some advice on how to find closure while letting this go. I have found local Al Anon meetings that I'd like to start going to. In the meantime, how can I move on from this without worry about him and feeling so stupid?
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Old 01-02-2020, 03:43 PM
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Hi wondering7 and welcome to SR, of course sorry for the reasons that bring you here.

I did read your entire post but I'm unclear whether or not he was using drugs when he broke up with you (it's a little beside the point, but not entirely).

If he was hanging out with party people and spending long hours away, that sounds like typical addict behaviour.

Do you know if he was using?
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Old 01-02-2020, 04:09 PM
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Sorry to hear but sounds like it's for the better. In my opinion, when someone has needed to attend AA at some point out of necessity, although they may not ever drink again, the issues that perhaps caused them to drink to excess in the first place might "go into hiding" for a bit, but might not ever go away. Sounds like that's possibly the case here. It likely has little to nothing to do with you, at all. And not to generalize, as I have some extremely close friends that are artists---but they all seem to be somewhat damaged as a general rule. Although at the same time, some of the most kind, sensitive, and aware people you'll find. Artists in general, I mean. So to me, I think there are perhaps some things going on in his mind that he can't control, and it's possible that the relationship, ANY relationship at that, magnify them to the point he needed to pull away and go back into his own head alone. Just my opinion, hang tough--
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Old 01-02-2020, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by trailmix View Post
Hi wondering7 and welcome to SR, of course sorry for the reasons that bring you here.

I did read your entire post but I'm unclear whether or not he was using drugs when he broke up with you (it's a little beside the point, but not entirely).

If he was hanging out with party people and spending long hours away, that sounds like typical addict behaviour.

Do you know if he was using?
i did mean to clarify this, but he never mentioned relapse or using until the night he broke up with me, when he was very distraught and told me he had “never been closer to relapse than in the previous few days.” He came home every night (although late) and I didn’t notice erratic behavior, though I never knew him while he was using, and I realize now that he’s a much more convincing liar than I thought possible.
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Old 01-02-2020, 04:30 PM
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His decision may or may not have anything to do with drug use. Sometimes men just do this stuff, and it IS as simple as "I don't see a future here / She's not 'the one' / a relationship should be easier than this."

while some women just try like heck to make it work No matter what.

It already wasn't working for you. You were stressed, he wasn't spending time with you. If he was studying, using drugs, partying with friends, or he dropped out of school and was ashamed to tell you and spending his time in the park, does it matter?

I'm sorry you were sand-bagged, (clearly you were). Maybe he felt you were going to break up with him, and he just had to beat you to it.

When I started dating after being widowed, I met a variety of people, not all of them honest or kind. I was looking to a friend for an explanation of one sad incident, and he said, simply, "You don't understand this and you never will, because you would never do this."
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Old 01-02-2020, 05:19 PM
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If he were drinking, you probably would have noticed, personality change, you can smell it on them (well most can, I actually can't),

One of the hallmarks of AA is honesty.

From AA:

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest".

That's true recovery, not just putting drugs/alcohol aside, but being honest, humble and working on your shortcomings.

Addiction is a very selfish thing, that's another thing that must be overcome.

So maybe he is drinking, maybe not, maybe he is just thinking about it. Regardless, if he is or is about to, he may not want an audience (there can be a lot of shame in being an active alcoholic and many prefer to drink alone as it were without having to explain that to anyone).

What's your take on it?
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Old 01-02-2020, 05:24 PM
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Oh and to read all threads or posts by a person, you can click on their name (in a thread, above their picture) and choose either.

You may find these recent threads helpful:

https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...r-3-years.html (Trying to understand...breaking up after 3 years)

https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...-gone-now.html (My childbearing years are gone now!)
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Old 01-02-2020, 05:35 PM
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I think that makes sense, if he wanted to indeed just cut ties so that he could live in a more selfish way without having me around as a witness. I also think it makes sense, per Velma's post, that he just didn't love me enough and didn't know how to express that without being cruel and justifying it to himself as being my fault.

It's the disorientation that he seemed to be experiencing that I keep thinking about (though I wish I could stop). He said he couldn't eat or sleep, and acted hysterical, and there was no calm or empathetic conversation. He also really screwed himself—we have a lease that he is now paying the fee to break, and he had sold most of his own belongings when he moved in with me.

I've broken up with a lot of people, but have always had a talk or two beforehand to try to work out the issues. And I have always tried to deliver my message with thoughtfulness and gratitude to the other person. I certainly have never put on an actor's performance beforehand so that they would be surprised. But hey, it could just be that I can't understand this because it's just not the mindset that I'm operating out of, and it's no longer my job to need to deal with that mindset, so I'll try to move on.
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Old 01-02-2020, 05:43 PM
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Yes. Most well adjusted people discuss problems, they don't just appear hysterical and run for the door. Could be alcoholism or other drugs, could be his personality.

If you are one of those people that likes to research and you are puzzled (which you obviously are), I would really recommend you read those two threads and the ones that follow and you may find the threads in the stickies section helpful too, in particular these ones:

https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...c-reading.html (Classic Reading)

The bottom line, he behaved like a complete jerk, nice, caring, compassionate people discuss, jerks bolt for the door. Another hallmark of alcoholism is being closed off emotionally (generally, not each and every alcoholic, of course).

I'm sorry you got hurt, I know it is difficult. Try to focus on yourself as much as possible, take good care of yourself.

Post here as often as you like, lots of support for you here.
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Old 01-02-2020, 05:46 PM
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Hi wondering, really sorry to hear this. I hope you were able to spend Christmas with loved ones instead, or doing nice things for yourself?

I have done a lot of reading around here over the last few months and being blindsided by a breakup with a "recovering" alcoholic seems to be a fairly common experience, sadly. It seems to be kind of their MO. Sometimes it might be that they are relapsing, but more fundamentally it seems to me that they need a lot of space, do not deal with the stresses of life very well, and cannot handle being responsible to another person.

It's difficult because at the start they seem so self-aware and that is part of the appeal - they have identified and are working on their issues with alcohol, they quote the Big Book / self-help principles, they're committed to making the relationship work, they're refreshingly honest and open about their feelings and their plans for the future with you! Ultimately though this is all talk, not action - I think many of them cannot live up to their (freely given) promises, as much as they would like to, and cannot handle the responsibilities of a relationship. There is much more work to do than simply refraining from drinking and attending a few meetings here and there. However, it is much easier to blame things on the other person or the relationship not being right than it is to face these issues.

Of course, everyone has the right to decide to end a relationship that they no longer wish to be in and it does not have to be a mutual decision, however it's not normal adult behaviour to end things with no warning or discussion beforehand. It leaves a person reeling and makes it much more difficult to move on, because there is a whole heap of processing to do first, and the other person is no longer available to discuss any of it (while still within the relationship)!

I'm glad you're planning to attend Al Anon meetings and that you are being strict with no contact. In terms of other things that you can do to find closure, I'm sure you've heard this but closure has to come from you and it will never come from him. Trying to obtain an answer or seek closure from him now that you are outside the relationship will get you nowhere, especially because (as you said) he might not even be able to admit to himself what is really going on. You get to decide why you think the relationship ended, and what you can learn from it.

Personally I found a (short) Ted Talk by Guy Winch really helpful, titled "How to Fix a Broken Heart" (sorry my post count is too low to provide a link to it!). He likens getting over heartbreak to addiction, and has some good recommendations.

I hope you keep posting here and reading around, I think you will find many stories much like your own. I'm so sorry you're dealing with this.
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Old 01-02-2020, 05:53 PM
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trailmix and hazy — thank you both so much for your replies. I felt crazy posting on here, but reading similar stories is already really helping me process the situation. As far as Christmas goes, my dad was sweet enough to buy me tickets to two different cities to spend a week and a half with all my best friends and family. It was very therapeutic, and helped me realize that if I had been with his family as originally planned, I would have experienced far less joy and quality time with the people that really love me. Which is, of course, exactly how I have already been behaving in an attempt to fit into his life and help him rather than myself. While I was traveling, I saw a psychic who told me that I need to stop waving flags for other people and put a flag in the ground for myself. Couldn't have summed up codependency better, and I'm glad to have this self-awakening now. Found myself a good therapist too, so as painful as it is to experience this, I feel that at the end of the day, the experience has jolted me onto a healthier path for myself.
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Old 01-02-2020, 06:25 PM
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The following day, I came home from work and he looked like he had seen a ghost. He told me to sit down, that he wasn't able to eat or sleep and that this was physiologically affecting him: he thought we need to break up.

He came home every night (although late) and I didn’t notice erratic behavior, though I never knew him while he was using, and I realize now that he’s a much more convincing liar than I thought possible.

hmmm, sounds like someone might be doing some drugs? coke? meth? erratic behavior, unable to eat or sleep, cutting off "normal" relations to protect the using.

from a former crackhead.....take it as you will.
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Old 01-02-2020, 07:11 PM
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“He had written an extremely petty list of nonsensical reasons, trying to turn it around on me. But he had never mentioned any of these "issues" before, and they were in opposition with things he had expressed just a month or two earlier. In the end he said things like "I think if I loved you more this would have been easier to make work," and "I just don't see a future with you and you would think at this point in a relationship I would be starting to think about it," and "I can just see us continuing to go on auto pilot forever, but I don't think we're meant to be.”

I totally understand your pain and confusion right now, as something very similar happened to me a few months ago. He also broke up with me after a few weeks of acting depressed and off (never said it had anything to do with me though), and gave me petty excuses he had never mentioned before for why we weren’t compatible anymore - my thread is probably a few pages back if you’d like to read - I had some really helpful responses from the supportive community here. It’s an awful way to be broken up with and leaves a lot of questions and no closure - “normal” people don’t operate like this after so long together and having spent time with each other’s families, etc. We had even been househunting together recently. I wish I could give some great advice, but what I’m doing is just trying to get support wherever I can, spend time with family and friends, and carry on as best I can.
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Old 01-02-2020, 07:50 PM
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Honestly? It sounds like a relapse. Him spending so much time away from you is a clue, as you would probably pick that he's using or drinking again. It may be his companions who've triggered this, or he's sought them out after relapse.

I'm glad you got to spend time with your family and friends over the holidays.
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Old 01-02-2020, 08:39 PM
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Wondering, I am so sorry for what brings you here, tt is so difficult when these things come completely out of the blue. The only thing I will offer, and I know it is hard to believe when you are in such pain, but he has probably done you a favor in the long run. There are a lot of red flags here which sound like you may have dodged a bullet; recovery, no real relationships, inability to be honest with feelings. You deserve better.
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Old 01-04-2020, 03:08 PM
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I could use some advice on how to find closure while letting this go. I have found local Al Anon meetings that I'd like to start going to. In the meantime, how can I move on from this without worry about him and feeling so stupid?
Alanon is a terrific place to start, it was a life-saver for me. Does closure even exist? I think we say closure when we mean stopping the pain from hurting so much. It does, of course, eventually. For me it was about letting go of my need to understand everything and accepting I'm powerless over people, places and things. A big hug!
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Old 01-05-2020, 10:24 AM
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Stress

For a recovering person, the stress of moving, job and /or school changes , new relationship...all can be extra stressful without support of active recovery tools. It's stressful enough for normies, too.

I'm thinking he didn't have enough of his support in place, and it was a positive relapse environment for him.

You now carry the burden of shaking off the dust of his addiction fallout.

I hope you stay strong and realize it was nothing you did or didn't do.
peace.

Last edited by skippernlilg; 01-05-2020 at 10:26 AM. Reason: Sp
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Old 01-05-2020, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by hazy View Post
Personally I found a (short) Ted Talk by Guy Winch really helpful, titled "How to Fix a Broken Heart" (sorry my post count is too low to provide a link to it!). He likens getting over heartbreak to addiction, and has some good recommendations.
Here's the talk, hazy. Thanks for the recommendation. Good talk.
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Old 01-05-2020, 02:14 PM
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^ Thanks for finding it, FallenAngelina!
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Old 01-05-2020, 02:34 PM
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It was good and contains a lot of solid suggestions. I think I tried to watch it once but wasn't in the right mood - but watched the entire thing today.
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