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Harboring Guilt...

Old 01-06-2012, 11:13 AM
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Harboring Guilt...

My RABF completed the First Step of his outpatient rehab yesterday, and I'm proud of him. He showed me his notebook and even re-enacted his oral presentation for me. It was all about how his addiction changed his behavior and made him do or say things that were dangerous and unacceptable. He is finally seeing what I tried to show him for so long--that addiction changes everything about a person and controls their whole life. He even told me that he's thinking back to the times I tried to open his eyes and tell him his life revolved around drugs. He used to laugh in my face when I said that to him, but now he sees that I was right. He said it's a little scary thinking back to all of the things he did to fuel his addiction, but I'm glad that he's realizing how distorted his view of things really was. I know that he still may fall astray, but the talk we had yesterday really made me happy.

And then this morning old memories and guilt settled in to take away my good feeling...
Him telling me about the past made me think back to it a lot, too. I said that I was going to stop blaming myself for certain things and stop feeling that it was my responsibility to stop him before it got too far. I know that his addiction had nothing to do with me and that I couldn't change it no matter what. He has even told me that I have no need to feel guilty, and that he never would have stopped if he hadn't gotten arrested and then faced a kind of intervention from his family and his grandma--the most respected and loved woman in his family.
Still, there are some specific times that I feel I should have noticed what was going on or realized what was happening...if not for him, then for myself.
The worst memory I have with him during his active addiction was a day that we went to meet his father for lunch. My RABF has a lot of issues with his dad, who left his family while my BF was 16 for the mother of my BF's girlfriend at the time...it's a complicated, messy situation, as they usually are.

At this point I was under the impression that he had done a whole plethora of drugs in the past but had stopped them and was only smoking weed. (I know, I know. I was naive.) Anyway he smoked only on the weekends and the only times he smoked he told me about it or was with me (NAIVE!). That weekend he had told me he really didn't want to smoke or drink, he just wanted to be with me and be sober. After seeing his father and us getting into a huge fight about his ex girlfriend (which I caused but definitely do not need to feel as horribly about it as he made me feel that day), he said that he just needed to be with his friends and smoke.
We went there, there were other drugs around but we both stayed away from them; me because I hate any and all drugs, even before this happened, and him pretty much just bc I was there...

That night I slept over his house and somehow the subject of Molly (his drug of choice...some form of ecstasy or one of the ingredients of ecstasy or something--he's explained it to me many times but the pain always sets in and I block myself out from hearing the details of the drug because I don't want to or need to know what it is, only what it does to him). I didn't even know the drug was addictive at the time or that he even had done it more than a couple of times. Anyway he started talking to me about it and when I think back to that moment I can still see the complete and pure lust in his eyes. It was as if he were talking about the most amazing thing in the world. That right there should've been a red flag, but it gets worse. He actually started telling me how relaxing and great it made people feel, and suggested that I do the drug with him someday. My stance against drugs is a big one. Even though I tried to let him be his own person and tried to hold back from judging him when he told me about his "past" drug experiences, he knew that I would never touch a drug. I was incredibly insulted when he suggested that to me, and that is the exact moment I should have turned and ran away from him. I should have known right then and there that he was still doing it, that this was more than just something to have fun once in a while. This was something he admired. Why did I ignore those red flags? Why did I brush it off and convince myself there was nothing wrong?

As much as I have grown and overcome my guilt and self-blaming, I can't forgive myself for this one specific moment. And I can't get it out of my head.
How do you cope with the horrible memories? How do you deal with the fact that there's always a chance you will somehow have to face that moment again?
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:33 AM
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Sounds to me like:

1. You have no reason to feel guilty

2. Time to step back and WATCH his actions.

The next time he 'tries' to share something as intense as what he just did, politely decline. You can say that needs to be shared with HIS SPONSOR and you are not HIS SPONSOR.

You can't help him. What he did is a MANIPULATION TACTIC to DRAW YOU INTO HIS DRAMA and 'feel sorry for him.'

And it seems he got what he was 'reaching for' he got YOU feeling GUILTY.

I don't know if you are getting HELP for you, but I would STRONGLY suggest that you find a counselor and/or start going to Naranon or Alanon, since in many areas there are way more Alanon meetings to fit one's busy schedule than there are Naranon meetings.

It is TIME for you to TAKE CARE of YOU. This is HIS PROBLEM, and only he can FIX HIM.

Also, please try and remember that we here are ALL with you in spirit!

Love and hugs,
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:45 AM
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I didn't really think of it as him trying to make me feel guilty, because the main thing I just talked about I didn't even tell him. He doesn't know that I'm stuck on that one moment, I only told him that once in a while I feel guilty and he constantly tries to relieve those feelings, telling me that there's nothing I could have done and it's in no way my fault.

He was excited about the progress he's made and he's happy that he finally realizes how bad things were; him telling me was a positive experience, it wasn't the thing that caused my guilt.
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:52 PM
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This interaction between the two of you, about his recovery program,
seems to be fueling your codependency. The reenactment thing blows my mind and I mean no snark here when I say your pride ( implies you feel you contributed to or otherwise caused the outcome) that he completed the first step is akin to a mom clapping when her son, at long last, makes his first pee-pee in a pot, instead of a diaper.

Your emotional stability seems tied to his outcome which is unhealthy.

As for feeling responsibile ( the source of guilt) for engaging in an interaction between father and son that became the excuse for him to use is silly. Are you going to spend the rest of your life making certain he is never in a situation that might cause him to be angry, anxious or uncomfortable?

If he decides to crash and burn again, you have set yourself up for a spiral right along side him.

Surrendering/accepting that we have no power over other people and their choices is the foundation for recovery from codependency.
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:01 PM
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I didn't really think of it as him trying to make me feel guilty, because the main thing I just talked about I didn't even tell him. He doesn't know that I'm stuck on that one moment, I only told him that once in a while I feel guilty and he constantly tries to relieve those feelings, telling me that there's nothing I could have done and it's in no way my fault.
You are MAKING EXCUSES for him. That is ENABLING.

Let's get OFF OF HIM and onto YOU.

What are YOU doing for YOU? Other than posting here?

Therapist/counselor and/or Naranon/Alanon?????

His ADDICTION his PROBLEM.

Get "Co Dependent No More" by Melodie Beattie. Sit down with a Highlighter in hand and start reading.

J M H O

Love and hugs,
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Old 01-06-2012, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by outtolunch View Post
This interaction between the two of you, about his recovery program,
seems to be fueling your codependency. The reenactment thing blows my mind and I mean no snark here when I say your pride ( implies you feel you contributed to or otherwise caused the outcome) that he completed the first step is akin to a mom clapping when her son, at long last, makes his first pee-pee in a pot, instead of a diaper.
Your emotional stability seems tied to his outcome which is unhealthy.
As for feeling responsibile ( the source of guilt) for engaging in an interaction between father and son that became the excuse for him to use is silly. Are you going to spend the rest of your life making certain he is never in a situation that might cause him to be angry, anxious or uncomfortable?
If he decides to crash and burn again, you have set yourself
I don't understand this at all; granted I'm trying to learn about codependance and I have the co- dependent no more book ordered so I hope it will help, but

What the heck is wrong with lovestrong being proud of her RABF going to treatment ? Why is it unacceptable for him to tell her about it if she wants to know? I just don't get it .... If you have a non-addict BF or H and he gets a promotion ; is it wrong to be proud of him for his accomplishment? That's not saying You had a part in his success ..or that if he gets fired you had a part in that either.
I mean no disrespect like I said I'm learning and I'm trying to understand codependance to better myself......but sometimes I read posts and they seem to reflect more bitterness towards the addict then I see necessary.
Yes the addict got in this alone and has to get out of it alone - but what is the point in trying to make it more difficult on them? Like saying it's your problem and I love you but I don't want to hear about it. Or like me.... Going with your ABF to his dr appt when he asks you to ? Why is that do bad? Because it makes him more comfortable and we should want him to have it as hard as possible?
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Old 01-06-2012, 09:05 PM
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(((((kelleyF)))))

Nope, not bitterness, reality. At about 5 or 6 years sober and clean my mom was telling me how 'proud' she was of me, and how 'great' I was doing.

I responded with a heartfelt 'thank you' but then had to go on and explain to her, that in reality I was just doing with my life what I was SUPPOSE TO HAVE BEEN DOING all along.

A's really need to work with 'others' that have BEEN WHERE THEY WERE. People that 'love them' ie parents, siblings, spouse or significant others, do not make good 'coaches' and/or 'sponsors' even those of us like myself, who have been through addiction recovery and co-dependence recovery.

The 12th Step says:

12. Having had a s piritual aw akening as the result
of these ste ps, we tried to ca rry this message to
alco holics, and to practice the se p rincip les in all
our affairs.

I and most of the folks that I know to this day have been told from the beginning of their recovery:

DO NOT 12 step ANYONE you are EMOTIONALLY INVOLVED WITH!

Reason being that our 'emotions' and 'feelings' will get in the way. That is why 'sponsors' are so great for the 'sponsee' as they are just passing on their Experience, Strength, and Hope (ES&H) of how they 'work and live' their recovery.

Oh and as much as I 'itched' to '12 Step' my dad, I never did. However because of my 'example' he did 'seek' on his own, help.

This is why you will see responses that say:

"Work the program the way you wish your A would."

It really is the A's problem and the A's responsibility to fix their problem.

It is no different with those of us in Alanon or therapy for co dependency. The last person we want guidance, support, etc from is the A in our life.

Trying to compare being supportive of an A in early recovery to someone getting a promotion is comparing Apples to Oranges.

I do believe as you continue to 'read' hear, hopefully get to some Naranon or Alanon meetings (many times there are way more Alanon meetings than Naranon meetings in an area, that will fit in better with a person's individual schedule), and reading and highlighting what jumps out at you from "Co Dependent No More", you will start to understand a bit better.

By the time we 'find' Sober Recovery, we are looking how to fix us. Oh sure, some hit here with "How do I fix my A", but soon learn that although our A has a problem, we TOO have a problem and the only one we can 'fix' is ourselves.

Hope that helps a bit.

Love and hugs,
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Old 01-06-2012, 09:52 PM
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I really am trying so hard to understand.
I do get the logic that by going to treatment or ceasing their drug use, the addict is only doing what they should be doing. And using your example I would like to ask:

When your mom said she was proud of you; or maybe offered you some encouragement, or gave you a hug when you seemed to be down during this process...

-- in regards to her: it didn't mean that she felt she was tied/responsible for you accomplishment, or your struggle did it?
-- wasn't it really meant to just say...I recognize that this process is difficult for you, and I love you, and because I love you - I obviously care about your feelings and feel this step was an accomplishment for you and I recognize that

--and in regards to you .... Her pride in your accomishments really meant nothing but a shrug? If so isit because her feelings were so irrelevant at the time due to your recovery/ illness and the part where they say the addict is selfish - focusing just on themselves out of necessity?

Again I'm just trying to understand - it's really confusing
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:33 PM
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To be honest, her 'pride' in my accomplishments did really elicit only a 'shrug' from me. I DID NOT need her 'approval' for what I was doing. I did however, need my sponsor and her hubby's approval as they both had many years of recovery.

Oh, we are selfish, especially in the first years of recovery and certainly during our using years.

You will NEVER understand because you are not an addict. We A's even into recovery process information, etc differently than a non A.

If you can accept, that you will NEVER understand and move on from there to TAKE CARE OF YOU, you will be putting your energy to much better use.

Remember the 3 C's

You didn't Cause this.

You can't Control this.

and

You sure in he!! Cure this.

That for you can mean to stand way back and just watch the actions for a very long time, initially 1 to 2 years minimum. That will allow you to see if the A is actually 'wanting and working' on recovery or not. And even that is no guarantee.

Only you know if you want to continue to subject yourself to the dysfunction of the A in your life or not.

J M H O

ove and hugs,
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:01 AM
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(Laurie)

Thank you for the reply. That last bit helps. And I apologize I do see where you said "heartfelt" regarding your mom.

I think I better understand what you are now saying about needing the advice of others who have been addicts and how they handled recovery. Because they KNOW what you are going through and if the addict gets off track etc they are equipped to guide you back, so to speak.

I also am now really seeing through the SR site that it is VERY easy to get all caught up in the A (and figuring them out) ....and lose yourself.

That is why Im trying to learn & I really appreciate your taking the time to respond back.
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Old 01-07-2012, 07:39 AM
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You might also like to know, based on my perspective and a but if research that it seems the 'Therapists', 'Counselors', and Psych Drs that specialized in Addiction and seem to be the 'most helpful' to an A and/or a Co Dependent are those that themselves have been in recovery for many years, got their degrees needed AFTER recovery.

Why?

Well ..... to me, it seems that because said therapist, counselor, or Psych Doc better understands an A and/or the Havoc the A has rendered onto loved ones.

You will notice, if you go to some meetings face to face how much better you will start to feel when you hear from others who have been where you are or are where you are. It helps a great deal when we start to realize we are not alone.

J M H O

Love and hugs
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:51 AM
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The OP is codependent. ( And it takes one to know one) The OP needs/wants to hear that they were right all along, has influence and can make a difference. Codependency, a sickness, seeks to rationalize, validate, protect and sustain itself no different than addiction.

From my own experience codependency is rooted in my ego. The more out of control things got with my daughter, the more I convinced myself that I was going to beat her demons. All I had to do was put forth more and more support, time, energy, money and will, my will that she would fufill my hopeful fantasy of what her live should be. And the pay -off delusion for me was that I was powerful enough to do this.

I puffed up with pride and clapped like a mad women at any sign that my daughter was turning a corner and did so to sustain my own hopeful fantasy that I was going to prevail and snap her out of it. Somewhere in all of this I forgot she had her own will and ability to make her own choices and that some of those choices did not fit my hopeful fantasy for her life.

The more I worked on her, the more out of control I became. I did not eat. Or I ate too much. I did not sleep. I picked up my own nasty addiction of smoking, again. I cried all the time. I allowed my moods and emotional stability to depend on her outcomes, because I thought I was powerful enough to influence those outcomes. At the time, I was not capable of three consecutive sentences that did not involve my daughter.

Somehow I stumbled on thisforum looking for recommmendations bout how to control my daughter's post rehab experience just as I tried to control her in treatment experiences. I thought some of the posters here were confused. They kept referring to working my own recovery, like I had a problem, eh.

I ignored counsel and brought my daughter home. She relapsed within hours and I had a front row center seat to another ride, on the crazy train. I started reading the stickies and the back stories on thousands of posters on this and other SR forums and read them again. I sought therapy. And I began to grasp my role in all this and the only thing I controlled was my reaction. Eventually, I created boundaries for my own behaviors, let go of my daughter's outcomes and gave my daughter the dignity to experience the consequences of her choices.

She evetually hit her bottom and cleaned up. She did this on her own without me, when she decided she was done. I am acutely aware of my own tendency to worry about relapse and what if and so on. This forum, the common thread that runs through each post and those posters unafraid of telling it like it is, keeps me focused on controling myself and a daily reminder that worry is a choice and today I choose to not worry about what I do not control.

My daughter and I are close now. We can laugh about some of our mutual stunts. It's good enough for me today. Tommorow will take care of itself.

There is no bitterness here. It's more of a " what was I thinking" thing to have gotten so wrapped up in a hopeful fantasy. Then I remember, I was not thinking. I forgave myself and moved on. My daughter, your BF, the other guy's wife or son.... It's all the same hopeful fantasy of what we wanted/needed/expected of an outcome we do not control. Letting go of our hopeful fantasies is maturation and freedom.
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Old 01-07-2012, 10:11 AM
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if you are "in relationship" with someone you usually do things like "back them up" "take their side" "have sympathy for them" "encourage and support them" "accept their faults" etc etc etc

for a person who is working a recovery program, and especially an early recovery program...these sorts of relationship behaviors (which are pretty normal and sweet and partnership oriented) can be deadly!! unknowingly one can feed the addict's ego, pride, self pity and resentments...it is not soul nourishment to do so...it is poison to an addict!

a "recovery relationship" as in sponsor/sponsee, fellowship, sober living roommate...almost always sees through the bullchit and they refuse to walk on eggshells
these relationships help enormously, they help the addict refocus their perception and recover their spirit

they do not comfort, salve, and take under their wing.

my mother's pride and congratulations on my recovery program is almost an insult! yes, truly! she not only does not know what she is talking about but she has no idea what it was like and what i have gone through. in fact she was a key figure in the dysfunction that was nourishing my alcoholism

i work on my resentment/relationship with her all the time
her "congratulations" feels doughy, naive, patronizing and ignorant. seriously. i would never say that to her, or my sober siblings, or most people. i will say it here as i have said it to my sponsor and therapist

i recognize the ego part mentioned. in my relationship with exABF I thought i could dance with his devil and outsmart it...i had better steps of recovery, better theology, better psychology, and in the end the devil had him by the ba//s still.

im still doing a very slow waltz...through a tech filter at a distance. at least i have some clue of what the INCOMPREHENSIBLE demoralization is like... but it is HIS not mine

there will be dozens and dozens of people who will know what they are talking about as a new recovery person needs encouragement and understanding

if you cannot understand or comprehend or you haven't been there then you're just taking up the space of someone who does. and he needs that person, not a naive, soft, "got your back", "take your side" kind of ego and resentment feeding self/other pitying love
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Old 01-07-2012, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by lesliej View Post
if you are "in relationship" with someone you usually do things like "back them up" "take their side" "have sympathy for them" "encourage and support them" "accept their faults" etc etc etc

for a person who is working a recovery program, and especially an early recovery program...these sorts of relationship behaviors (which are pretty normal and sweet and partnership oriented) can be deadly!! unknowingly one can feed the addict's ego, pride, self pity and resentments...it is not soul nourishment to do so...it is poison to an addict!
Can you give some examples maybe?
Cause this is what I stumble on and am confused about- if I didn't cause it, can't cure it, how can I make it worse - not counting say....giving him money, or covering up bad behavior, etc.
What day to day actions ...maybe the ego, pride ...etc if you could give a couple of examples

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Old 01-07-2012, 11:15 AM
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very simple

in recovery it is always suggested to keep it simple

if i drive with my exABF to HIS appointment concerning HIS addiction that I really do not know anything about (except for maybe having caught a glimpse of the tip of the iceberg) then I am taking away the seat that would have been open for a person who could benefit his recovery through their DIRECT experience, strength and hope.

if i let my exABF move in with me after treatment instead of moving into a sober house then I take away all of the "inbetween" times...the movies, the dinners, the waking hours, the showers...I take away all those inbetween times that he might have found himself in HONEST conversation with a sober guy INSTEAD of trying to be attractive to the girl he wanted to stay with. (my "reasoning" was that I am in recovery and he had ended up using in every past sober house anyway, so i thought my place was healthier...and he would have more accountability...also i thought well, "Hey! if i can't cause it, control it, or cure it...then what's the harm?! I'm not interfering!" and that was how i used "knowing" just a little about the program to my codependent craving advantage!!)

the thing is...we don't cause it, control it, or cure it...but we can CONTRIBUTE by enabling or getting in the way or by feeding it through engaging with it in a dysfunctional way. most people here will say this: give him a SUBSTANTIAL amount of time for him to just focus on recovery...I say give yourself a SUBSTANTIAL amount of time to check in to your own motives, and manipulative ways of finding, and grabbing on to what you think is love. maybe there is a deep seeded need to "take care" or "be the one in control" or "Be better than" or "be needed".

if you immerse yourself in your own discovery...instead of investigating how you can stay with a struggling addict without feeling shame or guilt about it...then maybe, just maybe, just maybe...if he finds recovery and sticks with it and you find each other down the road you will be in a better place yourself...and you won't CONTRIBUTE to dysfunction and addiction by being the mirror image....a codependent
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:19 AM
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addicts struggle with "getting in their own way"

if they can find someone else (and preferably a soft sweet sexy someone else) to get in the way for them they will certainly allow that person to stay in their way as long as that sweet soft sexy someone else is willing to do it.

codependents didn't cause addiction, they can't cure it or control it
BUT
codependents Can GET IN THE WAY of recovery
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:24 AM
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Kelley, I enabled my son and he used.

I stopped enabling my son and he continued to use.

I gave my son a safe home, good meals, love and a family atmosphere and he used.

I threw him out when my home became a war zone, and he continued to use.

I went to church with my son and he used.

Sometimes he stopped for a while, or even a few years, but he used because he wasn't willing to do the work that he needed to do to stay clean, not because of anything I said or did.

I went to meetings with my son and he used.

I stopped going to meetings with my son and he continued to use...but this time I was at MY meetings, where I found my balance again. Where I learned that no matter what I did or didn't do, my son would use or get clean in spite of me.

By finding my own recovery, I was not able to save my son, but I did save myself from sinking into that darkness called addiction with him.

By living in my recovery, and shining my light, I can only pray that one day he may see it and follow...to his own recovery and salvation.

Your life, your recovery and your actions are all for you to decide. Hopefully, by reading here you will avoid making some of the same mistakes many of us made, hopefully you will find support and know that you are not alone, and hopefully one day you will look at where you are and it may not be perfect but it will be better than where you were...and you will know that your recovery is working.

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Old 01-07-2012, 11:25 AM
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oh...the poison?

has he told you stories about his past, the hardships, the pain, the "reasons" why he has struggled?

how did you react? with concern? with sympathy? with "understanding"?
poison.
normal relationship responses are poison in addiction...they enable
you won't understand unless you start some intensive codependency work and al anon mtgs etc...and maybe do a little therapy too...these are the prerequisite requirements for any sort of hope in a relationship with an addict. are you willing to do the work??

you need to DETOXIFY your responses. if you are in a relationship with a "normie" you probably just get to skip along your merry way into love land and only deal with "normal" relationship issues

you are in a foreign land dear, and you don't speak the language so it is disorienting and confusing. you do not need to be a hero. if you decide to stamp your passport and say Ciao it doesn't mean you didn't have true feelings for him. it just meant you didn't belong in his territory
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