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Relationships are hard. Whether we like it or not, learning to share our lives with another person can be exhausting, tedious, and unfamiliar territory. Without knowing it, we are forced to learn how to communicate effectively and resolve conflict. Relationships are a ton of work.
Now imagine being in a relationship and being an addict at the same time.
Addictions are also time-consuming and difficult. Addictions take planning and secrets. Sometimes being an addict in a relationship involves lying and sneaking around in order to get the next fix. In my situation, I have used substances in secret as a way to ease my anxiety in my relationship, as well in social situations with his friends in order to (hopefully) impress them.
Being in a relationship and having an addiction is almost unbearable.
Even though I want to be honest with my significant other and myself about my addiction, the urge to use often comes first.
The only problems in my relationship are caused by my need to use (alcohol is my substance of choice). No matter how hard I try to hide it or cover it up, it’s always obvious when I am using.
However, I am learning addiction comes from a place of insecurity and distorted thinking. As a child I never felt good enough for those in my household. It is a deep-seated issue. Whether those thoughts came from an internal or external source doesn’t matter; they were still there on a constant, relentless basis.
Attempting to fulfill those inadequate thoughts can be filled with countless harmful coping skills. Whether we choose to cope with drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, self-harm, shoplifting, or any other destructive means, doesn’t matter. What matters is we are able to be honest about our behaviors with our significant others and with ourselves.
My favorite therapist always said, “You are as sick as your secrets.”
Secrets keep destructive behaviors alive. Honesty isn’t always easy, but it’s often worth it when it comes to addictive and secretive behaviours.
It is obvious my significant other doesn’t fully understand this is a true disease, and that’s okay. It is not easy to understand. I am living it, and I don’t fully understand it. However, he does understand things will not change overnight. He does understand my behaviors aren’t always rational. He does understand the Kelsi who drinks and the Kelsi who doesn’t are totally different people.
At the same time, I don’t think it is easy to understand that my rational mind does not dictate my addiction. When I am sober, I understand my addiction is irrational, ridiculous, and has the potential to ruin my life. Recently, I began seeing an addiction specialist, and she was able to point out that I do not fully process my emotions the way a healthy brain does. I use alcohol to cope and unhealthily numb out my emotions. I have found it is easier in the short-term to avoid those uncomfortable emotions than to actually deal with them, as most addicts do.
When those urges surface, however, all rational thought is gone until I can use again and temporarily ease those anxieties.
With the support of my significant other, our relationship, and my new therapist, I have been able to (slowly) step back from the bottle and see how deviant my behaviors have been.
It has taken me years to simply admit I struggle with alcohol, let alone admit I am an addict, so to be in a healthy relationship with this problem has been a rocky road to say the least.
If I have learned one thing, the key to being in a relationship as an addict is communication.
It is easy to sweep these problems under the rug, as they are uncomfortable conversations, but they are beyond necessary. Every time my boyfriend has brought the drinking up, I could tell ahead of time that he was upset.
Sometimes as addicts we are lucky enough to find someone who is willing to work through the issue with us. Sometimes we are given the opportunity to choose between our significant other and the addiction. So, if we are lucky enough to be given the option between relationship and addiction, hopefully the relationship screams out as most important.
Relationships are hard. Relationships for addicts and their significant others can be painful. Hopefully, any healthy relationship will help you choose the significant other over the addiction, as my relationship is teaching me to do.
Addictions are easy, but hard to shake and only relieve pain in the short-term. Relationships are difficult but much easier and worth it in the long run.
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After Kelsi recovered from an eating disorder, she realized addiction is her core issue. Recovering from one disorder does not necessarily mean you are healed from another. Full recovery no matter what it might be takes time. As an addiction writer, Kelsi hopes to bring awareness to this taboo issue as it is often embarrassing for her and society to talk about. Join Kelsi on her recovery journey as she de-stigmatizes the shame involved in addiction.
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