I was disappointed in myself because despite “knowing” that my ex-boyfriend’s repeated drug use wasn’t really a reflection on how he felt about me, I couldn’t help but sometimes internalize his own unwillingness to commit to his treatment. And given that I’ve had my own experiences with anxiety, depression, and eating disorders, I often got angry at myself for having unrealistic expectations of my partner. Shouldn’t I, of all people, be able to grasp that it didn’t matter if I were the best girlfriend in the world? That his journey was his journey alone, despite what I did or wanted?
I had tried being the best partner to him I could, attending psychiatry sessions with him, trying to be on the same page with him in terms of his progress, and essentially do my best to help get him sober. Even as I write this I’m having a somatic response, with a heavy feeling in my chest overwhelming me as I reflect upon the events.
“Why wasn’t I enough? Why wasn’t my love, friendship, and our connection enough?”
Those are valid questions, and the feelings of not being enough bring up painful sensations of shame, hurt, rejection, and hopelessness.
This past relationship wasn’t the first time I’ve had where a guy “chose drugs over me”. A relationship I had a few years ago involved of a guy choosing to indulge of in his oxycodone addiction instead of trying to get clean to be the best person he could for a relationship.
The thing is, that in a drug addict’s mind, their “best self” is when they’re on drugs. Without using, they feel incomplete. Many of them actually feel they can be better partners to us WITH drugs, even if we don’t think that should be the case. They need drugs to achieve feelings of normalcy. So it’s not a matter of not being “enough”, it’s a matter of us (the non-drug addict) and them (the drug addict) living in two different realities.
If you choose to stay with your partner on a lifelong journey of sobriety and relapses, you have to prepare yourself so that your own self-esteem doesn’t falter and you get overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness. Here are some things to remind you that you ARE enough.
1. Have a certain ritual every day that allows you to touch base with yourself, emotionally or spiritually. This could be a morning walk, meditating with a candle in the afternoon, or journaling. Essentially, what you’re trying to do is nourish your emotional/spiritual side and always carve out a window to make YOURSELF feel good.
2. Don’t neglect your well-being. Remember to eat well and exercise. Your partner’s needs are important, but so are yours. Don’t let your partner take the spotlight in the relationship if it’s a detriment to your own health and well-being.
3. Get out in nature to help yourself see the big picture. If we listen, nature can teach us some introspective lessons worth learning about life.
And always remember, your partner’s inability to quit drugs or whatever their addiction may be is not about you. You’ve just met them in a point in their journey where they need them to feel normal and function, and they’re afraid that without them they’ll totally lose grasp of the reality they’ve become used to.