Addiction and Relationships: What Are Your Motives? Here's A Few Things You Should Consider
For this topic, I’m going to need to give some backstory on mine and my partner’s relationship...or rather, how things were before our relationship. I think I have here and there, or on other platforms as part of a bio, but just for the sake of clarity I will do it again so it ties in nicely to what I want to talk about on this post.
When I first met my partner, I had no intention of a relationship, and neither did he. We first met through work, and then hung out after that because we enjoyed each other’s company. The beginning of our friendship was when I first learned about his addiction issues, and where I also first inadvertently came into contact with issues of my own. You know, saving the day and such.
As time went on and we became closer, I eventually developed feelings while he stayed in a place of not wanting to commit (which added to some of my already present issues), until things turned around for him as well, which started our relationship and includes our experience-filled lives up to this point.
The point I’m going to make here has some relevance in any situation, but for me, it focuses more on the time when we weren’t together yet. But, I’ll include 2 examples because, why not.
Back when we were just friends, he told me about his addiction issues, and I was all for helping him. I wanted to do whatever I could to help him get better, and see him succeed. I looked for rehabs even when I wasn’t asked, I gave him money, I took care of him in any way I could, and I hung out with him as much as humanly possible.
During our friendship, he went to rehab once, and I kept in contact by writing letters every single day, with him doing so whenever he could.
Once he got out though, things were different on his end. At first we didn’t hang out as much, which upset me quite a bit, and even when we started hanging out like we did before, he made sure to make clear that he wasn’t in a place to commit to anything beyond what we had.
Finally, almost a year after his rehab stay, he made it clear as a definite answer that we weren’t going to be anything more than friends. I didn’t take it very well emotionally, but knew that I did what I did in the hopes that he would really be better off and doing well, and most importantly, in recovery, which I truthfully confessed to him. I also told him that I respected his wishes and that I would always love him either way.
And, the point of bringing all of this up is to make a distinction on motives.
We as partners, no matter what our relationship status is or what stage in addiction or recovery our partners are in, deal with matters of motive in a lot of different situations.
Maybe we are helping them out of addiction and into recovery in order to get our family back together, or bring them back in our relationship after they needed a break to be on their own (for whatever reason that may be). Or maybe we are trying to do our best to help them in recovery by overstepping our limits of control to keep them, and our lives, from slipping back into unhealthy and addiction-filled craziness. Or maybe we are giving them extra attention, or instead becoming distant, because we think we aren’t doing enough for them, or because we think we aren’t the right person for them.
For me, along with all that at the start of our lives together, there were also emotionally difficult times after we were in a relationship where I doubted myself as a partner. Maybe he was relapsing over and over because I wasn’t doing enough or I was the wrong person for him. Or maybe if he was with someone else he would have been able to recover more quickly. Also, towards the end I knew I wasn't well either, and so even when he was getting healthier and I wasn’t, I brought up conversations where I asked point blank if it would be better for him if I ended things given how negative and mentally unhealthy I was.
But at the end of the day, no matter what the specific scenario or motive is, the end point is that there is room to grow, which is a wonderful thing to discover indeed.
In my first example, while I was of course upset that he at first became more distant and at the end told me outright that nothing more would happen, it brought to light some reasons or motives for me that I never considered:
-Why was I hanging out with him, truly?
-Why was I trying so hard to help him, and putting all of my focus and attention on him?
-Did I have any end goal or idea of how things would end up?
In asking myself these questions, I realized that while I wasn’t aiming to influence things in my favor negatively, I was trying to be the one that saved him and finally got him sober. Not being a part of that due to how things were ending up hurt that part of me. Also, I realized that I was looking to him for outside validation and company, and relied on him too much for that.
In terms of love, I realized that I loved and cared for him despite him not wanting to be with me at the time, and despite my surface feelings of needing him to fill the emotional void I had. Because, when faced with the situation of him distancing himself from me, I wanted what was best, even if I wasn’t a part of it. And, once I began my own inner work both periodically in the following years and more fully years later, the love I had for him remained.
Having an honest look at your situation like this is good, because to see where you stand and where you should go from there sets the course for some good healing.
In my case, what helped was focusing on my motives for doing what I was doing, and what I needed to do for myself to fill what I was looking to him to fill. For me, giving myself my own comfort and validation in my own right and being able to be independent on my own regardless of what he was doing or being really gave me a good foundation to go off of (even though I realized it years later). And even before I realized this or started to work on myself more fully, I got more experience and knowledge when he was in active addiction or while distant in recovery as time went on which was helpful later on.
Now, if you are on the other side and doubting yourself in your relationship, it’s also important to ask yourself some questions to find out where you are at and your motives for your own behavior. Maybe you are neglecting your inner work like I was and so are looking for the “easy way out”. Or maybe you are having some growing pains in your partner’s recovery and are unsure of how you are handling the changes or how you fit into the new dynamic, or if you fit into it at all.
For me, when I was doubting myself as a partner, it was my own sense of lack and where I was struggling in my self and my feelings that was causing the issues, not actual proof of myself and abilities as a partner.
Like I said, there are no wrong answers. No one really benefits from guilting themselves over past choices or obsessing over the idea that they have tons of stuff to fix, or worse, that they are unable to change or truly be loved. On top of that, we also don’t truly benefit from acting out of a motive that is not honestly and purely in line with ourselves and what is best for us and others we know and love.
Instead, see these situations for what they are, which are signs that point to where you might need some help.
Whether they are being distant, or you find yourself being distant as a result of your own feelings, or whatever the case may be, it’s important to use this as a catalyst and as a great reason to turn inward and figure out what you can do to help and love yourself more. No matter the outcome, it’s always good to find growth when we can, and be thankful for the lessons learned, as that is the main goal of everything.
No one is a lost cause, especially you, so never give up on yourself or where you are headed.
I know my situation won’t be identical to someone else’s, and not all people have their relationship turn out the way mine did. But that doesn’t mean that self improvement and healing won’t happen, and that is all we can hope for when it comes to ourselves and what we truly have the ability to change.
At the end of the day, what matters most is that you move forward in a positive and healthy direction where you act more in accordance with your inner self and true beliefs, and meet any issues you face head on and with a mindset of always growing.
After that, the future is bright, and full of opportunities.