Addiction and Relationships: What To Do When You Aren't Feelin' The Love
I’ve heard this quote every now and then, and when I was younger I didn’t really understand it. If you love someone, how can you not like them at the same time?
But I can tell you, I really do understand it now.
And I bet you can, too.
Even if your partner doesn’t have addiction issues, you can still feel this. Like everyone knows, not everything in any situation is going to be happy and without problems 100% of the time, and relationships are no different. Sometimes you just have your disagreements, or you're just not having the best day and are irritated at everything they do, or you may even have a legit reason for not being their number 1 fan at the time but it’s not so bad that you drop them completely (finances, am I right?).
And when your partner has addiction issues, you have all those common reasons you may be upset at them, and then some. And of course, those are a little bit more serious, scary, and emotionally draining.
And this can then cause us to develop some pretty strong negative feelings on our end as a result.
But let me first tell you that it’s ok to experience that. I understand why it happens, and I understand where you are coming from. Really, I do.
Second, I know that it’s hard to not do it sometimes. Given the situation, it either happens because we are pushed to that level due to our partner’s addiction-driven actions and behaviors, or we do it on our own in order to become distant as a coping mechanism.
But whatever the reason, it’s hard to deal with.
We still love our partners, but sometimes we get so overwhelmed with how life is and how they are that it’s easy to forget how we truly feel about them, or we feel as though the love we have isn’t actually there anymore. We get tired of doing so much for them and so much for our family by ourselves that we feel used, unappreciated, alone, or like this life we have with them isn’t worth it. We feel as though they are the reason for our problems and unhappiness, any fun and loving memories become negatively tainted, and we trick ourselves into thinking that we wasted our time or it was wrong from the start.
I know in my situation, I always loved my partner, and of course still do. But sometimes I wondered if we would make it, and I also wondered if it was a hopeless situation. On one hand I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, and maybe if I was a better partner I would have been able to help him more and he would actually stay sober and get over his addiction (which made me distant). On the other hand, I felt resentful and sad that it was the same old cycle over and over, and I was angry that he couldn’t figure out how to get his life together for his family or for himself.
But the truth is, it was actually much more than that. Once I was able to look past the surface actions and behaviors that happened as a result of his active addiction and using, I gained more empathy on the situation, and I realized how much he was struggling and what he was trying to live with. And I was then able to see that my getting angry or emotionally distant wasn’t helping.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I accepted it and was happy to live with it, or pushed my feelings and well-being aside. Instead, it helped me to realize that he was in control of his life, and I was in control of mine. I wasn’t going to use his choices as a way to feel bad about myself or love him any less, and I was now clearly aware that while I didn’t have to like the disease, it wasn’t a part of his character, even if it seemed that way sometimes. I also knew that no matter what happened I would love him, and it wasn’t dependent on him being in recovery or not.
But in order for me to fully love him and fully love myself, and give us the best shot at a better future, I needed to stop enabling and get my life back on track first. And that started with putting myself first.
And I know that not every situation is the same, and some of us have partners who have negative characteristics that go beyond just the addiction. And I also realize that due to that, or just due to life circumstances in general, sometimes not loving the person we are with is just what happens.
But in my situation, and I’m sure for many others out there as well, we have partners who are really amazing people when addiction isn’t the main focus. And while we may have moments where we struggle in how we deal with it, which may cause us to feel some not-so-fun feelings towards them, it’s important to make decisions that are right for us without turning against them in the process and forgetting who they really are inside.
At the end of the day, the best decision and the one you should make first before anything else, is to love yourself first and foremost. Because when addiction is involved, it's not only our partners who we have these issues with: it's also ourselves. It's important before anything else to find yourself again and become your biggest admirer and supporter, and to know what you deserve and how you want your life to be.
And once you got that, you’ll start to see things more clearly, and finding your way back to your partner (or whatever you want) will start to become easier. You'll see them for who they are beyond the addiction, and you can make the choice on where to go from there.
And if you decide to work things out in a healthy way with your partner in your recovery, you'll find that just like with everything else in your life, your relationship can improve in ways you didn't think was possible.