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Addiction and Relationships: The Unexpected Lesson I Learned On Being A Team

Updated: Jan 23

being a team

A relationship is defined as “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.”

Makes sense, right? That sounds like what I’ve always thought a relationship to be. Two people coming together for mutual benefit, for love, for company, etc.

But I guess which most escapes me, and what I forget about the most, is that it includes everything, not just the fun, easy parts. Or at least, it should.

This past weekend I experienced this tremendously.

My partner is currently an account manager, and while that alone would stress me out, he has always been very personable and has a knack for sales. Most of the time it seems like it’s going great, but this past week had one of those weird situations where things kept happening with one particular account, and I had no idea how to handle it.

Stress is not a new concept to me (if it was a skill, I’d be a professional, trust me). I’ve been stressed about being stressed. I totally get it, I really do.

But he’s not normally like that.

Now don’t get me wrong, he’s not a stranger to feeling uncomfortable or negative, but he’s usually very good at adapting, and even if he is concerned with a particular issue for a short time, he is easily able to overcome it and adapt. There’s only so much you can do, right? That’s his motto. Or, you know, he might take a...different approach to things, which is what got me writing in the first place...

Anyways, this situation would not go away, and after a while he started getting into my territory of behavior.

At first, I tried to listen, which then turned into being positive, but then I just couldn’t handle being around energy like that anymore and it started to drag me down, too.

Nothing I said helped, and it drove me crazy. Why couldn’t he just let it go?

Not only that, but I started to remember when he would get stressed at his past jobs while he was using or trying to stop, or even when he was trying to stay sober but the environment wasn’t the best, and how he would talk about quitting his jobs or would turn to his unhealthy habits to “deal with” the negative emotions he was feeling.

As a result, I tend to feel anxious and ready to run when he has these feelings.

“This is it, here it comes,” I think. “Well, things were nice while they lasted.”

Of course, I know it’s completely normal and reasonable to feel less than ideal emotions regarding life sometimes, especially with a job, but I’m not used to normal situations with him, unfortunately. I am used to a very quick crash and burn, and not a healthy discussion and overcoming of these situations.

It was a tough weekend, but after talking it out with him and having a conveniently placed Sunday therapy session, I shared how I felt, and we realized that I just wasn’t equipped to handle it. I didn’t have the understanding of what exactly was happening, and I didn’t know how to respond. But once we talked and I realized that it was normal stress that he was perfectly capable of getting through on his own, and he was just seeking normal support, I was able to let go of my negative feelings regarding the whole situation.

I learned that I didn’t have to do anything specific to help him, and he just wanted the space to deal with it on his own. He said I could just adapt however I saw fit and it was okay to leave him be for a while. And surprisingly, the world didn’t end. My life didn’t fall apart, I didn’t have to run away, and he and I both made it out completely ok.

I realized, (as did he which he shared with me) as time goes on and we continue to have these situations and honest communication about these kinds of issues as they come up, it will eventually get easier and more...normal. Which is the end goal for all of us, and the ideal place that we are aiming to be.

Sure there are many bumps in the road, and there will continue to be, but along with the end goal there has to be the small triumphs of getting through these bumps without letting us fall apart. Every obstacle has the ability to either cause more issues or become the glue and pieces of the foundation that will eventually get us there.

And although I wish things could be peachy and perfect, that’s not how life is, addiction issues or not.

But, we’re learning together, growing together, recovering together, and setting the foundation for a stronger future. And that's the best part of being a team.

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