As I sit today and write these words, I feel like I’m finally over that one love you thought you would never recover from. You know the one I mean. The one that sank its teeth deep into the fibers of your being, made every nerve in your body scream with longing, desire, infatuation, lust. It’s the one that you ate, drank, and slept. It kept you up at night. Left you anxious and unsettled apart and calm as a suckling newborn when you were together. You know this love. It’s all-consuming, ravishing, almost too much to take. It’s like you can’t breathe when you’re without it and when you’re together, it’s more bliss than you know how to process. When will it end? It can’t. It’s just that simple. Because if it ends, you’ll just die. You need this. It’s a part of you now. There’s just nothing and no one else that could ever make you feel the same.
Until it happens. They destroy you. “It’s not you, it’s me.” “I’ve met someone else.” “I just don’t love you anymore.” Or worse – radio silence with no explanations.
There is no sorrow in the world like that of an annihilated heart. I’d go so far as to say that I have actually stayed in relationships, terrible ones, to avoid the pain of loss or inflicting that pain onto someone else. The dance of avoidance is very real when it comes to admitting to ourselves how toxic certain relationships can be. The human mind is capable of all kinds of miracles including creating a reality that is not there.
To be fair, most toxic relationships do not begin that way. No one goes on a first date, leaves with a black eye, and schedules date two. There’s a courtship, a seduction, a trust that’s built. There’s true love, at least on one side, and most importantly, there are good times. That’s what keeps you going back, am I right? Every tug of “something doesn’t feel quite right anymore” can be rationalized away by the good times. The fun, the laughter, the feeling of joy, and the promises that it will never happen again. Until it does. Not overnight. Not in droves. Just an iota; a nearly imperceptible shift that this time was a little bit worse than 3 times ago. It’s so small that even you, you brilliant smart amazing human, can convince yourself it isn’t there.
Have you heard of Battered Woman Syndrome? It’s a real thing. If you’ve never been in an abusive relationship, you most likely have asked yourself “Why doesn’t she just leave?” It’s a fair question. It seems so simple, right? I mean she has the free will for God’s sake. But Battered Woman Syndrome does not manifest overnight. It takes time. A long time. It’s a whole process of slowly dismantling another human’s self-worth, confidence, rational mind, and free will. It takes time to dwindle her resources, isolate her from support, infiltrate her psyche so pervasively that she cannot envision the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The perceived pain of breaking away becomes more frightening than the ongoing assault of staying. Abuse has become a way of life by this point. It is the new normal. And it doesn’t care if you are wealthy, educated, well-bred, religious or sober. At a certain point, the abuse becomes a state of mind for the abused. It’s at that point that there is no longer need for manipulation or restraint. The captive stays willingly. Knowing, on some level, she is in danger, but no longer having the will or know-how to walk free. The abuse becomes a cyclical labyrinth from which there is no exit. Day after day. Hour after hour.
Thus became my life with alcohol.
No, it did not begin that way. How preposterous to think so! I don’t know how or when my relationship with alcohol morphed from romantic to fatal or when. That is a question I still grapple with, even now.
I just knew that I had to escape. Had to unpack the lies I’d been telling myself, the secrets I’d been hiding, the double-life I’d led for so long, so that I could finally be free. It was like turning the lights on the boogeyman. Dousing the wicked witch with buckets of water. There comes a tipping point when the energy you spend keeping tight in a bud is greater than that it would take to bloom (Anais Nin). For years I’d dreaded being honest with other people because deep down I knew it would be the point of no return. I’d grown so deeply in sobriety on my own, but eventually, I knew that I’d gone as far as I could go without compromising my authenticity, facing even more fears, summoning even greater courage, and uncovering even deeper truths.
So, there it is.
Of how I escaped the most abusive relationship of my life. The one I had with myself.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in