Tag Archives: relationships

The Relationship Myth: Part 1

One of my Facebook friends sent me a hilarious advert that she had seen in the Huffington Post.
It described a sober women looking for her ideal partner and then goes on to describe an abusive alcoholic lunatic.

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 19.41.28

So funny and so true.
I can’t be the only one who looks back on my past relationships with absolute horror. I mean what was I thinking?
I know I’m not alone here.
Alcoholics do not have the monopoly on unhealthy relationships, they are challenging for a lot of people.
It’s just adding alcohol into the mix causes them to be so much worse.
My Facebook friend asked me to do a post on codependency. I’m going to do a bunch of posts on relationships and codependency but in the meantime here is an extract from my forthcoming book: ‘Why we drink and How to stop: Journey to freedom.’ has two chapters dedicated to relationships.

Image courtesy of pat138241 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of pat138241 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We have to love ourselves first. That is our responsibility, not someone else’s. All other healthy, mature love follows. By developing an understanding of our relationship patterns we can discover how healthy relationships work.

A successful, happy, loving, committed, passionate, exciting, dynamic relationship is possibly the hardest thing you will ever do.
When I met my husband, he asked me on our first date if I could name five relationships that I envied.
I could only name two.
I could name dozens of relationships, but ones I actually envied?
Who had something I wanted? Now that was hard.
I’m not sure why that is. Is it because it’s just not possible to have a successful, happy, loving, committed, passionate, exciting, dynamic relationship these days?
Is it perhaps too much to ask?

Or, are people just settling for second best; compromising, entering and maintaining relationships based on fear of loneliness?

I’m not sure I have all the answers, but I do know relationships are the hardest thing to do and I see that in everyone I know. Having a relationship, finding a relationship, losing a relationship, are the main topics of conversation for a lot of people.
Sometimes the need for a relationship, and what we perceive it can offer us, means we stay in relationships that aren’t good for us.

I could write a whole book on unhealthy relationships. I’ve had so many of them! After a lot of personal therapy and a lot of work on myself I finally became capable of healthy commitment.
Relationships don’t come easily to a lot of people, but it’s even harder for people who drink. Add some alcohol abuse to a relationship and stand back and wait for the explosion.
All of my relationships whilst drinking were complete and utter disasters. In hindsight, all of my relationships were based on my misguided belief that the right person would fix me.

If I had the right relationship, the right man, then everything would be perfect.

I was still focusing on external fixes at this point and it really didn’t cross my mind that I was an insecure, manipulative, dishonest, frightened, needy, shallow, unmanageable, screwed-up mess, and that no right minded, decent, emotionally intelligent man would come within a hundred paces of me.
I was convinced they’d see beyond all of that to the true beautiful soul that I was, and come charging through North London on their white charger, and further, that a single kiss from them would dissolve all of those glaring character defects.

Instead of attracting the right man, I attracted a lot of wrong men.

Because you see, emotionally healthy people are just not attracted to the kind of person I was.
Unhealthy men, however, found me very attractive and I had endless pointless, insincere relationships, because frankly it was better than being on my own.
However, a relationship is never going to work when two love-starved and needy individuals demand the other person ‘fix them’. I just had nothing to give. It was all about me, getting me fixed.

As I wasn’t capable of having a healthy functioning relationship, I took ‘hostages’. I grabbed on to someone and didn’t let go, no matter what I thought or felt. I was just desperate not to be alone. So any willing victim would do.

I ‘engineered’ all of my relationships. I was controlling and manipulative. Some of the men I had relationships with I cared for, but the truth was that they were never based on love. They were based on fear. Fear of:
• loneliness,
• not being loved
• being ‘left on the shelf’.
And once in the relationship, the fear was of:
• not being good enough,
• being rejected,
• having them discover who I really was.
Plain old fear. Lots of it.
I found there were plenty of emotionally messed up men, who were more than happy to engage in this warped dance. I used sex to get love, and attracted men who used love to get sex. It’s a game that men and women have been playing since time began.

Relationships in recovery can be equally hazardous, because without the security blanket of alcohol we are laid bare. We are exposed and we are most definitely frightened as hell.
Romantic relationships key into our deepest fears of not being worthy of love. We are frightened of the other person getting too close, seeing who we really are and rejecting us, thus confirming what we believed in the first place – a faulty belief, by the way.
So from the start we are unconsciously pushing the other person away and acting on this faulty belief and, in this way, we create this as our experience again and again.
And thus the faulty belief is reinforced.
It’s as though we have completely bought the fairytale, and believe true love will solve all our problems, if only we could find it. All love stories end when the couple fall in love and kiss. This is the implied solution. Everything will be perfect now because love conquers all. But this is actually when the hard work really starts, because in reality ‘our true love’ is an imperfect human being who has their own emotional baggage, just as we do.

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This was my pattern, and I saw it in my clients all the time.
It’s the constant illusion that love from another person will make all the bad stuff go away.
But the truth is that when you don’t love yourself, or even like yourself, it’s impossible to receive love from another person.
We either destroy that love under the weight of our insecurities and fear, or we settle for second best because we are so scared of rejection or being alone, or worse, because we believe we don’t deserve better.

Do you recognise any of this? Is this you?
Because if you do, I don’t think you are alone and if you desire a healthy, loving, successful relationship then you can achieve one.
I promise you.
Because you are worthy of love.

So start with loving yourself first, treat yourself kindly, treat yourself as you would like to be treated.
If you would like to know more about changing your relationship patterns and attracting a healthy relationship into your life. Please sign up for further blog posts on this subject.

Recovery Rocks – Darlene Steelman

Darlene Nice
I want to introduce you to Darlene Steelman who writes the amazing recovery blog www.lifeatfullthrottle.com. She has been sober for 7 years and when she is not working she is working on her blog and writing her first novel. Like many of the stories featured here, the description of her drinking and rock bottom are really powerful.
Her story is inspirational and a testimony to how miraculous recovery can be.

1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’

My bottom was pathetic. I was living in my enabler’s basement and trading sex for drugs and money. I had lost a lot of weight, my children had been taken from me by youth services and I could not hold a job. I had resigned myself to the fact that I was never going to be anything that I ever wanted to be. I spent a month in that basement (only leaving to get more booze and drugs) feeling sorry for myself and blaming God and other people for my misfortunes.

2) What was your ‘moment of truth’ or ‘clarity’ that prompted you to get sober/clean?’

I was in that same basement, sitting in the recliner that I had gotten my period all over a month ago. I didn’t care. I deserved nothing but death. I walked by the full length mirror and took a long hard look at myself. I am tall and weighed about 120 pounds. My eyes and cheeks were sunken in. I looked around at all the dirty clothes, the pop tart wrappers (it was the only thing I would eat) and the residue from crushing pills on the desk. My daughters’ stuffed animals sat on the bed and I dropped to my knees and begged God for help through a tear-soaked face. He must have heard me because I haven’t picked up since.

3) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
The first few days were painful because I detoxed in that basement by myself eating nothing but pop tarts and drinking coffee while chain-smoking cigarettes. After that, they were exciting! I went to an outpatient group
and met some great people. I felt good and had gained some weight back pretty quick. I felt different. Being sober was new to me, but it felt so good.

4) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
I got my youngest daughter back in my custody. I built a relationship with my family. I learned how to treat people. I paid off some debt. I got my motorcycle license. I landed an awesome job. I realized that writing is my passion and if I work really hard, God will put things in my path to make my life amazing. I got in a relationship pretty early in my recovery (not recommended) but I learned a lot from that, too. I ended that relationship and now have an awesome, solid, sober relationship with an amazing man. I learned that it is okay to be me and that problems happen… life on life’s terms. I just deal with it as it comes. I learned that women are not evil and actually have female friends now!

5) If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?

I would tell myself that I am a beautiful human being and everything is going to be okay. But knowing me, I would not have listened. There are just some things that have to be learned a certain way.

6) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
That I am an amazing woman. I am beautiful, have a huge heart and am capable of loving and being loved. I learned that I make mistakes, and that’s okay. I learned that there are better ways to cope with life that don’t involve drugs and/or alcohol. I also learned that I am a pretty good artist.

7) What are your favorite recovery slogans?
“Think, think, think.”
“One day at a time.”
“First things first.”
“Let go and let God.” (My all-time favorite)

8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
Recovery Rocks because I wake up every morning feeling the same way I felt when I went to bed. Living life on life’s terms and dealing with the good and bad that comes down my path as a sober woman is amazing! I have met so many amazing people in recovery.
Using the tools to live the kind of life I want to live, be the kind of mother I want to be and the kind of human being God had planned for me is an amazing gift. I thank God every day for my second lease on life.