Tag: Relationships

Trauma, Intimacy, & Sobriety

My sobriety. It is where healing in more than one area of my life began. Because of it, I have found the courage to uncover dark, buried, forgotten, and unknown hurt that ultimately lead to my drug problem, and eventual addiction.

But if you were to pour over the 200+ posts of mine here, you wouldn’t be able to find one specifically dedicated to my experience with childhood sexual abuse, my impulsive decisions as a young person in relation to sex and intimacy, or my struggle as an adult woman to embrace healthy sex experiences.

Connection, sex, and the subject of intimacy have been major front-runners in my self-renovation process and life-recovery. These are areas that have been under construction since day one, and although I have made significant progress, renovations are yet to be complete ten years later. It has taken me years for me to gain an understanding of my own struggles regarding sober sex, vulnerability, developing friendships, and the importance of allowing myself to truly connect within interpersonal relationships.

I have asked and answered questions like these:
Why have I struggled so hard with intimacy? (Vulnerability has never been not my friend)
Why didn’t I ever allow myself to connect with anyone? (For my own self-protection)
How was that related to my drug addiction? (Substances were the one place I let my guard down)
Did my fear of intimacy dictate my impulsive choices? (I welcomed superficial connections only)
Why didn’t I set my standards higher? (I was unable to see or gauge my own value)

Childhood trauma ignites unique feelings & mechanisms within the minds and bodies of small people. We learn to self-protect in ways that work. It feels like living in continuous rush of adrenaline, a feeling of panic, and always with grandiose expectations of we are certain is lurking around the corner. We are always prepared in anticipation of what might be next and we might not be able to pinpoint what to expect, but we are ready nonetheless.

Just to be extra-safe, I created additional safe-guards that I placed outside of my heart and walls were built around my mind. Maintaining control became my focus. I correlated control with comfort, and developed an uncanny ability to compartmentalize and compress.

Put simply, all of my focus placed on preparation & assurance of protection meant that I was out of reach. I lived my life on autopilot. I walked around without the ability or desire to absorb anything real or meaningful. No such thing as living in the moment. No one was allowed to get close. No one really knew me. My relationships and friendships were superficial at their very best. No one saw me anything other than what I was willing to reveal. No one effected me or my feelings in the slightest. Better safe, than ever vulnerable.

But it never mattered how many walls I built, or how much distance I put between myself and others, or how many guards protected my heart, there it was:

A deep desire to feel connect and to be loved.
A desire to feel necessary and important and valued.
A desire to be seen and needed.

Because of my past experiences and the systems that I put into place and practiced,  I couldn’t connect with anyone on an intimate level.

And yet, I still felt a pressing desire to be needed and wanted.

Without having the capacity to get close to anyone on an emotional level, yet feeling a need to be seen, loved, and important, I ended up trading it all. All of me.

I traded being valued, for being desired.
Intimate devotion, for empty sex.
Meaningful relationships, for incoherent physical encounters.
Uninhabited interpersonal connection, for restrained, calculated closeness.
Commitment, for trivial, temporary, frail, companions. 

It has taken me a long time to feel comfortable enough to share this stuff with other people. I still battle immense shame that stems from all that I traded so many years ago. Shame tends to remind me that I am bruised or damaged. It can feel almost as relentless as temptation, popping up in the most unexpected places, reminding me of who I used to be. I also still struggle with believing that I am safe within the confines of friendship, or other areas of life that require my vulnerability.

Despite knowing that I still have some work to do, what’s most important is that I am certain of my value. Regardless of the fact that I walk around with so many inconsistencies and areas that need improvement, I know & believe wholeheartedly that I am worth loving. I also know that my past choices and beliefs about who I was will not be given the power to define who I have grown into. And that is something that I am not willing to trade for anything.

 

Husband thoughts part 1- The Realization

My husband’s journey through my addiction and recovery.
It breaks my heart to go back and think about all that I put him through, but living this life in the now, we can both see just how much this experience bonded us and our hearts together in such a spectacular way, that if we can get through what we have already- life might throw us curves but we are in this game for the long haul.

So it begins.
We went through a long list of questions and had long discussions about specific feelings and times in our lives. This series of posts will encompass these conversations, and various others that we have had over the years.

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***On recognizing the ‘problem’:

After a few months of dating, it became pretty apparent that your drinking and pill use was not normal. The way that you acted was not like a typical young 20 something just ‘having a good time’. It was much more than that.

You slammed your finger in your car door and barely noticed, there were times that you would fall asleep while we were talking and there were other signs that I noticed.
There was a time where you fell asleep on the side of the highway because you couldn’t stay awake, and you went to jail (the first of many times)
Another time multiple people had called in about your reckless driving and you were apprehended until someone came and picked you up.
On a different occasion, I was at your apartment and bail bondsman came over and started pounding on your door, and you went to jail then too.

This was all while we were dating. I was like what the fuck have I got myself into?
This girl is crazy and also, irresponsible. lol.

***Why did you not run for the freaking hills?

I already knew I loved you. The times that we had eating together, and just hanging out- when you were still sober or not as bad- I enjoyed being with you. You were a fun girl. So thoughtful and funny. When you were using, it is like you were a different person.
There was just something about you, and something in me telling me not to give up on this person just yet.

Later on after we moved in together, I began seeing even more of the addiction’s seriousness.
Living with you opened my eyes up to your world.

There was a lot of lying- not coming home when you said, not getting off of work and coming home for hours. You were evasive and defensive when I asked you where you were or what you had been doing.

There were so many other things that happened, but it all accumulated and I started to understand that this was a serious problem.

***How did that make you feel?

I was confused. I come from a family that has never really experienced true ‘addiction’.
We drink and have fun, but no one is dependent or addicted.

I did not know anything about addiction, that it was a real thing and a disease.
I thought people like that made the choice to ruin their lives and act like idiots.
So, I was close-minded for a long time.
Willpower and the sheer motivation to change was what I thought was the only necessary ingredients to change or stop.

I was ready to love this woman, and quickly learned that she did not know what that looked like or felt like. Not adult, mature —love you for you kind of love.
I loved her and was ready to fight.

I had no idea what I was up against…….

Husband Q & A

Relationships. 

Let’s say you are a couple.
You love each other and value one another.

One of you ends up with an addiction and becomes dependent on a substance.
It tears them apart and dismantles who they once were.

That person that you fell in love with  is gone.

All you are left with is an empty relationship, basically completely deteriorated;
looking nothing like it use to and there is not a lot of hope in your heart when it comes to the prospect of finding him or her once again.

*You are sad, and feel lost. What can you do to get this person back?
*Is it a fruitless effort?
*Are you hurting or helping? Where should you turn?
*Who is this person that you use to know?
*Should you take it personally?
*Can you be of any help?
*Is this person who you love going to be this manipulative shell of deceit and self-absorption permanently?

These are the types of questions that ran through my husband’s head and made his heart ache leading up to the days where I smashed into my rock bottom face first, and throughout my first two years of Recovery.

This is the type of confusion that he dealt with and had to learn how to navigate through. 

My addiction did have a profound affect on him, and although I was far too busy focusing on my recovery to empathize or inquire at the time–

in the succeeding years post active addiction— he has revealed so much to me about HIS journey riding on the crazy coattails of my recovery.

While I was abstaining, detoxing, hurting, learning, growing, and changing-
He was going through his own change and was navigating a new path himself.

I am going to share that with you guys now.

As a side-note or a disclaimer of sorts:
As a professional I would never support or recommend that a person in Recovery start/begin/consider a new romantic relationship.
It is not a healthy choice to make.

In the event of entering recovery as a married person or as a person who is already committed to a long-term relationship, I would definitely set certain boundaries and limits with both parties on a case-by-case basis. Everyone involved would be learning and would need to be counseled on some level.

Every life, recovery and circumstance is completely different. What worked for us, may not be something that will work for another couple who is struggling with getting through Addiction-TOGETHER. 

What does inspire HOPE is knowing that there are other people who have made it through some of the most exhausting and trying times, and have come out the other end—
strong and CRAZY in love with the new people that we have transformed into throughout our journey together and individually.

So take what you can from it and leave the rest. 

Thank you for reading and I hope that we can inspire you to keep working and loving.

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Addiction Recovery- Things that have helped me -1

Out of the countless tools and newly acquired skills that I have learned in the past seven years, one of the most important concepts that I had to accept is what I am going to talk about today.
It sounds very simple, here it is:
It is not my job to fix your problems.

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