I have always had a hard time putting my own needs first and I am also too much of a people pleaser. When my exboyfriend left a little over a week ago to stay with his parents, I was so devastated to say goodbye, but I have to admit that I felt a little relief. Relief that the ordeal in the hospital was over and relief that I no longer had to live with an alcoholic. Once he was gone, I thought that I would be able to start dealing with everything that happened- the endless hours in the hospital, fearing he would die, learning about another woman, adjusting to living alone again. Yet, once he was gone, I continued talking and texting with him. Part of it was that I missed him. Even though things were not good with us for a while and his alcoholism had taken over, I still truly loved him and we were together for almost nine years. But the other part of it was that I felt a sense of responsibility for him and I was invested in his health and his recovery process. Looking back on it, I probably should have cut off or limited our communication when he left. I realize now that all I was doing was continuing to dwell in the trauma of what happened. As long as I focused on him, I did not have to address my own feelings of sadness and anger and loneliness. I assumed as long as he was 750 miles away, it was “safe” to continue talking to him.
He just told me a couple of days ago that he is already coming back this week and rented an apartment about two miles from my house. I am anxious about this for so many different reasons. Obviously, I feel like he made this decision with me in mind. I have not given him any false hope that we will be together again. In fact, I have expressed my concerns that he hasn’t done anything related to recovery since he left the hospital and it is too soon for him to come back and to live alone. I am nervous and paranoid that I am going to run into him every time I leave my house. That is not a comfortable feeling for someone who suffers from anxiety.
I thought about it overnight and called him back and told him that we need to stop communicating. He needs to focus on himself and I need to start focusing on myself and dealing with everything that happened. The key word is “need”. I keep trying to make him understand that this is what I truly NEED. Of course I WANT to support him and help him and be there for him and even spend time with him…but I know if that happens, I will get sucked back into his problems and continue to enable him. He basically told me that he understands what I am telling him, but that he doesn’t know if he can not speak to me or have me be a part of his life. I realized I have to be much more firm and told him that if he does not give me the space I NEED, that I will end up resenting him. The more he tries to force and push himself into my life, the more I feel scared and anxious. He just does not seem to be accepting the fact that our relationship is over. It is not what I wanted…I never wanted ANY of this. But I know, without a doubt, that I have to put myself first and that I am not ready to forgive him for the way he hurt me and affected our relationship. I cannot revolve my life around his recovery journey. Our relationship has been about him for so long. I just need space and time to figure things out for myself and work through everything that happened. I just wish I didn’t have to do that with him living down the street.
Throughout this past month, I kept updating my opinion on what was the “hardest part”. First it was when you were in the coma, then it was when I found those text messages, then it was all the medical complications, then it was the week you woke up and struggled with sedation, then it was the day I had to tell you I knew the truth and our relationship was over, then it was the days afterward when I did not hear from you or see you. But now that it is “over”, I know without a doubt the past 24 hours were the hardest part.
I knew when you were discharged from the hospital you would be coming to the house, both to see the dog and to get your belongings I packed for you. I was so anxious…I had no idea what was going to happen. You could have literally picked everything up and left in ten minutes. The minute you walked in the door, all my anxiety melted away. You looked so feeble and weak, moving so slowly. You hugged me and my face pressed against your neck, just like it did the other day, except this time it was your skin and not your central line I felt. All I wanted was to be with you and take care of you. I know those feelings were supposed to be “wrong”, but throughout this whole nightmare, I have followed my heart with no regrets. I knew you needed me more than I needed to be angry with you. I can say it is the first time in my life that I know I had to be and was completely selfless. Nothing mattered more than you surviving and getting better.
You staying overnight just felt natural. I thought it would be awkward, but it wasn’t. Even though it was maybe not the smartest move in the world for us, it just felt right. I think we held each other more in 24 hours than we did in the entire previous year. We have both always wanted our space in bed when sleeping, but I don’t think there was a time the entire night that we didn’t touch each other. It was not sexual at all, it was just so comforting. I woke up before you and just stared at your face. I wanted to memorize every single thing, to burn the image into my brain. I have always loved your nose and the shape of your lips. My favorite part of your face is under you eyes by the bridge of your nose.
My heart sank when your parents arrived an hour early- I felt robbed of 60 more minutes of being with you, of us being together. That last hour was so rushed. I made sure to take some time to take the dog into the other room alone so I could say goodbye to her. Every time I walk into the house now, it feels so weird to not have her there by the door. I kept thinking today I needed to run home to let her out and then would remember with a sinking heart that she was no longer there. I don’t know how I managed to say goodbye to you without collapsing. I had to lie on the bed after I came back inside the house. Your car was still in front of the house. My tears were silent so I could hear the exact moment you drove away. It reminded me of when we were dating long distance and you would leave at the end of the weekend and I would feel my heart sink knowing I would not see you for a full week. This was that times one million.
I am aware of the fact that I am mourning our relationship and focusing only on the things I will miss. I will miss you so much. I start to feel normal, forget for one split second, and then it is like a wave washes over me and I remember you are gone. Really, really gone. I realize right now that I am only thinking about the good parts of our relationship and the fact that you are a truly a good person with a very bad problem. I know that I am going to have to go through all the different emotions at some point. I deserve to feel the anger about your betrayal. There’s a part of me that is relieved that my life will not be affected every day by your drinking. I wish I had a crystal ball to see into the future- to see if you are going to be sober, to find out if you will be a part of my life again. However, I know with complete certainty that I love you, and yet I also know with equal confidence that I had to let you go. For you and for me.
I haven’t even begun to process the trauma, the hurt, the heartbreak, the loss from this past month. I tried to stay busy all day so I didn’t think about how every minute, you were another mile farther away. We talked on the phone and at the end of the conversation you said “I love you” and I said “I love you, too”. It did not feel like simply habit, although we always said that when we hung up the phone. I know the love we have for each other is genuine and I am not going to deny my feelings for you because of the negative things that have happened. I just know that love is not enough and some things are just not meant to be. I am letting you go because this is a journey you have to take yourself and I need to carve a new path for myself, too. I spend too much time wishing that none of this ever happened and torturing myself about what I could have done differently. But deep down, I knew that my love would never be enough and that you have to learn to love yourself first. And I have to start putting myself first and that begins with letting you go.
I just realized recently that I have not seen my father since Christmas. This is the longest I have ever gone without seeing him in my entire life. I was on the phone with my mom the other night and mentioned this to her and I actually asked her if she thought he missed me. She probably thought I was joking because she said, “maybe, but he talks TO you every day through his emails” (she thinks she is funnier than she is- lol).
My parents only live 45 minutes away from me. My hometown is pretty boring and I do not have any other reason to go there because all of my friends have moved away (whereas my sister goes there often because all of her childhood friends still live there and so she stops by my parents’ house occasionally). I am not sure why this bothers me…I should be ecstatically happy that he has been less involved in my life. But, the fact that he doesn’t seem to really care is a little disconcerting. I mean, he is still sending a minimum of three emails daily (especially lately due to my grandmother being ill). I speak to him occasionally when I call their house and he answers the phone. I just feel very disconnected from him and it makes me a little sad. But then I read one of his crazy emails or he is nasty to me on the phone and I remember why I gave up trying to have a normal relationship with him. A couple of months ago I redid my basement and invited him to come to my house to see it. He pretty much blew the idea off. I took it personally for a while until I realized that I can’t remember the last time my dad actually went somewhere- he has become very reclusive. I think that now I am a little nervous to see him because my sister says that he is in pretty bad shape health wise (no surprise there).
I guess it is just a classic case of “can’t live with him…can’t live without him”. I am sure if I spent time with my dad every single weekend, I would be ready to jump off a bridge, but there is a part of me that feels hurt that he seems to not care whether or not he sees me.