Being in a new relationship can be emotionally overwhelming and something of a roller coaster ride, especially when it’s time to talk about your addiction. But being honest about it can be incredibly rewarding when the person you open up to is understanding and supportive. Of course people are curious as to why I don’t drink and because I am not prepared to let my alcoholism define who I am, I want people to get to know that there are so many more facets to me than the fact I have battled addiction and that continued sobriety is a fundamental part, but it’s not all, of who I am. Last night I had the opportunity to have an honest, open conversation with an incredibly important person in my life. It’s not like I’ve been hiding it from him, it’s just that I didn’t want it to be the part of me that we focused on as we spent the last months getting to know one another. I’m pretty sure we’d have had the chat sooner if it wasn’t for the fact that we are in a long-distance relationship at the moment and it’s something I wanted to do while we were together. I don’t think that there is a perfect time to have this discussion, but I chose to wait until we knew one another better and it seemed less daunting.
You can never be sure of the reaction that someone will have to this complete disclosure, but I do think that letting it define who we are means that it becomes a focus, complete with the fears of what the future may hold. Nothing is certain in any relationship, but at some stage it’s central to the progression of truly letting someone into your life. It’s scary thinking that it could be make-or-break point, because perhaps the person is not prepared to take it on in their life. Yet I was pleasantly surprised at the easy nature of the conversation and his willingness to accept that it was part of me and that I am in the process of turning my addiction into my new career in the field of addiction coaching. It says so much about a person when they remain open-minded to this element of who you are, rather than letting it overshadow everything else they have seen of you. I count myself among the very lucky ones who has found someone who sees me as a whole person, complete with things in my past that may not be something he would chose in a partner. He’s prepared to continue the journey with me and should there be anything that arises in the future closely linked to my sobriety, he’s agreed that we will deal with it then.
This morning as I write this I feel like our relationship has taken on a new depth and that the honesty has brought a lightness to our being together. Perhaps he better understands that some of my less attractive qualities, like my deep-seated need for assurance and emotional support, stem from the fact that I have not always been able to look to myself for these things. We spent an incredible evening together and both spoke frankly about who we are. This being my first relationship since I stopped drinking I am learning all sorts of things about myself that I didn’t know and how to consider another person and their feelings about certain types of interaction. It’s another exciting dimension of my sobriety because I’ve been more than a little nervous about how I would handle myself in this situation. And there have been times when I haven’t done it particularly well, but it’s almost like learning a new skill set. I’ve stumbled a few times, let me neediness and self-doubt take over, but the more time I spend in an intimate relationship the more I’m finding my feet and starting to feel relaxed in this new place I find myself.
I’ve made myself vulnerable, admitted that I might well make mistakes and that I am learning as I go, but the rewards are so exponential. It’s taken a long time for me to get to the place where I am able to feel comfortable enough in my sobriety to get involved, because I believe that I am able to bring more to a partnership than I have ever been able to do. That I’m not going to fall apart the first time something goes a little off course and I’m faced with emotional difficulty. I’ve become more adept at dealing with the daily challenges that life presents and not running off to find solace in a stiff drink – better equipped to approach life with a maturity that I’ve not felt I possessed until recently and rather than being an emotional burden on someone. Developing the interpersonal skills to be the type of person that someone is proud to be with. Someone who is a supportive, loving and believes in us both without losing sight of who I am.
I’m not shy to admit that I’m feeling really good about this progress and how far I have come, especially when I think back on the unhealthy, destructive relationships I have had leading up to here. I know that I still have a long way to go in my emotional development, but I acknowledge this about myself and know the areas that still require hard work and commitment. My coach and I work on these parts of self that need bettering and if I look back to where I was a mere nine months ago I believe that I’ve grown immensely as a person. It’s been scary at times, looking so deeply into self and confronting the personal obstacles that are standing in my way to being the person I really want to be. Last night however was another stepping stone across the river of personal development and once these points are passed new ones may arise, but the growth cannot be easily undone.
Today I am incredibly grateful for the growth that an open mind and an honest heart bring.
‘Til next time