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Addiction and Change

In my late 20’s I went through a phase that I now recognize as a manic episode. At the time I was 27 years old and had been in a relationship for almost 5 years, but we were still no closer to living together, getting married, or having kids than when we met. I loved my boyfriend, but I had little love for myself. I had let my weight creep up to 220 lbs and I was the type of person who would “jokingly” put myself down in front of others as some sort of defense mechanism. I suppose I thought, “Well, if I say it first, then no one can say it behind my back.” In retrospect, I can see that would have been very difficult for the people who loved me to hear. But at the time I really didn’t have a great deal of self-worth and in turn this created a relationship where I let my boyfriend get away with pretty much anything. It’s like I spewed some sort of aura of “Please don’t leave me! Why can’t you love me?!” While at the same time I was pushing people away by not respecting and loving myself. So, as you can guess, the relationship ended. It was, like most break-ups an eye opener and a chance at a new chapter in my adult life. I will delve further into this in a future post.

It took me about a year before I thought I was ready to date again. That year I had been working out, running, and watching my weight to the point I was in great shape and had brought my weight down to 160 lbs, which was great for my 5-foot 9-inch frame. I had spent a lot of time working on the outside, but still had not quite fixed the inside to match. I was on a couple of dating websites and was steadily going on dates with lots of different men. Some dates were fun, some were plain horrible, but I was getting out of the house and the attention was nice.

It was during this time that I met Dave. He had seen my profile on one of the dating sites and we started chatting. He was handsome and seemed fun and sincere, and I agreed to go on a date with him. I can’t say I remember fireworks or anything specific that I found exciting, but I must have liked something about him as we began dating exclusively. Having grown up in a religious home where smoking, and drinking alcohol were not a part of my daily life, I noticed that to me it seemed that Dave drank a lot. I pushed that thought off as me being “programmed” a certain way and that I was probably the one who was more so a prude regarding alcohol.

As our relationship continued, I came to accept that Dave would drink, smoke cigarettes and marijuana. No big deal, right? I didn’t partake in the smoking of anything but would have a drink or two on a weekend or such. It wasn’t until we started living together that I really noticed the quantity at which Dave was consuming drugs and alcohol. He would have a decent job, making good money, but never have any money when the bills needed to be paid. He would change jobs frequently, always citing some reason like, “They didn’t like me.” Or “It just wasn’t a good fit.” Our garage was full of empty bottles of Corona and every time I would empty it; they would pile up again in the matter of a week. He was consuming 12-24 beers a day, plus smoking a couple of joints.

At this point I was working full time, like I always have since the age of 18 years old. I was making enough money to support myself, but not anything extravagant. In the 3 years that I was Dave I started going downhill again. I stopped taking care of myself, working out on a regular basis and was constantly tired. I would go months without having my period because my hormones were so out of whack, and I couldn’t be bothered to see the doctor to help me identify what was happening. I was hitting an emotional and physical low that I had never experienced before and at the same time was being told by Dave how much he loved me. How he thought I was beautiful. Who doesn’t want to hear that?! Even if it was not a whole truth. So, I ignored the drinking and the smoking and the ups and downs of his revolving door of jobs.

Then one day I woke up and realized I had changed. All the things that were making me so frustrated and mad were really my own lack of backbone and drive. Why was I putting up with this kind of behaviour from someone when I knew in my heart it was not where I wanted to be. He was not who I wanted to be with. I also felt like I was changing, but not in a good way. All the things that I had taken pride in, such as my kindness and patience, they were disappearing. The last straw was on a day when I was mean to a child. I had never in my life before knowingly been purposely mean to a child. To me, that was unthinkable, yet I had sunk that low. Something had to change. NOW!

After three years of me nagging and Dave doing exactly what he wanted, I left. I basically got up that Saturday morning and called my big brother Jim. I asked him if he could go to Home Depot, grab a bunch of moving boxes and come to my place and pack me up. I knew that as soon as I started leaving that Dave would turn, and he did. Suddenly, the man who claimed to love me, who thought I was beautiful, started spewing hate. “You’re worthless. You’re fat. You’re ugly….” He carried on as I silently and quickly packed all my personal belongings.

I am so grateful to have a big brother who is not easily angered and knows exactly how to handle someone like Dave. He too said very little and just proceeded to assist me in packing and removing all evidence of my having been a part of that chaotic relationship. Once all my belongings that I wanted to take were packed and we drove away, I felt an overwhelming feeling of peace. Of course, I was sad. I am not someone who casually makes decisions and runs when things get hard. But sometimes you must walk away. No matter what, you must take care of yourself. That urgency I felt, the feeling of having to escape was very real. I am beyond amazed at how lucky I was to get out. I could breathe again.

There were so many other issues, and I will relay them in time. But today I just wanted to share a small snippet of the story that was Dave and me. Perhaps someone will read it and know that they aren’t alone. Maybe you know me well and are sighing in relief that I finally came to my senses. Perhaps you disagree and think I should have tried harder or stayed with him. You’re allowed your opinion.

All I know is that the past decade of my life has been full of so many more great experiences. I have made new friends. I have laughed hard and loud. I have sought help for past traumas, focused on loving myself and in turn have been able to love others more completely. I have lost loved ones, but through that loss I have learned new behaviours and ways to deal with my grief and loss, while still finding joy in my life. I wake up every day to my sweet furry babies and am grateful to be healthy and able to do as I please. It may have taken me 43 years to get here, but I am happy with how it has turned out so far and I look forward instead of back now. I see good things coming my way….

Much Love

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