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Recovery and Relationships

Comments (3)
answered 08:11 AM EST, Tue October 23, 2012
My partner dumped me while he was in rehab. We were together for 5 years, and had bought a house together. His drinking became so out of control that he finally ended up in jail, leaving me saddled with a huge mortgage. His treatment coincided with me selling the house for a loss, nearly losing everything. Of course I was furious at him, especially since I felt he wasn't particularly sympathetic to my worries. After a phone call in which he blamed me for not handling the finances better, I told him I needed him to leave me alone for a while. I figured he was on all sorts of meds, and I couldn't handle him being crazy at me when I was already under so much pressure. He called often over the following 8 weeks, but it wasn't until I was settled in my new flat that I finally answered. That's when he said he wanted to see other people.

I haven't been able to get a good explanation from him, apart from that he simply wants a fresh start. We exchanged a few text messages since then. He said he still loves me to bits, but kept repeating that he needs different things from different people, we'll never be right for each other, he's worried if he goes back to same as before then it will be the same as before, etc. The last message I sent asked him if he really thinks I would be a bad influence on him, and explained that I was worried he's making an unhealthy decision about me. He never replied, and I haven't heard from him since.

Is it common for people in recovery to abandon their partners like this? It seems very cruel to me, especially since I'm left still picking up the pieces, while he runs off to start his new life. Or is this a sign he might be on the way towards relapse? I know you can't predict the future, but any insight would be much appreciated.

Jill Edwards Says...

It is not uncommon for people in rehab to feel that they have to make very big changes and to feel that all of their past life needs to go. It is also true that they may find it difficult to face the way they have treated their partners and want to escape the difficult task of rebuilding the relationship on a different foundation of trust. They may also feel that an ex-partner, someone who has had to deal with their irrational behaviour would be still trying to control or organize their life. As you rightly point out at the time of his inititial contacts with you his brain in still recovering from taking in alcohol and people often see things in very black and white terms. At this point in time people are very vulnerable and often they take up new relationships with a dependency which replaces their dependency of alcohol.

I am sure none of this makes easy reading and I am sorry that things have been so difficult for you personally. I would strongly suggest that you contact and attend Al-Anon and get some support for yourself, it takes some time for you to work through what has happened to you and you deserve that support. Your position is a difficult one to work from and they can help you to establish yourself independently, which is the most helpful place you can be in for your partner. I am in admiration for the way you have sorted things out for yourself and I think that in the current situation, maintaining a balanced life style, that is one in which you keep your own life safe and supportive for you in whatever you like to do is essential. His head may go all over the place, people often say that the first year of sobriety is usually far from sane but it is the first step in the right direction.

I see no particular sign of relapse, but it is true that for him actually it would be better not to start new relationships as they do often trigger a relapse. But at this point, your responsibility is to yourself, to putting yourself first, looking after yourself, building your own life which has been so difficult. He will have to handle himself and be responsible for his own sobriety or relapse. He has his own support group and you will benefit a lot from having a support group of your own too.

Best wishes

Jill Edwards

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