Sometimes when we’re in something, we can’t see how very bad it is. Can’t see the forest for the trees.
When I was about 22 years old, I started on a three year disaster of a relationship. He was a friend of mine, whom I took as a date to a family event, and our [volatile] romance budded from there.
He had always been a “drinking buddy” of mine, so I didn’t think much of his excessive drunkness – until we started to get closer, and I noticed a pattern. He was an alcoholic. And, an angry one.
Over the course of three years, I watched him self destruct, and every step of the way – I tried with my whole being to save him. I watched him take a hammer to his own limbs – break his brothers skateboard, guitar, anything he could get his hands on, and drink himself numb. He called me every name in the book, and even fought with my dad.. still – I stayed. I spent most of our time hiding bottles and sharp objects from him. I saw who he was sober, and I wanted him that way – all of the time – I believed, he could be that person all of the time.
Now to be clear, as volatile relationships do go, these were not three steady years of toxicity – they were on-and-off one million times over. So, it was in one of our “off” spells, that I got a voicemail from him saying he had food poisoning, and he was going to the hospital.. The next call came from his father – telling me he was in ICU and his liver was failing. He was 25.
After a week in the hospital, I took him home with doctors orders: he could not drink. And for the next sixth months, he was the person I knew he could be. He was loving, caring, selfless – my best friend. But, as nothing gold can stay – this ended abruptly. I picked him up from a Super Bowl party, and he was trashed. I pulled over to the side of the road, told him to get out – and never looked back.
This toxicity is vicious. It’s sneaky. You see, making excuses for him, watching him roll out of bed and drink vodka, the nasty fights – it all became normal. And, because it became normal, I didn’t realize how very NOT normal, and unhealthy it was.
I see these sort of volatile relationships all of the time. In my opinion, (in a friendship or relationship) if you’re taking frequent “breaks” or are on-and-off with someone – those are defining moments – or opportunities rather, to get out of the relationship. You work on a relationship together, not apart. If you have to make excuses for someone, get out. If the people you are closest to tell you they do not like the person you’re dating, take a giant step back, and evaluate.
A side effect of this boyfriend had conditioned me in future relationships to think a fight meant we were breaking up – and that anyone who got drunk, was an alcoholic. There were a lot of thoughts and behaviors I had to un-learn post this messy relationship.
Believe me, I know what you’re thinking – “stupid girl” right? Trust me, I know. I’ve seen Maury. I’ve had these same thoughts. But, I had no idea how bad it was, until I was out of it. I was living day-to-day. I would not wish that situation upon anyone, but if I had to take something away from it – it was a big lesson in worth. Clearly, at 22 I didn’t value myself much. And, it took years of on-and-off runs, to reach my limit – and realize I don’t deserve this. It was also a huge lesson in standing of for myself. But above all, I learned you can’t save someone – who doesn’t want to save them self.