I feel confused, what am I doing wrong?


#1

This is my first time here. My boyfriend just started sober living. We’ve been together for 7 years but been best friends since 1988. He has been using practically since late teens. Now in his 50s, since he entered sober living he has shut down on me, he doesn’t want to talk about anything just small talk, nothing personal or relationship wise. He leaves if I bring up any personal issues. He hangs up on me when I ask serious questions about our relationship, tells me I talk too much or I’m too emotional, really hurts my feelings and he won’t apologize, tells me to go to therapy so they can fix me, his exact words. When he was actively using he was the sweetest man, so willing to talk about anything. But this was only when he took a days off from drugs. I have watched him overdose many times over the years and feel like I had to save him and us. I felt scared for him and never took care of myself, too busy worried about him. I have so many mixed emotions for him including anger because of what I endured mentally and emotionally, watching the one you love do this. But now since he started sobriety he has been giving me the cold shoulder, I’m walking on eggshells in order to make him happy but it’s killing me, I cry all the time wondering if its me, am I selfish for wanting to talk about certain things that are hurting me, he doesn’t want to know. He says I’m acting psychotic and emotional. It’s unfair, it’s making me resent him, what do I do? This is all new to me plus overwhelming. Sobriety has turned him into a robot, no feelings whatsoever. I don’t want to lose him but I need to take care of myself and not feel this way. Can someone please tell me what can I do?


#2

Hi @Letty14 - thank you for sharing here and I’m sorry you’re in this situation. It’s a tough spot to be in, but please know you’re not alone and there’s always hope. That’s incredible that after using for almost his whole life, he has made it to sober living. It’s a huge step toward making positive change.

My husband started using when he was in his teens, as well. Started out with pills and just progressed from there. Just like your boyfriend, his brain has been dependent on drugs since it was still in developmental stages. When he stopped using, he changed. He had to relearn how to find pleasure naturally. He had to relearn how to be social without the help of a substance. He was still the same person I loved, but drugs had hijacked his brain for so long that it took quite a while to get used to how to function without them. Learning more about the effect of drugs and alcohol on the brain, what happens when he was using and what happens when he stops, was really helpful for me in better understanding what he was going through. (The book “Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy” by David Sheff really helped me. I read it a lot while in hospital waiting rooms with him.)

I think quite the opposite might be true here. From what I’ve experienced, drugs help those who are using to numb their emotions. They often never learned healthy ways to identify, feel, and let go of their feelings, and so they turned to drugs to ignore them completely. And when they are suddenly forced to feel everything with no relief from a substance, that can be overwhelming. His reaction may be to shut people out, not respond, be very confused about all that he’s going through.

Becoming aware of the need to take care of yourself is a huge first step for you. That was how I started my own recovery - because even if we are not using, we loved ones have our own recovery. Addiction affects all those involved - I started becoming someone I didn’t like, and I realized that that was on me to change. I decided to start loving myself again, I made an appointment to see a therapist, I started going to Al-Anon and looking inward to learn what it was that I needed. This time with your boyfriend in sober living is an opportunity for you to take care of yourself while he takes care of himself. This was hard for me to grasp with my husband because I thought being married meant we shared a life. But his emotions and behaviors are his, and they aren’t always about me, and I can’t control them. I could only control my own responses and behaviors. I learned that I couldn’t be the person I wanted to be in my life, in our marriage, to my son, if I didn’t first love myself.

I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you that you’re not doing anything wrong. Recovery is a lifelong process, and it starts with small steps and continues one step at a time. You have both made a huge first step - him by beginning his recovery and you by recognizing the need for your own care. What are some small things that you can do to take care of yourself today?

Keep going. Sending love. :heart:


#4

@Letty14 I’ve felt the same way - like I’d be walking on eggshells in order to make sure he didn’t get angry or upset. I eventually learned his emotions are not my responsibility - they’re his. I think trying to avoid upsetting him was just another way I was trying to control the situation. But I have no control over his responses - only my own. Through therapy, reading, Al-Anon and this community, I learned how to communicate in a more effective way - by turning inward, owning my feelings, and making change for myself.

What are you trying to say to him that you feel like you can’t? You boyfriend can’t control what you do or say, just as you can’t control his response or his feelings by staying quiet.

That’s awesome you have a support network you’re able to talk to, and that music helps you feel better. I like to journal to get all of my feelings out, and sometimes even writing out my fears and my gratitudes. I always think the fears list will be much longer, but it’s not. Avoiding our feelings is not the answer for anyone. What has helped me is learning how to identify the feelings, knowing that they will pass, and letting them go.

Here is a thread in this community about communication that you might find helpful. Keep showing up for yourself. :heart:


#3

Thank you so much for your kind words and response. When it came to his feelings I meant he would listen most of the time but now that I think about it he would always leave after deep conversations and come back high. Wow. I try to talk to him here and there now but I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. Sober living still gives you freedom and even though he’s sober, he’s still around drugs because he says he’s able to handle it. I know I can’t control what he does but what does someone do when you can’t even speak your mind anymore. Feels like he has all the control because I’m not allowed to say anything, how does a relationship even survive all of this? He can do and say whatever and I just have to hold it in for his sake. I don’t think I’m built for it. We as humans have a lot of emotions and stopping someone from letting them out just doesn’t feel right. Especially when you are hurt. I try to distract myself and do little things I used to love, I talk with my adult children and grandchildren because they always make me feel better. Listening to music just to not think so much but at the end of the day reality sinks in.


#6

@Letty14 Ugh It’s always so frustrating when we tell them our feelings and we don’t get the response we want. But I guess our behaviors can’t just be about getting a certain response. I express my feelings to my husband not because I expect a certain response, but because open communication ensures we’re not interpreting each other’s feelings or behaviors the wrong way.

Something that has helped me has been to use “I feel” statements. When I’m telling my husband how I feel, I take ownership of my feelings and don’t give him any reason to think I’m blaming or accusing him of making me feel a certain way. Because then he just turns around and says, “I didn’t do that” or “I didn’t make you feel like that” or “That’s not what I said” and it turns into an argument of who said what and who meant what. For example, if I get upset because he’s not answering his texts, I’ve told him “I feel really anxious when you don’t answer my texts because it takes me back to memories of you going out to the city to get drugs and me texting you over and over. So I get kind of upset when you don’t answer now. It’s something I’m working on and I just want you to know that’s why I act like that sometimes. I understand you can’t always text me back right away, but please understand how it’s affecting me.” He then agreed to to respond when he can, and if he can’t, then explain what was going on later. This has really helped us build back trust after it was completely broken during active addiction. Just as I’m supporting him through his recovery, he’s supporting me through mine. Our relationship is a team effort.

Only you can decide this. Ask yourself what you need in a supportive relationship, and trust your gut. :two_hearts:


#5

A few days ago I was trying my best to let him know that he hurt my feelings and explain how, he came to visit me at home, anyways, he had said something hurtful and as soon as I let him know how I felt he left, just walked out, not the first time either, I was shocked by it, I cried all night, felt traumatized by it because I never experienced anything like it. He kinda made fun of me for mentioning that I am experiencing PTSD. This weekend he took his roommate to a strip club, and I just felt hurt because in the past he’s been too flirty and texting other women, so that was another problem so of course I felt insecure for awhile, so him going into a strip club after wanting to work on the relationship really hurt me. When I mentioned it he was unapologetic as usual and told me he’ll call me later when I stop this nonsense. I feel like isn’t even worth hanging on anymore? I can’t speak my mind because he leaves or hangs up.