Struggling with self esteem in relationship during boyfriends recovery


At the beginning I felt like his #1 priority. Even with his addiction happening. He showered me with affection and attention. Over the course of 5 years my worth to him has changed. I assumed it was addiction progression but noticed he placed even coworkers and students (he’s a paraprofessional) a little higher on the priority list. As a result my self esteem has plummeted, knowing I mean less to the person I love. Always been very extroverted with others, specifically women of all ages. And I’m a worrier. Mixed with a low self esteem, well, it’s torture. I’ve gained like 100 pounds In five years.
Now he’s been in rehab a few weeks, long enough to make friends with the other people there. He lives in a mixed unit with men and women (great). He calls every day but I am getting so bored of the “group” talk and the stories of fellow patients he is chummy with. He speaks as if they are the best people in the entire world, but rarely laughs at my jokes or engages in the topics I bring to the conversation. Recently one story was about a girl there he said he’d been talking to recently who was eating a jolly rancher with her fingers like a lollipop next to him. And touched his socks and asked what they were? Sounded a bit flirtatious on her end. He said it was gross but I’m just in awe of the pointlessness of the story and the strange manner In which it was presented. Why did I need to know this?

I am hoping this won’t continue forever. But it’s making me think differently about our relationship anyway. Do I want a man telling me stories about his interactions with some girl or asking me how I’m feeling and weathering life while he’s gone?

Do I mean anything to this person anymore or is he keeping up appearances? Will things end when he gets home and realizes he has the confidence to leave? Am I being cheated on while he’s away?

These are dumb questions, but they are going through my head. I feel very alone.


Oh @mls08150, these are such hard questions and I’m sorry that you’re having to process all of this right now. For me, the biggest beauty of my husband being in rehab was that I was able to focus some much needed attention on myself. It was really hard at first to see this other life he was making, without me, but I realized that this wasn’t a healthy way for me to look at the situation and I needed to spend my energy on myself. I don’t think I realized the extent of effort I put into my relationship, even when things were at their worst. With him gone, I had time to ask myself those hard questions too and in a way, come back to myself. Realizing who I was… not who I was as someone married to someone struggling with alcohol, not who I was at work, or with family, or friends, but who I was REALLY. I think it’s easier than we’d like to believe to forget that. Especially for those of us that struggle with a low sense of worth or self-esteem :raising_hand_woman: and again, even easier when we’re in a relationship where addiction is present, because it can easily steal all of our attention.

All that to say, I hope there is beauty in this time for you. I hope you are able to process some of these emotions and figure out what it is you really want and how you want to show up and be in a relationship- whatever that means to you. There’s no way to predict what will happen when he gets home, but this is a rare gift to have time when you can just focus on you. It’s not easy, but it was necessary for me.

And above all else, you are definitely not alone. Know that those of here see you and hear you. Sending hugs.