By a friend of MW
Like many people, after a breakup, I romanticize it.
When my heart is hurting (even if I did the breaking up), I struggle to dissociate myself from the “good times.” I find myself wondering, was it really that bad? Did the happy times outweigh the sad? If only I would have done X or Y differently, things may have turned out differently. Maybe if I made some small changes, things could work out…
I’ve experienced real heartbreak a few times, but my hardest breakup has been with alcohol.
I don’t think I’ll ever truly “get over” this relationship. Alcohol was there for me for years — when times were good, when times were bad, when life was just moving along.
In the beginning, my relationship was fun. You know the feeling you have when you first get to know someone and everything seems perfect and exciting? I experienced that feeling with alcohol. Many “romantic” times filled my high school and college days. Whether celebrating with a glass (or five) of wine after classes or playing drinking games with friends at a tailgate, I didn’t see many issues at the start of the relationship.
My relationship suffered, however, at the hands of anxiety. I struggle with generalized anxiety and believe I have my whole life. My anxiety hasn’t been related to social situations like many people experience. I consider myself an extroverted introvert, and I have no problem socializing without a drink in hand.
The post-drinking times were when my anxiety and depression took hold of me.
After a night out — often including a blackout — I’d wake up with the biggest pit in my stomach and the most unbearable weight on my chest, not knowing what I had done or said, whether I owed anyone an apology, or who I had even been with. That feeling was nearly unbearable, but I soldiered on, because my “relationship” with drinking still had the ups. I managed to forgot about the downs — or at least minimize them as much as I could.
At a certain point, I reached a bottom. For everyone who struggles with addiction, the bottom looks unique. Personally, I realized if I maintained my relationship with alcohol, I would lose all other relationships in my life. So I sought treatment with the support and love of many incredible people. I received the opportunity to repair relationships my drinking had hurt.
So many people aren’t that lucky. The disease of alcoholism — and I truly believe it’s a disease — is progressive. If I would have continued drinking, I know I would have lost everything and everyone; whether it was within a few months or many years, I’m certain it would have happened.
I recently relapsed after almost six months of sobriety. Alcoholism is cunning and powerful, and the relapse came out of nowhere. The specifics aren’t important. But I lived to tell the tale and share my experience with others, and that’s what is important. Alcohol will forever have a significant place in my heart.
A little part of me will always wonder, “What if?” But I know deep down the relationship had to end.
Every day I remind myself of the horrible times, so I don’t slip back into romanticizing the relationship. I don’t have it all figured out, not even slightly. But I do know my relationship with alcohol can get easier to cope with as time goes on and I achieve milestones in my sobriety. I will always be grateful I have the chance to move forward.
Who — or what — was your worst breakup?