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Almost Ending My Relationship

Almost Ending My Relationship

You don’t have to look through too many of my articles to figure out that I’m an alcoholic in recovery.  I found out early on in life that I had a problem and by the time I was 23, I had landed in rehab.  I didn’t discriminate when it came to using drugs and alcoholic; whatever substance was closest – and free – was my favorite one.

Without giving you a day-by-day account of my sobriety, life has improved and I’ve been sober ever since.  The stars aligned and I got it on the first try.  There are far more people that don’t have quite the luck I did.  Everybody I got sober with in rehab is dead, and none of them were clean when it happened.  I’m the only one that’s left.

So, what do you do when your partner relapses?  Do you stand by them, or kick them to the curb until they get their shit together?

I’ve known Simon virtually forever and when I moved to London I was under the impression that he had six years clean and sober.  Once I opened his medicine chest I found out that wasn’t the case and the collection of prescription pain killers was all the proof that I needed.  There was no blowup, no massive denials on his part.  Hell, there wasn’t even a conversation really.  I asked him if there was anything he wanted to tell me about his sobriety and at first he didn’t admit it.  I had to leave for the States and got a phone call from him a few days later telling me everything and that he was going back into rehab.

I have to be honest here: I’m WELL aware that my time in sobriety is a rarity for two reasons.  More often than not people do not get it on the first try.  They’ll go out and use repeatedly until they’ve gotten it out of their system so it needs to be said that I really don’t begrudge anybody a relapse.  You get back on the horse and start all over.

The second thing is that it’s few and far between these days to meet anybody with 22 years clean and sober in the gay community.  I don’t participate in one sole recovery program per se; I do a number of things to maintain my sobriety.  In the circles I run, the person with the most sobriety time has six years.  And, they are the same age as me.  They’ll be 46 within a few days of my own birthday.

So, Simon relapsed and that wasn’t a big deal to me.  The fact that our entire romantic relationship was founded on a lie was what got under my skin. I’ve known him for more than ten years and we’ve been best friends.  My his own admission, the entire time we’ve been partners he had been using.

There wasn’t a friend or acquaintance in my life that didn’t tell me to dump him and run like hell.  The universal response was to cut my losses and throw him overboard.  It was tempting, I have to admit that.  The last thing I need while I’m running all over the planet is dealing with a boyfriend who’s actively using.  I value my own sobriety and sanity far more than to deal with that bullshit.

But you know what?  I didn’t dump him.

Part of the stock-and-trade for any substance abuser is an inate ability to lie their asses off to cover up their using.  They will tell you the sky is purple and make you believe it if it will cover up the fact that they are lying about whether or not they’re clean and sober.  Under ordinary circumstances Simon would have never lied to me, or done anything to break my trust in him.  To get you caught up, he’s finished rehab and has a couple of months sober under his belt.  And, he also knows that the burden of restoring my trust in him rests entirely on his shoulders.

How’s it going so far?  Excellent.  We’ve relocated, begun new jobs, moved in together and I have a ring on my finger.  He maintains his sobriety and has given me no reason to think otherwise at this point.  My writing this article was his idea, in the hopes that somebody reading it might get the courage they need to not give up on somebody they love who’s using.  It’s really tempting to say “fuck it” and run like hell.  Let them clean up their own mess and get out of the way before they self-destruct.

But I believe in my heart that people have to be given a chance when they’ve earned it.  I don’t make Simon pay for his mistakes, but I do insist that he is accountable for them.  If he’s wants to keep me in his life, he’s going to have to prove to me why I should hang around.  I love him something awful, but he knows there’s a line in the sand for me and when we hit that spot I’m gone.

Just for today, we’re both smiling and have no complaints.

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