Two weeks ago, I had a client asking for guidance about her relationship with an addict. Immediately, that took me on a ride back to my past. I cringed at the memories. I kept closing the doors on it but I did not really have my closure or heal myself from the experience. I basically swept it under the rug and forgot about it for years. The subject was extremely sensitive and humiliating for me to talk about with my friends. I would not even bring up the subject at all. If one asked me what happened or why did we broke up, I never told them the truth. I basically shrugged and said, “It did not worked out.” But they had no idea that the relationship destroyed my self-esteem.
The year of 2007 was the year I finally left my abusive and addict ex-boyfriend. It was also the year I began my spiritual journey. As I reflected, I had no idea how did I get out of it. At the time, I was attending a local University studying Human Services and I had to take a Drug Abuse and Treatment course as a part of my major requirements. That course was a rude awakening and opened my eyes to the truth about my now former relationship. I sincerely believed that the course saved my life.
I was only 20 when I began the relationship. I was naive and I thought it was common being pushed or hit because you know people blew up and reacted inappropriately at their weak moment. I just let it go but the abuse did not stop. In the Drug Abuse and Treatment, I learned that first year of relationship with an addict was a honeymoon stage, where everything was perfect and there were no warning signs of abusive tendencies. I thought everything were going great but deep in my gut feelings, I knew he was not a right partner for me. I had this stinking feeling in my guts that there was something different about my ex-boyfriend. In the course, I also learned that violence increased in the second year of relationship but a bit by bit. So little I did not regard it as a domestic violence. Then, eventually, it goes from being pushed to being choked. The severity of violence increased with time.
Not only that violence increased within time but my ex-boyfriend’s drinking also increased. My professor taught me the signs and behaviors of an addict and alcoholism. I remembered thinking that everything fits my ex’s behaviors to the T. Overwhelmed with multiple red flags, which confirmed my deep gut feelings and fears, that I was dating a volatile alcoholic. That was when my mindset and perspective toward my relationship shifted. It was my 3rd year into the relationship. My self-esteem was low at all times. I did not care to put on makeup or what I wear. I did not have any care or energy to put efforts in improving myself. All I wanted to do was to survive and pass the classes at the University to graduate sooner.
Another common thing I learned from the class was that when you enter a relationship with an addict, it can be very overwhelming and you seek for ways to deal with the emotional stress. Not knowing how to get out of relationship or thinking you do not deserve the best kind of love, honor, and respect. You became enmeshed with the relationship and partner’s addictive behaviors. You became addicted to the relationship and thus, you also became an addict. I thought having a boyfriend, even though, he was not kind to me was a better option than being alone. I just settled for less. My relationship was becoming violent and my self-esteem was chipping away each time my ex diminished my well being or accused me for being crazy. Finally, to deal with the emotional stress, I turned to marijuana. My ex and I shared a special ‘bond’ over smoking. Still naive at the time, I thought it was improving our relationship but it turned for worst.
Smoking marijuana was my way out of extreme stress I was under while studying at the University and being in an abusive relationship. I knew it was NOT ME. I was juggling a double life. One was as an addict and another was a sweet side of me. I was drowning and it affected my studies. In the 3rd and final year of relationship, I was very sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was desperate for a miracle. I needed to turn my life around for better. As I was approaching my graduation, I did not care if my family or friend saw my bruises. I would jokingly blame my ex for hitting me. It was my vengeance. The Drug Abuse and Treatment class along with a support system, I slowly got my confidence back to fight back. I worked hard to graduate from college on the time because it was my ticket to my freedom from relationship. My ex was spiraling downward for worse and his drinking intensified more than ever before. Slowly, we drifted apart. My ex was jealous of my accomplishments and ambition to succeed in the life. I tried to help him to see the best traits in him but I learned the very hard way that no one could truly help their partner. Only they can help themselves.
I finally built up the confidence to break up with my ex-boyfriend. It took me a while because he was not near his family or knew anyone in the town and I felt responsible. I was mainly concerned for his well-being and the ability to take care of himself. That was what stopped me from breaking things off with him sooner. Back then, the class taught me that I was not responsible for anyone’s happiness but MY HAPPINESS. Like I said, I was desperate for a miracle but I knew I had to create that miracle. Moving forward from the relationship was essential for my well-being, self-esteem, self-confidence, and my happiness. That was the utmost important thing to me. I deserved happiness. That motivated me to take that life-altering step to step into my authentic self.
I quitted smoking cold turkey. Without having marijuana numbing my emotions, I became overwhelmed with unspoken emotions surfacing. I had many offers to smoke but I resisted against it greatly because I truly want to turn my life around for better and stop living a double life. Not knowing how did I succeed at it but I remembered thinking that I need to stop smoking or I wouldn’t find a job. It was so important to me to have a job because it’ll create a financial security for me to build a life on my own. That was also when I began praying more. I would roll my eyes at the idea of prayers because I would associate it with religion. I did not have good experience within a religion setting. It just did not feel right with me but a friend told me that saying my prayers does not mean you have to be a religious person. It was about praying for comfort and healing I need to get through the day. Saying my prayers gave me an opportunity to give away my problems that I couldn’t handle anymore to God, and then He would take care of it for me. I realized how powerful the prayers were. Right there, my spiritual journey began.
Life is funny at times. Back then, I remembered thinking why did I had to go through this brutal experience? I wanted to blame my ex-boyfriend. There was no one to blame but me because I ignored my intuition and red flags. I gained a great and profound lesson from the relationship. Even though, the relationship was horrible but it taught me greatly about life and healthy relationships. It also shaped who I am right now. If it wasn’t for the relationship, my spiritual journey might prolong much later in the life. Each relationship, encounter, and situation have a lesson lies in it. You just have to see and understand the lesson. When you understand the underlying lesson, your self-awareness and consciousness increases. It might sounds odd to you but I am utterly grateful for the experience because it put me back on my conscious path.