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[ Opinion ] [ Personal Narratives ]

The Relationship Killer

…the man in the mirror was the relationship killer.

They said to stay out of a relationship until you are a year sober. Come on man, they cannot know everything, right? The urge to drink had been lifted from me while I was in rehab. I was a brand new man and ready to take on the world and live a life I had always wanted. However, there was one major problem. The only change was that I was not drinking. The drinking was never the real problem, the real problem was me. That meant I had to change the way I thought and behaved. A transformation that would take practice and learning over time. Lessons I did not know I needed in the beginning. I was ready to love and be loved. What I did not realize was that the man in the mirror was the relationship killer.

By becoming sober we do not automatically shed these relationship killers.

Many alcoholics and addicts have no idea how to have healthy relationships. We lack the ability in our addiction to set healthy boundaries, keep our identity, love unconditionally, and we feast on co-dependence. It becomes a way of life in great regards due to our lack of self worth. By becoming sober we do not automatically shed these relationship killers. They have become a way of life and survival for us. It is through the program we pursue that we learn to live and act with a healthy mind, body, and soul. I stress that part of pursuing a program. Different things work for different people and that is cool, but to succeed in sobriety you must have a program. There is where we learn to love and become relationship thrillers.

My broken and battered heart had much to learn and wounds to heal before I would really be ready for the relationship I desired.

I had ended a relationship as I went into treatment. One of unhealthy ingredients from both parties. In treatment I had also discovered a love for myself. I had begun to learn to accept myself for exactly who I was. Not only could I see and celebrate my good qualities, I could recognize the bad traits that needed to be changed also. I was learning how to set and keep healthy boundaries. Still, I wanted to run before I could walk. The desire to love and be loved was stronger in me than it had ever been. My broken and battered heart had much to learn and wounds to heal before I would really be ready for the relationship I desired. I would learn the hard way, the way I had learned just about everything in my life.

That desire to be with someone would override the progress I made.

Of course I did not listen to the advice, of almost everyone around me, to not get into a relationship in my first year. Feeling like I still needed someone else to complete the picture was an idea that needed to be shattered to get me to realize my total worth. Through my program and the help of people very dear to me I began to learn that alone I was OK. That Kip, had great value and worth and deserved only the best. I was setting boundaries and learning to be comfortable with upholding them. But that desire to be with someone would override the progress I made. What good was my sobriety unless I could share it with someone, right? That desire would blind me and I would fall into my old trap of settling for something, rather than having nothing.

No longer was alcohol a part of me so what could go wrong.

My heart still fragile and not as large and strong as I imagined, I fell into a relationship with someone I had connected with. Feeling like, this was the one, when it could not have been further from it. The insanity that says this time it will work was proof I had much recovery in front of me. What I was warned against I tried anyways. I moved from Oklahoma City to Lake Eufaula because I was sober and finally found “The One”. No longer was alcohol a part of me so what could go wrong. I could not see the forest from the trees. My old habits were dying a hard death. I was dry, no booze, but far from a new way of living, thinking and really sober.

But being a true alcoholic, I could not admit my mistake.

Within a few weeks in my new place I realized I had made a terrible mistake. It was not the person that I had fallen for, but the “ideal” of love. But being a true alcoholic, I could not admit my mistake. I must make it work to save face. This person was not who I thought she was. She drank excessively after hiding it from me early on. She was looking for a financial solution to her problems and that was something I could not provide. Then the lessons of self-worth kicked in. Picking up the tools that I had, I set a boundary and she shattered it immediately. I packed my car, tail tucked between my legs, and headed for family in Tulsa. I may have not had anywhere to go, but I was Kip, I was worth more, I deserved more and I set out to let Kip really recover.

A life I had dreamed of in sobriety was falling into place just as I thought life had been falling apart.

After a rough start in Tulsa things began to come together. I had my notion of needing someone to complete me shattered. The mistake I had made proved to be the foundation to my beginning at real success in recovery. Until I got on firm footing with myself and my recovery I had no chance of translating that into a relationship with someone else. I did not need someone else to be OK. Loving and accepting myself again was a priority. I gave my desire for a true and honest relationship to God and let Him have control of that need for me and soley focused on myself. Church and AA became my routine. Mending relations with my family began to come together. My relationships with my parents and siblings really improved. I found a job back in education. A life I had dreamed of in sobriety was falling into place just as I thought life had been falling apart.

My identity was in my purpose and not in a relationship.

They say when you stop looking, that is when you find it. God had taken control of the relationship department and thank goodness. I had always made a mess of it. When I became strong and solid in my new way of living and acting God brought me a miracle, the desires of my heart. A rekindled friendship from high school blossomed into the relationship I had always dreamed of. It was not that I needed it but it was that I wanted it. I was finally at peace with myself. Sustaining myself and caring for my soul was my job and I did not put that title on anyone else. My identity was in my purpose and not in a relationship. We could celebrate ourselves and combine forces to make one heck of a team.

Once I learned I deserved the best I was able to accept only the best for myself.

I was finally in a place where being completely honest, open, and willing was natural. I could set healthy boundaries and stick to them. In this relationship, we appreciated the differences in each other without trying to change them. We were going in the same direction and wanted the same results with love and with our lives. I was finally able to be in the place I had longed and searched for my whole adult life. It was because I had come to grips with me. Kip was able to be alone and be just fine. Then I learned I deserved the best and I was able to accept only the best for myself. That is exactly what God brought me, the best!

Real love and a real relationship.

I would love to tell you it all has been easy. The fact is, that any good relationship takes work, effort, and determination. There are growing pains, off days, we have “our” moments. But we know that no matter what today is like, good or bad, we will do it together. Crazy, how that one day at a time thing works in everything. As I took this picture I was just in awe, watching her totally in her element. Hearing the click of her camera as she snapped picture after picture of the mountainous nature she loves brought a warmth to my heart. Seeing her out there on the edge of Pikes Peak told me that warmth I felt was what true love really is. No longer would I squeeze the life out of someone else and take them off the mountain with me. I had finally found it. Real love and a real relationship.

Recovery put to rest the relationship killer.

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