” I said I’d catch you if you fall. And if they laugh, then fuck ’em all. And then I got you off your knees. Put you right back on your feet. Just so you can take advantage of me”

“Hi, I’m KJ. I’m from the other location. My ex-girlfriend knows you.”  

“Hi, I’m Ellie. I don’t know her.”

                             Three hours later:

“Ellie, want to stay and have a beer with me since we are both off?”

“Actually, I do KJ.” 

Four beers later:

“KJ, this has got to be the best first non-date I’ve ever had.” 

“Same Ellie. Want to get out of here and continue somewhere else?”

“Yep, but I’m on a rebound so just drinks and friendship KJ.” 

“Ha! Ellie, you got it. You may not even want to be there with the friendship. You have no idea how fucked up I am.”

Instant connection.  But I wished I’d never agreed to that beer. I wish I would’ve never looked into those blue eyes.  Most of all, I wish I would’ve read my blog over and over so I’d always remember the hell he put me through and realized how likely the possibility of a relapse was.  Or the mood swings that come with the recovery.

I don’t know if he’s drinking again or just being an asshole.  Considering he avoided his mom and not just me for two days straight, I’m convinced it’s the former.  This past weekend he disappeared on me for two days. He hasn’t done that since his last bender, when he hit rock bottom, a few weeks before he finally got completely sober.  When I finally spoke to him, he was short tempered and couldn’t remember any of our conversations from two days prior. He also started going out after work with his current boss, his old drinking buddy.

He texted me after standing me up for the second time in two days (something sober KJ has never done. Drunk KJ didn’t really do it often.)  “Ellie, I need some space to think right now.” “KJ, are we breaking up?” “Ellie, I’m not sure right now. I don’t know if I want to be with you or not.”

Whoa, he was in love with me two days before. I was in shock. I knew I could’t go through the anxiety of waiting around to see if he was breaking up with me. I damn sure knew I wouldn’t survive the constant agony of him drinking again. I had to make the tough decision, I texted him (he refused to answer the phone for days, it had to be text), a straightforward, heartfelt, with a little bit of savagery thrown in text that it was over.  I made it clear that I wasn’t going to be the girl waiting around for him to figure out if he wanted me enough. I also made it clear that I knew my worth, and he was throwing away the woman that stood by him through hell when all his friends and family turned their backs, tired of their antics.

There was a study done about the physiological response to heartbreak. Scans were done on subjects who were given pictures of their exes to study to see what part of the brain lit up. Interestingly, the part of the brain that detects physical pain glowed along with the emotional parts.  Yes, the inevitable break up happened.  My stomach is crampy, I’m nauseous,  and I feel like doubling over from squeezing pain in my chest. Yet, I can’t sob and I want to so bad. I’m listening to sad songs and looking at pictures. Watching the video of our first kiss. All I can feel is pain and emptiness.  It’s so funny how with CS I thought I was heartbroken, and now looking back I realize it was more of hurt from feelings of rejection.  This is truly a broken heart.

He’s again gone. I’ve gotten no response to us breaking up. I deserve a response. I deserve closure.  I texted him to tell me something, anything about what changed in how he felt. Tell me he didn’t love me. Tell me he used me. Tell me he found someone else. Just tell me something. In a way I want to thank KJ.  I’m successful. I’m smart. I’m hot in a cougar way. I’ve got my shit together.  I invested so much energy, and emotion, and money into a raging alcoholic who couldn’t look past the bottle to truly see me. Now I know what it’s like to love a narcissist. Now I know what it’s like to love an addict.

When I was little,  I had a recurring nightmare that followed me into adulthood. It was my school bus then and my car now going over a bridge and slowly sinking into a lake. Slowly,  I was going into this water and gasping for air, barely keeping my head up. If I wouldn’t have woken up each time, I would’ve drowned in my dream.  That’s what it’s like loving KJ.  Every time I think I can breathe, he sinks me.  It’s time for me to wake up so I don’t drown.

“Let him know that you know best, Cause after all, you do know best, Try to slip past his defense, Without granting innocence, Lay down a list of what is wrong, The things you’ve told him all along, And pray to God he hears you, And I pray to God he hears you”

At the apex of our partying days, KJ shoved me. Hard.  That’s not something I freely admit because I’m ashamed I did nothing about it.  That’s also a moment I’ve vowed never to bring up now that he’s in recovery.  One of the regulars we hang out with at our bar, HA,  had a different idea last night. HA explained to KJ how much better everyone likes him now that he’s sober. HA also told him what happened that night. KJ almost got in a fight with HA and another guy playing pool. KJ is (was!) a cocky drunk, and one who thought that  he’s ten feet tall and bulletproof. I grabbed KJ’s arm that night to try to get him to leave, he was in the moment and mad, and pushed me roughly.   That was only one story that KJ is hearing from our friends.

See, here’s the part about being the partner of an alcoholic or recovering alcoholic.  He almost has a clean slate in his head, while I’m having difficulty wiping the hard drive in my head.  He has no memories of the fucked up things he did and said while he was drunk or high on something, while I still have the burden of remembering them all.  I know I’m supposed to support his recovery and not throw things he did back in his face, and I don’t do that.  He doesn’t have the memory of telling a guy at the bar who asked were we together “Sorta, but you can fuck her if you want.”   Or after me driving for an hour to rescue him at a bar not in our town, answering a girl who asked the same question “Hell no, I’m not with anybody.” He doesn’t have the memory so he doesn’t understand why I’m insecure sometimes in this relationship.  When my best friend died of an overdose a couple of years ago, she lied to her parents to get money saying I needed it. I found this out after her death and felt betrayed. And I’ll never get the chance to resolve it or tell her how hurt I am. I almost feel the same with these things with KJ. Yes, he’s still alive, but that old drunk KJ personality is dead.  So I’ll never get the chance to resolve those issues.

Now, KJ is also missing a lot of our good memories that I can still think about that make me smile.  Our first kiss, which happened during a terrible drunken karaoke rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, that happened in front of all of our coworkers and the entire bar. And it was almost straight out of a chick flick after the whole bar cheered for that kiss, because everyone had been rooting for us to be together.(I actually have that on video).  Or the time KJ made up and freestyled a few rap verses in front of everyone that he made up for me.   The time that he started naming Jesus’s disciples to keep from finishing too fast but started saying them out loud instead of in his head and we literally giggled so hard our stomachs were hurting.

I guess at this point we concentrate on making new memories.  We ran into someone he’s known for years last night. He went to the bathroom and she wrapped her arms around me and thanked me with tears in her eyes. I told her she had nothing to thank me for, that it is his hard work and persistence.  She said “yes, but you were the one in the trenches, and supporting him with no obligation besides love. You deserve thanks too.”

So while I’ll never know what KJ is going through mentally now that the physical withdrawals are done, he’ll never know the baggage I carry for both of us.