I am asked all the time, “Why do I keep going back to someone who hurts me so much?” There are many reasons we stay, but instead of guessing, I’m going to be vulnerable and share with you why I kept falling in love with a man who clearly didn’t love me or himself enough to get sober.
Here are the top four reasons I kept going back to a broken relationship:
I loved his potential.
I was married to a great guy. He was funny, charming, smart, and good-looking. He had it all. And my big and sensitive heart could see all his goodness. And because I was in love with him, I chose to keep focusing only on his potential. I thought that if he could just be that loving guy all the time, our lives would be amazing. And the truth is… if he got sober, they may have been, but maybe not.
I have a friend whose husband was sober for over ten years, but he was still very narcissistic and all his decisions were made from a very self-centered place. Getting sober does not guarantee an amazing life.
The truth is, you don’t really know how he would be if he was sober for the rest of his life. So the image you have might not be the most truthful or realistic.
I was scared of being alone.
For so long, all my energy was focused on him. Even when things got really bad (and they got really bad), I would suffer and put up with crap because my fear kept me stuck.
I was afraid no one else would want me. Afraid I was going to be alone the rest of my life. I was afraid my kids would blame me. I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay the bills and didn’t know where I would live.
The idea of evenings spent alone was terrifying. But I was already alone because every time he was drunk he might have been with me physically, but he wasn’t with me. He wasn’t offering me anything. Instead, his disease was tearing me down and telling me I wasn’t worth it.
Once I actually left, I realized that it was far healthier to lie in bed by myself and read a good book or watch my favorite movie than lie in my bed and wonder when he was going to join me and how drunk or high he was going to be when he came home.
That’s the kind of tricks this disease plays on you: it convinces you that lying there worrying if he will ever get sober is better than lying there in peace by yourself. And that’s just crazy.
I didn’t want to look at myself.
You may have already been in one alcoholic relationship and now you’re into your second. Or you’ve left your loved one and you’ve started dating other alcoholics and you’re wondering why you’ve attracted these kinds of negative relationships into your life. Here’s why: you haven’t done the work you need to do on you.
It’s much easier to blame the alcoholic when your life isn’t going so well.
I thought that if I just left him, I would be able to find a happy and healthy relationship as long as the man was sober. But this could not have been further than the truth. I needed to do my own work. I had to take a good, long look at myself and say, “Where do I need to grow? Am I too needy?” Yes. “Do I look to other people to tell me how I should feel?” Yep. “Do I change my mind a lot?” Check. “Am I good at taking care of myself, or do I become resentful when other people don’t meet my needs?”
These are all things I needed to work on before I got into another relationship and before I decided to leave. Once I did my own work and left him to choose for himself whether to get sober or self-destruct, I realized that I deserved to be cherished and respected.
I didn’t want to break apart my family.
The real reason I finally decided to leave was not for me, but for my kids. I could not stand the idea that they were growing up around a man who hurt them so badly. Don’t think it’s that big of a deal? Talk to any adult child of an alcoholic and they will tell you the nightmares of their childhood. The neglect. The abuse. The rage or the tip-toeing.
A woman can put up with a lot of self-abuse, but when it comes to her kids – we are like lions. Waiting to be pounce and protect our young.
But for those first six years of my son’s life, I convinced myself that if I left, my kids would never forgive me. But why? Was it wrong that I craved the father who would show up consistently sober for his children? No – it was my responsibility as a parent to be their biggest advocate.
The truth is, it’s never fun looking at the truth but we have to if we want to get unstuck. If we want that better life, we have to work for it. It must be intentional. It’ll be scary. It will be difficult. But it’s worth every tear, drop of sweat, and heartbeat. Because our life is worth it.
No matter how old we are, our future is worth the struggle and the battle. And facing your truths will unlock your heart’s healing. You don’t have anything to be embarrassed about. We are all the same here. We get you. This disease has beaten us up, but we will rise together. We will stand up to it because we are not powerless. We will be our own biggest advocates and God tells us to be strong and courageous.
If you’re ready to make your healing as important as your partner’s sobriety – we are waiting for you. Our programs are online, confidential, and you have lifetime access – so you can do them at your own pace.