I talk about my relationship with my significant other often. I've written countless posts about our love, where we came from and where we are now. I've received many messages, questions, and comments about my relationship with Fer and how we've made it through all the dark times and still have such a strong bond. I've been told that it must have been easier for me to get sober because I had Fer to lean on and help me through it. It's also been difficult for me to give advice about dating in early sobriety, or really dating at all, because I never had to do it since becoming sober. I'm often told I don't understand what it's like to be alone in early sobriety, to be heartbroken, or to have to not date anyone in the first year like so many recovery groups recommend. I share my experience as much as I can and give advice where I can too, but they're right, I don't know what it's like to be without my partner in sobriety. I also don't know what it's like to date someone new and explain to them my past, why I'm sober, and interview them about their drinking habits too. It must be incredibly hard. What I do know about is what kind of relationship works for me. I've been in my fair share of toxic relationships throughout the years. I spent a lot of time weighing my self-worth on the attention of men. I participated in an unusual dynamic of constantly wanting and obtaining male attention, but keeping them at arm's length because I didn't really want to open myself up to real love. I used them for what I wanted and 99% of the time ended up sabotaging any real bond that formed.
Like I've said before, it's a miracle Fernando and I are still together. Our relationship did not start out perfect and it's still not perfect, even though some people think it is. And no relationship is perfect, but I do think how I act in a relationship has changed immensely since getting sober and it has caused Fer to change too. Here are my thoughts on successful relationship advice.
Communication. I cannot stress this enough. Honesty and communication have taken us far. In the event that I do get mad about something, I tell Fer right away and in calm manner. I don't let my feelings fester and I don't ask everyone else about what they think about the matter first. I tell him first that I am upset and the situation needs a resolution. We are able to calmly communicate about why we feel the way we do and how we can reach a compromise. The 12 steps have helped me look at my responsibility in every situation. I am able to admit what I could have done better, where my fault lies, and how I can contribute to the solution. Another important aspect of communication in sobriety is that I am mindful of operating from a place of love. Obviously Fer is going to make me mad sometimes, but I believe in his inherent goodness and that he has my best interest at heart. I do not believe he is ever intentionally trying to hurt me and I would not want to do that to him. Therefore, communication exists as a means for a solution, not as an opportunity to say or do hurtful things. You should have a partner who understands this and that has the skills to communicate in a loving and positive way, whether hurt feelings are present or not. You cannot have a successful relationship without knowing how to communicate.
Jealousy does not exist anymore. Fer and I talk a lot about how jealous we were at the beginning of our relationship and how not jealous we are now. There was a lot of distrust at the start of our relationship, for good reason. I was out partying and doing whatever I wanted with no regard to anyone else, especially not Fer. We used to read each other's phones and Facebook messages. I inquired about every female who he became friends with on Facebook or wrote him a birthday message. Looking back these things seem so silly and immature. Of course the jealousy didn't disappear over night, but I knew that in order to be in a loving and supportive relationship, jealously cannot be present. Fer and I often say that we know we cannot control the future. If he is going to cheat on me, he's going to cheat on me and there's nothing I can do to stop it. In the past I would have tried with all my might. But today, there is something incredibly liberating about giving up this power. Being jealous took up so much of my energy and it even prevented me from enjoying our relationship in the beginning. All we really have is today and today, I feel incredible love for Fer and I want to tell him and I want to do everything in my power to love him the way he deserves to be loved. Will I feel that way tomorrow? I don't know. I think I will and I hope I will, but I won't waste my time on feelings that no longer serve me or my relationship. Without jealousy Fer and I are able to concentrate on love and growing our partnership.
We let the hurt go. We had a lot of hurt in the beginning of our relationship. Enough hurt that we could have both walked away and healed in our own way and probably would not have had to think about those things ever again. We've talked about the hurt and we've let the hurt go. We did not let it consume us. We've both decided to move on, together. We don't bring up old stuff to hold against one another because we don't live that way anymore. Once we began healing we were able to look forward to the future and set out to reach our goals together. We don't hold grudges because they are destructive.
We are our own people. I cannot stress this fact enough. Everything changed when I stopped trying to make Fer into who I wanted him to be, and vice versa. We are different people, from different worlds with different personality traits and different hobbies/interests. We create an environment where we are each free and able to grow as who we are and do the things we like to do. We are supportive of each other. We have patience and understanding and we know that we are there for each other no matter what. In past relationships, I was the woman who always said, "Oh if only he would do this, say this, give me this, things would be better." With Fer I take him as he is, flaws and all, and he accepts me for who I am, with my addiction, my fierce independence, and my hypersensitivity. I don't wish him to be someone he's not. I have come to love him just as he is. Every person should have a partner who loves them just the way they are. No one should force you to do something or act a certain way just to fit their mold.
I might not have experience on dating in sobriety in the traditional sense, but I had to learn how to love myself, how to accept love, and give it away freely. I had to learn to be comfortable and how to thrive in a healthy, loving relationship and not the chaos that I was used to for so many years. I don't have all the answers, but I do know what works for us.
Be who you are and the right person will love you all the same.