When the person that you love the most has been through a traumatic time, or is handling stress beyond their capabilities, they lean on you. You are their rock, their anchor, and so they let you take their weight for a while so that they can recover. And you do it because you love them and you want them to be okay.
Here’s the thing: you are just as much a victim to whatever circumstances they are going through. People won’t see it that way all the time, but when you think about it, it’s right. You have gone through just as much of a trauma as they have. You’re now supporting him and supporting you, and you take on their stress and their pain. It’s a lot for you to handle on your own, and it’s this that makes you the victim, too. Sure, the situation is different, but it is not easy to take on the pain of someone else and deal with your own stress, too.
However, you can do it. You are his anchor toward recovery. Sober living for men is one of the hardest things to cope with as a partnership – alcohol is a cruel mistress and you can feel like you’re losing your partner to her. The thing is, during recovery, he is going through his toughest time. Mental health for men is not talked about enough, but when you are in a relationship with someone, you agree to take on board their feelings and their struggles and – if necessary – you carry those for a while so that he can build himself back up. It’s the love that you feel for each other that will pull you both through it. It’s important that you take care of yourself when you are a carer for someone else, though that isn’t an easy thing to choose to do.
Just because you are caring for someone you love, doesn’t mean that you can’t look after yourself. You do need to step away sometimes, find a moment to breathe and stretch and just know that you’re not carrying that weight for a few minutes every day. Rehabilitation day centers and long-term care for men is as important as you are for him. You need a break and he needs concentrated care from professionals. This doesn’t make you a failure. At all. Instead, it means that you have realised that you need more and you’ve gone and found it. You need help, too.
Being a person for someone is hard, and your feelings surrounding that are valid and should be acknowledged. You take on the pain of another person, and you are then involved heavily in their recovery. Their successes become your successes, their failures spur you on to work even harder on their behalf to be more than they have asked you to be.
It is okay to need to breathe. You are his anchor to ground him – it’s not easy, but you are doing it. You can keep doing it. Just take care of yourself along the way.