Chip and Veronica discuss how romantic relationships in sobriety can often capsize us. They share how insecure and needy they were in early sobriety and how they navigated romantic relationships. They also offer tips on how to balance your sobriety with falling in love.
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Romantic relationships are a big deal for everyone, but they’re particularly an issue for those of us working through alcohol and substance abuse problems in early sobriety.
When we stop drinking or taking drugs we have a lot of emotional baggage that we have to deal with. – Veronica Valli
When I was drinking, my romantic life was disastrous. My relationships were littered with infidelity and neediness and it was all rooted in my insecurity and fear of being alone.
Chip recalls his relationships when he was using in a similar light, more centered around lust and similar drug use than a meaningful connection.
I destroyed a lot of my relationships with my neediness. – Veronica Valli
I was certain that everything would be different when I got sober but to my unpleasant surprise, initially, it wasn’t. In the excitement of finally getting sober, it’s easy to get caught up in the achievement and forget that there’s still lots of work to do.
To make it worse, we bring out childhood wounds with us into recovery, and for many of us that includes a deep sense of being unloved. That leaves us vulnerable to falling in love.
We come into sobriety, fragile, and often quite lonely. – Chip Somers
In my desperation to experience a loving relationship, I built up unrealistic fantasies of who my partner was and projected that onto them. Then, when they didn’t live up to it all, I was utterly crushed and filled with despair over a relationship that only lasted a few weeks.
What I didn’t realize then was that my disproportionate reaction was much, much deeper than the ending of a short relationship. It was actually a response to my original pain from my childhood that never healed.
I had to learn a lot about what love actually meant and what I was looking for. – Chip Somers
Working as therapists, we’ve seen countless cases of people doing well in recovery and moving in the right direction, only to fall back down the rabbit hole after falling in love. What happened is, when their desperation for love mixed with their insecurity, they devoted themselves so completely to their partner that they cast aside meetings, support systems, and all the critical things they were doing that strengthened their sobriety.
There’s nothing wrong with falling in love or being in a relationship in early sobriety. The reality is that we can’t simply turn off our attraction but the mistake is thinking that the relationship is the answer to everything.
When I met my husband, I always described my life as like, I had the cake and he was the cherry. – Veronica Valli
In many ways, when you go into a romantic relationship, that’s an invitation to do some deeper work and the most important thing is that you put your sobriety first. What that means is, doing that work that we keep talking about: the five pillars of sustainable sobriety, having balance, having connection, etc. That is what will bring the good things into your life.
By focusing on our sobriety and making time every single week to do the things that are healing for us and that support our sobriety, then all our relationships have a better chance.
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