I think I ruined my relationship and am devastated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (35 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Six years ago, I met and fell in love with someone (X) and discovered a couple of months later that they were addicted to hard drugs. X's family told me that X was madly in love with me and I was their one chance of getting clean, and without my help, X would die.
X admitted their problem and said they wanted to get clean so we could have a good life together. The most stressful six months of my life followed while X pursued various treatments before finding one that worked.
X was quite young when we met and in addition to getting clean had to learn adult life skills like holding down a job, paying bills and being responsible for chores, as their development had been held back by drugs. I am older and more experienced. I found myself in the role of caretaker for several years, putting my life on hold to some degree, but more importantly, feeling X's life was in my hands. I was constantly worried about X dying or getting into trouble.
X is highly intelligent and unconventional, and was always very sweet and affectionate toward me. X continued to progress and eventually the time came when X had been clean for several years and had shown they could hold down a job.
X's job had health insurance and X suggested we marry so I could have insurance too, in a way to repay me for the support I had given X. We had a private ceremony and didn't tell anyone, because we both had mixed feelings about it. We were legally married only, but still trying to live as BF/GF.
I realized I was burnt out and that I was still caretaking X to a large extent and constantly worrying about them. I began to feel that I should leave, because X had gone straight from living with family to being kicked out on the street (and hiding that very well when we met), to living with me. X had never lived on their own and I didn't think we could be equals til that happened, plus I was burnt out and wanted time to recover from my obsessing over X's problems.
I announced that I wanted to leave. X suggested counseling, so we went. At the sessions, I reiterated that I felt my leaving was the best thing as I didn't see any other way of breaking our pattern. X was hurt and we were both tearful and both very clear that we still loved each other and that the break might be temporary.
I got an apartment not far away and X and I continued to see each other and discuss getting back together. After a couple of months I began to feel extremely depressed and missed X terribly, but X said they weren't ready to have me move back and unsure if they wanted me to, though still loved me.
X seemed to have become independent overnight and was being responsible and I was optimistic that if we reunited I wouldn't bear the burden for their support anymore. That has been true.
The separation was good for X. They had low self-esteem during their addiction. They now have a great job and many people who like them as well as the knowledge they can take care of themself. They were forced to be responsible and rose to the occasion when I realized I could not stop enabling them unless I left.
X continues to be responsible, but stopped being as affectionate almost the day I moved back. X never says "I love you" to me and used to say it all the time, and also say how much they appreciated what I had done for them. X expresses affection in other ways at times, but is generally much colder than they ever were.
I asked X if they wanted a divorce. They said, "I don't know, I'm just getting used to you being back."
X refers to the place we live as "my place." This hurts me. I asked, "isn't it our place?" and X replied that it stopped being our place when I moved out, very coldly.
When we got together, I had my own apartment and X moved in and we lived together for several years before we moved to where we now live, which is owned by X's relative. When I was gone, X lived here with a temporary roommate. When we lived at my apartment, I always made sure X knew it was OUR home.
I said to X that it wasn't fair to treat me like I was only living there at their pleasure and asked, "did you forget we're married?"
"I can't seem to," X snarled as though they wished they weren't.
I was there for X for years after their family had kicked them out to live or die on the street. I don't have superhuman stamina, though. I asked if it was really such a terrible betrayal of me to have left after getting burnt out? X said no.
I said I was sorry I had hurt X. I was extremely emotional; X wasn't and kept telling me to calm down, and did hug me a bit during the argument.
I feel like I really screwed up by leaving and should have hung in there with X, but we were caught in a codependent pattern where I felt totally responsible for them. While we were apart, X grew up and, it seems, gained a lot of self-esteem by being successful on the job. X had never lived on their own before. I supported X financially, kept track of the bills, and did many other "adult" things while X was recovering. I was feeling resentful and X was dependent on me and I know it wasn't good for either of us. I just didn't see how staying together would help because I had talked to X repeatedly about taking more responsibility and they would agree to but not do it.
Now that I am back, our roles are reversed. X nags at me about cleaning and says I am a slob, but X is just as much of one as I am. X nags me about the bills as I used to do to them. I've worked really hard at not nagging anymore.
I devoted myself to this person for half a decade, and it seems they are angry, resentful, and "paying me back" by withholding affection, just for needing a few months of restorative time to myself afterwards. X flat out refuses to have "relationship talks." I have to guess at what is going through their mind. My guess is they are angry that I abandoned them. They do have childhood abandonment issues that remain unaddressed. However, perhaps I am a reminder of a time when X was weak and needy. Or maybe X simply enjoyed living apart and now regrets asking me to move back in. Or maybe it's all of the above, or none of the above. How would I know when I am constantly getting stonewalled?
They almost have me convinced I was incredibly selfish and flaky to leave. I regret that I made the decision unilaterally but I wanted to think it over on my own and not torment X as I mulled it over and went back and forth.
When I apologize to X for leaving and hurting them, they are cold as a stone. X won't say they understand why I did it, nor will they say anything like "well, it's not about that, it's just that I really LIKED being on my own!" but I think if that were the deal, there wouldn't be any cutting remarks like, "well, you LEFT!"
I try not to be clingy. X now has friends and activities and I support that. X's life is better for having known me. I forgave their financial debt to me and I try not to act like X "owes" me for saving their life and supporting them through a hard time. I try not to hold that over their head. I admit that me doing this was part of the unhealthy dynamic we had before I left, and driven by resentment.
When we were first together, X did many addiction-driven things, like lying and stealing, that I completely forgave. Is my moving out unforgivable?
I am currently in therapy, but X won't go, as though wanting to drive home the point that the relationship is no longer all that important to them.
I wonder if X asked me to move back in for the sole purpose of punishing me for leaving. I'm heartbroken. I miss the partner I used to have, who was sweet to me. There are little glimpses of that person sometimes, but that's all. I feel that I hurt X so deeply that they have put up a wall against me now. I feel like I mishandled it, and ruined a relationship I valued more than any other. And I don't know what to do.