I knew from the beginning that Robert* was an addict.
He never did hard drugs, but his alcoholism was severe, to say the least.
The fact that he was a bartender as well did not help matters. He drank at work every night, often an entire fifth of whiskey, along with other liquor.
I am the daughter of a recovering alcoholic, so this obviously should’ve been a huge red flag for me.
Instead, I told myself it was simply a casual physical relationship. I would never get attached because he obviously had issues that kept him from being functional as a partner.
How could I get emotionally involved with someone who I saw falling down drunk almost every single day?
Of course, it was never that simple.
Being a silly, romantic girl, I was flattered by his obvious interest in me.
He showered me with compliments, and frequently expressed his great attraction to me.
I’ve never had a lot of self-esteem about my appearance, so this continual praise was like my own sort of drug. I tried my best to keep it casual, only seeing him one or two night a week, and never going on dates.
Unfortunately, Robert was more sensitive under that layer of booze than I had bargained for.
He began hinting that he actually liked me, but it was always when he was so drunk, he didn’t recall the conversation the next day.
This was convenient for me, but I felt guilty.
I did not want to give up the ease of having a regular sexual partner, and to be honest, I was probably using him to get over a previous relationship that left me devastated.
I was being unfair and I knew it.
I justified my behavior by telling myself that he knew the deal when we started hooking up. Still, he wore me down, and eventually, we began dating.
I don’t think I quite realized the damage done to me until much later.
He was moody and erratic, and I had to learn to tailor my behavior to his.
I would show up at his door, never knowing if he would accept me with affection, or give me the cold shoulder because of some imagined slight.
Looking back, I can honestly say that he treated me like sh*t, and I put up with it.
I thought maybe if he cared about me enough, he would get his act together. I knew he could be great when he was sober. The problem was, he was always wasted.
In addition to his alcoholism, I quickly realized Robert was a sex addict.
He was well aware of both of these issues, but refused to do anything about it.
The good news was, he focused all of his sexual attention on me (though later in our involvement, he threatened to cheat on me because he “didn’t trust” me).
The bad news was that there was no way for us to live like a normal couple once I finally gave in and became one.
We couldn’t do anything – and I mean anything – without him trying to get some in the process.
It irritated me. I thought I liked his attraction to me, but it became apparent that it had nothing to do with me at all.
It was about ownership, possession and insecurity.
He never let me visit him at work because he said he couldn’t stand the idea of other men hitting on me in front of him.
He got angry with me if I had to get a ride home from our coworker’s male relatives. There was no trust, no communication and no real love.
He’s a little boy, not a man, and I don’t know that he will ever grow up.
He always begged me to do things sexually that I felt uncomfortable with, despite my repeated refusal.
I said no over and over again, but next time he was drunk he pressured me again.
When I eventually gave in to some of his requests, I felt awful about them, myself and him.
Why was I staying with someone who treated me this way?
Why did I beg him to come back every time he broke up with me (which was often)?
I spent hours, staying up all night, until I convinced him to give it another chance.
My self-esteem was below zero at that point.
He was insanely jealous, unreasonable and immature.
He’s honestly a mess of a person, and now that I have distance from the situation, I feel sorry for him.
He isn’t bad deep in his heart, but he was very, very bad for me.
I thought we had a connection because we were both depressed, and moody and frustrated – but that’s not the kind of connection you want with the person you love.
I don’t think he will ever understand how much he screwed me up.
I definitely went in to my next relationship too quickly because I was so happy to have met a wonderful, sweet, normal man who liked me for me. It was so different than the "love" I was used to.
Unfortunately, I dragged a lot of the baggage from my chaotic saga with Robert with me.
I never took the time between the two to heal, and I regret that.
I know for a fact that I messed up with that amazing guy because I was still reeling from the emotional and mental trauma of my abusive relationship with an addict.
I am a strong, intelligent, good person who became inextricably tangled in a relationship that massively damaged my confidence, heart and my soul.
I never thought I would let that happen to me, and I did. It can happen to anyone.
I thought I was helping him, but instead I was only hurting myself.
Your love cannot save anyone else. Only that person can save himself.
I learned that the hardest way possible.
*Names have been changed for privacy purposes.