September 28, 2012
Lying about drugs on November 9, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I met Rebecca nearly seven years ago in high school and we were friends until she went away to college two years later. We lost touch until about eighteen months ago, when she returned back to the area to start her career.
After ten months of hanging out once or twice a week I came to the realization that I wanted to take the relationship to a ‘higher level’ and expressed this to her. She considered it and agreed, and we committed to one another romantically.
At the time I was a regular user of marijuana. I smoked maybe three or four times a week with my friends, and she had done it once or twice in college. Two months into our new relationship, she expressed concern that I was smoking too often. Looking for a good reason to quit, I promised at that point to give it up.
Two months later, after little in the way of struggle, I smoked pot again. I told her about it, and, while she was concerned, she was happy I told her and we left it at that. The problem is, my usage didn’t end there. I started doing it every couple of weeks, consistently.
Meanwhile, the relationship continued to get better. We started travelling with one another, and we spent the night at one another’s apartments three or four nights a week. We were in love and the future looked bright. We rarely had any kind of tense moments and even then we resolved them quickly. Except for the issue with pot. She seemed to be a touch suspicious and would bring up the topic every now and again. I would deny any kind of involvement with dope out of the fear of losing her or causing her undue grief.
September 27, 2012
From geek to freak on November 9, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I’m a sixteen-year-old girl who had been in a relationship for 1 and half years with my “first love.” First I’ll tell you a little about our relationship. I meet him my first day of high school (he’s a year older). He was the sweetest person in the world. I was the total b*tch. He tried everything to win my heart. We became very close friends and he never gave up the chase to win me over. Finally after denying to myself for 7 months that I also cared about him, we hooked up. The relationship has always been bumpy. Mainly because were two teenagers trying to find ourselves. See, he was a total nerd when I first met him. He let everyone walk all over him. Now he has totally changed his attitude and look. We have the same exact friends. We have only gone out on two dates out entire one-and–half-year relationship. We mainly just hang out with each other in a big group of our friends.
This past summer he totally changed. Started smoking pot every weekend, started pulling away from me. I’ve been a “bad girl” in the past. I’ve done my share drugs to see what it does to people. I’ve even had friends die because of their habits. But I learned my lesson and have stayed away from drugs, except for the occasional beer, shot, etc. Another thing is I’m in a really tough part of my life. I live with my mother, stepfather and my two half-brothers. My family has never lived in the same place for more than 3 years. Because of this, I don’t have many friends and I’m a really quiet shy person. I’ve spent the past five months going to doctors, having test done to figure out my ongoing health problems. My family lives in PA; the rest of our family lives in MN. My family is losing my grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And I still can’t get over my grandfather’s death, even though it was four years ago. I really need my boyfriend (ex-boyfriend) right now, but all he cares about is going out and partying. I know it’s his senior year but I really need him. See, I don’t really have any friends and he’s the pretty much the only person I can trust. But I don’t trust him when he gets high and goes out with his friends. WE had always hung out together and now he just wants to hang out with the boys. And that means going to parties where’s there’s drugs, and other girls. I guess I’m hurt that he doesn’t want to spend any more time with me. I know I’ve been a b*tch, but I have improved a lot. I don’t know what to do. He has always been my security and now he’s not there. Granted we’ve only been broken up for a week, but we’ve been broken up before. He always seems to come back, but now I don’t know if he is going to. It’s really hard to love someone so much and then all of a sudden they tell you that there’s nothing left anymore. He also has had a tough life. He works 11 hours a day during the summer and has to give his paycheck to his family. His mother is extremely strict and set in her ways. His family is pretty much poor because of a heavy debt. I know he is in the process of finding himself. I’ve also been his first kiss, first real girlfriend, etc. I just don’t know what to do. I’m so lost and all I need is him right now. I’m sorry for rambling on and on. Thank you for listening.
BG’s answer after the jump!
September 26, 2012
A long dry spell around November 9, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
First of all, please allow me pay homage to your site. It rocks, really.
Okay… where to start? Well, I am a 19 year-old male college freshman and I have a problem — I don’t drink. Doesn’t sound like a problem yet? Ah, but read on… I go to a school where it would be the understatement of the year (perhaps of the decade) to say, “lots of people drink.” EVERYBODY here drinks (except me, it seems). There are huge parties every weekend, beer flows in the streets, people sleep on the lawns, etc… Typical college campus.
This isn’t normally a problem for me. I study a lot, I juggle, I play ping-pong, I do lots of stuff that doesn’t require drinking. The problem arises in my relations with the opposite sex. Now, I hope it’s not too weird not to “want” a girl who smells like beer and/or who just threw up on herself from drinking way too much.
This is why it’s been difficult for me to do anything relationship-wise, because I am afraid that anybody I ask out will be a drinker, and everything we do will end up being based on that activity, which I abhor. I also fear that when/if I start dating a girl and I tell her that I don’t drink, she will drop me like yesterday’s Bud and go find herself a brand new Jack Daniels to party with.
September 25, 2012
A heroine fix from November 9, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
This is hard. I dated a guy briefly, and it didn’t work out. He understands this, but beyond us, his life is crumbling. He accepted a corporate job in computers at age 20, and hasn’t been able to let go of his old lifestyle. His friends are all musicians, some of them the best, and he’s the odd man out/in. He’s their rational, their accomplisher, their answer man. HE feels bad leaving the party early, he feels dedicated to his job. Now let me explain where I come in:
I love this man, dearly. He’s beautiful, with eyes that’ll melt your heart. He’s super-smart, but in an off-beat, real-world way. He’s been ill (ulcers) to the point of almost dying. He’s a heroin junkie. You see, when we broke up, he decided that getting back together would be too much for me, and felt he would drag me down. He’s proceeded to isolate himself from his friends most of the time, and has been using copious amounts of drugs. He has the $$$ to keep it up; he has the stubborness to ignore the warnings. He’s the best thing that ever happened to most of the people I know, his company, and maybe even people who don’t know him yet. I can’t help feeling guilty watching him die off like this. It won’t be long. And he’s pushing everyone further and further away emotionally. Recently his ex killed herself, blaming him in the “final” note. He’s provided me with e-mail (owns the server), a place when I’m lonely, money when I’m short, and compassion when I need it, and I feel so helpless. I know his time is drawing near, if he doesn’t stop. But I can’t make him. The more I try the deeper he goes. Do I walk, or do I force him to help himself? If he dies, there will be a void in many people’s lives, mine included. I’m sorry this sounds so cluttered, but, those are my thoughts.
BG’s advice after the jump!
September 24, 2012
Ask anyone single, and they will tell you that the number of, well, couples is on the rise. Ask anyone at the Department of Health and Human Services, and they will tell you that while overall drug use is down, use of cocaine and heroin is creeping up, especially among people under 26. Merge these trends and you’ve got the strung-out boyfriends and girlfriends of tomorrow. And right now, boyfriends and girlfriends of today’s drug users are writing to Breakup Girl to ask (among other things): When drugs are a crowd … do I just say Go?
Remember, Breakup Girl is only a superhero, not a trained substance abuse counselor. But it doesn’t take a trained counselor to notice how many letters arrive in my e-mailbox in which the bad guy’s name is Jack Daniels — or, the bad girl’s, St. Pauli; in which chemicals kill chemistry; in which certain substances are not so controlled; in which the writer doesn’t know whether to be furious or terrified. Or to know how it feels to get dumped at the 1980-something eighth grade Beach Dance because you didn’t have much — that is, much interest in smoking pot — in common.
There are plenty of resources out there for family members and parents of substance abusers but, according to BG’s supercomputer, not as much help is obviously available for Others who, once drugs enter the picture, feel a whole lot less Significant. And who, as such, have their own set of concerns about guilt, partnership, trust, “enabling,” gauging the toughness of love.
So where do you start?
Here’s the would-that-it-were-that-simple bottom line (with a little help from BG.com’s Actual Credentialed Expert, Belleruth):
If it’s to the point where the bad mojo is really interfering with your honey’s — and/or your — ability to work and play and love and feel; or if a large portion of your energy is going into responding to the substance abuse, thinking about it, planning around it… the deal is: get help or get out.
This if…then either/or might sound like a big Breakup Girl DUH, but it’s not. Because:
1. Substance abuse problems are often more subtle: no needles in the den, no dates with dealers … but how about “social” drinking that gets anti- every time? Pot before class? Pain dulled with dope instead of dealt with?
2. At the other end of the caveat spectrum, most partners — user and Other — kid themselves about how bad things are getting. Especially because the abuse — like domestic violence — often escalates incrementally. So things can get out of control before you’re even clued in.
And even if you already know that either getting (a) help or (b) out are your only real options: how do you decide?
The answer is: ask. Someone with particular expertise in the peculiar dynamics of drugs-plus-love.
Still, it’s totally fine to start the asking with Breakup Girl. To use a cliched-but-true recoveryism: the first step is admitting there’s a problem. This is true for the People Who Do Drugs, and — for the reasons in points 1 and 2 above — it’s an equally tricky and trippy step (though in different ways) for the People Who Love Them. So Bravisimi to those of you who’ve already written.
For the third step, you may wish to check out: The hotline at the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (1-800-662-HELP), general information about substance abuse, organizations that deal with it, various support groups, plus alternative ways of dealing and healing.
A version of this column originally appeared on November 9, 1998.
September 13, 2012
Last week, Feeling Adolescent wondered how many steps to take with a flirty fellow recoverer. BG and BR basically said, “Who-hoo!” But a reader named Christine stepped in to say, “Whoa!”
There most certainly is a “rule” about dating in the first year of recovery in 12-Step programs, and for a good reason. It leads to big emotional upheavals that dramatically increase the chances of “relapse,” or the return to the use of drugs and alcohol. The suggestion that a woman with only two months of clean time from drugs should get involved or pursue a romantic relationship is seriously in error.
I’ve been sober a modest eight years, but in that time I have known a number of people to drink or use drugs over “relationship” issues. The consequences of that happening are much greater than most people realize. A number of people close to me have died from heroin overdoses or having shot themselves while in a blackout. I will see that again, I’m sure. Recovery for an alcoholic/addict is really life or death, not a romantic puzzle. A relapse for an alcoholic or addict has greater consequences than is often portrayed on TV. It isn’t just “falling off of the horse and getting back in the saddle again,” a characterization I saw on that show “JAG” about military lawyers. Many never come back to recovery, or they try and never get more than a short period of sobriety again. I have seen this time and again.
I’ve known people who, after years in AA, froze to death on the streets of DC, across the street from the White House! Make no mistake, it could happen to your reader. And her sobriety is not the only one at risk. Many times, the person with longer sobriety who has a relationship with a newcomer also drinks.
There is a mechanism in 12 step programs called “sponsorship.” People can get help and emotional support from someone with more recovery experience and emotional stability. It has been my observation that newcomers (people with less than a year of continuous sobriety) are especially needy and vulnerable. The reaction/temptation is to attach to someone else as a distraction. Often it is a sadrepetition of previous poor relationship patterns. I seem to recall something you wrote about a new insight into oneself does not necessarily mean everything will be better with the next one. [See Duderino Rides Again.] You can double that for early recovery.
It never seems that way, though. I remember what it was like. Suddenly I didn’t have a hangover every day and I started to notice flowers and sunny days. Why not the sunny days of my heart? Can’t that awaken now, too? Yes. Just not yet. A little more time. It’s tough to see now, but severe damage has been done mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. We keep ourselves from really seeing how bad it got for a couple of years. So waiting a year is the least she can do. Thank you.
BG responds: Thank YOU, Christine. Our bad. So many people have trouble finding a natural buzz with someone in the first place, you see, we just get a little excited when someone actually does. So, FA, you may not be able to shut down your feelings entirely (nor he his). But yes, looks like you should discuss them with a sponsor to find out where to put them — if anywhere — ’til, oh, November 1999 at least. And let’s hope that the promise of “reawakening the sunny days of your hearts,” clean and sober, with him or whomever, helps all of you stay strong and well.
This comment originally appeared November 9, 1998.
September 12, 2012
Not appealing on November 2, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Two days ago on a park bench (cliche!) my boyfriend of a year and a half broke up with me. I think. His grounds? Law school. He explained that his first year at law school has monopolized his time, and that he can’t be good to anybody else right now, blah blah, and that he felt helpless and guilty that he was unable to be as good a boyfriend as he had in the past. All of this was said through tears. He then insisted that this was not a breakup but a hiatus and closed the deal by saying he loved me. What is the dilly? Am I dumped or what?
– Law School Widow
Yes. Truly sorry. But at least he said it through tears. Not through, say, an attorney.
September 11, 2012
Not getting the message on November 2, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
There is this girl whom I’ve known for quite awhile and have liked romantically but still haven’t got anywhere with her other than just being friends. To combine problems she lives in another state but I do see her on a regular basis. She is moving in the near future and I have suggested that she to move closer to me. Anyway, the problem I have is her mixed signals. I read your advice on just asking and I have tried hard to get a response. I have backed her into a corner (so to speak) to get a response about whether she wants me romantically or wants me to just to be friends. She doesn’t say anything either way. I always give her an opportunity to back out and she never does. I have been the “nice guy” without trying too hard like you suggested. I have tested the waters by sending her flowers and gifts without too much of a response either way. I do really like this girl but it seems to be a one sided deal and would like a reponse either way. If she doesn’t like me I would like to hear it from her, instead of always being accommodating. What do you suggest I do to win her over (if that’s possible) ?
BG’s answer after the jump!
September 10, 2012
Further investigation from November 2, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I was recently dumped by the one who I thought of as perfect. We had fun, talked easily, felt comfortable with each other and had great chemistry to boot. Suddenly he starts making “I’m not ready for a committment” noises and he takes up with someone else. I think I’ve done a fairly good job of moving on. It took four weeks and a 10 pound weight loss, but I think I’m getting better. But tell me, how does one deal with the urge to stalk? I found out as much about HER as I could. (She’s a player with a less than sterling reputation.) I go by her house to see if he’s there. (He always is.) It hurts me to know that he’s with her and not me. Why do I keep doing this to myself?
I really hope that you didn’t lose 10 pounds by jogging by her house. Some of what you call “stalking” (which is actually a serious word that we should try not to throw around) — or at least the urge — is natural and understandable. What’s she got that I ain’t? You want the 411. But when the 411 is too much information, why do you keep dialing? Good question. Why, in fact, do we keep doing anything that smarts? Maybe, in this case, because being dumped makes you feel like such a helpless, passive victim that torturing yourself is a weird twisted therapy — “Hey,” you think, “at least I have a say in being hurt this time.”
September 7, 2012
Next Page »
Unsettled on November 2, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have a problem. I’m almost 24, and am feeling very unsettled with life at the moment. Some major changes have happened over the last year or so. My relationship of 5 years ended, I finished University, made a cross-country move, I got a job, got laid off, got another job, changed my religion (from Christianity to Paganism) and made some great friends in my new city who all subsequently moved overseas. I now have no friends and am finding it hard to meet others (and yes, I have done all those things like join clubs etc).
But, that is not my problem. I want to travel. I am currently saving money so I can get going. I will be going to Scotland to meet up with one of my friends who left, and we will then backpack the world. Pretty much going wherever we feel like. I have wanted to do this for ages, and am not about to change my mind now.
My problem is this. I am reaching that age when people expect you to settle down, buy a house/apartment, get married, start really shooting up the corporate ladder etc. But, I am not in the least bit interested in all this mundane reality. Not yet anyway. However, I am finding increasing pressure to start settling down, look for a boyfriend and potential future husband and ease into full adulthood. The family (who I am once again living with to save money for my big adventure) constantly drop broad hints about this. But I am not ready, and quite frankly don’t know if I ever will be. At the moment I could quite easily spend the next 10 years picking olives in Greece, sweeping floors in Mexico and building walls in China. Is this vision unrealistic? Am I too old to be doing this now? Is 35 too old to really start your adult life? How do I make the family understand? All these questions! Yet, in my soul I know this is something I have to do for myself. If I don’t I will eternally regret it.
Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated.Thanks.
BG’s answer after the jump!