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October 2

Now that he’s sober, should I try and get him back?

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 8:51 am

This Is Your Relationship on DrugsThe Predicament of the Week from November 9, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

At the risk of sounding redundant, I really like what you’re doing here. Your advice is sound and thoughtful and you have a warmth and humor that really translates. I also appreciate that a lot of the letters are really really long and you print them, because in matters of the heart, these things are complicated. But enough about you.

I met my (currently) ex-boyfriend Nick four years ago. We had the HUGE love thing, that instantaneous, dramatic, mind-meld, soulmate thing. We ended up moving in together almost immediately. The problem was that he was The Ultimate Party Boy. He could not walk by a drug without taking it, stayed out all night, left me alone when I was sick in favor of a party, drank ungodly amounts of alcohol, that sort of thing. At the same time, he was this amazing guy. Big blue eyes, long dark lashes, brimming with sincerity, said all the right things, was committed to me and always said he wanted to settle down and be the kind of man his father was. His father was a rock, pretty much John Wayne. He’s been dead for 15 years and people still talk about him in hushed, awed terms.

Nick spun ever deeper into the hole of drugs and alcohol (I don’t drink at all, just don’t like the taste). In the meantime we got two amazing beagle puppies (because I thought we would be together forever) and bought a house in the suburbs. I am originally from NYC, so this was a novel, completely unexpected thing, a little ironic but also very pleasant. His family came up with the money for the down payment and we paid the mortgage together, though I wasn’t on the papers because his stepfather was already co-signing. But I digress.

Last summer his partying reached a critical point. He was coming home at seven or eight a.m. almost regularly, wasn’t calling and when he did call to say he was coming home now he still wouldn’t come through the door for three more hours. And then he was mad at me for being mad. Finally I told him he had to choose between me and this lifestyle, naturally expecting him to choose me but he DIDN’T! Stunned, amazed, but also fed up, I decided to return to NYC, having completed my college degree. With the dissolution of my relationship, I couldn’t see the point in staying there. Chicago is too small a town when you’re trying to avoid someone and his career (chef) is on the brink of greatness. He went to stay with his mother while I was preparing to leave, drank even more and eventually became really ill with hepatitis (A, B, C? Who remembers?). We also started fighting about what stuff I was taking, which surprised me because A) I was taking only what I needed, and B) he always said that stuff didn’t matter, I could take everything if I wanted it. Then his evil mother and grandmother stepped in and started telling me what I could and could not take, that everything they had ever given me had in fact been for Nick and the house and was not mine at all. They started calling me all kinds of names, saying that the stuff was why I had been there all the time, when I was still reeling from the impact of the breakup, the crush to come up with money for NYC, and the shock of going back to NYC after a seven year absence. When they left the house, they took my keys with them, thereby trapping me there, carless, afraid to leave the house because they could then lock me out of it if I left. So I galvanized my friends and they came over and got me and all my stuff out. Very dramatic, very stressful.

So I’m in NY, I miss my house, miss my life, miss my dogs, am also pissed as hell that he’s done this to me after all I’d been through already with him. So I call him up, having previously gone underground, fearing repercussions from the family. F*ck me, I still love him, despite everything.

So we start talking again, he comes to NY for a visit a few months later, it’s amazing, all that. His alcoholism is also much advanced. I am shocked, never in four years have I seen him in this shape. He goes back and begins campaigning in earnest for me to return. It has to be me returning and him not coming here because he has the house and he’s the chef of a restaurant that will make his career, so he kinda has to be there more than I need to be in NY.

I feel great pressure to return, want to, miss him, love him, but I have reservations. One day he calls and says he’s going into a drug and alcohol treatment program. This is new, never been done, I am impressed. Though all around me tell me to give it a year before I consider returning, there is a lot to be said for going through it with someone and supporting them, so despite everything, I throw it all in a truck and drive back to Chicago. I have stayed in NY seven months.

Back in Chicago I have to deal with the embarrassment of seeing neighbors who know why I left the first time, seeing his family who have shown me exactly who they really are, and the mystification of my NY/Chicago friends and family. On the other hand, the dogs and the house are bliss and I am looking forward to the life I should have had with this guy before, which is now possible due to his detox and new lease on life, which he’s been telling me all about for weeks.

Except that almost as soon as he got out of the hospital and went back to work I started smelling liquor on him. Denial. On both our parts. Then he started missing meetings and stopped talking about his progress. Inevitably, he relapsed and he relapsed big. I saw it all coming and bailed out, just left him without even saying anything, almost four months to the day that I got back. I knew he was drinking and driving, I knew he was predisposed to serious illness when he drank too much, and I didn’t want to go through it all again. So I left a note and disappeared in NY again. This was in June of this year. I have been back now for three months.

For most of that time I did not contact him at all, having left a note telling him not to contact me and to get on with his life. You know, of course, that my curiosity got the better of me and I did call. Everything happened that I had thought would. Three drunk-driving accidents in three days, a total relapse and a spinal injury from one of the accidents. Oddly enough, he says that I saved his life by leaving because it provided the shock he needed to get back into the program. Now he says he’s been in it again for almost two months and it’s totally different than the first time because then he hadn’t wanted to stop, he was just a dry drunk.

He’s thrilled to hear from me, but get this: He met a girl!!! What the f*ck?! He said, “Well, what could I do? You wrote that you weren’t the girl for me and to get on with my life and now this has happened. I thought I would never hear from you again.”

SO NOW, this girl is having the life with him that I should have been having. I earned it! She gets Sober Nick, Nick With The Great Career, Nick Who Refinanced The House. It’s just not fair. And I never stopped loving him, I just left because I didn’t want to winess the carnage firsthand, which indeed came to pass. He still loves me, I know if I pushed it, I could easily start our relationship up again, and on some level we have, just by speaking to one another.

So I know I’m an idiot, I know I should get out and stay out, BUT I LOVE HIM. Can’t get away from it, we had the whole life, no one else is like him and if he’s sober now, then he’s everything I wanted him to be. There’s just a comfort level with him, no one knows me better, nor do I know anyone better than him.

I guess what I wanted was for him to be alone and pine away for me while improving himself to the point where I would agree to have him again. But with this girl, I’m just afraid that he’s going to rush into a marriage and baby (he’s got the baby bug) and someone else is going to get the life with him that I fought for.

So I need some advice. A) How rational is it for me to think that things could really work out for us, given our history? B) If it is a bad idea, how do I get it out of my head and stop living in abject misery? How do I forget him, why do I have to, can’t I have my own way for once? Please advise.

— Sad Potato

Dear Sad,

Nope, not “fair” at all. Totally not. You’re right about that, as you are about almost everything in your incredibly wise, articulate, honest letter.

Almost everything. You’ve got two bloopers in here based on this particular premise: “She gets Sober Nick, Nick With The Great Career, Nick Who Refinanced The House.” As far as it describes your feelings, this statement is dead on. BUT:

A. As Belleruth points out, “You say this girl is having the Nick you should have had. But guess what: you don’t know this Nick. Never did. Your dreamboat was Party Boy from the getgo. Dry Nick is a different guy. He may be delightful; he may be a complete drag (remember ‘Fun Bobby’ on Friends?). I can’t help but add that he certainly has a creepy family, dry or wet. In any case, you should not try to find out. For one big thing it’s possible that if you ever rolled back into bed, he’d roll off the wagon. Which would NOT be your fault. But the fact is, his associations with your relationship are all connected to substance abuse.”

B. The following observation is not intended to make you insta-happy, nor to make you feel/act like some kind of righteous martyr. But as you trudge down the moving-on trail the only way you can — one day at a time, as they say — it may give you a glimpse of the bigger panorama.

Consider this, Potato: you DO get Sober Nick, Nick With The Great Career, Nick Who Refinanced The House. Not as a lover, no. But as in: he’s still here. You get him, Planet Earth gets him.

He said you saved his life, Sad Potato. Believe him.

You did what you needed to do for YOU, basically, and voila: You get Good Nick on your list of People Who Are Around Because of Me. You may not have Boyfriend Nick, but very few people have that list.

Breakup Girl

P.S. Thanks for the kind words.


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