We Lead Different Lives

By E.G.

I had been with her earlier in the day. We couldn’t spend more time together because I was going to a party and did not think about spending time with her instead.

Thoughtless. Careless.

I let the difference in our lives separate us physically and emotionally.

Later that night, I remember sitting in my bed after the party, drunk, confused and disappointed in myself. I could feel the separation between us. She was distant in every aspect, especially in how she communicated with me that night. She was cold. I was so anxious, it viscerally hurt. I felt paralyzed, like I was incapable of handling the situation. I feared that I wouldn’t be able to even sustain our relationship.

“Fuck, how do I do this?” I thought to myself. “I fucked up and did not communicate with her, like I said I would. Why couldn’t I do that?”

 I was struggling with understanding her disease of addiction, which was a major factor in the emotional gap between us

 I did not fully understand why she needed me to communicate frequently while I was drinking.

“Just trust me, it’s not that fucking hard”.

Again, I was not mindful of her sensitivity and fragile feelings towards alcohol. I was not ready to be in this relationship.  But here I was, in this relationship.

I had never before experienced having a relationship with an alcoholic or addict and I was the letting the differences between us, and in our lives, kill our relationship. I assumed the difference between us would always be very prevalent.

I would just go out on the weekends, and see her during the week. That was my mindset. Again, fucking thoughtless.

 In most relationships, couples have similar lifestyles. They share social groups, schedules and settings. In our relationship, our lifestyles are very different in almost every aspect of the word. This difference can lead to frustration and disagreement; a permeable, painful dissonance.

Our lives were different in many ways and I allowed that difference to create distance between us.

I go to school and live in a house with six other roommates, who use drugs and alcohol. My girlfriend is currently on a hiatus from school, is working, and living with her friend’s family in a family-type environment. The majority of my friends are people based from Seattle University, whereas for my girlfriend, most of her friends are based in recovery. I have noticed that is can be difficult for her to connect with her friends from college, because everyone is so busily enmeshed in activities that focus on drinking and partying.

There is a natural distance and separation between our lives that will always be present. I simply cannot change that. Although we have gotten much better in connecting our lives together, there will still always be a separation. I am lucky enough to have developed relationships with some of her friends, but my girlfriend hasn’t been so lucky. Many of my friends use and it is not healthy for her to be around that.  They simply don’t understand what she is going through.

This separation almost destroyed our relationship. If not for our individual change and growth, I am unsure if we would still be together.

There was a moment along the way, where I decided to embrace the differences between us. Different is a good thing, and our differences helped us grow stronger together. It’s not easy, but this difference in lifestyle is no reason to end our relationship. These differences have opened me up to many aspects of life that were previously unknown to me. It is through the lenses of my relationship that I have actually learned more about myself.

I am grateful for the dissimilarities in our lives.  The differences have brought us closer and made our relationship stronger. Once I accepted this immutable fact of my life, I was better able to show up for my relationship and my girlfriend.  At the end of the day, all that matters is my love and care for her.