How do I Handle my First Sober Heartbreak?

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I had been sober for three years when he walked out the door. He literally just got up in the middle of a television program, and without saying a word, he walked out the door and never came back.

We hadn’t even had an argument.

Seven years earlier, I developed an addiction to prescription pain killers after I broke my pelvis in a skiing accident when I was 15. By the age of 19, I was having a hard time keeping it together. Then Kurt walked into my life.

Within weeks, we were living together, and it wasn’t long until he caught on to my addiction. But instead of breaking up with me, he helped me get sober.

The next two years were fairly happy ones. We had our ups and downs like any other couple, but I didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary. The last year we were together, I sensed some sort of shift on his part, though. I asked him several times if everything was okay, and he said yes, so I trusted him.

And then he pulled this crap.

I cried myself to sleep that first night, but when I awoke in the morning, I figured he would call or stop by, apologize or explain, but I got nothing.

I didn’t go to work that day. I thought surely he would come by that evening, and when he didn’t, I went from sadness to madness. How dare he spend the last three years of his life with me and then just walk out of my life like he never knew me!

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had just transitioned from denial to anger in the five stages of grief. I was going to soon learn that grieving wasn’t reserved strictly for the loss of a loved one through death. One also grieves the loss of a relationship.

I was never much of a drinker, but I had a sudden urge to get smashed, so I called my best friend, Melissa, and asked her to do some bar hopping with me. Melissa, who was in her last year of nursing school had a better idea, and we met at Starbucks instead.


Over mocha frappes, she told me it was okay to be angry; in fact, it was perfectly normal and healthy. But, as an addict, how I deal with that anger is critical.

Then she gave me some interesting advice: Listen to funny break-up songs. She even had some already downloaded for me to listen to. The reprieve may have only been for a few minutes, but it was long enough to dispel my desire to go out drinking.

After that, we discussed the next three stages of grief: bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

When we go through a breakup, we can find ourselves tempted to try to talk the other person into coming back to us, and if we are rejected, relapse could be right around the corner.

Instead, she suggested treating myself to something special or starting a new hobby. I chose a day at the spa.

When the depression hit, I realized I couldn’t do this on my own, and I started going to 12-step meetings. I had never been to one before and was very nervous, but soon found that I was in a room full of new friends, friends who truly understood me.

I’ll probably never know why Kurt left, but what I do know is that I have grown tremendously in the process. Acceptance had finally come.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, you can talk to us about addiction treatment programs  at our affordable drug and alcohol rehab that fit your needs, call us today at (844) 494-4939.  The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective addiction treatment center in Southern California.

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  • Lori says:

    Are you able to help those who are currently homeless with no employment?

    My friend needs help on recovery from alcohol


    • Jim Sugel says:

      Hi Lori, since every case is so different there’s no way to analyze the situation via comments here. I would suggest calling our intake line at (877) 959-2711. They can answer any questions you may have.