The efforts and the love you have been pouring into your partner are admirable. I see you. You have been, indeed, very strong for two, for a long time, and it saddens me that you’ve had no real support for yourself in the meantime. The path to find a balance between giving and receiving can be difficult, especially in a relationship where one is struggling in a way that is more obvious and visible. Which doesn’t mean there would be a scale of sufferings there, but that some struggles tend to be more silent than others.
I too am on the other side of the scope with my partner. Not because of an addiction, but because of depression and past traumas. I have had a burnout, and since then have been kind of stuck and on a constant freezing mode for two years, leaving me unable to work until very recently. My partner has been amazing and has kept our life afloat thanks to his own job. But he struggles too, and we’ve had our share of very difficult times when we were upset, impatient or hurting too much. In all honesty, something that has massively improved our relationship was for me to see a therapist, and even though my partner had tried seeing one for a bit, I have also always been encouraged to do so.
Sometimes the spaces we need and the type of support we need can’t be found in the relationship with our significant one. It is a reminder that there is the relationship, but there are also two individuals with specific needs, and it is okay to look outside of it in order to find it. Professionals, counselors, therapists, support groups as well can give a real breather to both and, as a result, allow each partner to give more room and time to the relationship itself when they are together. All in all, it is a fine balance to create, together yet also separately, which requires some very honest and regular communication with our partner.
You know, seeing my partner struggling, the fact that he told me about it, that he was more honest about what’s on his heart regarding my situation, was of course very painful and brought its share of grief. But it also gave me a lot of motivation too regarding the steps I needed to take. I knew for example that I could lose him if I kept doing nothing about it, if I didn’t dare to overcome my fears and finally look after a therapist, and start getting medications. With his own vulnerability, my partner also made me see and acknowledge that this was not just about me, but also about him and how it affects him everyday. Today I am grateful that he told me about it, because that way he could also start to rely on me, in a different way - I don’t provide with a job, but I make sure our home is fine, I cultivate little attentions, I am more cuddly and reassuring when I see him tired, I am more inclined to handle chores/responsibilities that I was convinced I couldn’t.
I hope with all my heart that communication will become more and more open for the both of you. You deserve to have a voice too. Yes, it could be tough for your partner to be more aware of it, but it can also be explained in a loving and caring way. Vulnerability is a strength. It is also inspiring and can have a positive impact on the people we love. It makes mutual trust stronger, and opens new opportunities to work together, to set new rules, and just a common ground to walk on, as being the strong one, suffering in silence, as its own limits in the long run.