Recovery isn’t the prettiest thing. There are numerous unpleasant physical issues that we can have to deal with as well as the incredibly overwhelming mental aspect of the process: massive water retention (edema), bloating, constipation and/or diarrhoea, uncomfortable and unpleasant amounts of gas, extreme hunger, night sweats…the list goes on. This generally makes us feel not entirely loving towards our bodies, and this can affect the way we think our partners (if we have one) perceive us. We can become incredibly self-conscious around them and feel embarrassed at letting them see us this way.
“I look pregnant!” is a common complaint that I hear from people about their recovery bodies. Well, this is what it would be like if you were pregnant, so if you two are seriously loved up and settled, this will be a trial run (I’m only kidding. Half kidding.).
Your partner is with you because he/she likes you for you. He/she also cares about you. And because he/she cares about you, he/she wants to see you get well. So yeah okay, you’re gassy and swollen and sweaty but so what? It’s not a big deal. I’ve looked after people I love when they are sick and vomiting, or have fevers and are sweating, or are drunk and have thrown up over themselves, or are like “babe I have the worst diarrhoea” – that’s just life. We see our partners at their most unappealing and we love them anyway. So if your body being swollen and sweaty are the temporary side effects to you getting happier and healthier, then he/she’s really not going to care. If he/she loves and cares about you, he/she will laugh along with you at your belly noises and farts (I used to wake myself and my previous partner up in the night on numerous occasions in recovery when I had bad gas). He/she will admire your ability to eat the entire contents of your fridge, and will high five you for it. He/she will give you massages to help you with your swelling and aches. And if it’s affecting your desire to have sex he/she will get over the fact that you don’t really feel like hopping in the sack right now and will just look forward to when you can again rather than begrudge you for it now.
You have to remember that your partner holds your best interests at heart. A mature, loving relationship will not be negatively affected by your physical state in recovery. Your partner should hold your hand and accompany you encouragingly on your journey to recovery. They will be there with unflinching support, however unattractive you may deem yourself to be. How you view yourself is not how they view you. Always remember that.