Dating in Recovery
When I came into Alcoholics Anonymous at the age of 23, I was a few months out of a long-term relationship. I am now grateful to have been single when I entered AA, because I was able to fully devote my time to the program. I wanted to be sober and clean so badly, I was willing to go to any lengths, but that could have been different if I was involved with the people I was connected to at that time in my life. Being a codependent person, I was lonely often, but I had an amazing sponsor and home group to ease the transition.
I progressed in AA and begin to grow and developed into someone who I wanted to be that I was afraid to let out before. I remember the first conversation I had with my sponsor at her house about sponsoring and what her role is in the program as my sponsor. Being my first time in AA she told me about 13 th stepping. I remember thinking, “Uh god! Don’t worry about me.” (Little did I know, the 13th step would prove to be a crucial one along my journey. or something to transition). The first meeting I regularly attended was primarily older adults. A few months into my sobriety, I found a meeting at ten o’clock at night which had a lot of young people there. I keep going back because it was nice to see I wasn’t the only person young and sober. It took a while to make friends, but at about 8 months sober, I began to make a few friends. There were only a few women at this meeting, and I began growing closer to one of them who was also friends with a lot of young men. I felt like I constantly had to set boundaries. I wanted to be single my first year of sobriety. I was always following suggestions and that was one I heard people talk a lot about. But of, course, around ten months sober, I met a young guy who started off as a friend (as most relationships do) and things began to progress.
We were interested in the same hobbies and had so much fun together. I couldn’t believe where my life was at! I was working on all of my attributes; I wanted this to be different from my relationships in the past where I was just living in my character defects. Ultimately, I can’t say the same for him. I was cheated on, and, to this day, that was the worst I felt in this program. I remember I wanted to escape my feelings so badly that I could go either way: back to a life of misery or progress and learn from this experience. Gratefully, I dove back into the program and took it as a lesson. It did take a while and a lot of calls to my sponsor, but I used her. I never made so many calls to her before, but I knew what to do when I was feeling vulnerable, and she never failed to answer my call.
Fast forward a year and half later, and this person after, after relapsing, came back to meetings and made an amends to me. We became friends and I truly hope the best for this person. This experience gave me so many lessons. Forgiveness was definitely one of them.
As you can imagine, after my experience with (let’s call him Steve),I wasn’t out trying to make things happen in the love department. I was afraid of putting myself back into another situation that may cause me emotional distress. I was afraid of actually having to again find my serenity in chaos. I was so used to my life being simple and not having much emotional disruption that I was terrified that a relationship might push me back into my insecure, fearful self. Lo and behold, I have a few friends in the program that talked me into trying online dating. They thought it might be a good way to build confidence and trying something different. I gave in and dated here and there. It did teach me a lot, but It was also kind of tough dating people who weren’t that open to my lifestyle. Some guys would say it wasn’t a big deal that I didn’t drink, but later, as they saw how serious I was about sobriety, decided that they drink too much and our dating probably wasn’t a good idea. When I let myself really like a guy and the courting fell through or a guy stopped talking to me once I said I don’t drink, it would really bother me. I had to seek my high power even harder during these times. I went through times where I wished I wasn’t who I am and wondered “why can’t my life be different?” At that same time though, I was immensely grateful to be able to live two lives in one, thanks to this program.
Finally, I met a guy I was really excited about; it was a long distance type of situation. We met online and he was also in the program (to my surprise). After a few weeks of talking and getting to know each other, he made a trip to see me. (Wow as I am writing this, I’m thinking I sound pathetic! Oh well. I’m just getting started!“ insert emoji here)
When he left we had an idea of where our relationship was going and what are possibilities for us were. He left on a Friday and I didn’t hear from him for a few days. I was trying not to get girl crazy and lose my mind, but it was definitely happening. From talking and face-timing all day long to nothing at all? I couldn’t believe it! Then a helpful friend asked if I had googled him. I was thinking like, “wtf?! No way have I googled him; that’s crazy!” When I got home that night, the thought came back to me. The next thing I know, I’m looking at a Baby’s R Us registry with his name on it, along with the due date of some chick I’d certainly never heard of. To make matters even stranger, her due date was my sobriety date! I nearly died. I couldn’t believe it. Let’s just say crazy Kayla came out to my friends and family. So I thought about it and sent him a screen shot of him and the baby, and wished him congratulations.
(MY LIFE! Yes, I am dramatic). Well, he definitely called me right away and gave me some lame apology– blah blah blah. I could tell he was genuinely upset about the situation, but we haven’t talked since. I did, however, learn that he got back together with his baby momma (Thanks, social media!).
Lessons learned: alwaysGoogle! Honestly though, I’m still not over it but working on it. To help, my sponsor told me something that changed me from living in self-pity to moving forward and accepting the situation. He said:“If he didn’t apologize to you, I am. Kayla, I am sorry, sorry that he hurt you, I am sorry for the pain you are going through.” (Sweet, right? Here’s the real kicker:) “Kayla you were honest, trusting, loving; you were yourself. But from here on out, if you change yourself because of him, that’s on you, not on him. Don’t let him change you! You did everything right.”
That’s exactly what I needed to hear. Now, any time I feel lonely, I think that this is certainly my lesson in solitude. As I grow everyday through this program, I keep in mind those words he shared with me. I know who am I am and who I don’t want to be. I am grateful I have these 12 steps and a high power of my own understanding to help me along the way. Don’t you forget these things either. Who are you? Who do you want to be? From here on out, if you change, let it be for you.
I would love to read your experiences changing for yourself, not for others or figuring out who you want to be. What about lessons learned through dating or means of coping with loneliness throughout the journey.