Relationships in recovery: Bliss or a miss?

A discussion of topics related to relationships in recovery and treatment
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Relationships in recovery: Bliss or a miss?

Postby Dallas » Tue May 08, 2007 11:07 pm

Relationships in recovery: A bliss or a miss?

It's been terribly quiet over here in the relationships in recover forum! The last post was about a week after Valentine's Day! What gives? I wonder if its... because everyone in a relationship is having such a bliss of an experience... that they don't have time to write about it? :lol: :lol:


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Postby anniemac » Wed May 09, 2007 5:01 pm

For me, the thing with this topic is that I don't know what is appropriate for an AA forum, and what is just "life" ~~ and if there is even a separating line! So many meetings open with a statement such as "please limit your sharing to alcoholism". Well, I am an alcoholic, it colors my entire life ~ so what sharing is appropriate, and what is not? I know there's no definitive answer, and I like definitive answers!

I will say that every single one of my relationships in recovery is better than any relationship I had prior to recovery. Even if it meant ending a relationship, it's still better ~ because I did it with a modicum of maturity and responsibility that I did not used to have.

The relationship with my daughter is amazing. She is 15, and when she was younger, so many mothers of teens said to me, "just wait - the teen years are impossible". I was expecting non-stop attitude problems and constant battles. I am so filled with gratitude that I do not have what others predicted for me. I have a sweet, communicative imperfect girl who sometimes slams doors and rolls her eyes at me, but most times still gives hugs and tells me that she loves me. We recently took a jewelry making class together, and the instructor told me how refreshing it was, as we were her first mother-daughter team who did not fight with each other. I doubt that this would be my reality if I were still that loud-mouthed, arrogant, controlling drunk that I used to be.

My relationship with my husband of almost 22 years is a bit more challenging, yet has been so rewarding in sobriety as well. We almost divorced two years ago - but agreed to put in some effort and go through some uncomfortability to see if we could make this thing work. We don't have a perfect relationship - we are in different places in our journeys and that causes expectations and impatience sometimes - yet, we are being grown-ups and giving this our best shot instead of taking the easy way out and running away. I'm not saying that no one should ever divorce; but previously we didn't bother putting in any effort. Either the relationship worked on its own or I was out of there, that was my mentality. There's still an awful lot on my side of the street, in my attitudes and expectations...and I feel he has a lot on his side of the street to look at as well. It's very easy to glance across the street at each other's pile of stuff and point fingers. It's been quite a growth experience to pull back out of that temptation and to face my own crap, head on.

Wow, I think that's enough out of me for now! :oops: I sure know how to ramble!

garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Wed May 09, 2007 5:42 pm

Well hell - I didnt want to post but I will just to let you know one of my very recent things. I didnt want to post because it hurts too much and I think many folks probablly dont want to share for the same reason.

I began seeing this girl who was very pretty and she would bounce in and out. We became friends and started dating but I never got, well hell, sexual because she kept on going back out. We would get close you know some physical closeness like kissing and holding hands. Then she would disappear for a month or two or three, then she'd call me up and be drunk. The other problem was that she was still married to a normal guy but they were breaking up but not official. So it was pretty touchy trying to get something going where we could get moving to growing together in a spiritual and physical way.

I'm pretty sure we were both falling in love with each other. I know because you can see that somebody loves you in their eyes. One day I was sick in my chair and my dog - who was also a good nurse - was studying me one day. She was just staring and I could see the way she was looking at me that she loved everything about me and wanted to know more. Now thats just a dog example. But with this girl I was seeing it was the same way. She would just look at me and study me when she thought I wasnt looking. And she had this look of love like I was the only thing in her world. God she was such a sweetheart and beautiful girl and I know I loved her - I still do.

But the thing is she is a blackout every day drinker and when she goes out she stays out. WHen she tries the program again and again she always has to detox from the shakes. It is so heartbreaking looking into those eyes that one day shine with all the love in the world for me and the next time I see those eyes they have dark circles and pain and shame and guilt and remorse. I am not lying when I tell you I cried about that girl almost every night.

One night God showed me that she was unwilling to get sober and take her alcoholism serious. It was just one of those times when I knew a great girl was ready to sponsor her that even had her same story but was sober 20 years - and my girl called her once then went back out again. I knew it would never work out then. I threw up my arms and said "God I let (Jane Doe) go. I surrender. Thy will not mine." But that was the thing - whenever she was sober we both had a chance. But she kept on taking back her will.

Last I heard she did move out and her and her husband were apart. But she was still stuck on stupid. She is not willing to do what it takes to get sober and stay sober. She is not willing or honest enough to see the self-centered drunk she is. I love her so much. But I love my sobriety even more. I cant live with a drunk girlfriend - that would be what they call a "sobriety threatening issue" around here. And I wont live that way any more.

In case your wondering about how I had to handle all of this - well I kept everything out in the open with my sponsor - there were no secrets. I know I could have kept her being married from him and her coming in and out from him. But I didnt. He wasnt judgemental. It just reached a point where he said the only thing I should and could do for her is pray for her, and take her to a meeting if she needed me to be a friend. He told me we could never grow spiritually with her drinking - and that was the whole goal of getting into a relationship is to grow spiritually and get married eventually.

I tell you what - it still brings tears to my eyes when I realized that in my heart of hearts. How I wish my sponsor never spoke those words to me. But he was 100% right. And I didnt like following that path but I did it anyway because my life isnt mine to call my own and do what I please. I have to be responsible to God and other human beings and doing things this way caused the less amount of hurt for her and me and anyone else that might have been watching.

Well Dallas - you asked for it! But you know what? I needed to get it out too. Thanks.

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Postby Dallas » Thu May 10, 2007 12:28 am

Thanks Anne and Paul, for sharing your experiences!

I gleaned from them some good things to be thinking about, for something I've had in mind for myself. So, your sharing of your experiences is helping me, to hopefully... keep an eye on my sensitive heart... and think it through before I take actions on my thoughts! :lol:

Funny how things work out when I keep my eyes and ears open to the experiences of others in the Fellowship! (And, when the Fellowship takes the courage to share... which will give me something to learn from!)

Last night, I sent an email to my sponsor to discuss what I've been thinking about -- before taking actions on the thoughts. :wink: And, I may have puffed up her potential much better than I had reasonable facts to be puffing on! :lol:


garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Thu May 10, 2007 2:38 pm

I didnt say this at first but I wanted to mention the timeline of this relationship. It didnt happen overnight. I knew the girl and was friends over 3 years - started getting serious or dating or however you want to say it in the last year. Then I gave the thing over to God at the beginning of this year.

When I say giving it to God it means that He showed me along with my sponsor showing me that if I was gonna pursue this any more it would be on my own, and outside of His will. Until then it could have worked out because it was also something I held in prayer with God. So "turning it over" meant breaking this relationship off because it was time to.

Im saying this because I know it takes time for "love" to start growing and I know the difference between love and lust. Also my other post could maybe be misunderstood as I was 13th stepping - you know hitting on a new girl which wasnt the case.

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Postby Dallas » Fri May 11, 2007 6:42 am

Thanks Paul!

GV wrote:Im saying this because I know it takes time for "love" to start growing .....

I'm not there yet. :oops: :oops: I went to a restaurant tonight for coffee after the meeting -- and this sweet little waitress walked up and I could feel my heart start to bubble with love!

I'm still trying to learn to live with Intellect over Emotions... rather than Emotions over Intellect. :lol: And, I have to keep it in constant check!

The longer I'm sober... the greater my capacity to "feel."

I think it has something to do with my "sensitivities"... which I'm sure was one of the reasons that I first turned to alcohol. I'm sensitive. :oops: And, it can feel wonderful. And, it can sure hurt like heck!!!

For me, (and speaking only for myself)... whenever I experience that feeling of "falling in love" (which could happen to me several times a day... especially if I'm in a shopping mall! All they have to do is look at me and smile... and my heart bubbles! It makes me think... "Gee. That one might really be interested in getting to know me!") So, I have made it a regular practice... to call my sponsor if I work up the courage to ask for her name or number! (Before I call her!) :wink:

Often, it's through revealing to him "what's going on in my head for the moment"... that I can begin to see how child-like (prettier word than childish) that I'm acting.... and where I might be headed for trouble... if left home alone with my own thoughts!

Gee!!! Look at me grow!!! I'm able to admit this in public!!!! :lol:

It was interesting to notice the reaction of the waitress... as I admitted to her "Gee... when you walked by... my heart began to bubble! Do you know how sensitive I am? I'm really sensitive! I've always been that way. And, it seems like the older I get -- the more sensitive I get. And, I worry a lot, too! And, a lot of the time I'm afraid! I wear my heart on my shoulder and sometimes I feel like I'm acting childish... Like I'm a little kid inside a big guys body. And, I hope my honesty doesn't offend you... because I think you're really cute!" :lol: :lol:

What kind of threw me off, was... she smiled at me... and said, "I think I understand! Thank you for being so honest!"

Now, because I didn't ask for her number in that cordial conversation, and since I have no plans to return for an extended discussion meeting with her... I probably won't have to call my sponsor about it! :wink: And, I don't have to go pick any flowers so that I can pluck the petals saying "She loves me. She loves me not!" :lol:

Life is grand!!! And, it's great to be able to have fun... SOBER!!! :lol:


garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Fri May 11, 2007 2:54 pm

Dallas wrote:I'm not there yet. :oops: :oops: I went to a restaurant tonight for coffee after the meeting -- and this sweet little waitress walked up and I could feel my heart start to bubble with love!

Wow Dallas! Sounds like a fun ride on that roller coaster :lol: . You know I think because alcoholics like you and me (and everyone else thats an alkie) isolated ourselfs for so long, that first contact and toothy smile that comes naturally to normal people that think your cute - it really goes to our heads just like the alcohol used to do :oops: . I mean it doesnt mean they want to spend the rest of their life with us - but somehow we think they do. It just means that maybe just maybe they find something about us attractive which is what the program does to us AUTOMATICALLY. It just makes us look and act like respectable human beings for the first time. Welcome to the real world huh Paul?

My sponsor tells me all the time when I get compliments - especially from attractive single girls - he says "Don't inhale it" then he gives me that dry half-smirking smile. :wink: I know what he means and I shake my head. Because if I "inhale" - that love stuff goes to my head real fast :roll: .

Heres something real simple I read that made so much sense to me that maybe it belongs in the moments of clarity category - but its about relationships. it went something like this.

"When we were active in our addictions, we were seduced by intensity. We mistook intensity for intimacy."

Maybe you can see if that speaks to you the same way it did to me? I had to read that a couple times over because I could identify how that happens so many times to me with boy and girl relationships. And a whole bunch of other things too. It was another one of those ton of bricks things :shock: .

I see a guy and girl walking and holding hands and I go boo-hoo and wish it was me - and why dont that ever happen to me? - I'll never get a girlfriend - bla bla bla :cry: - and just a whole damn drama of Knotts Landing goes on in my mind for the next hour just because I see a man and woman walking down the street holding hands. I mean thats really the "intensity" thing of being self-centered and alcoholic. Shoot! It cracks me up thinking about it now but I know theres someone out there that knows exactly what Im talking about. It makes me think of another one of those sayings around here that Im a "Legend in my own mind".

This is a fun post after I got over crying about that relationship gone south. But God kept the whole thing right-sized. As long as I didn't get too physical and "intense" as that saying goes - I was able to really get to be friends and learn these early stages of real "love".

As long as I keep on trusting God to meet my needs and not my wants, and I keep on surrendering every day - the right relationship will find me. Until then I'll be like you Dallas and have fun on this ride of life :D .

(how did I do with those emoticons? its my first time)

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Postby Molly M. » Sat May 12, 2007 1:06 pm

Hi Guys;

I've thought about sharing this one for a bit, because it's a little personal, but I thought I'd post it because it's worked out really well.

My husband is a normie. :D I met and started dating him about 4 1/2 years into my sobriety. We've been married about 5 years now and it's a pretty good marriage. Before my husband I had only dated other members of the program. My first couple of years of sobriety my emotional development was still struggling to catch up to my age so I was dating younger men in the program or much older men. :roll: :oops: :roll: I couldn't see that the relationships were doomed from the start because they were all that I could manage then and I had way too much shame still to date a man my own age who might be a more appropriate match.

I finally took a break from it all and concentrated on working on myself and the steps. Then I made a decision that I would like a relationship but I wanted to be with someone who was happy and healthy and shared my own interests. Anyway, I spent some time getting really clear about what I thought would be a good relationship. Then I was stuck with the problem of meeting anybody. Dating people at work was not an option. I was tired of dating in the program. And I don't go to normal places for meeting people. So after talking to my sponsor, I posted a personal ad and waited. I was able to listen to the messages different gentlemen left and make decisions on whether I wanted to meet them. I didn't feel good about any of them until my husbands message. He didn't live in the same city as me and he only saw my ad as a fluke. He had been in town on business and while he waiting for somebody at a coffee shop he had been amusing himself reading through the paper somebody left on the table. My ad had been selected as the ad of the week so it was offset and kind of jumped out at him. For whatever reason he felt impelled to call. We talked on the phone then he came back into town and stayed at a friends house for a couple days so that we would have a chance to go to dinner. Because he lived over an hour away, we were forced to move slowly for the first year. Then we got engaged and married that was about 5 years ago.

We occasionally have issues--some ongoing, but taking the wheat with the chaf--this marriage is truly a gift from my higher power.


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Postby Dallas » Sat May 12, 2007 3:24 pm

Hey Paul and Molly!!!

Thanks for your replies!!!

Sometimes, I start feeling like I'm the only kid who lives my block. Like I'm alone, unique and different... and that no one else experiences what I experience... and that "it's just me!" :lol: :lol: "No one experiences, goes through, or feels like I do!" :lol: "Dang! If I just weren't so different!" :lol: "Why me?" :lol:

At least today... I can laugh at myself when tempted to think and feel that way.... and I can joke and poke fun at myself as I watch my childish-traits at play. Once upon a time... I took myself seriously and it used to make me miserable! It has been such a relief to me to be able to let go of the serious stuff and realize that there are others who sometimes think and feel in similar ways that I think and feel... and to realize that I don't have to totally grow up in the next two minutes! :lol: And, that it's not the end of the world when I make mistakes or when I'm in that stage of learning and growing where I experience those "wished-I-would-have known-better-before-I-did-this!" events.

It's also great to feel and know that I've got "brothers and sisters and the other kids-on-the-block" to talk with -- one of the amazing benefits of being a part of the "one big family in recovery."

When I was a kid... and for many years after that... before my exposure to the Fellowship in A.A., it was like "who could I possibly talk to about something like this? Who would understand? Who could help me? Who could possibly understand the problems I face or the things that I experience?" And, now... it's like living in the middle of a huge group of friends and family who are all "survivor's of a great ship wreck, too!" It's an awesome experience!

Paul wrote:"When we were active in our addictions, we were seduced by intensity. We mistook intensity for intimacy."

I'm still thinking about that one. Fortunately, I have to dig back into far reaching memory to remember some of my stuff! :wink: And, after I've thought about it a while... I often change my mind as my memory gets recalled.

When I was active in my drinking stage of alcoholism -- I used to drink to dull the intensity -- and then drink to turn up the volume on intensity -- trying to get the level just right -- and I was pretty much seduced all the time! :lol: About all I can remember in regards to intensity was "how can I get more and experience it longer!" My whole life seemed to be centered on an obsession of "more!" I think the only time I experienced intimacy, then, was in my imaginary day-dreams.

However... sober, I can see where I would mistake intensity for intimacy. And, it is possible... that I've been wired backwards! :lol:

Those are the times that I look at the eyes and see the smiles and it makes my heart bubble!!! :oops: And, my head starts with the imaginary flower petals of "she loves me... she loves me not... she loves me... she loves me not!" :lol: Or.... "Gees!!!! I sure could love her! She totally takes my breath away and I haven't even met her!" "I just know that we would live happily forever and ever together!" :lol:

Fortunately, the intense imaginary-intimacy is fleeting... and it only lasts for seconds, (as long as I don't take too many actions on it) and I'm able to recognize "that sure was a fun little thought and mental experience"... now, what was it that I was doing? And, I can get back to life-in-the-reality lane.

Intensity! I think I should consider changing my name to Intensity! :lol: Perhaps I'll go out today and try it out and introduce myself as "Hi I'm Intensity! and I'm an Intense-aholic!" and see what happens! :lol: (Maybe, that will get me somewhere!) Possibility Power Thinking! :lol:

BTW: Paul, you did great with the emoticons!

Molly wrote:So after talking to my sponsor, I posted a personal ad and waited.

I think the personal ad idea sounds great... but, I don't know about talking to my sponsor about it! :oops:

Here's intensity in action! You mention personal ad -- sounds like a great idea with lots of potential! My head says "Oh what a great idea! How about just having my own personals website where I can place my ad and have an entire website where all the ladies who might have an interest in me -- can place their ads, too!" :lol:

Afterthoughts: I wonder if a normal person reading this would think "Gees! This alcoholic guy sure is nuts!" :lol: Yep. They would only be partially right! :wink: It's nice to be able to have unsound thoughts -- and laugh and chuckle at them -- without feeling the need, the urge, nor the compulsion to take action on the thoughts!


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