Dating in SobrietyAnna Ciulla
After having the stereotypical toxic, codependent, drug using relationship, how could one expect me to ever feel repaired enough to allow myself to fall in love again? I was always a people pleaser, and in my years of dating had never ended a relationship on my own. Every time I entered a relationship, I quickly caught feelings, and became so comfortable. In this last relationship, I was more in love with having someone to use with than the actual girl.
The day before I left for treatment in Florida, I told my girlfriend that I would be back in thirty days and we would work everything out when I returned. I never returned.
It took me a few days to clear my mind, and get a few sober days under my belt, but when I did I had a whole new outlook on life. It felt great to finally surrender and be freed of the self-destructing bondage I was causing myself.
In treatment, I learned about addiction, the twelve steps, but most importantly how to love myself. It became obvious that before I could love another individual, I had to love myself.
Treatment was a blessing, and I was very grateful to have the opportunity to get better as many of my friends up north were dying of this disease of addiction. After completing treatment successfully, I decided to stay down in Florida and do everything that was recommended of me.
I enrolled in an outpatient program, got a sponsor, a home group, and went to ninety meetings in ninety days. This recipe is exactly what it took for me to get the foundation I needed for long-term sobriety.
It is often suggested to people in early recovery to not get into any romantic relationships, as this is a fragile time where we are learning to love ourselves. While I knew this was only a guideline, I knew for me this would be crucial.
After the first year of sobriety, I began dating casually, being extra cautious with everyone I encountered. It was not until almost two years sober that I met someone I was compatible with. She was also in recovery, and shared many of the same interests as myself. It was almost too good to be true.
Everything was going really well for the first few months of the relationship. We promised each other we were going to take things slow, as we both share a codependence issue. Reality was, we were both addicts, and things were moving pretty fast.
After about three months of dating, we had introduced each other to our parents, and even had talks of relocating so we could be closer to each other. All of a sudden, this came too much for the girl I was dating, and she became overwhelmed. She no longer wanted to date, and was not ready for this commitment.
I had been dumped before (a few times), but the feeling from this particular time was different. It was much worse. In the past when a situation like this occurred, I was quick to self medicate to escape the pain and feelings that come from a break up.
This was the first time in my recovery that I felt like I wanted to use and throw away my 22 months of sobriety. I felt lost, alone, and needed something to help me cope.
I had heard the term “spiritual tool kit” many times in the room’s of AA, and finally had my chance to open it. Being so active in recovery, I had a plethora of resources that helped give me the strength to get another day sober. I picked up my telephone and spent the new two hours calling sober connections I had met along my journey. I was able to hear many different perspectives, and most of my sober supports had gone through almost the exact experience and were able to offer coping mechanisms.
I wanted to just stay in my bed and sleep, but as soon as my close friends found out I was hurt, they showed up at my apartment to keep me company. We went to a meeting, got some dinner, and just enjoyed some guy time together.
At the end of the night, I got a call from a newcomer who asked me to take him through the twelve steps. Even though I felt hurt, I was able to help another person in the program, and that helped me more than it helped him.
I woke up the next morning, and it still hurt. I still felt that pit in my stomach. The feeling of rejection was still crushing me, but I managed to get on my knees, pray, and by the grace of God I was still sober.
Follow and be inspired by David’s story. Catch up on his other entries to Journey of an Addict.