Being an AA couple isn’t so bad, as long as I follow two helpful suggestions.
My first day in AA was the day after my ten and a half year relationship with my girlfriend ended. I called a friend the night she left, and asked if he could meet up. He said he couldn’t that night, but could meet the following day. I planned to join him at a meeting and get coffee afterwards.
I was asking relationship advice from men who could barely form a full sentence around a woman…
To this day, I don’t think I heard “meeting,” I just heard “coffee.” I met up with him and sat in the back of the room, bawling my eyes out. I heard hope in that room. I didn’t realize I was hopeless until I heard hope. True to his word, we went for coffee after. I met another guy over coffee who gave me his phone number and said to call whenever. “Dial it, don’t file it.” He also gave me his tattered meeting book. His acts of generosity made me suspicious of him. I wondered if he had ulterior motives. He had to be at work at 6 am. I called him that night, probably around 2 am, hoping he wouldn’t pick up. But alas, he did. We talked for a few hours that night. He eventually became my first sponsor and my AA journey had begun.
I remember celebrating 30 days down in Daytona, Florida. At that meeting, I shared that I couldn’t possibly see how I would ever date again. At the time, it seemed absolutely impossible. The room erupted in laughter, which added to my confusion. I now understand that laughter in the rooms is mostly relating to honesty, but at the time, their audacity shocked me.
Having been in such a long-term relationship, I eventually became anxious to start dating again. It was suggested to me to refrain from dating for the first year of sobriety. That seemed ridiculous to me. So I went on many dates. It just wasn’t the same without booze or drugs, with just the two of us and conversation. It was way too vulnerable for me to deal with.
After about seven months of being sober, I met a stunningly gorgeous woman in the rooms. We had instant chemistry. Most importantly, she laughed at my jokes. It was love at first sight. We were off and on for a bit, then eventually became committed to a full-time relationship.
We decided to approach our relationship with something that neither of us had tried before. We made a pact to be completely honest with each other. About e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n–g. We both started off with zeal. But it soon became painful to hear about every single detail of her life. We learned pretty quickly that it’s better to process some things with other people before confiding in each other about whatever it was that was irking us.
In the beginning of sobriety, I had to make phone calls for everything. Every decision, wild hair idea, doubt, or any emotional feeling had to be run by my crew of alcoholics. I remember saying in a meeting that my team of alcoholics should just be dating her team of alcoholics.
At first, she and I went to meetings together, but we established that we needed to be there for ourselves. We never sat together. It was too distracting. Another rule was that we wouldn’t talk to each other during a 15-minute window around the meeting. I told her that if I was a guy who wanted to talk to someone and saw him talking to some hot chick, I might not approach him. I joked that it was the reverse for her. That if I was talking to her, women would eagerly approach us to save her from the creepy guy.
After a while, it became clear that this was a evolving into a serious relationship. I found myself asking for relationship advice from men who could barely form a full sentence around a woman, let alone be in a relationship with them. I started searching the rooms for people who were in successful relationships with women, and asked them for their phone numbers. I started bouncing my experiences off of them, asking them for suggestions.
I asked one of these men, who was also in a relationship with a sober woman, how he did it. He said it’s easy, as long as I follow two simple rules. One, never go to meetings together. And two, never, ever discuss AA with each other. The first rule was easy. We had already established that for ourselves. The second rule, on the other hand, was a more difficult prospect. Over the couple of years that we had been dating, we talked about AA—a lot. It was just so easy, with her also being an alcoholic, to process our thoughts, concerns and problems with one another. But this made me stop calling other alcoholics and over time, I became more and more separated from the rooms.
I decided to re-engage with my peers in the rooms. I had been using my girlfriend as a sounding board for the things I should have been talking to other men about. I became a beginner again, in that respect. The phone was really heavy, yet again. But I eventually worked through it and came out on the other side. Read more “the fix”…