No dating in early sobriety! We’ve all heard it a thousand times. At least not within that first year. When I completely surrendered to that idea, that’s when she entered my life. Actually, she walked into my Saturday afternoon AA meeting in the heart of Hollywood, and a true Hollywood entrance it was. Dressed to the nines with flowing red hair and a smile that froze the room. Truly it was a vision for me! Funny how our Higher Power has a way of testing us. At six months of sobriety and fully subscribed to my sponsors direction, the last thing I was thinking about was women, or even dating. And quite frankly, I was in the middle of a yearlong treatment program. Even if I did meet someone and wanted to get friendly, what was I going to do, sneak her in through the medication office and show her my twin bunk bed? Get real yawl! But after that meeting when she walked right up to me and stuck out her hand and said, “Hi I’m Ashley, I loved your share”, what was I supposed to say? “Sorry lady I’m still new and I can’t talk to beautiful women.” Not likely.
As It turns out, honesty and transparency isn’t all that bad. After sharing feelings for her openly with my sponsor, sober friends, and even counselors, they all seemed to have similar feedback. Get to know her and keep it simple. Invite her to fellowship, and just be yourself. Respect your sobrieties by respecting healthy boundaries and take it slow until the time is right.
Okay I can deal with that. As it turned out when the time was right, and all the blessings were given by our sober support network, we finally dated. The story ends there and happily ever after we rode off into the sunset. If only that was real life.
After about a year and a half of riding that infamous pink cloud together hand-in-hand, reality started settling in, and so did personalities. If anything, I felt myself constantly growing and changing as I built upon more sober experiences in life. What I once thought I wanted my life to look like, was now different at almost three years sober. I’ve never had a sober relationship–let alone a sober break up. What was I supposed to do now?
The beauty of recovery is we are never alone. From day one, I jumped into the middle of the pack. At times seemingly surrounded by a fortress of great support, wisdom, and guidance. Not just for how to get sober and stay sober, but all my affairs. How do we speak our truth and go separate ways without it getting messy? Like a homing pigeon I went right to my sponsor, and sober men in my home group. Honesty don’t fail me now! True to form the old timers all said the same thing, “What’s your part kid, enough about her.” I should have known they would say that. “Don’t say I’m sorry if you’re not. Say where you were wrong.” “Be open minded to what she has to say.”
Honoring myself and her by being authentic with my feelings and owning my side of the street seemed to be key. I’ve learned in sobriety that if I keep my motives clean, own my part, and bring my Higher Power into the equation–whatever that may look like–I will be okay.
As a sober man who is still fairly new, I understand that sober life experiences are golden. Being able to utilize the principles of recovery in a situation such as relationships, and all that comes with them, good and bad, is refreshing. She and I are still great friends, although our relationship has changed. The wisdom and guidance of the rooms made a new and difficult situation for both of us seemingly palatable. Honesty, open mindedness, and willingness are essential to me being my best self–even when I’m wrong, or in fear of change. Whenever I reach out, I want the hand of AA to be there.
Written by Ricky C.
Dating in early sobriety can present challenges and stir up emotions. My 12 Step Store is committed to helping people on their sober path. Their full range of medallions, chips, books and plaques will help celebrate the everyday milestones in a person’s life.