By: Mike Murphy, Transformations Manager of Alumni Services
“The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence.” Whoa whoa whoa….Hold up. I thought I was trying to work on my drinking problem. What does sex have to do with anything?!
After reading a bit more of “The Doctor’s Opinion” in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, I realized I was not exactly seeing the big picture. And that remaining abstinent did not just mean withstanding from sex. But, also anything that may be detrimental to my continued sobriety. And well, let’s face it, sex was definitely one of them. At least it was for this alcoholic.
Like a lot of people, when I was in active alcoholism, I was trying to either suppress my feelings or desperately grab at any shred I could. And what better way to do this than with a short-lived, meaningless encounter with the opposite sex? After all, I was in active alcoholism. My selfishness and self-centeredness knew no bounds. I didn’t care about the other person involved. I was strictly in it for myself. I was too selfish to consider being in a relationship. I thought it would get in the way of my freedom and doing whatever the hell I wanted, whenever the hell I wanted. But, if for a short time (sometimes even just a couple hours), I could get the feeling that I needed, why not? Not uncommonly, I left a trail behind me of people I had hurt doing this. Hell, I messed up some REALLY good potential relationships because of my “Self Will Run Riot” mentality.
There had been times I wondered if I had just settled down and gotten into a relationship if my life would have been different. If my drinking would have been kept at bay? If my mental struggles would have been minimized because I was with someone? Knowing what I know now, I know that would not have been the case. Being in a relationship with another person would not have helped. With anything. I was unhappy with myself as a person. Towards the end of my drinking, I had come to terms that I would die young and alone. I even used that as an excuse to not settle down with anyone. “I’m going to die soon, anyway. Why get into a relationship with someone?” Read that again. Nobody should have to think that way. Especially, when the death you are anticipating is a preventable one. Circling back to the selfish and self-centered thing, again.
When I got out of treatment I knew I had only scratched the surface of what I needed to learn about myself. I knew I needed to keep taking suggestions. One of the first things you are told is to stay away from new relationships and sex for a year. Nowadays, that sounds like a lifetime. But, like a lot of other things, my views had changed. A relationship and/or sex was one of the furthest things from my mind. I knew I was in a process of starting over, starting fresh. And that for the first time in a very long time, I needed to really focus on myself. And to bring another person into the mix would just be unfair. Not just for the other person, but for myself, as well. After all, in early sobriety, you have a pretty full plate as is. Between meetings, finding a Sponsor, starting the steps; it’s no small feat. And that’s just the stuff you see. That’s not counting the work you are doing internally, inside your mind. The thought of bringing another person into this was just wild to me!
Now, I know what some of you are going to say. “That’s not true! Me and my significant other have been together since this date and that date and we are fine.” And if I had been born with wheels instead of legs, I’d be a bicycle. Look, I’m not saying it’s impossible or unattainable. I am just saying that maybe, just maybe, we should take some time to work on ourselves before we commit to another person. Taking the suggestions and continuing to grow. Learning to know, love, and appreciate YOU!
I am also very well aware that a lot of this blog stems from my continued failure in the attempts of re-entering the dating world since getting sober. But, like, it’s not how many times you fall down, but get back up….right? Ehh who am I kidding? I think in everyone’s best interest if I continue doing what I am doing. This relationship I have been in with myself? It’s going pretty well. It’s actually the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in. I think I’m the one. Can’t wait to take me out and spoil me on the 14th.
H’s and K’s,
The Recovering Bachelor