It’s a difficult question for many people. I never gave it much thought in the beginning. My early sobriety was so stressful that the idea of falling for someone seemed preposterous. Until it happened.
You see, my rock bottom, the event that led me to seek recovery in the first place, was my husband’s fatal overdose. We had known each other since we were kids, were married nearly 30 years, and he was the love of my life. My only goal was to get through life until we met again.
Getting clean, however, had awoken all sorts of emotions in me that I never thought possible, and then one day, he came along.
Suddenly, my six months of hard-earned sobriety began to feel more like six years. I felt so ready for some lighthearted living, the feelings of falling in love, and there was just something about him…a safe familiarity and the intrigue of a stranger all wrapped up in one. I wanted to get to know him better.
Also in recovery, James and I met at a meeting, like so many couples do. And while I was still relatively a newbie, he had been sober for two years, which appealed to me. At that stage of my recovery, two years seemed like a whole new lifetime.
Of course, I hadn’t met that benchmark yet. On one hand, I thought he would be a stabilizing force in my life, having been living the sober life so much longer than I had. On the other, everyone at AA always advises you to wait at least a year, and many of them recommend doing so due to their own failed dating experiences during the first year of their recoveries.
And James, while it was clear he was developing feelings for me, kept those feelings in check due to being given the same hard-earned advice. So friendship was enough for us, for a little while.
As the weeks dragged by, and temptation kept rearing its ugly head, I did a lot of relationship research and created a checklist for myself. My goal was to be able to tick off all of those boxes before taking the relationship plunge.
Here’s what I came up with:
- I know myself, my values, wants, and needs
- I am already living a full, happy life
- I can talk about my feelings
- I am honest with myself and others
- I am able to say no to anything I am uncomfortable with
- I understand the art of compromise
- I have learned how to receive as well as give
- I am continuing to learn and grow without comparing myself to others
- I feel like a whole person, happy on my own, yet connected to the world around me
- I have released all my guilt and anger about the past
- I recognize unhealthy relationships
- I use good stress-management techniques
- I am able to recognize good character and have surrounded myself with trustworthy people.
- I have developed the right balance of structure and flexibility; I know what I need without feeling the need to control everything around me.
I decided to give myself time to deal with the myriad of emotions that come with recovery, and I learned how to handle them without transferring them to another person. I didn’t want a relationship that was based on need.
A year later, I met someone at my cousin’s wedding. I ticked off all the boxes, and we are taking it slow. The most fulfilling of all, however, is knowing I can handle whatever the future may bring.
Contact us today and feel free to talk to us about addiction treatment programs at our affordable drug and alcohol rehab that fit your needs. The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective addiction treatment center in Southern California.