Sobriety in AA

Recently I came across a well-meaning blog post from someone who wishes to explain AA to readers who feel they may have a problem with alcohol. As a sober member of AA for the past 8 years, I feel compelled to write about my experience, as there was some misinformation on this particular blog, and I almost posted a comment, until I realized I’d need to include my name and email address. My email address has my full name in it, and I wish to remain anonymous in this blog (partly because of my AA membership, but mostly due to the personal nature of what I write), so I didn’t post a comment. Instead I’m posting my own blog with my experience (even though I have less than 200 readers and about 10 views per day on any given day, which kinda bums me out tbh, but that’s for another day… and even if I help only one person, then I’ll have done my job).

Here’s what I can tell you about AA: the best way to find out what it’s like is to go to meetings. I recommend trying more than just one meeting, because from my experience, some of the meetings I went to, especially when I was new, were just weird. I’ve always preferred women’s meetings where I feel most comfortable talking, but you have to decide what’s most comfortable for you.

No one could’ve told me what AA was like any more than anyone can explain to me what it’s like to ride a bicycle. You can explain it to me, but I don’t know until I do it myself.

I also don’t think AA is the end-all be-all. It’s not the solution for everyone, and there are problems with it, as with anything. Nothing is perfect. But it has changed my life for the better, that’s for sure. Whatever you do, it’s my opinion that what works best is finding another solution for life’s problems, along with having friends who are on a similar path of living a positive way of life.

That’s all I really have to say about that. I want to write more, as I’ve been in a funk lately, but I need to get ready for work. This funk I’ve been in is due to my anxiety about my professional future as well as the whole dating thing. Dating takes a lot of work, and online dating makes it almost impossible to really know what a person is like. I’d rather not date someone from AA because I go to meetings for support, and plus there are all kinds of problems with dating in AA that I can write about later. There are positives too, though. So… with that being said, more later.

To be continued. 🙂

Peace, love, hugs, etc.

TCH

You Don’t Have to Suffer

One of my friends relapsed, and it’s really gotten me to thinking.

The thing is, she’d had 12 years of sobriety at one time, slipped a few years ago, and hasn’t been able to stay sober since then. She’s back in recovery, had never really gone out completely—she’d been drinking on the sly after meetings starting a few weeks ago.

When these things happen, as they often do for those of us in the recovery community, it drives home how serious the disease of alcoholism/addiction really is. It’s easy to forget when life gets good. My life has been wonderful lately, and I feel invincible, like it will never happen to me, but then I meet someone who had decades of sobriety and got drunk again, or, more commonly, started taking prescription painkillers or opiates.

Some people in the community are dead-set against prescriptions of any kind, whereas I’m like, You mean you’re going to cut into my eyeballs? And this anesthesia is NOT going to put me to sleep? Give me the strongest thing you got, and double it. That really happened to me, btw, when I had eye surgery a few years ago. Now, I’m not saying I’ll down a bottle of Nyquil or Robotussin when I get sick—that would be a big no-no, and I don’t believe in those particular OTCs anyway—but I’m not above taking antidepressants, for example, as prescribed, when and if the situation calls for it.

Many of us who are alcoholic suffer from depression, and while I don’t know if it’s the chicken or the egg that came first, the point is that neither one helps the other, and I believe we really do not have to suffer. After my mom died and then Steven left me, I lost my motivation for life, and I just could not take the pain. My threshold for pain has become much lower in sobriety. The shit I’d suffer through when I was drinking is unacceptable to me now. It took me years to even make a decision to become sober, although for years I told myself I would do it, that I had to do it.

My ex-husband from the first marriage, the one in which I caused a lot of damage from my drinking, is visiting DC next month and has asked if I want to meet up. At first I said sure, and thought of how good I’d look, showing him how sober and stable and rational I am now. Now I don’t even care about that anymore. Who cares what he thinks? I’ve made my amends and honestly have no interest in seeing him or even talking to him again. Also, he hinted that he wants to basically hook up with me, and I am SO not interested in that today. With him, I mean. The guy I recently met on Match… well, that’s another story I’ll tell you about in another blog post, but I’ll give you the short version now: HOT.

Plus I think the whole idea of it has been triggering memories I don’t care to re-visit. All we did was go out to dinner and drink pitchers of margaritas or bottles of wine, and eventually I’d get wasted and make an ass out of myself. It was hard to look at myself in the mirror, knowing I was living a lie, that I hated everything about my life, and I felt like such a fraud.

A fraud. No feeling is more empty to me than knowing in my heart that I’m not being true to myself, or to anyone else. My friend Cathy who’d relapsed described herself as feeling exactly like that: a fraud. She’d go to meetings, pretend to be sober, then go home and drink. I had no idea. Just like my friend who’d committed suicide a few years ago. She seemed fine. In both cases, I’d noticed a slight pulling back, but I thought that they were just busy.

A friend of a friend recently committed suicide, also someone who’d started drinking again. Suicide seems to be the way most of us die, from what I’ve seen from my almost eight years of life in the recovery community so far. Which means their deaths don’t get reported as being alcohol-related, and we in this country don’t take alcoholism seriously enough. The thing is, I bet most of the crimes that get committed wouldn’t have happened if the offender hadn’t been drunk or high at the time. And also, many of us—probably most of us—have other problems, like my friend who died. She had bipolar disorder, and had taken it upon herself to stop taking her medication, because the message she got from her group was that no mind-altering drugs of any kind should ever be taken, including antidepressants. This is one of my big problems with AA.

I have a few other problems with AA, but I’m not leaving. And I’ll tell you why: AA is the only place where I’ve ever felt like I belonged. It’s the only place where you can go anywhere in the country, and just about anywhere outside of the country, and find a safe haven full of welcoming people who are there for you, and they’re not bullshitting. They really have been there for me. I’ve watched elderly people die sober in this program, and they died happy, surrounded by a loving and supportive community of people who would pick them up and take them to meetings, who’d check on them, visit them in the hospital, etc. As a single woman with no kids, that sure looks better than growing old alone. Plus, I’m an extroverted introvert, and I like having friends.

So the problems I have with AA pale in comparison to what AA has done for me, which is that it saved my life. Truly. I would’ve committed suicide by now otherwise; I’d tried before, years ago, when my drinking was starting to get really bad.

Anyway, back to Cathy. She’s a career changer like me, living with her parents for now while she’s in the process, she’s single, and she’s about 55. Her son struggles with opiate addiction, lives on the other side of the country, with her baby granddaughter. If I had a kid, how do I know they wouldn’t become an addict too? Alcoholism/addiction runs rampant in my family on both sides.

So all these thoughts are swirling around in my head, these are the things that are happening around me right now, and I’m not exactly a model member of AA these days. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking, but if I want to live a life of serenity, it’s important that I maintain a spiritual way of life. School and work keep me busy, and I’ve gotten back on Match—though I will say I don’t spend nearly as much time or put as much hope into it this time. I just want a lover and a friend, and if that happens, great. If not, I’ll just take a lover. I already have friends, thank you. Is that horrible?

These days, in the morning when I wake up I thank my lucky stars, which I call God, for my life, and at night when I go to bed, I thank God (aka a higher power, a power greater than myself) again. This life that I live today, I love it. In many ways I don’t ever want it to end, except that I want my own place. But graduating and going back into the real world to be in an actual career, this time of my own choosing of which I have limited experience and of which I have no idea if it will work or how it will work, and meanwhile my student loans will be due… it’s daunting. Two of my friends are going through it now, and it’s scary. Luckily I still have two years of living life almost like a kid, living off my student loans, limited responsibilities…

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m planning to taper off my antidepressant in favor of Chinese herbs to see how it works, although the tea makes me feel nauseous and costs more than my prescription. And the last time I tapered off I had two days of severe depression. Some say the antidepressant does that because it becomes addictive, and maybe that’s true. I want to do whatever’s healthiest for me–unless it means I have to be depressed, LOL. If I have to take antidepressants for the rest of my life to avoid the emotional hell I used to live in, I absolutely will.

In the meantime I’ll call my sponsor today, go to a meeting tonight, pray to my higher power which I call God, reach out to Cathy and another new friend struggling with sobriety. This really is all just one day at a time. Everything. When I start to worry about the rest of my life and what my future holds, this is what I ask myself: What do I have to do today? What can I do in this moment that will be the next right action to take? What would be the wise, healthy thing to do? Right now, for me, it’s to go back to sleep, wake up and go to breakfast with one of my favorite friends Kevin who makes me laugh so hard, then go discount shopping with another favorite friend Kathleen. It’s my day off, and I plan to enjoy it. I want to call my sisters today too. And I should probably go to the gym, but um, yeah, that’s not gonna happen today. You can only do so much in a day, my friends.

If you feel down, call someone for help. Even if it’s the suicide hotline. This life is all that we know. Why not make the best of it? You deserve to be happy. Instead of telling yourself all the reasons why something good can’t happen to you, ask yourself why not. In the meantime…

no-one

The above image was taken from hubpages.com via Pinterest.

 

Freedom and Self-Love on Valentine’s Day

This article from the New York Times jumped out at me this morning when I logged onto my laptop: For a Better Marriage, Act Like a Single Person. Stephanie Coontz writes, “Many of the problems experienced by divorced and widowed people may result not so much from the end of their marriage as from having relied too much on their spouse and thus failing to maintain social networks and the skills of self-reliance.” Amen to that, sister.

Last night my friend Kate invited me out, saying sometimes a group gets together to go bowling, and also there’s a girls’ night out on Fridays once a month. I’d been invited to the girls’ night already, so I’m excited about that. Mixed feelings about both because there’s a back story to both situations, but overall I feel glad to be single because when I’m in a relationship I feel like I can’t participate in these kinds of outings. Or if I do, it’s not as much fun. Never have I been in a social circle that included the guy I was dating, because I don’t typically date guys in AA, which is where I make all my friends. Kate told me last night she doesn’t want to be in a relationship; she’d much rather have her freedom and have friends. She looked at me and said, “You don’t seem to broken up about Mark.”

Spencer had said the same thing, and I must admit it’s true. My life has been far less stressful without driving 30 minutes to Mark’s house, packing and unpacking my stuff, skipping meetings or missing outings because I’m with him, etc. I told Kate I wish that he and I could’ve kept the sex part lol, and she said something like I needed a much more low maintenance sex partner (lol). I do want a companion, more than just a sex partner, but what I also want is someone I can share a social circle with, but who has their own friends, and doesn’t become possessive of my time, who’s okay with me having my own friends.

So here’s the backstory to the social situation I referred to earlier. One of the girls in the group is someone I sponsored but who decided she wanted another sponsor because she felt like she didn’t see me enough. She’s younger, about 28, and ended up asking someone else to be her sponsor, a bossy woman in her late 50s. Apparently both of them are part of the group that goes out, so it’s mildly awkward. I can’t help but feel rejected by Brooklyn, the girl I’d sponsored, and I’ve just never liked her new sponsor. And Brooklyn started dating this creepy older guy who has about 25 kids, a guy I’ll call Jake, who’d sent me a like via Match a while back which I ignored. Dude is twice Brooklyn’s age, and he has so many kids, including little ones. He’s not attractive in the least; he looks like an unattractive woman. Brooklyn on the other hand is new to AA, pretty, young, and she has whole life ahead of her. It’s just creepy. None of my business, but still. I can’t help but think if I were her sponsor I’d be giving her better guidance, I hope, than that bossy Bianca. For one, I’ve been there before. I’ve dated creepy guys not worth my time because I was so insecure I loved the attention and didn’t think I’d get it anywhere else. That’s experience I could’ve shared with her, and she could do what she wanted with that information, but it would be a seed, I hope. I suppose I still can share this with her if the opportunity comes up. Bianca’s the kind of person who will have an opinion and will probably give it. She seems like someone who tells you what to do, and maybe Brooklyn likes that. But it wouldn’t work for me.

It’s none of my business but that’s what goes through my head. At the root of all this is me feeling rejected because Brooklyn left me for another sponsor (as if she was my girlfriend lol), when I felt like we had a good relationship. I was always available for her, we met frequently, we’d gotten to her 7th step already. The only thing was we didn’t see each other at meetings often because I was usually with Mark instead. She didn’t know that but probably guessed, so I feel judged, like she and everyone else thinks Bianca is somehow a better person than me. As if somehow I’ve failed at sobriety, lol, which is ridiculous because I’m still sober, and I still practice doing the right thing in all my life situations. Anyone who can’t see that chooses not to see it, and it doesn’t matter anyway because I know who I am and what I do. What I forget is that Brooklyn’s decision to fire me and get someone else has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with her. Sometimes when people do that it’s because they feel like they’re not working a good program and they want to blame it on their sponsor. That’s why I changed sponsors so many times during my first four years of sobriety. Whatever the case, I must remember not to take it personally. And who knows? Maybe the guy’s not really a creep; I don’t really know him… Btw, I’m coming up on eight years now! What a blessing and a miracle that is.

Anyway, the other awkward situation is that the group of friends who go out bowling sometimes includes the guy I’d dated briefly (Jay) who went back to his girlfriend (Yvonne), a couple I refer to as Jayvonne, and Kate wanted to know if I’d be okay with them being there. Honestly, I don’t really mind, and would love to go out with the group; it’s only mildly uncomfortable when Jayvonne is there because I feel bad for having slept with him when they were separated. No one, including them, knew they’d get back together, so it’s not like there was infidelity, but if the tables were turned I wouldn’t like having the other woman around. Kate doesn’t think she’d mind, and he doesn’t care and probably likes it because he’s a guy, and he probably feels like a rooster. Anyway, I’ll probably go out with the group soon. That whole situation is just a lesson learned not to sleep with guys in the group. Or anyone else for that matter.

Both of those situations, and my recent break-up with Mark could leave me feeling rejected—and I do, especially with the sponsorship situation. I mean, I hate rejection, no matter what form it takes. But these situations also make me glad to be single. Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I actually feel grateful to be single, to have my freedom, to do whatever I want with my time. I’m glad not to be in Brooklyn’s or Yvonne’s shoes. I’m grateful to be enjoying school this semester. My room and bathroom have never been cleaner and more organized, which I’ve been able to maintain because I’m actually home now, so my space has become a haven. I have a warm home, a fun job with supportive co-workers, friends and a social network in sobriety, and sobriety itself. If you’d told me 10 or 20 years ago this is where I’d be today and I’d be happy, I wouldn’t have believed you. Yet here I am.

I hope everyone can find this kind of peace and gratitude. You just never know where you’ll find yourself. I know a lot of people who are suffering, and I can relate. I’ve been there. For SO long. Years. But if you believe good things are just around the corner, that good things are here already, you just have to open your eyes to them—life gets better. It really does.

May you find peace, happiness, and self-love.

Here’s a song (a cover of Meghan Trainor’s song “He’s No Good for You” by someone named Eliza) I’d like to dedicate to Brooklyn, and all the girls out there who are dating creepy guys who don’t deserve their time, because they want to fill a void that really only a higher power and self-love can fill… Girl, I’ve been there before, and I hope never to go back.

Love,

TCH

Relationships, Amends, Healing, etc.

I caved.

The same day I posted that I’d stand strong and not give in to Mark’s request to be friends with benefits, I texted him and said fine I’ll do it. Of course I’d rather have love and commitment, but I don’t have time for a boyfriend while in grad school, and my hormones are raging. So there you go.

As soon as I texted him that, he was like, Come over now, so I went to his house right after work. We talked for a bit, he told me how bad the past few weeks have been for him, how therapy is going, and how much he’s learned already. The poor guy really has had a rough go of it. Meanwhile I haven’t shed one tear. It’s strange how I cried so much over whatshisface when he went back to his ex, and I didn’t even like him that much. He was boring. But I think it was because at the time I was still grieving my break-up with Steven, and I felt jealous that he’d go back to his ex and have a long-term commitment to someone, while Steven left me.

And to be fair, Mark’s sadness mostly has to do with childhood trauma that he needs to work through. His mom was negligent, paying more attention to her boyfriends than to her kids. It turns out he did a lot of drugs until the past few years, which I think is why he hasn’t fully dealt with this until now. When we drink or do drugs, we numb those feelings and we just don’t deal with them. That’s why they say in recovery we come in at the age we were when we started using, which for me would’ve been 14. So I guess that makes me about 22 now, in recovery years, lol, though I’m really almost 42. That sounds about right. I don’t know how many other 42-year-olds have blogs like this, about their boyfriends and school. LOL. I’m really like a teenager. But, whatever. This is who I am.

I noticed that I’ve always dated guys who didn’t get enough attention from their mothers, and pointed it out to my friend Spencer, who said that it’s not so much that I attract them to me as that I am attracted to them. I don’t know if I completely agree, but it does make sense. I’ve always liked a needy guy due to my fear of abandonment, in the hopes that he’d never leave me. It’s unhealthy, but that’s the truth. Then I just end up leaving them. I sure hope I can break this cycle, without it being with someone who can’t commit, because it seems that now I am attracted to commitment-phobes. They’re so much more attractive than needy guys. It’s like I want someone who’s in between, which is probably why I was so into Steven. He’d go back and forth from either extreme, and I was addicted to that excitement, like the good little codependent that I am. I guess you could say I’m doing the same thing with Mark.

I have this tendency to want to project years into the future, which I think is a human tendency. I want to know how all this will play out. Maybe we’ll just be friends with benefits forever, and I’ll get my own place, and he’ll have his own place, and we’ll see each other however often. I won’t have to put up with his neurosis and he won’t have to put up with mine. I won’t have to be annoyed that he leaves the sink dirty with dried toothpaste yet vacuums the house 25 times a day. He won’t have to be annoyed that I forgot to take off my shoes before walking into the house. We can each do whatever we want, have our cake and eat it too.

We all know it won’t play out that way but I’m doing it anyway. God help me.

In the meantime Steven sent me another email, this time to my work address. He wrote that he takes responsibility for the end of things (um, what about the middle, when he’d ignore me for days at a time?), he would’ve committed if he could relive it (yeah, right), he’s sorry he didn’t make me feel more “safe” with him and his kids (I hope he means safe as in comfortable?), and thanked me for introducing him to ACA, which he says he’s really involved in now. My sponsor and I both agree that his amends is really about him feeling better, which is mildly annoying yet understandable—I know I don’t like feeling guilty—and at the same time I truly do feel bad for him because he clearly regrets it. Spencer suggested that maybe he’s been in the dating field for a year now and can see in hindsight how good he had it, and wishes he could go back in time. I’d guess he didn’t have much luck with the online dating sites. My sponsor feels that he’s manic right now, and I agree.

So I emailed him back and said that I appreciate him apologizing, and that I’ve grown a lot since that time, that it was needed for spiritual growth, that it looks like he’s done a lot of soul-searching, and I’m glad that he’s in ACA, and hope he and his kids are doing well. I had my sponsor read the email first, to make sure it was nice and not too resentful-sounding. And I must say that his emails have helped diminish my resentment quite a bit. Now I’m at a place where I don’t really want to talk to him or see him, but I do hope he gets better. I wanted to say something along the lines of how I wish he’d take care of his bipolar disorder if not for himself then for his kids, but that’s none of my business.

One thing that really stands out to me in all of this is just how damaging a bad childhood can be for a person, especially when combined with a mental illness. His dad was abusive, his mom didn’t protect him, and then he had bipolar disorder. That will really eff a person up. He could’ve turned out to be much worse. He’s not a bad person. He’s a sick person trying to get well, like many of the rest of us. Same for Mark. They’re both good people, which is what I feel is true for most of the people on this earth.

After I published my last post, I felt like I must look like one of the rich people on “Hunger Games.” There are people in the world living through war and poverty, and here I am worrying about my various ex-boyfriends. It’s important that I remember to be grateful for all the good things I have: friends, family, a place to live, a job, food, an opportunity to change careers, sobriety. And I have God in my life. Not everyone gets all of that.

That’s all I have for today. I’ll leave you with this song by Sia, “Chandelier.” I’m so grateful to be sober today.

Home

Home sweet home.

Being in Georgia this week was like being in another universe. I visited my dad and grandma, and it was Grandma’s birthday, so we went to dinner one night with my aunts and uncles too. Luckily my oldest and best friend visited her family at the same time, and having her there made it so much more bearable. Overall the trip was successful, but my dad and I had an uncomfortable conversation that’s all I can really think about.

First I’ll tell you the good stuff: he actually asked for and listened to my nutrition advice, he was generally pleasant, he didn’t drink, and he was fairly easygoing (for him anyway). The first night I was there we went out to dinner with the rest of the family, and they all wanted me to be like some kind of drill sergeant barking at him what to eat and what not to eat. My uncle sat between us so he could boast about how healthy he is due to his own healthy lifestyle habits compared to how unhealthy my dad is due to his terrible eating and lack of exercise. Looking back on it I wish I’d taken up for my dad but I did what I do which is I complimented my uncle on his efforts and didn’t really say anything about my dad. I certainly didn’t insult him but I didn’t take up for him either, and I wish I had.

Afterwards I asked my dad why he wasn’t going bowling with the rest of them later (as was their plan) and he said he didn’t want to hear his brother brag about how healthy he is compared to my dad, who has type II diabetes and coronary heart disease. It’s not easy changing lifelong eating habits, and no one wants to hear how great everyone else is doing due to their lifestyle factors when they’re in ill health for the same reason. A nutritionist won’t get far shaming someone for their eating habits, and that’s just not my style anyway.

More good stuff happened: I cooked for my dad, his wife, my grandma, and best friend, and they all really liked my food. It was fairly healthy compared to what they’re used to–I didn’t want to make it too strange for my family, who prefer fried food and overcooked vegetables, so I breaded the baked flounder and put some Old Bay in there.

Then my dad actually asked questions about nutrition, and they all wanted to know what chia seeds and quinoa are. It was all so foreign to them but they were open to it, which was amazing. It was so nice that he respected what I had to say.

He still seems disappointed in my life choices. He brought up what he brings up every time I talk to him or see him, which is this: Why didn’t you and your sisters major in math or the sciences in college? Why don’t you get a job with the government up there in DC? And then he talks about all the benefits that he’d gotten as a chemist working at the air force base. And I told him what I always told him: I tried getting a government job when I moved here and no one hired me, it’s very hard to get a government job, I didn’t know back then to major in the sciences, I thought a liberal arts degree was enough, I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. He will then bring up that he told us back then to major in math or the sciences. I do remember him suggesting that I become either an architect or an engineer when I was in seventh grade and had gotten an award for getting the highest grade in my class for both math and art. The math one was a fluke because I’m not that great at math. But I didn’t know what an architect or an engineer was or what they did, or why I should become one. I didn’t understand why that would be important, and what the alternative was. I don’t want to play victim, but it’s not like he got really involved in my life or even took me to tour colleges like other kids’ parents did.

So then I asked him point blank: Are you disappointed in us?

He said that no, he was just baffled.

So I said, Well it sure sounds like you are.

I guessed he was worried about our financial futures, and I told him we’re doing just fine, and we’ll be just fine. I pointed out that I’ve been taking care of myself since I was 18, and it seemed like a surprise to him despite the fact that I’ve told him this before. I don’t know who he thought was taking care of me. Bills and rent/mortgage was split down the middle when I was married, and I didn’t get any kind of money for my divorces.

Daddy wanted to know how much my school tuition is, and I said, A lot. I didn’t want to get scorned for borrowing more money when I already owe on my previous student loans. I figured I’ll be paying on it forever, and I’ll be working forever too, so why not do something I’m happy with? And I hope to God I’m happy with my career when this is all over.

Maybe he feels guilty or else he knows he doesn’t have any money to leave us so he’s worried about how we’ll get along. He’s not worried about my sister who’s married, but he’s worried about my other sister and me. I asked him: Do you think I’m not doing anything now? He admitted that indeed I am going to school but I learned that he thinks I won’t make much money doing that. If I ever “make anything” of myself in his eyes, he probably won’t be alive to see it because his health is deteriorating and he isn’t doing much to try to reverse or slow the progress.

It all makes me kind of sad now, reflecting back on it. It was supposed to be sort of an amends trip, though I didn’t really have a plan on that, and should’ve talked to my sponsor about it beforehand. I guess I made my living amends by going there and spending time with him, and I felt it was important to speak my mind. There’s more but I don’t feel like writing about it right now.

In spite of that, it was a good trip. It wasn’t much different than any other time I’ve been there, except everyone’s gotten older, slower, and more achy. No one can hear anything; everyone needs hearing aids. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was there. I know I was there in 2010, and I’m pretty sure I went once or twice after that, but I can’t remember it.

Being in Georgia made me grateful that I don’t live there anymore—no offense to any Georgia readers. Atlanta was fine, north Georgia is pretty, I love Savannah, but still I can’t see living in Georgia again. I did enjoy some delicious biscuits and collard greens though!

I’m so happy to be back in Maryland, back to my chosen family. One of my good friends picked me up at the airport, and tonight we’re going to the movies, tomorrow I’ll go to a meeting and the diner with my other close friends.

It’s so good to be home.

Peace and love,

TCH

Here We Go Again

Mark broke up with me.

Over the few days prior to Christmas we’d grown closer, the intimacy had gotten stronger, we’d talked more, the sex got better. He’d already told me prior to this that he’d marry me tomorrow if he didn’t have these obsessive worries he has, and at that time I thought he’d overcome these worries, eventually. He’d told me he wanted to stay with me for a long, long time, and he wanted me to stay with him at his house as many nights as possible, which ended up being almost every night the past two weeks.

Then last Wednesday he told me he just started crying uncontrollably on his way to his mom’s house, because his mind was going in a loop over past events—his and mine—and he’d thought that crying would be a catharsis, but instead he just felt worse over the coming days. By this Tuesday he went to see his therapist who he hadn’t seen in two and a half years when he was dating his ex-girlfriend. There relationship was on the rocks, and he started seeing this therapist, he and his girlfriend broke up, he started taking Paxil, after a while he felt better and stopped therapy, and then stopped Paxil. He thought he was healed but he didn’t get into a relationship again until he met me.

He knew he had OCD, but he thought it was related only to germs, or so he told me. Turns out he has something called “retroactive jealousy OCD,” as he discovered online. He admitted to me that he’d had this problem in prior relationships, and he was nice to me about it all, repeating that I’d done nothing wrong. I was like, I know I’ve done nothing wrong. I was really hurt. I still am upset by the unfairness of it all, though it’s not his fault.

Retroactive jealousy is a condition in which a person becomes obsessed with their partner’s previous sexual history, so much that they cannot get the image of their partner with their ex out of their heads. I read several articles and blog posts about it, but found this one to be helpful.

This article from OCD UK has a more scientific basis, describes the type of OCD as having intrusive thoughts specifically related to relationships. “Retroactive jealousy OCD,” or “relationship OCD,” as it’s also referred to (though may not be exactly the same thing, I’m not sure), are not medically recognized conditions, but there are plenty of websites from sufferers describing this horrible form of obsession.

But this article I found most helpful because it reminds me that I would not want to be in a relationship with someone who repeatedly asked questions about my past, snooped on my computer or phone, or treated me with mistrust or judgment. Because y’all know my codependent self wants to fix him, wait for him to get better and come back to me. Let’s be real here.

Everything had been going well for the most part, though there were some red flags I chose to ignore. He had asked too many questions about my past which I downplayed because no one wants to admit they got blackout drunk and had one-night-stands with people they’d just met in a bar; however, I did tell him I had done that, which was my first mistake. It was all a hundred years ago when I was drinking and I would never have done it otherwise, but I did it, and it can’t be undone. If I had to do it over again I’d have had sex with only the three guys I fell in love with, but I was deeply depressed back then and would do anything to escape. But what’s done is done and I don’t think about it too much these days. For him, however, he can’t stop thinking about the past. To someone with this condition, they believe that if someone does something once, they could do it again, and I don’t think he understood that I only did that because I was drunk, because he said he didn’t worry that I’d drink again. His reaction to my past, and his incessant questions became unnerving and I finally told him I wasn’t going to answer any more questions, that it was none of his business. It got out of hand when he asked me (in the beginning) if I’d ever had sex with two guys in one day. I realized then that his imagination was wilder than my past. In reality I’m a bit old-fashioned, and I carry shame about some of the things I’ve done, and for the record, I would not and have not had sex with two guys in the same day. I’d like to pretend (and sometimes do) that I don’t care about what I’ve done, because it makes me feel powerful, like I’m the woman who can do what she wants, that whatever a man can do, I can do it too. I also just don’t like to hide things; I prefer to admit the truth when it comes up (if they ask, I don’t usually offer up information), and I hope that the other person can be mature enough to understand that we’ve all done things we’re not proud of. For Mark, shades of gray like that don’t really exist. I think he knows intellectually that I’m not the same person, but he can’t stop worrying about it, and he doesn’t understand that I would not take the same actions today, and that if I hadn’t had the life experiences I’ve had, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and that person is vastly different from who I was back then.

Mark also had some traumatic events happen to him as a kid. He wasn’t molested but he’d witnessed some disturbing stuff related to his mother that has stuck with him.

Looking back on it, the bad breath incident was another red flag, and then more recently he told me he couldn’t come to my house because he was afraid it would trigger his OCD to see my room and imagine me in it with another guy. Once he snooped on my computer and on my phone using an elaborate lie that he wanted to look at my childhood pictures. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure he was snooping.

He wants to remain friends with me, and has apologized repeatedly, told me I’m a good person and a nice person, reassured me that he doesn’t think I’m slutty. He’d already told me that he felt tremendous empathy for me for my past (I’d also told him about my stepbrother and about my depression that started in childhood) and he felt that the other guys did not deserve me. I’d explained that I rarely even think about that anymore, and that the painful events of my past just make me more grateful for the life I have today, that I am not a victim, that I’m strong, and that I had many happy childhood memories and a lot of love from my biological family for which I’m grateful. But nothing I said seemed to help him.

I told him I can’t see how a friendship would help, that it would be difficult and painful, but he seems to think it would ease the pain for both of us. I’d read somewhere that retroactive jealousy is also referred to as the “madonna whore complex,” in which the guy can only sleep with women he’s not emotionally attached to, because those he’s emotionally attached to are more like his mother to him. So I wonder if he lost sexual interest in me after becoming closer to me as had happened in those days before Christmas. I do know that he couldn’t get the jealous obsession, intrusive thoughts and images out of his head and he started to feel like he couldn’t function, so he felt he had no choice but to break up with me, since I was the trigger.

I’d just posted pictures of us on Facebook, showing all of my 700+ “friends,” mostly people from AA, some from childhood, some from previous jobs, classmates, etc. How many pictures of boyfriends and husbands am I going to have to put up and then take down? So I deactivated my Facebook account, I cancelled my membership with Match and Eharmony (they renew your membership automatically, and I’d kept it going in case it didn’t work out with Mark), and I started back on Prozac because I don’t care about the sexual side effects and in fact welcome them because I want to stay single for a long, long time. As a codependent I’ve never been single for long, having always slipped into a relationship whether I planned to or not, so this time I really hope I can focus on myself, my school, career change, spirituality, friends. I won’t say that I will, because I honestly don’t know, given my track record.

But I really, really hope I can do it this time.

Who knows? This could be the biggest blessing I could’ve received at this time. This may be the start of some real growth for me. I hope for Mark’s sake that he finds true growth too.

Peace, love, and happy new year,

TCH

 

Update: Stents, Video Games, Alcoholism, Etc.

Tuesday I leave for Georgia because my dad will be having stents put in his heart, and they don’t know until they go in there if he’ll need bypass surgery. Stents are more routine now than in past decades, but he’s the most unhealthy person I know, so I’d be surprised if they did not need to do bypass surgery, or if things didn’t look so good when they go in. He quit drinking in January, which is a miracle to me, and tells me he must’ve been a heavy drinker all these years, and not an alcoholic, a distinction that used to baffle me, but starting not to so much anymore. He quit drinking because his doctor told him to. Easy as that. I can’t imagine it being that easy for me but then I’d never really tried to quit, except that one time I quit for 17 whole days, and it ended in disaster at the company holiday party where I lasted a whole hour before getting wasted and making an ass out of myself. Everyone was like, Wow you’re really different when you drink. And it was not a compliment.

Y’all know I hate going to Georgia, and I’m not that close to my dad, though I do love him, of course. He’s my father. I can’t not go; it’s out of the question.

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Daddy has diabetes that he doesn’t really manage very well, ie, he doesn’t watch his diet or exercise, and he just takes medication. The doctor wanted to put the stents in right away but he refused because he wants to watch the Georgia-Florida game tomorrow. Lord help us all.

On the relationship front, figuring Mark out has been a fun puzzle for me. I’m learning that he seems to be a nice guy though a bit immature and inexperienced with relationships, which is fine with me. He’s very sweet, and doesn’t seem to be jaded. He likes to play video games, which I think he was embarrassed about, but I’m like, I’m just glad you’re not the leader of a sex cult. If video games is your vice, play all day please. Out of all the other sick, disturbing shit I’ve heard that some men get into, I’d be grateful to have a guy that plays video games. I’ll even play video games with him. For real. My roommate has a cool game with this badass woman hunter who shoots a bow and arrow and it’s all very Hunger Games which I love.

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I have class this weekend and a lot of studying to do, and now I’ve got to get to work, so I’ll sign off but just wanted to let y’all know what’s going on with me. My life is super busy lately, and I’m mildly stressed about it, but will figure out a good routine soon.

PS: I stopped going to CODA for reasons I don’t have time to get into now. More on that later, but I’ll be focusing more on AA instead.

Peace and love,

TCH