Hard day today. I think I’ve got to the stage in recovery where I can see things for what they really are. I knew I was slowly getting to this stage, and it’s not exactly my first ever moment of clarity. But today I felt my relationship with the fellowship change slightly; it’s like I’ve been climbing this mountain all along and I’ve only just turned round to see all that’s behind me. I took D along to one of the meetings again tonight; to start with he was friendly and chirpy as ever, but by the end he was practically a nervous wreck. It wasn’t difficult for me to gather why he was in such a state. The first thing he said, when I asked if he was OK, is that he’d been freaked out by the sharing, for the first time. He’d heard things that were very close to the bone tonight, and it was painful for him. I’ve empathised with other people before – well at least I thought I had – but tonight I think I discovered the true meaning of empathy, because I knew the exact thing that D was experiencing. I was there myself, only a few months ago.
In the past five months I’ve come out of meetings burning with resentment; I’ve walked out without saying goodbye to anybody; many times I’ve thought I’m never going to go back again. I could see D going through that tonight, and to begin with it hurt me. When the meeting was over he rushed out and I had to rush after him; we walked to the tube station together as always, and on the way there I struggled to find the right things to say, to make it better. I knew that what kept me in the rooms when I was having such a difficult time in my early days were the things that people with more sobriety said to me. I desperately wanted to share the wisdom with D that would keep him sober tonight. I told him that what he was feeling is normal; that the ‘pink cloud’ was never meant to last forever. I repeated the old chestnut to him a few times: “it gets better”. I put a lot of emphasis on the statement that the pain and the fear would pass.
We parted ways and I spent my entire journey home praying for him. His last words to me had been “I just want to go home”, and I knew that feeling so well. Because when I’m feeling resentful in a meeting, it’s not because I’m really angry with the people: it’s just fear that I’m feeling, underneath the anger, and the only place I want to be is at home, where I’m secure in familiar surroundings. The reality that you see in AA can be terrifying, and tonight D saw that because he needed to see it. He may not like that at the moment; I just hope he sticks around, like I did.
After all that, my thoughts about our ‘dating’ thing is that it probably shouldn’t continue at the moment. Last night was truly lovely but the truth is, I saw a different side to D tonight, a scared and resentful side, and the way that affected me was not good. If I wasn’t becoming dependent on him it wouldn’t have been so painful for me. I’m very happy to keep seeing him as a friend and a fellow alcoholic; to be perfectly honest I’d still love to date him and see where that road might take us, but I know for my sobriety’s sake that it is too early for us to get involved. I’m well aware of how little sobriety I really have, and in comparison he has far less than me. This is a very difficult decision, because I want a relationship so badly. But I can clearly see it becoming co-dependent already, and it’s affecting the way I am in the fellowship already. I’ve taken to phoning D every day instead of my sponsor – that can’t be good, can it?
I am pretty upset now, but I know there’s a very good reason why they advise you not to get into relationships in your first year of sobriety. I really, really don’t want to type the next few lines, but I have to. Tonight I’m grateful that I will go to bed sober. I’m grateful for a good day, and a good meeting where I was able to share confidently. I’m grateful that I have been able to make a decision about dating which will be good for my sobriety. I’m grateful that I had one lovely date last night; and I’m grateful that I was able to help someone else stay sober today. I’m grateful for discovering the true meaning of empathy, and that I have been an adult today.