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Old 07-27-2011, 04:23 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Relationship issues in early recovery

Hi All,

I've posted here before, some years back, and I've been in and out of AA for a while.

I came back in three weeks ago; it got worse, as people said it would, and I am absolutely committed to recovery now, one day at a time. Unlike previous times, I have a sponsor and am closely working the steps with him.

The last couple of days have been extremely tough though, not because of alcohol (from which I'm getting my daily reprieve as promised) but because of a complicated relationship (or rather non-but-might-be-relationship) issue. It's too complicated to go into, and this is a recovery forum rather than a lonely hearts one, but basically the last couple of days I've been torn apart with these feelings of despair and sadness about the situation, as well as slight confusion as I had no idea my feelings had become so strong about this person. It was so bad yesterday that I started crying during a meeting and had to leave.

My sponsor advises me that this is all part of my unmanageable emotional nature and to just throw myself harder into the program. I feel like I have no perspective on the situation and it's somehow linked with my sobriety, but at the moment I'm consumed with this problem (which FEELS unrelated to alcoholism) and it's distracting me from recovery.

The relationship itself is not something I can really do anything about at this stage; I am powerless over the girl in question and she needs to make her decisions (there's another person involved), and I have to accept that. I'm putting that into my step 4s but I keep yo-yoing between feeling better about it by convincing myself she'll come back to me, then feeling awful, then praying for her and trying to get out of the bondage of self. It's driving me crazy...

Anyone else had experiences like this in early recovery? How did you get over them? One theory I have is that I'm not really so emotionally tangled in this as it seems, this is just a PAWS sort of thing.
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:31 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by tommy79 View Post

I'm putting that into my step 4s
My experience with relationships is nothing to boast about. However, despair is something I had a lot of during my first year of sobriety. What I found was it was more of a step 10 issue. When I started using the following directions from the step 10 section of the Big Book, most of my emotional issues were relieved:

"Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code."
(page 84)
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tommy79 (07-27-2011)
Old 07-27-2011, 04:39 AM   #3 (permalink)
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OK thanks that makes sense, and I suppose I meant step 10 really even though I'm not officially on it yet.

I've experienced that working for resentments, very much so...but with a romantic entanglement it seems more complicated. I suppose I'm asking: how do I use the program to deal with rejection? Is it wrong to be romantically interested in someone, and to be upset when that seems to be withdrawn from the other person? Fear is a big part of this I guess, I can see that.

What's so disconcerting is that I feel far more despairing about this than I did about alcohol in itself. I was more sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I absolutely want sobriety with every fibre of my being. But this feels more hopeless and impossible to deal with; I guess I'm starting to learn this is as much part of my disease as anything (apart from anything else I know that undealt with, it will lead back to a drink).
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:10 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I've experienced that working for resentments, very much so...but with a romantic entanglement it seems more complicated.
One of the 4th Step inventories is a sex inventory, which is an accounting of past relations with others and the formation of an ideal for future conduct. That process had a huge impact on how i related to people, and I had ZERO business being involved in a relationship until I had taken that action.

Really taking a hard look at what my past conduct has been, allowed me a new perspective on how to answer the BB question, 'Is it selfish or not?"
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The oddest thing happened to me in early recovery...the man I found so attractive and fascinating as a drinker....did not suit the new improved me.

I was heading into a spirit directed future..he was not at all interested. He stayed stuck...I outgrew him and his lifestyle...

Welcome back...
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Old 07-27-2011, 06:30 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I think your sponsor has given you good advice. Your priority should be working on your 4th step inventory and your program. If you have taken the 3rd step, then your life, including your love life, is no longer your business. Is your Higher Power running the show here or are you running the show here?

We can only think a single thought at a time. My suggestion is to remind yourself who is in charge and to say the serenity prayer and the 10th step prayer (Thy will, not mine, be done) whenever thoughts of this relationship surface.

If you really want sobriety, I suggest you heed the warnings about staying out of new relationships during the first year. When those warnings are disregarded and those relationships head south, folks often end up drunk. I also agree with KeithJ above; the sex inventory is critical to understanding past relationships and our future sex ideal.
Susan
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Old 07-27-2011, 12:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Tommy,

It was especially hard for me to think in early recovery, no matter how many times I tried to have a thought, it always seemed to be the wrong one

You have embarked on a life-changing journey and if you are successful, nothing in your current life will be the same. Please ask yourself the questions in the previous post by Susan once again honestly and openly with your Sponsor and or Home Group, then get back to work on your Steps. What is the next right thing for you to do?

Best to you.
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Old 07-27-2011, 12:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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A funny thing about sobriety and recovery. When we quit medicating feelings they can really come out and we experience them in all new ways. I think drinking may weaken our emotional muscles and we're not used to lifting the weight of true emotions in the real world. As you continue recovery you gain or regain emotional coping skills. My best.
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tommy79 (07-27-2011)
Old 07-27-2011, 12:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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My sponsor advises me that this is all part of my unmanageable emotional nature and to just throw myself harder into the program.
Do what your sponsor suggested. You have top make a decision which is more important. Getting sober or the relationship. The less distractions you have, the more you'll be able to concentrate on your program. Take a break. If the relationship is supposed to be, it'll be there when you're better able to deal with it.
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Old 07-27-2011, 12:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommy79 View Post
My sponsor advises me that this is all part of my unmanageable emotional nature and to just throw myself harder into the program.

I feel like I have no perspective on the situation and it's somehow linked with my sobriety, but at the moment I'm consumed with this problem (which FEELS unrelated to alcoholism) and it's distracting me from recovery.

Anyone else had experiences like this in early recovery? How did you get over them? One theory I have is that I'm not really so emotionally tangled in this as it seems, this is just a PAWS sort of thing.
Smart sponsor! I have to agree with him. When I can get REEEEALLY grounded spiritually...when I REEEEALLY put my trust in God...... then life gets a whole lot easier.

When I'm tight with God and I know in my heart that He's taking care of me...if this girl, that promotion, this house, that appointment, etc don't work out......it's no big deal......cuz God's handling all of it and the only reason x, y or z didn't happen is because there's obviously something better in store for me.

One of the things the steps will "teach" you as you go through them is to LET GO of your life a little, to cut it out with the expectations based upon you believing you know what will make you happy, and gaining a lot of trust in a HP you get to create to handle alllllllll that stuff for you. When I'm really plugged into that......honestly......it's impossible to get me mad, upset, sad, disappointed, or anything......it's like, "whatever, there IS something coming that'll be better anyway."

In my case, I didn't listen to the ppl who gave advice like I just did or like your sponsor did........ and lemme tell ya......that emotional turmoil darn near took me back out to booze....and it started to get me thinkin about killing myself again....... My complete inability to deal with that sort of stuff was what fiiiiiiiiiiinally motivated me to get serious about the program.

Hitting bottom with booze hurt but hitting bottom emotionally and spiritually......while dry in AA......that reeeeeeally sucked.
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tommy79 (07-27-2011)
Old 07-27-2011, 04:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Wow thanks to everyone for some really helpful advice. I have prayed and prayed about this and think I am at least in a calm place now, partly through keeping things in the day but also because I've figured out what I see as a rational plan of action as to how to deal with this becoming clear (through asking my HP, as I see it). That's helped a lot.

DayTrader: that's very interesting, very inspiring, and the last bit of your post is proving to be spot on for me. It's amazing how much more understanding I'm getting of my disease this time around in AA, simply by being willing, open, and finally properly talking to people.

One miracle already? As a drinker I used to isolate massively - I didn't want people around. Now, only 3 weeks in, I really and truly prefer to have company, whether at a meeting, or just friends, or failing those then at least on the phone. That's a pretty radical shift in personality, for the better, and it's happened very quickly once I've really tried with the program.

I have to continue to believe in this, it's working such miracles already, and I know this too will pass (in fact already is). Thanks to everyone again for your helpful advice.
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