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New here - dating recovering alcoholic, need help (beyond Al-Anon)

Old 08-01-2010, 10:11 AM
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Question New here - dating recovering alcoholic, need help (beyond Al-Anon)

Hi all,

One of my big frustrations with groups like Al-Anon is that they stubbornly don't provide any answers. I am asking for people with similar experiences to at least share what might have worked for them here.

That said, I met a great guy about 4 months ago. He and I went out for coffee a few times and found we could relate easily. At some point, I started wondering why he couldn't or wouldn't take me out at night, and why he was always mysteriously "busy" in the evenings. Frankly, I thought I was being played around with or something until he told me he was in AA, had been sober for 20 months, and this was a big deal for him. Honestly, my reaction was that I felt like throwing up. My parents are both alcoholics who refuse treatment (or they have "bad sobriety" when/if they are sober). I try to stay out of it now, and I have my own unresolved bad feelings around all of that (I live miles away now and don't go home much). I told him about that immediately. I said, I think that's great, but I want you to know that this is a big problem for me, to the extent that alcoholism is something I have been RUNNING AWAY FROM my entire life (then I ran right into its arms!) WHat a freaking cliche!

Anyway, he said he wanted to keep things casual and friendly. What a relief, I thought. So we continued to grab the occasional coffee and talk on the phone. We really connected because we had a lot more in common than bad feelings about alcohol. These meet-ups and chats continued until the night before I left town to start a temporary job in another city (with plans to return). That night, he met me for an ice cream cone and a walk around town. When he dropped me off, he kissed me. It felt right.

Then I got on a plane and left.

Our phone conversations have continued, but with major ups and downs. His sponsor didn't want him dating. I didnt want to know about all of the goings-on of AA. He fired his sponsor and left his home group for another one! He told me it was because of me (at least partially). Ugh. I dont want this.

I think I love him (even in a nonromantic way) - but maybe I am too immature for this kind of relationship. He will tell me about AA stuff for 30-60 minutes, and I find there's stuff in those conversations that I don't want to hear about - it's upsetting and it's in another language to me sometimes (pidgeons? other buzzwords?). I told him I don't want to hear this much about AA, etc, because in-between sponsors I feel like he is using me unfairly. Am I being ridiculous? I honestly need some kind of third party opinion. He says (maybe fairly) that he has to listen to me complain about work and friends, and that it's really the same thing. However, I don't feel like it is. My complaining about work is something he doesnt relate to (I'm in a white collar industry, he is making minimum wage at the moment and has a criminal record!). Sometimes I feel like this is doomed, but I don't want to lose him. And I'm scared for him. But more importantly, I'm scared for me.

Any and all advice appreciated. I know some will tell me to go to Al-Anon, but I am really not interested.

Also, for what it's worth, I don't drink much at all, but I am not living sober. I enjoy the occasional glass of wine or beer with company.

Thank you so much, and I apologize for sounding so defensive. Let me have it!

ALSO: He goes to meetings every day and goes on calls to help drunks every weekend, FWIW.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:18 AM
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Welcome to SR! Glad you found us.

Just from reading your post, it sounds to me like there are several red flags already popping up and you have only been seeing this guy for 4 months. Another thing that bothers me is that he says he "fired" his sponsor and left his home group because the sponsor didn't want him dating. Well, first of all, if his sobriety is so important to him, he would not do that just because he doesn't like what his sponsor says. Secondly, saying that his did that FOR YOU is a huge crock! He is trying to guilt trip you and that is manipulative behavior and something that alcoholics are famous for.

At the end of the day, only you can make the decision on whether or not to continue seeing this guy; however, if it were me, I'd back away from the relationship before I had any more time or emotions invested. It doesn't sound like this guy is serious about recovery regardless of the fact that he doesn't drink around you, says he goes to meetings every day and says he goes out on drunk calls.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:22 AM
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If it's not something you want in your life, you have every right to make that choice! I also grew up in an alcoholic home. I am an alcoholic in recovery, this month marks 20 months for me.. we all recover differently, though.. I can't remember (other than on here) the last time I felt any need or desire to talk about it with anyone in my life, I'm just a non-drinker. I don't use AA in my recovery.. and I'm sure there's a million differences anyways between any 2 alcoholics and recovery journeys.

Sorry for the ramble.. I don't think you're being ridiculous. I don't think it even MATTERS that it's AA stuff he's talking about or anything else. This is a precursor to your relationship with this man should you choose to pursue it. He should be on his BEST shining behavior in an attempt to win your heart. It sounds like this isn't the relationship you've dreamed of, and it doesn't sound like it's enhancing your life. Honestly it almost sounds like you feel sorry for him.

I don't know what you're getting out of this 'friendship' besides getting ALMOST sucked in to savior/caretaker behavior.. tread carefully hun.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:23 AM
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Manipulating

I should probably mention that he has said things like, "I didn't do this just for you, but really, you caused it." Then he goes on to explain that his previous group/sponsor wasn't letting him live his life outside of AA, and that it wasn't just for me, it was for any relationship in general, but that I was the kind of trigger. So he tries to qualify it, but maybe he is manipulating me.

My mother attends meetings right now - I've talked to her about him, and her reaction was similar (that she thinks I am being manipulated). Maybe I just hate the thought of being easily manipulated because I like to think I'm smarter than all that (ha, the ego!).

Truth is, I have grown to feel like I 'need' our nightly chats too. But I have a bigger support system and I will not wither without this relationship, either.

Thank you!
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:27 AM
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Nah, you don't NEED the nightly calls, you've just gotten used to having them. It's just like any other habit. Once you break the cycle, you're in the clear.

Another thing you mentioned is that you don't want to hear about the AA stuff. Well, if this guy is in AA, it's something that will probably continue for years, if not the rest of his life. It would be kind of hard to have a meaningful relationship with someone when you aren't interested in something that is so much a part of their life. It's just something to think about.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:35 AM
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fantasy man v. real man

You're absolutely right about the not wanting to hear about AA stuff - I guess that is a selfish reaction of mine. I think that our distance has lead to my pretending (in my head) that he is 'normal' (that word bugs me, but you know what I mean). How can anyone be in a relationship with someone who they hope is another person? It's just sad.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:36 AM
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Conventional wisdom says you're sober for a year before you start dating. I know nothing about this guy or his sponsor, so it may be that because of issues that the sponsor saw, he didn't think a relationship was in the best interest of his sobriety at this point. OTOH, there ARE overly-controlling sponsors who like to micro-manage their sponsees' lives. If that was the case, then it might have been a good move for him to change sponsors.

Nobody can tell you for sure whether this guy is fooling himself and/or you, but I think the key thing is that you feel leery about a relationship with him. Whether that is based in reality or just in your own fears is kind of beside the point. A relationship that is stressful before it's even begun isn't one that anyone needs.

Stay friendly with him if you want to, but I would make it clear to him that you aren't ready at this point to take it any further. And if that isn't acceptable to him, you wish him the best and move on with your life.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:39 AM
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It's easy to get caught up in the romance (for lack of a better word) of it all and overlook things that, at the time, don't seem like that big a deal. The thing is though, the farther along you go in the relationship, the more those things become bigger factors and can cause problems, but by then, you are so invested emotionally, that you are afraid to let go. I think it's great that you are questioning these things now, before you get too emotionally invested. Like they say...an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:51 AM
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This is a great forum (I've been lurking for a couple of weeks). I think your answers are pointing out to me things I already knew but didn't/don't want to admit to myself. I told him I would be keen on continuing being friendly with him, but not moving into a Relationship. His reaction (I guess, unsurprisingly!), was not great. It will be hard to avoid him. He lives in my neighborhood and works near my apartment. I want things to be friendly between us. Maybe there's a delicate way of communicating this to him. Either way, I have plenty going on in my life to keep me busy. I'd just rather he don't spend a lot of energy being mad at me, seething, etc.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:54 AM
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He and I went out for coffee a few times and found we could relate easily...alcoholism is something I have been RUNNING AWAY FROM my entire life (then I ran right into its arms!) WHat a freaking cliche!
Really, this is not a cliche. Wherever YOU go, there YOU are. You can run from yourself but honestly, you cannot hide.

I told him I don't want to hear this much about AA, etc, because in-between sponsors I feel like he is using me unfairly. Am I being ridiculous?
IMO, no, you are not being ridiculous. We ALL need to stand on our OWN two feet, whether it is about our jobs, our sobriety, our homes, whatever the responsibility. When a person continuously leans on another person for an hour a day, complaining about something, or needing their feedback about it, that is not standing on your own two feet. But allow me to point something out to you:

One of my big frustrations with groups like Al-Anon is that they stubbornly don't provide any answers...My mother attends meetings right now - I've talked to her about him, and her reaction was similar (that she thinks I am being manipulated)...Truth is, I have grown to feel like I 'need' our nightly chats too. But I have a bigger support system and I will not wither without this relationship, either.
It seems to me that you expect someone else to give you the answers, but that you're not willing to do the work on your own. You don't want HIM leaning on you like this but are you leaning on others in the same way? I am not accusing you of anything, just trying to give you something to examine. No one can give you YOUR answers, that is why people at Al-Anon appear to you to be stubbornly withholding something from you-which they are not. It is no one else's responsibility to discover YOUR truth, it is your's.

Take care. Hope this all works out for you. I'm glad your mom and your BF are going to 12-steps, trying to make themselves and their lives better.
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Old 08-01-2010, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by yadayada View Post
This is a great forum (I've been lurking for a couple of weeks). I think your answers are pointing out to me things I already knew but didn't/don't want to admit to myself. I told him I would be keen on continuing being friendly with him, but not moving into a Relationship. His reaction (I guess, unsurprisingly!), was not great. It will be hard to avoid him. He lives in my neighborhood and works near my apartment. I want things to be friendly between us. Maybe there's a delicate way of communicating this to him. Either way, I have plenty going on in my life to keep me busy. I'd just rather he don't spend a lot of energy being mad at me, seething, etc.
Well, if he does, then you will be certain that you did the right thing. The way people handle disappointment says a whole lot about them. If he handles this badly, then you were indeed right to end it.
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Old 08-01-2010, 11:05 AM
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Suki's right--that is kind of the acid test, right there. If he is going to be mad, seething, sheesh, best you find out now!

If he built up a whole relationship in his own mind even before YOU were on board with it, then that is his own issue, not yours. Something HE needs to work on. His own expectations being disappointed.
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Old 08-01-2010, 11:05 AM
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What you're hearing over the phone is his side of the story. Take it with a grain of salt.

That being said, alcoholism is a family disease. It affects everyone around it.

I did not grow up in an alcoholic home, but my dad is an adult child of two alcoholics, and both died before I was ever born.

There is also alcoholism on my mom's side of the family.

I myself am a recovering alcoholic/addict and codependent.

You might consider some support for yourself. Growing up with alcoholic parents has wounded you, and I do understand you wanting to run away from it all.

The thing is, the wounds are still there.

When I finally walked away from my abusive EXAH, I thought the majority of my problems were solved.

They were not. I continued to repeat the same pattern over and over, only with different men.

I rationalized that each one was 'different' than the EXAH.

It's been through Alanon, reading books like "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie, and therapy off and on over the years that I finally addressed my codependency and learned how to make healthier choices in my life.
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Old 08-01-2010, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Learn2Live View Post

It seems to me that you expect someone else to give you the answers, but that you're not willing to do the work on your own. You don't want HIM leaning on you like this but are you leaning on others in the same way? I am not accusing you of anything, just trying to give you something to examine. No one can give you YOUR answers, that is why people at Al-Anon appear to you to be stubbornly withholding something from you-which they are not. It is no one else's responsibility to discover YOUR truth, it is your's.
You are right that I need other people. I need my friends, the Internet, etc. to offer different perspectives. Ultimately I decide for myself. I don't feel comfortable giving him any answers or advice on sobriety. I know nothing about it beyond the kind of experiences I have had with my parents. I don't ask him for advice on my job, I just vent to him a little because that is what I am used to doing with friends. I can be blind to the way I act, even when it is exactly what I complain about in him. Thank you.
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Old 08-01-2010, 11:20 AM
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Is conventional therapy ever the answer, or does it need to be someone/a group that specializes in addiction/alcoholism?

This might be answered on another thread, but I'm curious if anyone has laid out some pros/cons of individual therapy (with a general therapist/psych who might not have specialization in treating codependents/adult children etc.) versus doing something like Al-Anon on its own...

Sorry if this is rambling.
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Old 08-01-2010, 11:50 AM
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Well, Al-Anon is free, so that make it worth considering as a starting point. If you grew up around alcoholics, you will find others who will understand and give you the tools to deal with the consequences of that in your own life.

If you find that after giving it a fair amount of time, Al-Anon isn't cutting it completely, you could then look into some additional therapy. My guess is that much of what you are dealing with has to do with the alcohol issues, so someone who is familiar with that might be the most helpful.
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Old 08-01-2010, 12:05 PM
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Hello there yadayda, and pleased to "meet" you

Originally Posted by yadayada View Post
....I don't feel comfortable giving him any answers or advice on sobriety.....
That jumped out at me like a _huge_ red flag. The whole point to AA, and other programs of recovery, is that us alkies find other alkies to be our "support" system. Twisting our family, friends and relationships into a substitute support system is just a devious little way of justifying a retreat from the honesty of a real program.

The other red flag I see in your descriptions is that it's only been four months and you are _already_ uncomfortable. What's it going to be like after 4 years? or 40?

Originally Posted by yadayada View Post
Is conventional therapy ever the answer, or does it need to be someone/a group that specializes in addiction/alcoholism?.....
There's all kinds of different ways. There's groups just for us adults who were raised in "toxic" families, check out our forum "next door"

Adult Children of Addicted/Alcoholic Parents - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information

There's sub-groups of al-anon that specialize just in parent issues, there's groups that are similar to al-anon such as CODA, there's therapy clinics that run their own groups, there's churches that have their own programs. Or you could just hang out here in computer-land and chit-chat with us

Mike
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:58 PM
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Dear YadaYada,
We all brush away instincts donít we? We know what God is telling us but we refuse to listen, the devil knows when we are weak, he knows that feeling we women love to feel, like a princess that can control our world and everything around it. His Sponsor didnít want him dating so he fired himÖ how special you must be. To bad you couldnít talk to this sponsor he fired, after all he has more experience with dealing with your prince and a lot more just like him. Do you think this sponsor doesnít like you or could it be heís trying to save you because he knows this prince is not ready and will relapse? Maybe deep down you really want to be like your parents, could be your comfort zone. White Collar is a must when you deal with an alcoholic and be sure to buy a house in the minimum wage area of town or go ahead and get a dumpy apartment or duplex because you will end up here anyway. Stress, depression no big deal they make pills for everything, you may have 2 or 3 children from him before you lose your job and heís too drunk to show up for work (then your children will say the same things you say about your parents) . Maybe when a rich relative passes they will pass along a good chunk of money and lucky you will be able to catch your breath before he drains that account dry and the cycle will start all over again. How sweet of him, he wants to keep things casual and friendly because of your past, he will learn how to get to you, after all most alcoholics are sociopaths (not all sociopaths are violent criminals). They set back and observe your weakness, and strength they even do things like loving the same foods and drinks and places to go after all, all they need is a warm place to sleep and a steady flow of alcohol. Criminal record? What did he do? Is this the reason he is going to AA so he wonít have to spend time in jail? If you canít handle 30-60 minutes of him talking about AA, how are you gonna handle a lifetime? After all, once a alcoholic, always a alcoholic. Same as a pedophile, you always hear and they also admit they canít stop it, they have to stay away. Now for the good talkÖ If you are so desperate to be in a relationship and only a Alcoholic Criminal will do, go for it! But I can tell you, you will be more lonely with him than without him. I just find it a shame a well educated beautiful lady wasted all that time in school to make a good life for herself just to marry a loser ( he may be cute, sweet, best kisser, lover and all of the above but so was most of our spouses). I wish you the best, please don't give in to him yet....Log in here everyday and Read, Read, Read.
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Old 08-02-2010, 11:56 AM
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Do what's right for you - my story

Originally Posted by yadayada View Post
Is conventional therapy ever the answer, or does it need to be someone/a group that specializes in addiction/alcoholism?

This might be answered on another thread, but I'm curious if anyone has laid out some pros/cons of individual therapy (with a general therapist/psych who might not have specialization in treating codependents/adult children etc.) versus doing something like Al-Anon on its own...
Do what's right for you. I tried individual counseling with a counselor specifically trained by Pia Mellody to address issues of codependence, self-esteem and alcoholism. The counseling was incredibly helpful.

With that said, I have re-committed to Al-Anon and find that the interaction with others and the sharing of experiences gives me greater insight and greater inspiration to work my own program.

Six years ago, when I met my alcoholic boyfriend, I had no experience wth alcoholics. When he told me he was in recovery, I accepted that he was on the road to wellness. What a road (paved with hardship, manipulation and deception!). He was doing well with sobriety, so two years ago I moved in with him. He now supports me. So....he felt that he could (secretly)go back to drinking because it would be so difficult for me to leave if I found out.

Last week, while hosting a family reunion, he had a serious ATV accident and a .25 blood alcohol level. When I finally located him at 3am under the machine on a trail in the woods and then drove him to emergency, his brain was bleeding, 4 -5 of his teeth were gone, and his ear was just hanging. He didn't remember the accident. He didn't remember me. The neurologist said its a miracle his brain is healing and he has his faculties.

I take responsiblity for being in this relationship. When we left the hospital, I told him that I was returning to Al-Anon to work on my recovery. What he chose to do was up to him - but alcohol will no longer be a part of my life. I am finally committed to my recovery. I can't tell you how good it feels.

There's no "point" to my story. I'm just sharing my experience. Best to you!
Molly

Last edited by DesertEyes; 08-02-2010 at 09:49 PM. Reason: fixed broken quote
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