New here and looking for help and guidance!

Old 12-01-2010, 03:29 PM
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New here and looking for help and guidance!

Hello everyone. For the past few months I have been dating a recovering alcoholic. He has been honest and upfront about his recovery and about everything for that matter. He told me early on when we first met that he was still a "beginner" to AA and that they suggest that he does not date for the first year. I started doing some research on alcoholism and made the decision to support him in his recovery. We hung out, went shopping, went to dinner, watched movies and we found ourselves having feelings for one another. We had a long open discussion about it and he felt that he would be okay dating me since it happened so naturally. Things have been wonderful for 2 months. He regularly goes to his meetings, we talk about his recovery, and have great conversations. Sunday we were supposed to decorate the Christmas Tree together and begin the holiday season and we were both excited about it. On Sunday afternoon he called me and said that we needed to talk. He came over, held me in his arms and told me that he has come across some sort of block and can not invest emotionally in me. He told me that I am everything he is looking for and that he truly wants to be able to invest emotionally and for us to be together, but right now he can not. But then he told me that he still wants us to be friends and that I have been such a great support to him and does not want to lose that. Of course I want to support him in any way I can and I will do so...but at the same time, I need to take care of myself and heal from the hurt. So, I guess I'm looking for some advice as to how to handle this situation. How do I support him, be his friend, provide the "normalcy" we have spoken about when we do things together? I did a little bit of reading online and it seems this is not uncommon for recovering alcoholics to act this way and that you just need to give them their space and they will find their way back. I'm very confused, care about him deeply, want to continue to be part of his support system but don't know what to do. Can anyone help?
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Old 12-01-2010, 04:28 PM
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Welcome to SR, you have come to a wonderfully supportive place, filled with experience (unfortunately at times), and lots of wisdom.

In my opinion, and experience, sometimes the most supportive thing you can do is just walk away for awhile.

I think it is a good thing that your RABF is putting his recovery above all else.

I would take it one step at a time; take care of you first. If being just friends is not what you want, wish him well for now. If he is serious about his recovery, he will continue on this path with or without your friendship. And when the time is right, and he is further along on his journey, things may work out for the two of you at that time.

Have faith. Look into Al-anon as well, very helpful when dealing with all of this.

Keep reading and posting; sending positive thoughts your way
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Old 12-01-2010, 05:25 PM
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Welcome to SR......

For whatever reason, he needs some space. Hopefully it is because he wants to concentrate on his recovery. Alcoholism is a very selfish disease......and unfortunately, recovery also must be very selfish.

I hope you'll take care of you. If you think there may be a chance for a future relationship with him, study all you can about the disease and codependency. It will make you more likely to be able to support him in the way he needs support while still keeping yourself healthy and happy.

gentle hugs
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Old 12-01-2010, 05:45 PM
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As an alcoholic with two decades of recovery, I can tell you getting sober is one of the most difficult things you can do. Right now he must put the focus on himself and I'm very glad he put his sobriety first. Even the best of relationships stir up a lot of feelings. It's time for you let him go. And for yourself you must let go and find a person who is capable of being in a relationship. Someone newly sober isn't.
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Old 12-01-2010, 06:00 PM
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Your story is pretty much what I went through with my RABF. Everything going great then he told me almost verbatim what you heard: he loved my support but can't be in a relationship. You seem to be taking it much better than I did.

In hindsight I think they start to obsess over the new relationship much like they obsessed over alcohol and that isn't good for their recovery. In other words they replace one thing for another. Not saying his feeling aren't sincere, they were probably deepening and warning bells went off in his head. If he hasn't entered into a relationship sober, this is all new territory for him.

Kindeyes's advice is right on the money. Recovery is selfish and it should be because they are relearning a life coping without booze. Something you or I take for granted. If things don't go well, we don't drink to excess. We cope. Relationships are stressful, even GOOD stress is hard for the newly recovered to handle.

All I can tell you is what I did when I was in your spot. I backed off, he knew I was there but I pulled back really for my own benefit because I was falling for him fast. I read up all I could about alcoholism and recovery, talked to people who had gone through it and once I realized it wasn't personal or 'rejection', I was able to be supportive.

Sadly, he relapsed and now I see why he wasn't able to be in a relationship, they are so much more fragile than you think. It took a lot of energy for him to appear like he was coping when he was just getting through the day, resisting drinking. Communication is also key. I almost didnt believe him when he told me about going too fast etc so when he relapsed I felt horrible. I know it wasn't my fault but all the things he was warning me about were true, not a way to reject me.

Long story short, his relapse brought us closer, he is in a long term recovery program and I miss him seeing him relapse was very very hard so listen to what he is telling you. Be that supportive friend and good things can happen
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:43 PM
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Thank you all so much for responding...Here is the latest update...hope I'm doing the right thing...

So my RABF started to text me the other day. Since our initial talk and after posting on here, I thought long and hard about how to handle our situation. I decided to give him space and step back and wait for him to contact me. I did send him a gift I had bought for him for his sobriety birthday...I celebrate it every month because early on when we met he told me that this was the best way to support him...celebrate the milestones with him.

So, he called me after his meeting and we chatted for quite a while. He kept telling me about how strong his feelings are for me. I thanked him and tried to steer the conversation away from our relationship. He told me how much he has missed talking to me every day and how hard it has been for him the past week not speaking with me or hearing from me. I reminded him that I will always be here for him and that he was welcome to call me anytime. He told me a couple of times that I could call him whenever I wanted and maybe I am reading way too much into it, but I could not help but feel that he was asking me to call him more and reach out to him. As hard as it is, I am not calling him or texting him and have decided that the best thing I can do is to give him space...let him sort things out for himself...and be there if he needs me. But I am waiting for him to reach out to me and I am not calling or texting him. Is he reaching out for help? Do I continue to give the kind of space I have been giving him? Or do I call and check in on him?

I feel great about giving myself the space to heal and adjust to all this. I feel great that I am still able to be there to support his recovery. My fear is in trying to find the balance and either pushing him away or putting pressure on him or making him uncomfortable. So, I guess my question today is...Am I doing the right thing or is there something maybe I could be doing different to be a better support to him?

Thank you all for being so kind and responding. I appreciate the help as I adjust to this situation and try to do the right thing.
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Old 12-04-2010, 01:16 PM
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Again, you are going through what I went through. I can only tell you what I did... I had to realize that this was not going to be a 'normal' relationship so the normal rules weren't going to apply. I did what made me feel happy. If I wanted to talk to him, I'd call, if I didn't then I'd keep my distance. Honestly he really confused me but he wanted someone to really care and be there but knew he couldn't give back. So it made him feel bad. I didn't want that to happen so I tried to be there as best as I could until he trusted that I wasn't going to judge him or reject him because of his recovery.

The thing is, it is hard to care about someone when you are learning to care about yourself. That is what recovery is, learning to deal with yourself and emotions without drinking. Add someone elses feelings into the mix and it is a lot to take on. As much as he may want it, he is smart to know his limits.

It boils down to what you are willing to accept. I wouldn't put your needs on the back burner though. I did that and paid an emotional toll. Be honest with him. If contacting him or texting would get your hopes up for more then by all means tell him. I bottled things in just to not rock the boat and it wasn't fair to either of us. Now I express my feelings so that he always knows what is going on with me.

Whether it is a relationship, boyfriend or whatever doesn't matter as long as the two of you share something, make it into what you both need. Going slowly is a GOOD thing and hard if you really care about someone but in the end it is the best approach.
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Old 12-05-2010, 03:28 PM
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I've no experience with a recovering alcoholic but just wanted to say welcome!
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