When I began dating again after some time in recovery (AA suggests a year, and for once I actually honored a suggestion), I hadn’t placed much thought in what it would be like to explain my drunken past to someone new. Inside the safe walls of treatment and in AA meetings, the history and day-in-a-life of a drunk are extremely relatable. We don’t cringe when someone refers to the casualties of drinking-and-driving, or their several hospital visits for reoccurring alcohol poisoning. We don’t judge our recovering brothers and sisters for having several sexual partners, or for the cheating that took place in the throes of our addictions. We were scantless and shameless. This is accepted knowledge among addicts and alcoholics, and the shit list goes on and on. We were not ourselves. We were driven by our addiction, fueled by desperation, and don’t forget… we were liars, impulsive as hell; unpredictable, selfish and careless. This all goes with the territory.
It took me quite a while to trust myself after I became sober. After all, I was a chronic relapser. It took me a while to practice and learn how to become a woman of integrity. It took a conscious effort for me to be honest and to do the next right thing. I had a lot to prove to myself and also to those who had been around me in my addiction, including my children and my parents. It’s been over two years now, and I finally do trust myself. I take steps back before I make decisions. I calculate the consequences before do almost anything. I certainly don’t want to lose what I’ve accumulated in my sobriety. I feel extremely good about myself and do not want to lose my self-respect.
It takes a lot more effort to prove to others that I’ve turned over a new leaf, than it did for me to comprehend that I’m actually a really good and honest person. There are certain family members who still believe I’m full of shit. This may never change – I don’t know, but I only have control over my actions; not what people think of me. I simply live one day at a time while applying my recovery to all aspects of my life. I’m the only one who has to live with my conscious, and I enjoy having a clear conscious.
When I met my boyfriend, we spent about two weeks on the phone every night and chatted on our laptops via internet before we really began dating. I utilized this two weeks to gradually inform him of my drunken history. I didn’t give him the gory details until we got to know each other a little bit better, but eventually he got the entire low-down on my checkered past. To my surprise, he was very understanding. He is not in recovery, nor has he been with any women in recovery, but he somehow managed to quickly open his heart to me and love me regardless of my adulterated past which included two marriages and several flings. In between those, were a few on and off-again relationships. Yeah…
Well, everything seems to be going well with my relationship so far. It’s the healthiest one I’ve ever had. We talk about everything, including fears, feelings and doubts. What comes up for him often, is that he questions my ability to remain a faithful partner. He doesn’t project his fears into our relationship; he simply talks about what he’s feeling when the fears arise, recognizing that he is the one having an issue here. He takes full responsibility for his feelings and insecurities, so why does it feel like a knife in my heart?
It saddens me to know that he doesn’t fully trust me yet. It also breaks my heart that my mother doesn’t believe I’m actually doing what’s right and staying on track. It annoys me that my grandparents still question my decision making. I don’t know what else to do except to keep moving forward, following my gut, and believing that someday my sincerity sticks with my loved ones.
I’m a damn good person, with a lot of love to give to myself and others. I may be a little rough around the edges, and clumsy at times, but overall, you’re getting the best of who I am so far. The last thing I want to do is to hurt people in acts of carelessness. (I wish I could tattoo this on my forehead without looking like a lunatic)…