A reader asks:
Hi, I just read your disclaimer “just for the record, I refused to meet her (Carole) until she had one year sober”.
So I don’t see how that you getting with someone with 1 year when you have 12 years. It’s not that it is bad, etc, but odd. I mean come on, there are many SINGLE individuals in the rooms of AA with the same amount of sobriety as yourself. Now, if you are still married to her, she has 14 years clean, with 13 with you. Her entire soberlife has been manifested with you. While your 13 year-relationship with Carole has only comprised half of your soberlife. My point being is, what is her program like with out you? What if she left you? What if she wanted to leave you? What if you left her? Let’s just say, she won’t leave you out of fear. Fear of loss. Loss of: clean time, aa (friends, meetings, support networks), possibly money and career, housing, etc
Let me say this, you unintentionally finding a vulnerable individual in their first year of sobriety is a loud cry as to the maladjusted life you have led for those first 13 years, NO MATTER how well-adjusted newcomer with 12 months really is…
Where to start?
First, I would not, in any circumstance, dismiss the questions raised. They are legitimate questions to ask in any case. It is quite painfully true that AA is filled with experienced people who know how to take advantage of inexperienced people.
- I mean come on, there are many SINGLE individuals in the rooms of AA with the same amount of sobriety as yourself.
I’m assuming this means I was looking for love, and that I should have been looking elsewhere, in other words, to other oldtimers, for a relationship.
I was not looking for a relationship. I had split with the father of my children seven years earlier, and I was very much enjoying being a single parent. I had lots of help from the grandparents of my kids. I had a job that let me take care of them when I needed to. I supported them financially including health insurance. I didn’t have to compromise with anyone as to if the windows would be up or down, or what to set the heat at, or anything. I was truly determined to stay single.
Also, for the first part of our online relationship, Carole with involved with other people. I was not, under any circumstances, going there. We began as an online friendship between an oldtimer and a newcomer.
- Now, if you are still married to her, she has 14 years clean, with 13 with you. Her entire soberlife has been manifested with you. While your 13 year-relationship with Carole has only comprised half of your soberlife. My point being is, what is her program like with out you? What if she left you? What if she wanted to leave you? What if you left her? Let’s just say, she won’t leave you out of fear. Fear of loss. Loss of: clean time, aa (friends, meetings, support networks), possibly money and career, housing, etc
This crosses my mind from time to time. Not so much in terms of leaving, but I think, at times, about how difficult it would be if one of us was to die. Like any married couple, we relate to so much of the world, the AA world included, as us. If I’m calling someone from the program, and I think that person might not know who I am, I describe myself as, “Lydia, from Carole-and-Lydia.”
My sober time before I met her proves, I guess, that I can work AA without her. Her year prior to meeting me proves that she can also. But more than that, the AA (friends, meetings, support networks), money, career, housing, etc, falls squarely in my loss column, not hers. She is much more outgoing than I am. She has many more friends, meetings, support networks, much more money, a more secure and better-paying career, and much better potential to support herself than I do. If we were to split up, she’d be in a much better position than I would be in.
Having met in AA, and having worked the program as a couple for so long, I honestly don’t think we’d make it through a situation where one of us wanted to leave, but was afraid to do so based on the loss of those things. Our relationship is far too important, far too frequent, far too honest to make it that way for long. At least that’s the way I see it. I understand that people are made the fool every day, and that I may look back on these words bitterly, but I don’t think so. Today I’m willing to risk it.
Years ago, it was important to me that I maintain my ability to independently support myself and my kids. Now that the kids can see to themselves, I really don’t know if I’d make it on my own, or be too terribly devastated to do so. That, I think, is from advancing age, not from unhealthy dependence.
- Let me say this, you unintentionally finding a vulnerable individual in their first year of sobriety is a loud cry as to the maladjusted life you have led for those first 13 years, NO MATTER how well-adjusted newcomer with 12 months really is…
Well, I did think, from the very beginning, that Carole had the characteristics to be a winner and to make it in the program. As I said, we started as an online AA friendship and (speaking for myself) fell in love. Before we met. Which is so cool!
Having fallen, I then did the prudent thing and said I would not meet her in person until she had a year. Once she had a year, and she proposed meeting (at 14 months), I expressed my concerns to a friend that a year isn’t really very long at all. I remember that friend said, “How long does someone have to have to date you?” See at that point, I did want to come across as a snooty oldtimer of 12 years. I was also concerned for Carole’s mental health and sobriety, should we not get along in person. It could happen! But at that point I was in love, powerless in those wonderful ways of resisting the object of my desire any longer.
This would have been a mess in person, and I’m grateful we met just the way we needed to do so, online. I don’t think we would have been attracted to each other in person, but if we had been, that could have been a bad scene.
I can see how, looking from the outside, it might look as if I found someone vulnerable and took advantage. I can’t convey in words on this page that it really didn’t happen that way. I can say that I’m as confident as I can be that she would not stay with me out of fear of the external things she could lose if she left. With any long relationship, AA-based or not, those issues are difficult and heart-breaking.
I hope our longevity speaks to the wisdom of our decisions back then. Carole was newly sober, yes, but she wasn’t a newborn baby, incapable of acting and dependent on the evil oldtimer to manipulate her.
Love like this is risky under any circumstances. The AA factor has added so much to our relationship. I can’t picture it, nor would I want it, any other way. Back then, I felt that I was the one risking so much. My fidelity to AA was proven, and hers was not. I moved my children 400 miles away from their home and their grandparents. I took a career risk, a pay cut, and gave up my precious independence to risk it on a relationship with a newcomer.
I am astonished, now, at all I did.
But I was in love, and I could not resist. I didn’t know about this kind of love before. I had been in relationships, and maybe I’d had some of emotions of being in love, but I had not met and developed a relationship with someone who would be a true life partner to me.
The life I lived before her was maladjusted, to some degree, I believe that we all are. But looking back, whatever I did and had done, it got me ready for the next step, which was my relationship with my wife. I wouldn’t blame anyone who, at the time, was worried about the potential for pain all around. But to me that is part of the life that AA enables me to live. Before AA I was not well-adjusted enough to have a relationship. After practicing for years I was able to.
I feel, in a way, that if I drink tomorrow, AA has still been a huge success in my life, having given me all these productive years. If Carole leaves me tomorrow I would likewise call our relationship a success (barring some huge deceit I don’t know about right now).
So I’m sorry, Matt B, that you read my explanation of how I met my wife in AA as an indictment and see it as something that I should not have done. I was mindful, and careful, and I hope the good results speak for themselves.