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Loving Your Home Group—Hard

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By William Adams

02/13/13

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I felt kind of like a badass. And it felt good to know that I could still transgress, could still have an edge and talk to women, turn them on, make their mouths water—all without assistance from substances.

I copped a bit of a reputation. But it wasn’t necessarily a bad one. None of my dalliances ended particularly badly, and those that did got better quickly. I chalked it up to both concerned parties working a program, and not throwing any alcoholic gasoline on the fire as the relationship broke up or trailed off. 

Yet there were times when I felt uncomfortable in the meeting. I’d look around and there would be four or five women I’d dated or fucked within a 30-foot radius, and the anxiety of a potential confrontation would make my stomach turn flips. I would screw my eyes shut again, as the speaker spoke—this time for a different reason.

When I joined AA I was in my mid-20s, and I wanted desperately not to be done, for the party not to be over, for this not to be the end of fun.

When the scene got too hot, I would lay low for a while, date outside the rooms or not at all. I’d sit on my sponsor’s couch and bitch and moan about my love life. After things settled down, or when some new girl caught my eye, I’d turn the jets back on.

All this time I was working the steps, doing service, and talking to and sponsoring (male) newcomers. When my sponsees asked me about dating, in the rooms or otherwise, I’d tell them what my first sponsor had told me. It seemed like eminently reasonable advice then, and it still does now.

As with all behaviors that are predicated on excitement and adrenaline, though, this one, too, burned itself out. As I went on in the program, I started to cool down and, well, to just get sick of it. Talking to women started to feel like something I was just doing out of habit. In that way, it felt kind of like how the end of my drinking did.

But just like you will occasionally hear people in the rooms express gratitude for drinking and drugs, noting that substances “saved them” from themselves, I feel the same way about all the catting around I did. When I joined AA I was in my mid-20s, and I wanted desperately not to be done, for the party not to be over, for this not to be the end of fun.

It wasn’t. Yet my idea of fun was changing.

I wanted to meet someone permanent. I went on one date, my last lone date in the rooms, with an artist who was practically non-verbal while we were out. We were so clearly not a match that it was almost physically painful.

Not long after, I met the woman I am with today, who happens to be a “normie,” and not a sober (or otherwise) alcoholic. I felt the same lust for her that I did with the other women; but in this case, when that first flush faded, something else—something solid and something good—remained, and in fact deepened.

We’ve had our difficulties, to be sure, but our relationship continues to develop, in subtle yet exciting ways. I think this is the way that life and love are meant to go.

And to be honest, it’s been a relief to be “retired” from dating in AA. Of course there are still beautiful women to look at and remark upon with my AA buddies—all paired-up long-term now, each of us—but I no longer feel the compulsion to chat them up.

Instead, I can stand by and smile at the “kids" in the program as they flirt and preen and wear slutty things and sleep with each other’s flings and share about it in same-sex meetings and with their sponsors and at fellowship, over coffee and cigarettes—all while stone-cold sober, trudging the road of happy destiny.

William Adams is a Nashville-based writer and AA member.

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