Cross Talk

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Dear Mollé,

Okay, here’s the short story . . . my sponsor just gave me a 30-day chip today – hopefully my last. I’ve relapsed many times. This is the first time I’ve worked the Steps, and it really is different. I’m going to early morning meetings, where there are business people like me. I couldn’t afford residential treatment again, so I go to outpatient every day. My ex has me in court trying to get full custody of our son. I hate opening my mail and my bills are piling up.

My problem is that my work only approved a 45-day leave of absence. I am due to return to work in two weeks, and I’m overwhelmed and scared. I have a high-paying job and really need the money. But the job is also very stressful. I think I’ll be okay, but I don’t want to take the chance because I really like sobriety this time and don’t want to drink. I can’t sort this out. What should I do? – 7:00 AM Regular in Denver

CrossTalk is based on the premise that recovery life is polytely: frequently, complex problem-solving situations characterized by the presence of not one, but several endings. This writing represents decades of recovery and its application to life and how to get over it, into it or through it with spunk, levity and a good dose of reality. What? You want more than happy, joyous and free? Get over it. Just sayin’. – Mollé

Dear Ms. Denver,

I am not going to tell you what you should do. The fact that you are going to meetings, attending treatment and doing the Steps with a sponsor will significantly increase the odds that you can and will stay sober no matter what happens. I’m serious.

Going back to work can be challenging, even when it’s a low-stress job. The fear (false evidence appearing real) of going back to work can actually be worse than doing it. Fear can paralyze us and make any situation worse. So try not to waste your sober brain cells worrying.

Get the facts. Call your work’s human resources department and find out if you can extend your leave. If the answer is yes and you can afford it, great. If they won’t or you can’t afford it, then that settles it. Use your sober support team and get ready. You are not alone, most everyone has to work. This is where the saying, “Suit up (shut up) and show up,” comes into play. You don’t have to like it; you just have to do it.

Sobriety gives purpose to life. Stay close to your Higher Power, your sponsor and to the Steps. You can do this.

Okay, Mollé,

You won’t like this, because I barely do. It doesn’t make sense, but it is what it is. I’ve fallen in love with a newcomer – me, 22 years sober; her, 90 days sober. We are both in our 50s and both widowed after many years of marriage. I know, what I was thinking!?

Now don’t spit in your coffee, but this truly is a case of love at first sight. We both knew it from the beginning. We don’t want to be apart, ever. We’ve been discrete, but I can’t live a secret for too long. Waiting until she has the nonexistent rule of “one year before a relationship” is nonsense. She’ll then be one year sober, and I’ll be 23 years – not all that different in the eyes of others.

I can handle the social ridicule, but I don’t want to hurt her by staying or by going. What do you think?

Dearest, I DID just spit in my coffee!

As a famous person recently said, “Who am I to judge?” Either way, people in AA will talk about you mercilessly – we’re just people – so quit worrying about what other people think.

The point is, the difference between 90 days and one year is it’s likely she will have had a greater opportunity to practice trusting in a power greater than herself – which is not you. She’ll have completed Steps Four and Five, applied Steps Six and Seven in her life and have made significant progress with Steps Eight and Nine, and working on Steps Ten to Twelve.

I will assume you understand the AA social norm of “don’t hit on newcomers.” Please, check and recheck your motives – with a sponsor. “It is only where ‘boy meets girl on AA campus,’ and love follows at first sight, that difficulties may develop.” But, and here’s the rub, “The prospective partners need to be solid AA’s and long enough acquainted to know that their compatibility at spiritual, mental and emotional levels is a fact and not wishful thinking.” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 119).

Let her develop her own recovery program without your input. Don’t go to every meeting together, and don’t hide. What the two of you do in your non-AA time (or ever) is no one’s business. If people want to talk, well, let the person with no fault cast the first stone.

My sponsor’s no-argument “dating in recovery” guideline was a minimum of four meetings a week including a woman’s meeting, a Big Book study, a topic/discussion meeting and a speaker meeting. If I wanted to go to a meeting with my boyfriend, I was to use the speaker meeting as part of date night. All other meetings were for my recovery and not for holding hands.

Keep your head out of the sand, be honest, and be willing to pay the price for your actions or inactions. Stay sober no matter what, even if your hearts get broken.

The viewpoints shared or any implied actions suggested by Mollé are the opinions and ideas of the author only and do not represent those of In Recovery Magazine. The implied action is offered openly and is never intended to replace the advice of a health care professional. You may send your dilemmas to Mollé at crosstalk@inrecoverymagazine.com.

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