It’s been a while. I am here, I am sober.
I’ve started dating someone new, a guy “N” who has been attending my creative writing group for about 10 months now. He started showing up a few months after I started the group, and has only missed a few meetups here and there. This past spring, when I was a frenzied mess with travel, school, and work, he stepped in to help host groups when I was unable to do so myself. He was always kind, attentive, and punctual, though I didn’t pay him a whole lot of mind until later this year, when things between the ex and I started to go downhill. After one group meetup, where I apparently looked frazzled and overwhelmed, N came over to me afterward and asked me if everything was okay, and if I was alright. This small gesture was so poignant to me at the time — I had been trying to months to get my boyfriend to understand the importance of such gestures but he just couldn’t grasp it — that I walked away feeling noticed and visible, something I had been struggling to feel for some time.
Even then, N was more of a drifting thought to me for a long while, like some person who existed in solid form only every other Saturday from 9:30 until 11:00 — at least, until early November. I mentioned to him off-handedly that I had ended my relationship at a group in mid-October, after he commented that I seemed a bit lighter in the shoulders and less stressed. A few weeks later, after reaching out to him to ask if he might be able to host a group later in December while I was out of town, he suggested the idea of coffee together after the next group meeting. I accepted.
N is 13 years my senior, divorced, and father to a 13-year old son. He is nearly 2 years sober. He has a much longer, deeper story of addiction than I do, and an entire life and family he left behind in order to rebuild himself and secure his recovery. He is smart — sometimes terrifyingly so, but more often in an endearing way — and despite his intellectual shell, he’s quite soft and sentimental on the inside. Despite our considerable age difference, we have enough things in common to make the bond feel genuine and secure.
I feel lucky that I’ve found someone I’ve gelled with so well so early on, who is also sober, and who understands the struggles and joys of living a life in recovery. I felt cautious about getting into things too quickly with him at the beginning, which he understood and respected; he and I both have enough that is different in our lives to make an immediate bond feel somewhat risky, yet there’s a certain magnetism between us that has been really pleasant to experience so far. Even better is the fact that we met through a shared interest, rather than through online dating or at a bar. I really like him quite a bit. Even in the short amount of time we’ve spent together, I feel a definite attraction to him that gets stronger by tiny bits each day.
Right now, N is 500 miles away spending Christmas and New Years with his son and family. He’ll be there through January 3. I miss him, but I also feel a sense of peace and calm having some time to truly decompress myself and visit with my own friends and family. I have to keep reminding myself of how important it is to keep taking time for myself and to pay attention to what my mind and body are telling me, and though it kinda sucks to have N at a distance for the next 11 days, I think it’s yet another good reminder that no matter who is near or far, I need to put myself and my well-being on the front burner more often than I have in the past. My sobriety, my sense of self, and my sense of stability depend upon it.
And so, I will enjoy the next 10 days I have off of work and school and internship in semi-solitude. I’ve got books to read, classes to register for, TV shows to watch, and a wedding to participate in next weekend on New Years Eve. Tomorrow I’m driving out to spend Christmas Eve with my brother, his wife, my dad, and my step mom at my brother’s brand new house, and on Christmas I’ll spend the night at my mom’s lakeside house in Wisconsin. Somewhere in there I hope to fit in some yoga and stretching. I’ll sip dutifully on sparkling water while my family drinks wine and beer. It’ll all be good – this holiday, this time alone, the end of this crazy roller coaster ride of a year.
I am ready for 2017 to be done. I am cautiously optimistic about 2018, at least on a personal level. For once in my post-divorce, post-drunken life, despite the craziness my responsibilities and aspirations demand, I feel like I am starting to level out and find myself. It feels… really nice.
I’ll write a bit more before the year rounds out, but I felt like I wanted to get this jumbled mess of thoughts out, as I haven’t written for some time. I hope all of you are well and living your personal paths to their fullest potentials ❤