I was two years sober the first time I heard someone say, “In recovery you’ll get to do everything sober that you did drunk.” I immediately blurted out, “I can’t be married that many times.”
I was ashamed of having been married four times. My dearest hope was that after I stopped drinking my problems with men would naturally—and fairly easily—right themselves.
You smile. Yes, I did believe in the 13th promise, the one I thought said that we get love and partners and boyfriends after we get sober. Not quite, as you well know. So I did not warm to the idea that I’d go thru all that hell again sober.
But of course I did. No, not four more weddings, but relationships that didn’t work, relationships in which I picked men just as bad as before and even harder to face and fess up to in recovery: relationships in which I was just as bad as before. And then I did fall in love with a better kind of man, but in early recovery I still hadn’t worked thru the old family stuff and cleared up my own past, so I then had a divorce in recovery. That hurt a lot. It hurt more because I was stunned that it could happen. I really was trying my best, and it also hurt a lot more because by then I had no booze, no drugs, and no eating disorder to help mask the pain. And then there was the shame of the rooms. I had invited my home group to the wedding. We didn’t literally do it but it was as if we walked hand in hand through the circle and triangle from the altar. And then it was over and each day I went back to that same home group and talked about the divorce and the amends and—the good part: what I was learning and changing about me.
So it is true: You’ll get to do everything sober that you did drunk. Most of us will not rob a bank or steal from our employer but we will dance, shop, date, have sex (yea!) and we’ll certainly lie, avoid, fight with family and friends, get our feelings hurt and do a good share of hurting others. We’ll be parents still or, in some cases again, some of us will get fired in sobriety, so that means we’ll be unemployed again and go on job interviews again. We may have to borrow from family again. But we’ll have the chance to do it differently.