My sobriety in the past– I noticed a reoccurring pattern.
1) I would get sober.
2) I would get lonely.
3) I would search fearlessly for a girlfriend.
4) I would find a girlfriend.
5) Our relationship would fall apart.
6) I would relapse.
7) Rinse and repeat.
After realizing why this continued to happen and what I was doing wrong, it all seemed so simple. There is a very important reason addicts are told to wait until they have acquired at least one year of continuous sobriety before they start any kind of intimate relationship. I think this is great advise and if you truly want long term sobriety, please follow AAs simple relationship advise. I think its a good first step, but to have a meaningful, happy, non-toxic relationship, a lot more is required.
Once I heard this in an AA meeting, I took it very serious (waiting at least 1 year). I knew I needed some time to learn more about myself and why I kept ending up freezing cold, homeless, running from the law- and self-inflicted needle scars up and down my battered arms. A real catch for any woman, right?
My life changed drastically (for the better) in 2006 when I spent 13 months behind bars for various drug related charges and theft. When I was released from jail in 2007, I decided to continue on the path to self-knowledge, sobriety, and continued celibacy. No dating, no searching for women. Only self knowledge, spirituality, and the repairing and paying off of past restitution. I had dug a huge crater and I knew if I were to drag a new, unsuspecting woman into it, it could only end in despair. Relapse would most likely follow.
Waiting (including jail time) almost 3 years before I entered into a new relationship gave me greater hope that things would finally work out. I had built my life back to the point where my confidence and charm was second only to my sobriety and happiness. Guess what happened? The relationship fell apart and shortly after, I relapsed. Why? What did I do wrong this time? Did I not do things right this time? Nope. I sure didn’t. I didn’t put on the Kevlar. The relationship was not bulletproofed.
Until I met my current wife, I have ALWAYS done relationships the wrong way. Whether it was lack of knowledge, too young, or too dumb… No it was none of those. It was fear. Now I no longer have any excuse. If a relationship starts wrong, it will inherently end wrong. It will be too weak to continue on. If I build my home on sand, it will eventually wash away. There is love and there is lust. What is the difference? When I say I love someone, is it really love- or is it lust? I believe that “love” must have moral and virtuous objective qualities attached. That person must possess continual virtuous traits; empathetic, warm, caring, helpful, non-violent, slow to anger, etc. This is fundamental in separating this love-lust dichotomy. For Dustin to love someone, they must have virtuous qualities about them! Being pretty or sexy or beautiful is not virtuous, it is accidental, historical genetics. Relationships are so often founded on base-of-the-brain, mammal instinct; you are delicious so lets bump our nasty-bits. Relationships will often go years without either partner knowing even the most basic of questions about the other. Important, fundamental questions about compatibility. What is your definition of love? What religion are you? Do you believe in God? Will a difference in religion be a problem? Do you want kids? How will you discipline your children? Can you even have kids? What was your childhood like? Do you have unresolved childhood issues or abuse? What are you political views? Some relationships will start and end without either party asking any of these questions. We are often too concerned with manipulation, playing games, lying, jealousy and lust. Any relationship structured on these unethical premises will cause insurmountable problems, but we see it all the time (including my own past relationships.) They are weak and can’t create anything healthy or worthwhile.
The problem was- I was too afraid to ask these kind of questions. I thought I would push the other person away from me if we talked about such big and scary topics early on in the relationship. Instead, I let two or three years of wasted time and energy dictate our relationship compatibility. It is much easier to just have lustful sex with an empty and hollow relationship and think we are in love when we really don’t know anything about each other. Just agreeing with whatever. Not having any kind of opinion or identity. Enabling each other because its the short-term path of less fear and resistance.Then when the relationship ends with hostility, bitterness and anger, I would wonder what went wrong. It is so much easier to be “liked” then to be honest. This is true even for every day friendships. Do you have friends who work harder to be liked rather than being honest? I wonder often if there is a diminishing amount of people left in the world with real honesty, real integrity. Someone who will call you out on your shit. That’s what I need in my life. If they aren’t calling me out on my shit, then they are doing behind my back, amongst other people. I may have mentioned this before but the other day, someone had posted something to online that was clearly a bad idea for that person and yet all of their so-called friends posted how great of an idea it was. Not one person mentioned how it could cause serious long term concerns or issues. Yes you should run out in front of a moving train! In today’s world, honesty is very unpopular. I want to continue striving for “unpopular.”
I have made many mistakes in my life. I do accept that I still screw up often, I accept that I still make mistakes, of course- but I continue to work at not repeating these mistakes.I want to become a better person. If I can’t accept that I am doing something wrong, I will never try to change it. Being aware of what I was doing wrong in the past has now allowed my current relationship with my wife to continue to grow stronger. We do not argue, we do not raise our voices at each other, we do not call each other names and we both try to work with moral and ethical principles. When we disagree with each other, we negotiate some form of win-win situation that makes us both happy. There is no concerns or issues over jealousy and that is a first for me. I never thought it could work, but I promise you, it does. Like S. Molyneux says “The only thing that will separate my wife and I will be a coffin lid.”
Relationships that are founded on moral ethics will be bulletproof!