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“You don’t go to the junkyard to get a new car “my first sponsor used to say. Never fully understanding what he meant, I shook my head in agreement with him. I entered the program of AA for my second time before I was legally allowed to drink. Young and completely beaten down and depressed from the life I had lived, my sponsor encouraged me not to seek women in the program. I was explained this many times, my counselor even suggested that I spend 90 days with a woman before engaging in any kind of sexual behavior. I had my fair share of “Warnings” about relationships in early recovery, so what did I do when two Recovery Professionals gave me solid advice?

I did the complete opposite, OF COURSE. Young and naive I went against my sponsors advice and started dating a girl in recovery, attempting to fill a void that was filled by drugs and alcohol just three months earlier. How did the relationship turn out with only 3 months of sobriety?  The relationship was a disaster. I caused harm not only to her, but to my friends and family. I stopped hanging out with my friends, and starting lying to them about where I was going. I lied about my meeting attendance to my sober house, and to my sponsor about my current “emotional state “.  I put my recovery in a dangerous situation and was so caught up in my delusion around her, that it almost took me out. After being completely heartbroken, lost, and still empty inside, I feel as if I had a “First Step “experience. Without drugs and alcohol in my body, I was still a producer of harm and chaos.

Shortly after it ended I called my sponsor, it had been weeks since I’ve last spoken to him, he listened to my story, and told me to go to a meeting. Thinking I got off “Scott Free”, the next day he called me back. I received a lethal dose of accountability I never thought was possible. My sponsor at the time, pointed out my character defects and fears I had, it was an eye-opening experience to say the least. I believe a lot of people in recovery go through the same experience, trying to fill a void with something other than a higher power and the program. My experience has left me with some tips for newcomers.

Sobriety Has to Come First. I heard it many times in meetings “Anything I put in front of my sobriety, I’ll lose.” This is unquestionably true for me. I have to place my sobriety above my relationships, my job, and above my family. The reason I have a family that will talk to me today, or a job is because I’m sober. The only way for me to be fit enough to engage with other people, with friends, with family, is to remain sober. Practicing the program and its principles in all my affairs got me to this point. Without it, my world is torn apart by my own selfish wants and needs, I generally end up alone in my room, with drugs and alcohol in my system.

Having A Solid Amount of Time Before Dating. Another phrase commonly throw around the rooms of AA is “Don’t Get in A Relationship in the first year of sobriety!” I heard this all the time, again I thought I was different than everyone else and could handle it. However, this bit of wisdom is something you should listen to. I fell into the delusions that since I wasn’t ingesting drugs or alcohol, and I’m in the program, I must be safe. WRONG. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, but assuming you would not want to risk your recovery on a miracle. Take time getting to know yourself, enjoy early sobriety in the fellowship of the rooms. Focus on your goals, and build a life for yourself.

Taking It Slow. Don’t fall in love in the first week, you don’t even know who you are yet. Newly Sober people may try to use romance as a replacement for alcohol or drugs. All they’re doing is substituting one addiction with another.  Taking things slow comes highly recommend. Trust me, my experience with rushing into a relationship almost ruined everything I worked for. Early sobriety is an emotional roller coaster; you will begin to experience feelings that you may not have felt in a while. The last thing that an individual will want to do will be to add the stress of a new relationship to the mix.

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