Take Heart

by Mari Casey

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The most difficult part of my recovery today, the most terrifying prospect in my life is not related to an urge to use or a potential relapse. It’s about dating. I’m twenty-six and single—a fun idea, right?—except I have four years clean, and just the thought of going on a date turns me catatonic. They recommend a year without sex when you first get clean. I didn’t do it then, but I might get it now, and not for lack of desire.

In my life, there are two major categories of potential suitors: people “in the rooms”— recovering addicts at the meetings—or “normies”—those strange creatures who can drink just one beer, maybe even hit one joint every now and again, normal people. I’ve dated in the rooms before. Pros: mutual understanding, shared experience, easy to meet. Cons: dating someone as sick as you are, and the whole “shitting where you eat” problem—when you break up you still have to run into the person on random weeknights in church basements and community centers. In short, since I’ve been clean, I’ve dated a friend I’ve known since childhood and two other recovering addicts. For a lot of reasons, including the whole “repeating the same mistakes” idiom, I’m ruling out dating in the rooms for now.

That leads to the problem. I’m petrified of dating with someone new. It’s a fear of explaining myself. It’s not really a fear of being judged outright. That’s easy. I know how to handle that. I say fuck off and walk off feeling self-righteous. The scenario that most terrifies me goes something like this:

I meet a man I like. We go on a first date. It’s awkward, but most first dates are. But it’s more awkward because I know there’s a huge part of me that I’m not telling yet. Of course, nobody can or should tell everything on the first date. But my recovery is a really big part of my life, and I’m consciously withholding that information for strategic reasons: in terms of the proverbial “baggage,” the story that winds up with me in rehab by the time I’m 21 is a U-Haul load. So we talk about a movie we both have seen. The date ends fine.

We go on another date. At some point during the second date I tell him I’m in recovery. It is probably blurted. It’s blurted because I’m nervous about it, and naturally, that’s how information comes out in an anxious setting: without much grace. It might happen when he picks up the wine list and asks if I’d like to try a merlot. Instead of saying, “No, thanks,” which is all I need to say, I say, “I can’t. I’m in recovery.”

This is the bad part. He is a nice person. He has sympathetic eyebrows and says in a voice raised half an octave, “Oh. That’s awesome. I’m really proud of you.” Which is what nice people say. Which is fucked up. And it happens all the time. Oh, we’ve had two conversations and now we have the type of relationship in which you get to be proud of me? Fucking great. And say it in the high-soft voice with which you’d congratulate a toddler for using the big-girl potty for the first time. Because now that you know, vaguely, that I used to do drugs—that stereotypically dark, gritty, felonious lifestyle—speak to me as if I’m a good little girl. Ok. I’m overreacting. I don’t blame this well-meaning man. How could he know what to say or how to say it? This normie is trying to be nice, acknowledging the positive side of things, so I let it slide. I appreciate his effort, forced and condescending as it might seem, he meant it to be nice. I smile and order a seltzer. We talk of other things for the rest of the night. I find out the names and ages of his siblings. He hears out about my career or my dog.

Three to seven conversations later, he asks as gracefully as he can, “About your recovery… What, exactly, did you do?” Same sweet voice.

And I answer, “I did a lot of drugs. I realized I couldn’t go on. I got help. I got clean. I work a program now.” I explain my program: do unto others, good Samaritan, trying to rejoin the human race, etc. It’s an honest if not original answer.

And he says, “Oh. That’s really great. When you were using drugs, though, what did you do?”

“You mean like pot, pills, heroin, cocaine?”

“Yeah, kind of.”

“Yeah. I did those. Other stuff, too.” And I know this answer is a little aggressive. It’s standoffish, but I want to stand off. I feel interrogated. Is he my date or the probation officer I never had? I’m intimidated. And immediately I realize my own answer was pretty fucking intimidating. I see that this person doesn’t understand, but he’s asking because he wants to understand. That’s alright. That’s admirable.

And we don’t talk about it again that night. We don’t have sex that night, either. We’re both a little put off. The next time we see each other, we don’t talk about it, and we’re both more relaxed. We like the same music. We like the same food. We like each other. We make each other laugh. And we have sex. It’s good sex. And we keep having sex. And we like each other’s bodies. And one time after sex, when we’re feeling really close, he asks –maybe he’s prompted by my remembering aloud that I need to leave soon to catch a meeting—he asks me, “Why did you use drugs?” And he looks at me with concerned, caring eyes.

And I know what he doesn’t want to hear. He doesn’t want to hear that I liked getting really, really high. That I loved the debauchery. Drugs made me feel free and wild and cool. Drugs made me feel numb and relaxed. I loved the chaos. I loved the nothing. I loved the way it felt to steal from the liquor store and smash the empty bottle in the alley minutes later. I loved the winding up. I loved the shutting down. And sure, there was the whole vicious cycle aspect, the deep-seated bitter self-hatred which I medicated with behavior that augmented the self-hatred and the need to medicate it, the textbook disease aspect. That was absolutely part of it, but so was the fact that I enjoyed the party, the darkness, the violence and the emptiness of it all. For a chunk of time, it was fun. Then it sucked, and I couldn’t stop. It was addiction.

But of course he doesn’t want to hear that truth. I can see it in his eyes. He wants to hear something that makes me forgivable—a sob story with neglect, abuse, foster homes, some chronic disease or horrible injury that required a prescription that got me “hooked,” any story with some mitigating factor. It wasn’t like that. He wants some part of my story to explain how I couldn’t have been as bad as he thinks I was, as bad as reality was. He wants an excuse because he needs me to be better than a drug addict to fall for me, and he wants to fall for me. He likes me. He thinks I’m funny. He thinks I’m kind, bless his heart. But I’m not a special type of drug addict, not some innocent who accidentally fell arm-first into a needle. I’m not a bad person, either, just an addict. And I’m looking into his eyes which are searching for excuses I don’t have. I’m not a heroic survivor of tragic circumstances. I don’t know what to say.

Why did I use drugs? For a moment, I pretend that I don’t understand the question. I pretend I don’t see it in his eyes. I break eye contact, and I think that I’m going to cry, so I close my eyes and kiss him and we fuck so that I don’t have to answer the question.

How does it end? I probably break it off within a couple weeks of that. It’s not like we couldn’t have worked past it. I could have invited him to a meeting so he could listen and learn as he was so willing to do. I could have told him the truth. I could have been honest with him about my fears, which probably would have made it easier for him to understand. But I didn’t because that’s so much work, so much trust, too much weight to lift so soon. We were just getting to know each other. I don’t know if it’s worth it yet. And these questions are things he’d ask within the first month. It took me years to talk about some of these things with my sponsor—and she’s an addict who asked to hear about it. But for a guy who’s kind of funny and likes that Syrian restaurant? Forget it.

That. That story is the hypothetical scenario that would crush me, the scenario that terrifies me. That I will see myself inadequate in the eyes of someone who wants to see me as good, who’s trying to see me as good. I know I won’t be that guy’s version of good. Don’t mistake this for self-pity. I think I can be plenty good, because I believe there are good addicts—that that’s not an oxymoron, that a good addict doesn’t require an excuse for her addiction, that it doesn’t have to be a big deal. It doesn’t have to be a big deal for me anymore because I have a few years’ practice accepting it.

This is the most terrifying thing about being an addict for me today (lucky me). No fear of contagious disease or incarceration. No visions of imminent relapse in a gutter. I’m scared I’ll let my world become very small in this very promising time—my twenties, about to finish grad school, as young and pretty as I’ll ever be, clean—because I hate how hard it is to get started. So I’ll never have sex again because it’s kind of hard to talk to nice people? Christ, I am one sick fucker.

I need a double-dose of courage. One for me to go out there and get what I want. I’ve braved meaner streets than the dating scene to get what I want before. The other is for the man who asks me on a date: oh you, sweet normie, be brave.

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Mari Casey is an MFA candidate at West Virginia University. She was fiction editor of the Cheat River Review from 2013-2014. Mari lives in Morgantown with her dog, Barbarella.

105 Responses to “Take Heart”

  1. <3 I married my husband while in active addiction and have recently gotten clean. We have been together for seven years now and since being in recovery it feels like we barely even know each other anymore. He's learning new things about me everyday, the real me and I'm learning how to deal with a relationship like normies do. Like sit with my feelings haha and putting in the action to work things out. I can understand why it's so daunting for us recovering addicts to get into relationships because i find when times get tough my mind is automatically programed to fuck everything and run.

  2. YES. Thank you so much for sharing this! I have yet to write much of significance about my addiction and recovery, but your outstanding piece here has made me feel a bit more brave and capable of approaching the topic. Everything you’ve said here resonates… :)

  3. phew. I am a ‘normie’ who married an addict (lost his battle and life) and I see myself in this so much – the ‘normie’. I flashed back on our first date (he told me of his struggle and proclaimed his recovery) and yes, over the years, all those subsequent moments. The problem was, he was still using. I never got many answers – he never did the work you have. So thank you for the answers to all the questions I ever asked. It helps in my too-late ‘understanding’. I never did. And I really couldn’t get why he couldn’t stop. Still, I loved him. Maybe like a cross -cultural love where some profound understanding is always missing. I stuck with him as long as I could in the hopes he’d beat it.
    This is a beautiful piece. If I can offer one piece of encouragement from my fogey years – I think your hard-won wisdom just gives you an extra-refined sensor, tuned to find only the worthiest of men. Hang onto and trust that. Every 26 year old woman should have such a thing. With it, you’re bound to find the love you long for. May it be soon! He’ll be a lucky guy.

  4. Love this. My best friend just made it to the 6 month clean mark- he’s a total teddy bear full of love and I stand by him with no doubt that he’ll find somebody (regardless of his new addict identity) once he gains confidence and love for himself. From all the addicts I have met through him I know that you tend to be a wicked smart bunch. I think the honesty that pours out of my friend (now that he is in recovery), and clearly you, is one of the most admirable and humanizing traits one can have.. everybody has skeletons in their closet and reasons + non reasons for their past. Labeling yourself can be crucial, but do remember that you’re only human and even ‘normies’ are not so normal. There are barriers for everyone in embracing intimacy, and I don’t mean to water down your experience or sense of self at all, but rather tell you to keep amplifying it and expect that others will understand addiction over time (hopefully) instead of keep trying to fit you into a romanticized version of what they expect. Anyways, thanks for this it was great to read, please never stop sharing your story

  5. Thank you for your piece. I am not a stranger to the rooms. What I know for sure is that those who dare enter and stay, or to leave and come back again, and maybe even again, are some of the most insightful healthier individuals I know. They are, in my experience:”daring greatly “(Brenee Brown’s words) And, the notion of being “sick” or having an “illness ” that can permeate the rooms (I feel strongly) is a misconception and works to keep the sober separate from non practicing sober folks. The bottom line is (for me) is that our collective human condition is that we are ALL vulnerable to being wounded which then impacts our level of ‘dis-function”. Again, sober or not, we are all dysfunctional just some more than others. It’s out human condition! I am sharing this because I was struck by your self perception of being “sick”. In my limited experience of you in your writing you appear as a courageous, wise, insightful, young woman who is (again) “daring greatly” to become who you are! Impressive and (to me) the opposite of being “sick”. Good luck with dating and have fun! In kind….S.

  6. Being single sucks. It’s fun for a while, then it’s not, like most things done to excess. I admire your candor and wish you all the best. If any advice could help, I suggest just be honest. Tell them what they don’t want to hear. An excellent piece of writing and a powerful message; I feel privileged to have been able to read it.

  7. This is beautiful, the expression that you show is evident and I love your story. Truly beautiful, and as for you, put your heart out there because a leap of faith is sometimes all you need. Godspeed.

  8. Love this fancied pre-resentment. I make up situations often and as it turns out it’s always in my head. I have a pseudo-boyfriend whom is very independent and I forget that because I am missing him and want to cuddle up in his arms that he has stuff to do; like live his life. I take this way far out of proportion and assume something is wrong with our relationship. When I see him next, even in long periods of separation, he is always excited to see me. When I tell him how I freaked out he laughs and says girls are crazy….
    I took the track of no relationships when I got clean myself. I stayed out of them for 6 years and then a gal broke up with me, when I didn’t even know we were dating. Two more years past and I married a gal who’s life fell apart and we are now separated; due to irreconcilable differences. She went back out, I supported her because I know that a drunk and junkie needs to find their bottom and I can’t stop them. If you can’t help them up, help them down… Now it is time to focus on me and my recovery; hence the pseudo relationship status.
    I know people with a good success rate for relationships and friendships with “normies” who have a family member active in the program. If you have no clue what it is like to even know an addicted person then a relationship with one would be intimidating; or so I think. But I’m a junkie who preferred alcohol over water; so what do I know….
    ~sawer

  9. Beautifully insightful piece.
    Captured the thought processes perfectly. I am not in the addict category except when my BPD really kicks in and I hit the meds cabinet as if it was an all you can eat buffet.
    The issue around when to show and tell your big secret to a new date strikes a definite bitter sweet chord though…Do you play the game not really enjoying it because you know you have a potential deal breaker smouldering in your back pocket? The well meaning responses which then tumble out following your revelation….acutely observed.

  10. You didn’t get into drugs over night and lose people’s trust and you won’t get out of drugs and gain trust again over night. Normie who have gone through druggies BS are in recovery also.
    This reminds me of the Aids situation. Aids patients didn’t want to date other Aids carriers but, who should put themselves in harms way to be nice or loved. Both diseases are forever.

  11. I feel like we could be kin. That us here at RoughTradeBlog could possible exist amongst the same dysfunction as you guys at junklit. I like. We will be watching you.

  12. Thank you very much for sharing this. I understand quite a bit of how you feel. I haven’t gotten to the point that I can’t talk about it to much of anyone. I have to really struggle not to say I’m an addict the first minute I meet someone. Same about being bipolar.

  13. Reblogged this on Life and Me.

  14. My daughter is an addict. About 45 days clean this go-round. And I blog about my experience as the mother of an addict. Reading this really gave me some perspective on where she might be coming from . She, like you, did not have some horrendous abouse, foster family, or specific traumatic event to use as a baseline (I refuse to say excuse) for her addcition. She was free and wild and impulsive. And I believe the amount nd fever with which she used has caused long term side affects but those can and are being treated so recovery will be in her future as long as she continues to go to meetings and follow the steps. Very well written and congratulations on 4 years clean, said with honestly and genuinly not with a patronizing but well-meaning soft-high voice, fromsomeone who has seen first hand how hard it is to put a few days of clean time together, not to mention several years.

  15. Please keep your head up. I come from a family of addicts and seeing the individuals in my family go through such a thing hurts so much. Please keep strong and think positive thoughts. Keep telling yourself no I am so much better that then. I love myself for me now and not when I was addicted. M.C.P.💕

  16. pasttherabbithole Says:

    Thanks for this insight, it clears out a few things now. Beautiful piece.

  17. Reblogged this on macuci.

  18. Love it! I’m a ways off even thinking about dating again. And I’m in my 30’s with two kids. But, oh, it is so nice to see your honesty here. I could make a zillion excuses for my own drug use, abuse and neglect and all that, but they are only excuses. The truth is I liked drugs. I’d already had therapy for the rest. I’m a sick person with a sick mind who liked the pain and imagined pleasure. And it is so hard to explain that to someone who hasn’t experienced it! Thank you for sharing this!

  19. One day, you will meet the normie who really isn’t – because he will accept you and your past and possible rocky future without the wide eyed gaze and soft, questioning voice. He will be calm, strong and understanding and you will not feel the awkwardness in explanations or for that matter, even the need to explain. It won’t be this hard! Congrats on your strength and I wish you continued success on your road to recovery. And, please remember that the world of dating no matter what your past, is a challenge, high or sober. For a lighter view on one of my dating disasters, you may enjoy “You Get What You Pay For” truly cringe worthy but a memory of an unforgettable date I still about laugh about (really). https://nynkblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/you-get-what-you-pay-for/

  20. I’m not in recovery, just new to the dating scene after being married for ten years. I have Crohn’s disease, and some of the fears you have expressed are similar to mine. How soon is too soon to tell a woman I’m dating? I mean it’s not like she won’t see the big ass scar on my abdomen when things get serious and we want to fuck each other, so do I wait up until the last minute then tell her, or do I put my disease that I have battled for 30 years right out there at the beginning, and go through all the BS advice, and stories about someone they know who has it, and how great their doing? It’s a fucked up disease and you can’t tell by looking at me that I’ve been through the ordeal. The only way to know is when the clothes come off. I’ve avoided asking women out over this. I can’t see myself going without sex for the rest of my life, but just how to broach this subject with a prospective mate is a nightmare scenario for me. It’s very intimidating, and I don’t know how i broached it before my latest marriage. All I know is it sucks! Good luck to you and thanks for putting this out there.

  21. Reblogged this on Queen-V.

  22. I want to become a drug use and abuse counselor and I am so inspired by this story. Thank you for sharing. I struggle with an eating disorder so I know in some way how you feel

  23. Right there with you. :)

  24. Love yourself first …. That helps in the courage category …

  25. How about not telling him ur in recovery? Maybe just say “I dont drink” & leave it at that? If it goes past the initial dating process, if u move into closer friendship or relationship-then u find a way to tell him. Then u know he cares for you. All of you.

  26. I dread when and if a man sees my scars. If he’s most men he won’t even notice. If he’s actually interested in me he may notice. How do I explain something I’m trying to explain to myself? “You don’t do it anymore, do you?” That disgusted tone cloaked in concern. And if I do? Then he runs. I let him run. I’m glad I came across your blog. Dating… ick…

  27. Very honest and raw. My addiction is different than yours but I can relate to a lot of what you wrote. It was very well put

  28. My addiction is sex, to the point of self-destruction. I can relate to so much of what you wrote here even though our addictions are different. Thanks for sharing

  29. Yeah, same here. i started drugs at age 18. Jumped in with both feet. Started out shooting speed. Fast forward 42 years. I had a lot of trouble with drugs. I never looked the part. At age 34 I got off street drugs and a year later started getting sick. I really did get clean. I had enough – but my body wasn’t done with me because i had hep C. I stopped the needle at 23, but it was too late. Drugs didn’t stop at 23, just the needle stopped. My first husband gave it to me. I didn’t know yet with my 2nd husband, but after interferon treatment that didn’t work we split up. It wasn’t because of the hep c, though. My reason for saying all this was because of my similar dilemma with you – dating after my 2nd marriage broke up. What do I say? When do I say it.?I knew there were very few people who would want to go out with someone with so much baggage. So I learned – first date – just tell them. If they were going to run off, better to get it over and done with. They all did. I had the plague. Until I met husband number three in 2000. He didn’t care. My world fell apart in 2009. I got every illness you could possible get from Hep C clear through cirrhosis, liver cancer, umpteen infections that had me in and out of the hospital alot. Cirrhosis depletes calcium so I had a spinal fractures and 7 rib fractures and a liver transplant in 2012. He took care of me like a baby. I was pretty much bed bound for 2-3 years. I had to learn how to walk again. I had trouble feeding myself and couldn’t even wipe my own ass. You know your husband loves when he wipes your ass and cleans your bed sores. So when you find the right person it won’t matter. The kicker of the whole thing though. It left me with damaged nerves and damaged spine so I still have to take drugs. So even though I don’t want them anymore, my body was so mad that i stopped it made me take them anyway! That’s my karma. Now, at 60, I’ve lived the life of probably 5 people. I wouldn’t change a thing, because all those experiences made me who I am and I like myself. It made me strong and I know now I can do anything I set my heart to doing. You’re young. You’ll find that out too. You’ll be okay. It’s like the song, “The bear went over the mountain” and then there was another mountain, and another and another. I love living and I came real close to not being able to. Only had weeks left, tops. I wouldn’t worry about dating. Enjoy yourself until the right person comes a long and he won’t care what you did or recovered from. I still have an addictive nature. I get addicted to EVERYTHING I do. All or nothing. Now i try to have good addictions lol. You’ll be ok.

  30. Mark – be proud of your scar. i was filleted like a fish my surgery goes from side around to the back of the other. Not pretty. I’ll show anyone. Because of it I’m alive. So are you. They are battle scars and you won! i know you’ve been through hell with that. if someone is turned off by your scar – they were wrong from the beginnin.

  31. M – we all did drugs because liked them. Being able to admit that is good. No one twisted my arm. The desire to do drugs was just there. I don’t know why. It just was. But like everything – cigarettes or anything, someone has to want to stop to stop. I just wanted to stop – before I got sick. It was just toolate at that point and I had to ride it out. Some people with Hep C don’t stop. They keep on partying. They die. Their choice.

  32. Recovery from our addictions is always in our ability to reflect upon our actions. This article shows that you have a great ability to do so. What do you need to do? Probably to not over-analyze all the stuff. There are people that are just attracted to the stories about drug addiction. It is the same as people who like to read/hear about your new diet, hairstyle, etc. Don’t search for deeper reasons about it. You are six years clean, but you treat yourself as if you could relapse any time. So, can you? Are you having dreams about being high? Do you feel like if you were offered something, you wouldn’t hesitate to take it? Does the problem really lie in the “normal” guy or in your fear of relapse?

  33. This resonates. Not the part about being an addict (and I confess I dabbled on the edge of alcoholism after a heart break…. Oh the freedom!). I understand how we can want an excuse to make someone lovable. How we want so bad to be loved, but just can’t . This world… I don’t know.

  34. I’m a normie by your definition LOL Never considered myself that! On a more serious note over the past 15 years I have stood by and supported my significant other through his addiction problem, rehab and relapses it was a long tough rough road to recovery. Anyone who sticks with it deserves praise. So kudos to you!

  35. My world is just as full at four years sober as it ever was, and more fulfilling even. I just get to pick and choose what I include in my world now, whereas before alcohol made those choices for me.

    Agree with many of the others, that one day you’ll meet a “normie” or even someone with addiction in their past, and you will know an honesty and intimacy you’ve yet to discover. Take heart, Mari, and keep heart, and congratulations on your clean time. ~ Christy

    Beautifully written. Nice selection, editors.

  36. Thank you for the story! Love the way you write. I have a boyfriend, I fell in love with him since the first moment. If he told me he was in recovery…well I would not mind..at all. Everybody has a past, some of us worse and not acceptable immediately, but it is part of us. :) You seem like a beatiful an funny person, I hope you find someone who you can trust and open your heart :)

  37. I love your articles here. I learn a great deal, but also love your honesty and forthrightness. And I love the way you write. Thank you.

  38. If you’re not already aware of him, you should check out Tony O’Neill, specifically his interviews at 3ammagazine.com . He speaks about his origins as a drug addict in a similar manner and has written some amazing novels about his whole experience.

  39. brettcljonez Says:

    Reblogged this on thedetectivesford.

  40. Thank you for sharing your insight into recovery. Dating is daunting enough, I know I personally feared revealing things far less stigmatized than addiction. Your courage and strength are admirable.

    The key is to truly forgive yourself, to let go of all you’re holding on to. Addict, normie, these are just classifications. All that matters is you are human and so will he be. We all are. There is no true normal, we all have a demon to fight, some are just scarier than others.

    My fiance is a recovered addict, but when we first started dating he had just committing himself to recovery. It was a tumultuous time where he actively tried to push me away because of all of his fears and the weight of opening up again being too much. He didn’t think he deserved love because he’d been such a terrible person as an addict. He didn’t think he was strong enough to be the man any woman deserved. He worried I would look down on him for the person he once was.

    But that’s not how love works.

    You deserve to be loved, just like everyone else, but we cannot experience it until we first love ourselves completely. You sound like you understand that, that you know you can’t take the step of dating until you’re ready to handle those issues. To plate them out on date number one is a task of tremendous strength and faith in yourself, and the day you do love will find you. It takes time to develop that kind of strength within. Taking the time you need to heal, to recover, is just as important as any other step. And you are spot on.

    (Oh, and personal note, I also used to resent when people would say they were proud of me. Now I understand it as a sentiment towards all humanity. “I’m proud of you fellow human, I’m proud to be considered to be the same creature as you. Thank you for proving the potential for strength within us all.” Just my two cents.

  41. Date a variety of people. Just anyone. Go out for coffee or dinner. It frees you up. You don’t have to see them again.

  42. I think you should accept that what “recovery” means is simply that you are now straight laced or ‘square’. Goody two shoes. Try dating normies or others who straightened up. How individuals will react will vary. I only read part of your post. I have know various types of people. The main psychological issue that I notice involves having identified with the peer group of whatever drug was so important.

  43. cookiedoughraymi Says:

    Reblogged this on sarah's .

  44. Clinche’ – honesty’s the best policy. If you can assure your partner that you’re going to be honest about your life, then you can move through questions about your past with relative ease. HE may not like what you have to say but at least hell’ believe you and he can ask you as much or as little as he wants to know about it.

  45. Your amazing👍❤ I can relate. I feel safer walking through Compton than falling in love.

  46. Thanks for sharing.

  47. You probably already know that FEAR is False Events Appearing Real. I am one of those people who thought I had to confess everything so I told my husband, who was my fiance at the time, everything. Throughout our 15 years of marriage, he has in one way or another used most of those things against me. Don’t get me wrong, he is not a malicious person but I gave him the ammo. I told him recently that if I had it to do over again, I would not have told him about my past. He is in “the program” also so he has no excuse. I’m in the “other room”. He acknowledged that his using those things against me was wrong. He had confessed all to me also and I do not use it against him but I do think about it. I have thought a lot over the years about whether we owe it to people who we form serious relationships with to tell them about our past. I guess my “fear” is that someone else will tell them. I’m no closer to an answer to the question of whether to tell but I know that it would be a true test of love. If they truly love you, they will love you for how far you have come and how much you have accomplished in spite of the challenge of addiction that was a weight around your neck. My husband’s past is frightening to me but the man he is today, the husband, the father, the grandfather makes me thank God that he was up to the challenge. I know that every day is a challenge for him and for me when he relapses but I’m standing by my man.

  48. I loved your story. The right man meant for you will love and appreciate the whole of you. The ‘normal aren’t so ‘normal after all. Getting to know a person takes a while, don’t rush it, just be yourself. You have what it takes, the insight, candor and courage. You are so young and have a whole life ahead of you. Go forward in faith……….

  49. Have to say that’s a great blog name! “Running on sober”. It’s brilliant :)

  50. From what I’ve read, you’re pretty awesome. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of men out there that can handle that. Further, there aren’t a lot of men than can be understanding while lacking experience. They are out there though. I’m like 30% sure :)

  51. I can so relate omgggg!!! It’s been years since I’ve used but when it comes to dating I still have the same fears you have. I end up dating douche bags because I know I can be honest and they’ll understand in a sick way. But of course none of them are trying to stay sober and lead a conformed normal lifestyle so I kick em to the curb. I’ve tried dating good guys. But I end up being so insecure and have these scenarios constantly playing in my head that even if things do begin to go well with someone I find a way to mess it up and destruct something that may have been good. I guess I feel like I won’t be able to live up to the expectations. My imaginary ones. I’m my own worst enemy in the game of love. Just recently I’ve decided to fly solo for awhile. The game has taken a toll. Maybe if we stop looking and just focus on ourselves and overcome our fears by just loving ourselves that right, accepting, good/was bad at one time man will come along. I could go on and on about what you said but I won’t lol
    Thanks for posting that. It’s like you read my mind in a way. Good luck! You’ll find him;)

  52. Same here , it would take a lifetime to explain and I feel that they would never understand , congrats on staying clean ! Planning on writhing my past spiral also ? Great post I can relate :)

  53. Fabulous blog. I know how you feel.

  54. It is a shame that we are judged by the battles lost in our lives rather than the battles won. The experiences in life don,t make you good or bad, it’s the choices you make when you realize your missteps. We are all flesh and blood, but love, I think, is more than that.

  55. Reblogged this on sanjaynp1987 and commented:
    Heart

  56. I’m seven years into my recovery, and I am definitely a case of four pots, three lids. Something is always boiling over. Right now, all my addicty stuff has gone straight into sex. And god, I can never seem to get that conversation right. It always feels incredibly loaded to tell someone I’m in recovery; I want to sound all offhand, but frankly it kind of IS a big deal.

  57. When’s the next one coming!? We want more….

  58. So beautiful and brave and gorgeous because of that bravery. Thankyou

  59. itijonaas Says:

    Reblogged this on itijonaas.

  60. Nice piece, but you make too big a deal over your idea of a nice/good guy. In all honesty, the things that make a “normie” different from a “roomie” is ridiculously small compared to ways that actually makes both of them the same. They both indulge in the affirmation of our imperfection. So don’t be afraid to commit yourself to him. You seem to be a good judge of character and you should trust yourself more in that aspect. Cheers and good luck.

  61. CJ. Nottm Says:

    After being single for 8+ years
    I met my partner through mutual friends.We both share the same addiction & we’re both very honest & open about all that’s happened in our lives, we’re lucky to have that trust and honesty in each other. What I would say to you Mari is when you do find that someone special make sure you can trust them first & if you can tell them everything because there’s nothing better than knowing & having that complete feeling that they know you & you know them & everything there is to know. No one else can tell them your secret because you’ve shared & bared your heart & soul from deep inside the person that you are. . . Well done on your ongoing recovery, your time for love will come when God thinks you’re ready. Don’t go looking for it, it will find you! Peace & Love Forever!! Happy Days :-)

  62. mindocr Says:

    Reblogged this on Mindocr’s Weblog.

  63. limitless2k15 Says:

    Beautiful piece truly touching.

  64. limitless2k15 Says:

    Reblogged this on Freedom.Beauty.Truth.Love and commented:
    Please read this piece it will touch the deepest parts of your being.

  65. Not all normies are normal. I have had my share of drug times but it has never been a problem for me. I can understand addiction but only to a shallow depth. I met my now boyfriend while he was living in a “gated community” for two years for heroine. I had no idea! I was under the impression he had violated probation and fines a few times and took the time. We moved in together 3 months ago. Last week, I noticed something off. Crazy as it seems, I had a dream of him high and zombie on heroine. I asked him, he flipped and said I’m not psychic why would I even ask something so crazy. A few days passed and he told me the truth. He wants to be clean and has a shot at it. Everything in me said pack your bags and run!! I didnt. I told him I forgave him for the relapse and as long as he, and we are making positive decisions toward the future I would never use it against him. You see the thing with normal people is we have our own doubts and fears about being loved and accepted. We weigh in when is the right time to tell them. I love this man because I had to tell him my things and though he could not begin to understand, he didn’t judge me or hold it against me. He just loved me. You will meet someone and I can’t say if they will be in rooms or normies but you will want them to know every part of you and they will want to know it… yes, even that time you pooped in the pool at 4. Good luck woman!! Ps- if you would, I would love to hear from you. I want to start something here in my area to help those who are in the midst of addiction. Heroine is like air in this town but probably more pure. My brother is 1 yr clean and when he was in the “dark” food and things were not priority. Handing out food is one idea I have… maybe you can make some suggestions?
    R.orlowski08@gmail.com

  66. An incredible post that had me sit in silence after I finished it. I cannot begin to understand your challenges, but your account of your new relationship is touching. I feel the apprehension in your words. I feel the excitement you describe about your past using.

    But lastly, I feel the success you have EVERY day.

  67. This post is very interesting. As a recovering addict I’ve found similar challenges upon re-entry to the atmosphere of the normal. I’ve personally experienced and searched these feelings myself before.

    After a lot of examination, I was able to determine for myself that it was ultimately shame. I looked back at the way that I handled other kinds of similar experiences (being exposed as a recovering addict) and found that I took a similar action.

    When people were nice I responded with the thank you mechanism, but when they were rude and/or I felt judged I responded with the FU mechanism.

    Here in lies the problem, the methods basically had only two options, due or die and unfortunately that wasn’t going to work for the rest of my life. I found that I need to look inside a little further and deal with the shame that I perceived. Turns our like everything else in our recovery it wasn’t “them” it’s us.

    I needed to come to terms with the fact that I was a recovering addict and not ashamed of it. I began to practice telling my story so that I could grow more comfortable with it. This resulted in me not being a loaded gun when it came to explaining my story to anyone.

    So in short, well this wasn’t all that short but this is an inside job. You should cease the opportunity to grow from this and be more comfortable and confident in you who you are. I personally think it adds value to you and instead of fearing it dance with it.

    O and one more thing. I noticed that you said in your reply to him at the table when offering you wine that “you can’t drink” and that really isn’t true. The truth is actually more powerful, you choose not to drink!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Check Me Out: http://theshamelessaddict.com

  68. Thank you for sharing, this touched me, stay strong, get stronger ;)

  69. Good morning! Wonderful ,sharing this… have a nice day!

  70. You are not the sick one….it’s the stigma society puts on addiction. By putting your amazing story out there, you are contributing to chipping away at that stigma! Be proud of who you are!!

  71. Thank you for sharing something so personal and so beautiful in its own crazy way, part of me understands you and part of me doesnt, i dont see addicts as bad people or people that had to been thru something bad in order to be an addict, i believe sometimes when noting feels good somethings makes us feel good and sadly we lose ourselves in it. When i was reading your story, i starting to realize im doing something so bad right now, im almost addicted to it its like every time i see him thats what i do, and i hate myself afterwards but i cant stop myself i feel out of control because how good it feels and how bad i feels after. But what ive learned so far speaking loud about my weakness and the pain i have kept inside me to someone who wants to know makes it so much easier to deal with it when the next one comes along, speaking helps its painful it makes you want to cry, you feel this pain in your throat and you feel this empty pain in your chest, but believe me giving chance to those who want to know the real you is the best thing you can do most importantly they want to know you, sometimes you’ll be surprised on their supportive reaction. Stay strong and remember everything ends up being okay!

  72. Reblogged this on Hope Contagium and commented:
    This I can relate to even if I never did become a “full-blown” addict (there’s still time). Even at this moment I’m thinking about getting high so I can endure the emotions inside.
    But having a past which isn’t exactly conversation appropriate and fills a great deal of your life, is also a struggle I know. In the dating-world it just sucks, it’s stupid and sad. You can’t escape the feeling of being different, not normal. Addicted to misery some have told me I was – not that it’s the same. I was always hurt when people said that…

  73. iheartsss Says:

    I agree with you. You are a good person, but with an addiction problem. It might be hard to talk about your feelings and memories, but talking will hep you. It lifts the weight off your shoulders. The more you talk, the easier it will be to accept who you were and move on to a clean start without dark memories of the past lurking in the back of your mind. Trust is a big part in life, and a very needed one too. You can’t trust no one. Take baby steps. :) I am, although in a very different matter. I believe you can achieve whatever you want.

  74. I’m sorry that you’re struggling, but I need to be selfish here and be a little grateful. Without your struggles I’d have never gotten the chance to read this and although I haven’t struggled with the same kind of addiction, this was so relatable. You. Had. Me. Hooked. You are an amazing writer and I can’t wait to read more from you.

  75. What a beautiful share. Thank you. I stumbled across your post – new to wordpress, and I loved what you had written. While I am considered a “normie” and really have no experience with addiction, I just found out that my husband of nearly three years is an addict. He’s nearly 50 days clean…and I’m proud of him. I know nothing about what it’s like to have an addiction and wish I could at a cellular level, so I can empathize…thank you for sharing.

  76. this is beautiful. My father was a addict so this really hits home for me

  77. This is good writing.

  78. I’m still in active addiction, and it is that addiction that exacerbates the loneliness – no-one wants to marry an addict, and I wouldn’t want someone I love to fall for a junkie like me.
    This was a great read, one which I can relate to in some ways.
    I am beginning to chronicle my addiction and its intricacies and would be very appreciative if you could give it a glance over.

    junkiescum.wordpress.com

    <3

  79. Good luck JBD

  80. Reblogged this on junkiescum and commented:
    An honest perspective. <3

  81. Thank you, Tim, it is very much appreciated. <3

  82. While reading, I could have sworn my Fiance wrote this about when we first met. I am a Normie. He is in recovery. The day we met he told me he was in recovery. I was in fact surprised, but it didn’t stop me from falling in love with him the very next day on our very first date. He was honest about EVERYTHING: the way he felt, what he did, how he did it, ect.. I was curious and asked a lot of questions I probably shouldn’t have asked so soon (on our first and second date). I asked because I cared, it made him who he is today. and it also lead him to me. I don’t look at him any different because honestly, I can’t even look him in the eye and picture him doing any of those things because that’s not who he is today. He knows he can tell me anything at all about his using days and I will not judge him. Yes, he feels like he is unworthy of loving and being loved. Yes, he feels like its unfair for me and I don’t deserve this life style. But- LOVE is SACRIFICE AND COMPROMISE. I am happy he laid everything out on the table the very first date because if I found out later on down the road.. I would’ve felt like he was hiding it and then I might’ve had a trust issue with him. Since he was honest and forward from the getgo, I have no trust issues whatsoever with him. Advice to anyone in recovery trying to date a Normie.. *Be honest and straight forward right away. They will appreciate your honesty that much more. Also, if they run away, it’s better they down it sooner rather than later. Don’t waste your time and never try to be someone your not.

  83. Reblogged this on coastal holistic care and commented:
    This is very moving and speaks to what this person in recovery felt when she started dating.

  84. THUMBS UP!

  85. I think your honesty is awesome. And your writing, brilliant. I wish you well.

  86. “He wants to hear something that makes me forgivable—a sob story with neglect, abuse, foster homes, some chronic disease or horrible injury that required a prescription that got me “hooked,” any story with some mitigating factor. It wasn’t like that. He wants some part of my story to explain how I couldn’t have been as bad as he thinks I was, as bad as reality was. He wants an excuse because he needs me to be better than a drug addict to fall for me, and he wants to fall for me.”

    this is so beautifully expressed, so honest and real.

  87. wao!!! with such a detailing…..hw did u managed to remember all the things going on your head………….love it!!
    i’m gonna fall in love with your writing…. :)

  88. karthikmpillai2003 Says:

    That is penned so beautifully. The part where you explain about the feeling after consuming drugs… Haven’t experienced it. But can imagine that.

  89. “I say fuck off and walk off feeling self-righteous.” – Lol! xD

    Personally, I don’t find your answer aggressive or standoffish, but perhaps it was HOW you said it. Maybe I just understand because there’s plenty of things I’d be happy to be standoffish about!

    I have a similar angst for when people ask me about what I do for a living, for example, because I don’t work due to mental health issues such as anxiety and OCD. Some of us just work in different ways.

    I sometimes think I am better off finding a woman who has the aforementioned problems as well, so that she can understand and appreciate my weird, quirky ways, but then I think I perhaps need someone ‘normal’ who may at least appreciate my ways, but not necessarily understand them. I’ve been in a relationship with someone far, far more messed up than I have ever been, and it was a disaster, regardless of the good.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I think it could be a better option for you to seek a ‘normal’ and see how it goes. If you end up with another addict, recovered or recovering, it could potentially result in you both tripping up and ending up at square one.

  90. Your post is inspiring and thoughtful. Keep your head up and turn to the Lord…. Blessings XOXO Caroline.

  91. Even this shall pass away. Move on.

  92. A poignant and beautiful piece, thank you for sharing your thoughts and words with such raw honesty. I hope that you are able to release this grip on your heart just as easily as you were able to release these emotions in your writing. Stand tall and walk proud, the world is your oyster :)

  93. I’m very new to recovery and my partner and I have only been split up for 6 months. The prospect of dating is daunting to me. I know I am NOT ready because I’m still rummaging through the emotions that stir up when I think about my last relationship. Then I find myself thinking all of the things you wrote about and really dreading the idea of trying to be with a “normie”. I think I’d always wonder if they are going to be constantly navigating around my sobriety and doubting me, judging, etc. Yikes! Your dating dilemma is so relatable. I’m cheering you on!

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