Early in twelve step recovery I whined to my Sponsor that I was unable to get a second date. “What is wrong with me?” I lamented repeatedly – and loudly. The sage advice from my Sponsor was simple, “Stop trying to make something happen. There is no timeline for finding the One. It isn’t a recipe you manage.”
She clearly didn’t understand the uniqueness of my situation.
Don’t misunderstand. Getting the first date was never the problem. I’m cursed with charm. At least that is the narrative I’ve adopted for conversational purposes.
However, regardless of my charm the second date never happened. Whether I was out with another friend of Bill or Lois, or with a non-twelve step muggle, the first date would involve a similar process – food, shared event such as a comedy club, auto show or movie followed by a dark chocolate anything desert. But no matter how good the dark chocolate anything dessert the evening ended at the doorstep with a polite kiss and a “thank you” followed with excuses, pledges of friendship or simply unreturned calls.
No second date, no passionate boy meeting girl on AA campus and not even a Thirteenth Step romance.
Only after multiple attempts at a Fifth Step was I able to recognize why charm and persistence wasn’t enough to generate interest in a second date let alone a relationship. Actually, undisciplined charm and persistence is one step away from a restraining order. As such, left to my own devices I was unable to fully recognize my own shortcomings.
I’m grateful to my Sponsor for the brutal honesty and explain to me why there were no second dates.
Growing up in an alcoholic home surrounded by people dragging issues of generational sexual and physical abuse along made me hyper-vigilant. Being hyper-vigilant made me secretive, sneaky and dishonest…it also creates a certain amount of superficiality that translates into a thin sugary veneer of charm and warmth over a dark, brooding and selfish worldview.
Early recovery made me want to be transparent and open but lacking maturity and experience it only made me wordy and needy. I still cringe when I think about a first date where I essentially gave a lead over dinner to a muggle – a very, very, very bad and painful to listen to lead. If you have any time in recovery at all, you know the type.
I think she feigned death in order to get out of the rest of the evening. At least, I hope it was feigned.
Taken as a whole – a short but intense lifetime of learning to survive abuse with an awareness of what is possible through recovery and my desire to set my life on a more honest and open path – resulted in my vomiting a self-aggrandizing life story up all over the dinner table on a first date.
Many, many first dates.
When describing in details my dating process to my Sponsor, her first reaction was a horrified, “Oh. My. God,” followed by a giggle. I was not amused because I didn’t understand what I did as being unconstructive.
It is then she remarked, with an eye roll, “Sean, you are Eeyore and there is nothing attractive about being in a relationship with Eeyore. It is too much work because everything becomes about your insecurities and needs and the relationship gets lost to your brooding. Healthy women want nothing to do with that on a daily basis.”
It took me a while to fully appreciate what she was telling me. At the time I justified my telling all, sharing all, as an attempt to be open and transparent, to share myself. In reality, puking up my life over a dinner of barbecue ribs was a prideful, self-serving ego trip.
Also, don’t ever have barbecue ribs on a first date. Can you imagine the follow-up date? Neither could anyone else.
I was in love with the sound of my suffering, and a date – any date – gave me an opportunity to wave it about like Eeyore’s tail on a windy day. “It isn’t much of a tail,” said Eeyore, “but I’m sort of attached to it.”
I understand. More than once my attachment to suffering was my only tale