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I am an alcoholic.

Three years ago, I was an alcoholic in denial who woke up Christmas morning, staggered into my kitchen, and saw the bottle of wine sitting on the kitchen counter. I had left about a quarter-inch of wine in the bottle the night before because I didn’t want anyone to think I had finished the bottle. The bottle: a room temperature bottle of chardonnay. Not even chilled.

On Christmas Eve 2011, The Wizard still lived in the house. Dinner was still a production. Fancy clothes were mandatory. China and silver and crystal lined the dining room table. Christmas tunes played on the stereo. Bottles of wine were opened. Cocktail ice rattled in glasses. And, few, except the most hardcore alcoholics, could stomach the eggnog.

I didn’t drink at dinner that night. In fact, I didn’t drink the entire evening.  See, I was a “good” Alanon and certainly not an alcoholic.  I had the empty glass to prove it.  Look-y here, folks, see my wine glass is empty because I am not an alcoholic. He’s the alcoholic (insert the Alanon finger wag here).  I was married to a drunk. The Wizard was my problem. If I fixed him, then I would never have to drink again.

On that Christmas Eve, everyone left. The Wizard passed out. The Kids went to bed. My heart ached with an unimaginable depth of incomprehensible demoralization. I started crying and pouring. And pouring. And pouring.  I poured warm chardonnay into that empty glass that a few hours earlier I had held up as my trophy of non-alcoholism. And it felt so good going down and down and down.

In the morning light of Christmas, I stared at the bottle I had almost emptied. I had left a little in the bottom of the bottle — exactly as The Wizard did.

I quickly dumped the rest down the drain and hid the empty bottle in the garbage. I didn’t want anyone to know. But I knew. I couldn’t hide the bottle from myself. I couldn’t run from myself.  I was an alcoholic. I am an alcoholic. My drinking had nothing to do with The Wizard, the price of tea in China or global warming. I am an alcoholic with an allergy of the body and obsession of the mind. My only cure is complete abstinence, a relationship with Something Greater than Myself, and a program of recovery.

Fast forward, three years past the tears, the heartache, the joy, the dark abyss, the ugly divorce, the financial insecurity, the great adventures, the pain, the rigorous self-examination, the work — the hardest work I’ve ever done.

And here I stand: three years sober.

Last night, I sat in Midnight Mass. On my left, my daughter sat next to me. On my right, Tall Dude (TD) sat, holding my hand. I met this gentleman about a month ago through online dating. We’ve talked on the phone every night since meeting. We see each other several times a week, sitting in restaurant after restaurant until closing time, exchanging stories.

This gentleman drove an hour in the depth of winter darkness to go to Mass with me. I rested my hand on his leg as naturally as if he had sat next to me for a thousand years, and he placed his hand on top of mine, giving it a squeeze.  All through Mass, we held hands in that supporting way one holds hands. Whenever I turned to look at him, in amazement that he was actually there, he returned the gaze with a little smile and another hand squeeze. We let our grasp go only long enough to kneel together in prayer. When it came time for the “peace be with you” greeting, he placed a gentle, church-appropriate kiss on my lips and said in the deepest, sweetest voice, “Peace be with you.”

When I went up for communion, he was right behind me. His warmth, unlike anything I’ve ever felt, was right there.

The priest, the one who confirmed me, heard my first confession, guided me through the conversion process and knows my story better than I do, gave me a little smile when he saw me in the communion line. At the end of Mass, as I shook the priest’s hand, I started to say, “Father J, this is…”

He interrupted me. “I know who he is.” The smile from earlier grew even bigger. He shook TD’s hand, and we moved on through the night’s crowd as others waited for their handshake.

Father J had never met TD. I had never told him about TD. But, this is the priest who has seen me in Mass after Mass by myself. This is the priest who, when I sobbed that I didn’t know how to find forgiveness for The Wizard, told me, “I don’t know what is wrong with The Wizard, but real men don’t do what he did. It isn’t your fault.”

Last night, Father J knew TD not from introductions and handshakes but from the expression of wonder on my face and the glow in my eyes.

Dreams do come true. Prayers are answered. And sometimes I get to kneel in church next to a gentleman who drove an hour in the winter darkness to attend Mass… with me.

God, thank you. I wouldn’t be here without You. 



After over a thousand words in my last post, I’m finding even more in my head.  Excuse me while I brain dump.

Somewhere between the first and the thousandth time Tall Dude and I talked, I began to describe a unique concert that I had just attended with a female, sober friend. The evening featured a pipe organ and a gospel choir playing and singing Christmas tunes in a rattle-the-rafters sort of way.

“That sounds like something my dad would like,” Tall Dude said.

Without a pause, without a hesitation, without even a breath, I said, “He would absolutely love it.”

The words poured from my mouth with a familiarity that startled me. I had the knowing — I knew his father. I knew he would love it. I knew we would get him tickets to next year’s concert. As clear as looking out my living room windows, I saw it.

Again, I know I am an alcoholic with a really bad case of magical thinking and a huge perception disorder which is probably why I had that awkward moment, the pause for a breath, where I felt I should add a disclaimer to my “knowing” words.

“Um…,” I stumbled. “I know I don’t know your father. Never met him. But… yeah, I can only imagine that he would love this concert.” Holy sh*t, how do I explain the breeze that just blew across my soul?

The same thing happened as we planned our date for Tuesday. We had been discussing Christmas gifts for our kids — separate holidays, of course.  I’m smitten, not completely insane. Or… maybe I am. He told me about the gift certificate he is giving his daughters for a super-cool activity.

“You are the second person in a week to tell me about that,” I said. “Do you mind if I copy-cat? My kids would love that gift.”

“Sure. If you want to, I can take you to the Big Box Warehouse Store where I got the gift certificate. They’re offering a special deal on them.”

“That would be great,” I said.

“You know, this might be one of those make or break moments. I have my routine for shopping there.”

“I do, too,” I said. “How about this: I promise I won’t subject you to watching me buy toilet paper and paper towels this time…”

“I have no doubt we will be doing that together at some point,” he said. It was said without sales pitch, without coercion, without anything other than the authentic belief that this is something powerfully more.

“Me, too.” The comfortable pause happened.  “For now, why don’t we just get the gift certificate, then grab some dinner. We’ll save the toilet paper buying for next time.”

Then, we talked about how we shop the Big Box Warehouse Store — our methodology, our dreams of having someone to shop with us, our snacking through the samples offered at the store.

Yeah, it’s those kind of conversations.

I don’t know if I believe in past lives. The Steps in that program I do to stay sober say all I have to believe in is something greater than myself. I do. And that is what keeps me sober — my God distance from the bottle, or spiritual condition, if you prefer.

But, I wonder: are we balls of energy who travel through time and space connecting and reconnecting? I sort of like that idea: that we are energy that is neither created nor destroyed; we simply change form.

Deep, I know.

My friend J studies past lives, has done readings, meditations, shamanic guided missions into her past lives. She believes that we meet the same people over and over and that our past selves make plans to meet in our next life those who are most significant.

That would explain a lot about the people in this life who have crossed my path. And, it would explain the connection I felt Tuesday night as I sat across the table from Tall Dude, another harmonious online dating match.

It was our first time meeting in person. We had talked on the phone — over two hours the very first time we talked, hardly without a pause for breath. We had text — the morning after the two hour phone call, Tall Dude wrote, “I just wanted you to know I have never talked for two hours on the phone with anyone.” When I told my therapist, a kindly, older gentleman who looks something like Santa Claus, about the phone call, he said, “You got a man to talk to you for two hours on the phone? Men don’t normally do that.” Then, he got that Santa Claus twinkle in his eye and laying a finger aside his nose, let me know I had nothing to fear.  Wait…. sorry, mixing tales here.

Tall Dude and I had emailed, several times each day (and we continue to). I was giddy with anticipation. So was he.

We agreed on the restaurant.  No coffee date — it wasn’t even a consideration. There was no need for that awkward chat across steaming java. When I stepped out of my car, he walked around the end of his car. I saw him for the first time, and it was as if I had known him a thousand years.

In the restaurant, we went through the normal menu perusal (we had both already looked at the menu online and had unknowingly chosen the same thing — chicken pot pie). When it came time to order drinks, the door opened for me to explain why I don’t drink. He knew I didn’t, but hadn’t asked the why yet.

“So, you probably want to know why?”

“Sure, we can go there if you’re ready,” he said.

Quiet pause. Deep breath — mine, not his.

“I have been sober almost 3 years,” I said.

He leaned into me, looked me in the eye. His voice softened. “That’s so impressive. I’m really proud of you. Anyone who can chose to be different on a daily basis is impressive to me. Definitely not a deal breaker.”

“Do you at least want to hear my sales pitch as to why it is so awesome to date someone who doesn’t drink?” I joked. Come on, I had my speech prepared. 

“Let’s hear it.”

“FIrst, it is so much less expensive. I will never order drinks or a bottle of wine.”

He laughed, then chimed in, “And you are always a designated driver.”

“Exactly! And… I will never barf on your shoes unless I have the flu.”

He laughed even more. Now, it was the critical point: who was drinking what tonight.

“Do you mind if I order a beer? Does it bother you?” The restaurant has their own brewery with an extensive menu.

“Not at all. I’m aware when I am bothered and that’s when I use my other tools.” Tall Dude wasn’t slamming a brew and ordering a round of shots. He was a normie enjoying a beer with dinner. And I am the alcoholic who was enjoying a club soda and conversation with my dinner.

For three hours, we sat next to each other. The conversation never stopped. It never paused. It flowed like the most gentle stream I have ever floated on. He asked about my 12-Step program. I explained the rigorously self-examination.

“It’s like striping naked and standing underneath the fluorescent lights,” I said.

At one point, he teared up when he shared about a significant experience in his life, grabbing the napkin from his lap to wipe his eyes. My heart melted into my toes.

The waitstaff began to stack chairs and sweep the floor around us — a good indication that it was probably time to go.

“Should we let them close up?” I asked.

“Yeah, I guess we should.”

In the parking lot, the December chill disappeared. We hugged in that tight embrace from a thousand years of knowing each other. It was like I had met an old friend, and we had spent the night catching up on each others’ lives.

When we kissed, there was no awkwardness. No fumbling. It was as if we had kissed each other good morning and good night for millennia. I felt him trembling a little. Maybe from the chill? Maybe from the released nervousness?

“I just want you to know you are a very beautiful woman.” It was said in that genuine way; not the “I hope to get a little something in the backseat of my car” way.

A huge bonus:  I am 5’10’. In the boots I was wearing that night, I stand 6′. Very few men are taller than I am. In fact, I have never dated a man over 6′. I am used to being eye-to-eye, lip-to-lip with anyone I date. That night, I got the wonderful experience of actually looking up into the gentle face and kind eyes of a man who is 6’7″.

Hey, God, I only asked for 6’2″. Thanks for the bonus! I’m liking it. 

Since the date a week ago, we’ve talked every night on the phone for at least an hour. We email. We text. We’ll see each other again on Tuesday. It would have been sooner, but we live an hour’s drive from each other, and we both have two kids.

The kind, genuine gentleness of this man dances with every word he says. He’s everything I asked for in my prayers, including being a practicing Catholic from a very devout Catholic family.

Whenever and wherever in the course of the space-time continuum that I met this man, I’m so grateful our souls made plans to meet again here and now.

I know I am an alcoholic. I know I suffer from magical thinking. But, there is something so right in all this. I don’t even have words to describe it, other than to say: it’s that moment when you meet someone and know it is the exact person who is supposed to be in your life.

The computer stared at me. I typed in his name. I erased his name. I went to his website. I left his website. I typed in his name. I erased his name. I stared at the screen. I typed in his name. I erased his name. I stared out the window.

I text my sponsor.

“Help me check my motives: I’m sending out the invitation for my work’s holiday party. I’m including all the businesses I’ve been working with to become partners. Chef Man’s restaurant is one of those. I don’t want to put him on the list, but I’ve put everyone else on the list. I don’t want the invitation to appear to be an ‘invitation.’ Your thoughts?”

(Chef Man, for those who are just joining my adventure, is the person I dated for almost a year until I discovered he actually lives with his girlfriend of 5 years.  Yeah…. I know.  I had the same reaction).

“So you know what you want to do… what SHOULD you do?” my sponsor replied.

“Include him because my professional job is to market companies like his, and we are featuring his restaurant in some of our materials.”

“Bam, you got it,” she said. “Time to put on your Big Girl panties.”

I put Chef Man in the database. A type. A click. An attachment. Swoosh. He got an invitation to a holiday party, featuring me.

“I think I’m only going to date men outside of the county from now on,” I told my sponsor.

“As if you have that kind of control,” she said.

She’s right — as she usually is. The professional thing to do is include Chef Man’s restaurant. It’s my job to do that. Now, I’m bracing for impact.

What if he shows up? What if he tries to talk to me? What if he brings his girlfriend and she makes a scene and calls me a whore and punches me and I have a black eye and a bloody nose and I’m laying on the floor bleeding in front of my clients and the police show up and it’s the police who have had to come to my house for The Wizard stuff and the officer is really cute and he takes pity on me and he stops the bleeding and he’s 6’2″ and he stares into my eyes and we fall in love and we live happily ever after and we tell our friends the funny story of how we met….

This alcoholic mind of mine, the one that obsesses about everything, the one that is powerless of its thoughts, raced out of control. I’m afraid — not of Chef Man, not of the girlfriend, not of a scene. I’m afraid of myself.

Can I be a professional? Can I work with him just like I would any other client? Can I introduce him and his product to help him network with others? Can I believe in the company even when I don’t care for the person? I guess this is where I get to place principles before personalities. Amazing how that applies in so many situations.

Time to do some shopping for those Big Girl panties.

What I am about to tell you may come as a surprise.  Brace yourself.  Find a safe place to sit.  This is THE. BIG. ONE.


When men-folk are interested in lady friends, they let them know with very clear words.

Hold it! That’s not all.

The men-folk will actually call, schedule a date, say how much they are looking forward to seeing you and make plans.

It is so f***ing amazing. No guess work. No “is he interested.” No “should I call him/will he call me.” Nope. If the men want something, they ask for it and pursue it. Who knew?

Online Guy did that. No guess work. In fact, tonight, he asked if I was free for a little bit, though we have plans for Sunday. Gitchy instinct kicked in: Dorothy dear, when you drop everything and run, you don’t get the respect you want and you usually end up in booty-call territory. 

I told Online Guy I was wrapping up for the night and would see him on Sunday. It was the truth. I had plans to do some work on my house tonight.

Under full knowledge of my counselor and my sponsor and without having committed to anything with any one person, I’ve also made plans with Tall Dude. Tuesday night. My sponsor’s only suggestion, “Don’t date five guys at once, please. You don’t have the time.”

OK, I’ll date four. And a half.

Tall Dude and I exchanged the customary protected emails on the “Lots of ‘Em to Love” website (not a real website–I hope). We moved on to the real emails. We escalated to texts. “I’m meeting some friends for a ski trip this weekend,” he wrote. “I leave Thursday and get back Sunday. I’d really like to talk to you before I leave.”

He actually scheduled a time to call me when it was most convenient for me. Then, he called when he said he was going to call. Holy sh*t, who knew men could actually be like this?

For over two hours, we talked in a winding and wonderful way, each word clicking and growing, learning tales of our lives. He’s a practicing Catholic and was intrigued and impressed when I told him about my conversion during my divorce.

“I don’t always get it right. And I’m still so new I have to use the cheat sheets during Mass,” I said. “And I admit: sometimes I miss Mass.”

“Me, too. Sometimes I just have so much to get done on Sundays,” he said. “Maybe we could help each other get back to going more often.”

“I’d like that.”

God? Um, God? Excuse me a sec… Um, is this one of those prayer answers? ‘Cuz just last Sunday, I was doing the whole kneeling and praying in Church thing and I was asking for this, for the man who would kneel with me. And I was telling You about how important finding someone who had similar spiritual practices. Um, is this him? Or, is this another one of those “Dorothy has a lesson to learn,” and I’m going to find out a year from Tall Guy has a wife and 10 kids? I’m liking this one. 

“Do you know we’ve been talking for over two hours?” Tall Guy said when we paused for a breath.

“Really? I had no idea.”

“I would like to see you,” he said.

“I’d like to see you, too.” Actually, I’m not sure which one of us said it first. It sort of poured out in unison.

“I don’t want to have to wait until next weekend. May I see you during the week? Tuesday? Wednesday?” he asked. “I can come by you. You name the place.” He lives about an hour from me.

“I’d like that. Let me check my work calendar. I don’t have it with me. But, yeah, I really want to meet you.”

Tuesday. 7:00. We have plans.

Best part: He’s tall. And Catholic.

My options stay open. I’m tasting the various flavors, refining more each time exactly what I want, choosing not to chase the impossible, and listening to my gitchy-feeling instinct — the one that God gave me for a reason.

Who knew that there were actually intelligent, successful, attractive, spiritual men with great senses of humor who would be interested in dating me? As I told my therapist, I don’t have to sell my soul to the lowest bidder. In fact, I don’t have to sell my soul at all.

I really don’t want to turn this into a dating blog. But, dating is part of this new life in recovery for me. And, many of you have been with me through the The Wizard, through The Shiny Lure, through M-Man, through… oh darn, what did I call him… was it Adventure Man? Then, there was the Chef Man saga.

Now… we have Online Guy.

After ending our first date two and a half minutes in to it with an explanation of a doctor’s appointment, I really didn’t think I would hear from him again.

I did.

We scheduled a time to meet.  A “do-over,” as he called it.

This time: a Big Box Bookstore. I had about an hour and a half before parenting duties called. We met, got our warm beverages, and chatted. This. That. A couple of awkward silences. I looked at my cup of tea, then up at him. He was staring at me. My eyes locked on to his. No words needed. We relaxed, and the conversation grew into a hilarious, side-splitting adventure.

We walked the aisles of the bookstore, poking fun at the books.

“Do you collect action figures?” he said. Straight face.

“No, I can’t say that I do,” I said.

“I do. I have a whole room full of them.  All in their original boxes. They all watch me. But, never touch the boxes.”  And we both burst out laughing as we walked by the action figures in the store.

I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard, sober, on a first date.

“I hate to end this,” I said. “But parenting duties call.”

“Do you want to go out again?” he said. “Another date?”

“I’d love to.”

We made plans as he walked me to my car. We gave each other that customary meet-for-the-first-time-and-are-interested hug — the tight, full body squeeze that lingers. He kissed my cheek. I started to pull away when his lips touched mine. Standing in the Big Box Bookstore parking lot, in the chill of a winter’s night, he kissed me.

Wait! What? He’s kissing me. His lips are really on mine. Really? I only expected a hug. But, wow, oh, wow.  

Yeah, one of those type of kisses.

The message is very clear from Online Guy. No guessing about what he’s thinking. It was a crystal clear: “I want to see you again. I like you.”

And, the best I can tell: he isn’t married.




December 2014


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