I rang in 2014 at my best friend’s house, surrounded by other normie friends who toasted the new year. I was there alone and received a “Happy New Year” text from Chef Man. He wasn’t there. I thought it was because he was recovering from major surgery just a few weeks earlier. Wearing the clothes he had given me for Christmas, bragging about how he cooked for me, I tried to impress my friends with how wonderful this man was.  They told me how perfect he sounded. Isn’t it every woman’s dream to have a man in her life who buys her clothes and cooks for her?

On the surface, Chef Man seemed perfect.

But, it wasn’t real. Chef Man was living with his girlfriend of five years. I bought his lines about how his house was under construction and not safe to visit. I accepted that his place was his “man cave.” I understood that he didn’t “play” where his children ate and slept. I didn’t push to go to his house… until the end when my gitchy-feeling screamed so loud I could no longer ignore it. My magical thinking created a delusion of a relationship. Or, as my sponsor put it to me yesterday, “You gave Chef Man a chance and it turned out you were right: he was a sick f***.”

I rang in 2015 at my house. On the stove, pots of lamb stew and lentil soup bubbled. At my dining room table, The Kids, one of their friends and one of my recovery friends sat playing a board game. In my kitchen, I sat with my best friend and the New Beau (I’ve been calling him Tall Dude, but let’s change that — he’s so much more). I didn’t try to impress anyone with the New Beau. I didn’t have to: he simply is. I did brag about the great coffee he got me for Christmas, though.

We talked and laughed the night away. We covered everything from online dating to gynecologists.  Turns out my best friend went to high school with his ex-wife: same graduating class, not the same gynecologist — at least, not that I’m aware of yet.

At midnight, New Beau kissed me and said hardly above a whisper, “Let’s spend 2015 together.”

When the evening came to an end, he hugged my best friend as she was leaving. “It was great to meet you,” he said. “I know we’ll see each other again.”

This morning I had an email from New Beau telling me how much he enjoyed hanging out with my friends and family last night and how he looks forward to doing more of it.

After asking my best friend what she thought of the New Beau, a question I never asked about Chef Man, she said: “I like him. No strange vibes. He seems very comfortable around you and us. And you obviously like him.”

I do. I really do. New Beau is a good man. He’s sweet and kind and gentle. He’s real. He’s comfortable. He’s genuine. And that scares the hell out of me:  I’m terrified I’m going to screw this one up. I don’t know if I know how to have a real relationship with a good man who is so kind and so gentle and so sweet. I don’t know if I know how to be with someone who stands in his kitchen making me Brussel sprouts because he knows I like them, who brings me bananas when my stomach is upset, who gets along great with my best friend.

I know how to do drama-laden relationships where “f*** you’s” become the norm. I know how to do fake, ego-feeding relationships where I pretend everything is perfect. I know how to walk on eggshells and dance on nail beds to keep the delusion going.

This peace and serenity stuff feels so strange. I’m not quite sure what to do with it. When I’m with New Beau, I just want to curl up next to him, relax every muscle in my body and sleep — not because he’s boring; but rather because he’s so comforting to be around. It’s like I’ve come home, like I can finally just be. I feel like I can slip into my comfy clothes, take off my makeup, and let him see me as I am.

It’s a new beginning, and that’s scary for this alcoholic who once thrived on the comfort of chaos.

Dear God, thank you for bringing New Beau into my life. Please don’t let me f*** up this relationship.