Two Weeks Sober
I started SLAA meetings knowing I was about to fly across country to meet a woman I'd fallen in love with online. It was scary because I love to tell stories, but if I told this story about how unsober I was going to be, what would happen? Would they kidnap me and deprogram me? I didn't want to be deprogrammed. I wanted to go out there. It was my dream; in planning for months -- a result of a serendipitous series of events.
For years I had been patrolling the internet looking for a woman who would fix me. I believed that if she loved me enough, and more importantly, if she was as into sex as I am, I would finally have that kind of codependent, totally self-involved relationship that I had dreamed about since I was a teenager. What did I know back then, when I imagined that when you were truly in love and making love, you could read each others thoughts? What did I know about love when I lived in a household where every bit of praise had to be earned by stunning feats of grandeur; where I was left to take care of myself because my parents thought I could and my younger siblings needed their love?
Fifty years later, and twenty years into a marriage, I still didn't know anything better. I didn't know that my fantasy was unrealistic and worse, was hurting me. I didn't know that my idea of love was codependent and enmeshing -- things that were not good; that did not lead to effective intimacy. I didn't know, most importantly, that no woman with no amount of libido could fix me.
So I flew off to California for the most romantic affair I could invent. Beautiful, ornate bedrooms with canopy beds and picnics camped on the rug on the floor. Trips to the beach to stroll in the waves and then drink Bloody Marys overlooking the beach (who knew that their version of her favorite drink would be far too spicy?) And then taking off up the coast, to a little cabin hanging on a cliff overlooking a sand spit where the river met the ocean. All alone. Two of us. Having sex all the time, whenever I wanted. She as into me as I was into her.
Crash! It started out ok. My fantasy about the pearls was just about perfect. She loved her pearls and she loved the way I gave them to her. But it went downhill from there. She got drunk alone while I was at a family event, and then she turned out to be a bossy person when drunk and high, and the sex didn't go so well. Wearing condoms was a shock for my system.
And for God's sake, she couldn't even get out of jury duty in order to take our planned couple of days up the coast. Anyone can get out of jury duty. All she had to do was tell them her plans. But no. She had some misplaced sense of duty that meant she had to get up at five in the morning to drive home. I was pissed.
It turned out she wasn't any more horny than my wife. In fact, she really wasn't as good a lover as my wife. Yes, she had a better body in some ways -- primarily it was firmer. But she had fifteen years on my wife. And our relationship was just as problematic, filled with the same misunderstandings that plagued my marriage. And, of course, she couldn't fill that void in my stomach that I thought only love could fill. She just couldn't fix me.
It took me eight internet love affairs to arrive at this point. I met two of them in real life, and fell in love with one quite desperately. Only she had to go and die of cancer. Ok. Not really. But they only gave her a year to live. It's been two now, and it looks like things are finally getting down to it. I'll be very upset, even though we've been over for more than a year.
Now the woman I went to California for is on her own. We talked once after I got back and then never again.
What have I learned?
Finally I've gotten it that no woman can fix me. Only I can fix me. That lesson, I believe, was worth the cost of admission -- the jewelry, the plane flights, the hotels and the food. Way worth it.
I learned that the fantasy is one thing, but the reality can not match up. I will never be as good a lover as I am in my fantasies, and my partners will never be as good either.
I learned the parts of a person that are left out over the internet. The smells. The habits you never think of (who knew she didn't have privacy issues about going to the bathroom?) What she liked to eat and how she ate it. More.
I learned that women aren't so different. My wife is still a damn good catch, and I risked everything with her in order to be with this other woman. I knew I was crazy, but I didn't really understand how crazy I was.
Yup. I'm a love addict. Two weeks sober.
Two weeks sober.