We met at a picnic. I’d gotten out of work early, and I was in a skirt and heels that made my legs look toned. I caught him looking and it felt good.
I was talking to someone about a date I’d been on (my first and only in the six months since my divorce). The date had freaked me out by searching through my Facebook feed and finding a photo of me, my sister and my dad when I was 18 years old. A photo I’d posted four years ago. It was a little stalkerish.
Anyway, this guy leaned across the table and butted in. I didn’t think much about it. He was tall. Had that sexy accent/charm thing. I didn’t even remember his name the next time I saw him. But I saw him around a few times after that.
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We started hanging out in the run up to Christmas. He helped me put up Christmas decorations. He really enjoyed it. He loved doing things with his hands.
We both liked country music.
I knew I was in trouble when he kissed me in the car park the day after Christmas.
It was like I had never been kissed before. This instant warm flush that travelled through my whole body. It’s the first time I’d ever felt weak at the knees from a kiss.
But it was already complicated: he was in early recovery. And I had been in recovery for years.
In normal circumstances, I would have left him alone and told him to call me in a year. But I was dealing with a lot at that point. More than I realised. My defences weren’t working properly, and he — being very persuasive and charming — quickly got under my skin.
It started off well. We laughed a lot. We were comfortable together. We went surfing. Snowboarding. We went to dinner after meetings. He was fun, smart, savvy, and sexy.
We turned off the outside world and spent days in bed. I fell utterly, utterly in love. Just as I had let him in too quickly, I let him take up too much of my focus. I let things slip — friendships, meetings, work. He was my new alcohol, but like any addict in their disease, I couldn’t see it.
Gradually, the small world we’d built tilted off its axis. He didn’t want to meet my normie friends. He didn’t want to do things on weekends. He stopped looking after himself. He started getting resentful and stopped going to meetings.
And I got resentful about meetings too. They took too much time away from him. I wasn’t doing well at my new job. I was let go. I was depressed and grieving; I didn’t realise at the time the depth of both.
Eventually, he started using again.