I moved out of my home on April 1, 2016 as a broken man. My now ex fiancee was already moving on with her new dating life as I hauled my poor existence up 3 flights of stairs and into a little one bedroom efficiency above a deli downtown.
And I drank. Oh, how I drank.
I don’t remember much of that first month after the breakup. I do remember constantly being at the store, a 3 minute walk away, picking up more booze because “just a 6 pack tonight” wasn’t enough. Nor was a 12 pack really… I do remember lamenting about my misery to a long time friend for most of those first weeks.
Now, this friend. She’s been a part of my life since we were teenagers. I was just out of high school when we met. We shared similar interests and quickly became friends. We lost touch when I married my first wife, but reconnected through a random encounter at Walmart some years later.
This time we kept in touch. As the years passed by, we spent a lot of time drinking together, hanging out. It became one of those uber close platonic relationships where we know more about each other than the people we are currently dating. We never dated ourselves of course. We never seemed to share that particular spark.
In fact, I never had really thought about it until 6 years ago, when we were both growing through breakups and drunk texting about how sexually frustrated we were. Nothing came of it, though the want was said without saying it. She went back to her boyfriend, and I fell in with the woman who would eventually bear two of my children and who I would spend the next 5 years with.
AC had been sober for nine months when I was going through my upheaval. Seemed like the perfect person to lament to. Until one day she sent me a message, “Would you consider coming to an AA meeting with me?” I laughed to myself at first, “Yeah, because that worked so well the last time I did it.” I accepted though, and she and I went to a meeting together on Sunday April 24, 2016. It was then I picked up a white chip.
We continued going together, AC and I. Meetings all around, casually looking forward to hopping into the car together to chat, talk about how awesome becoming sober was, the state of our relationships, the plans the universe had in store for us. It was a beautiful example of our friendship. Something that for us had lasted for years, through all the hard times and the worse times. Our sad stories brought us closer together, and slowly, as the rides to meetings continued, I started to realize that I didn’t just love AC as a friend, I was in love with her.
I felt that she was in love with me too. I could sense it in the way she talked to me, the way she’d laugh at my crumby jokes, in how our physical boundaries were changing. I think we both denied it for a little while, but ultimately she broke the ice one night in a text message, exclaiming she had “the feels” for me. It’s ironic, because I was working on the courage to say the same thing to her.
That was that. We mixed our paints.
Falling in love with my best friend, approaching life together in sobriety; it’s an astounding feeling. The depth of love and compassion I feel for this woman is unlike anything I have ever felt. It’s powerful. The past, ever presently reminding me of my mistakes in the now, encourages me, us, not to take the same missteps.
It’s humbling to know her darkest secrets, and to know that my own darkness is known and loved anyway. It’s cleansing to know that we shared so much pain before we connected. That our blemishes do not define our new relationship, and that our past transgressions do not have to happen again. There is no judgement, there are no secrets (a benefit of knowing a person as a friend for 10 years before you date them), there are no expectations. We live, we love, we practice sobriety together, we make peace.
I fell in love with my best friend after falling into sobriety.
And it feels amazing.