September 6, 2021

Twenty years later our dates now become first dates

This may sound silly, but when he was diagnosed as an alcoholic years ago, I quietly thought to myself, “Well how are we going to date?” I had then realized many of our pastimes revolved around romantic candlelit dinners with champagne, wine and cheese, adult escapes to Napa… What was dating going to look like?

I had attempted in the current scenario originally hiking and walking dates, but he was usually too hungover and wanted to get drinks, so we inevitably ended up fighting. Or, if we tried exercise classes, it would put him in terrible moods because he wasn’t where he wanted to be physically.

So, adjusting and attempting dates while he was newly sober was one failure after another. After his first rehab facility, the first date we went on, he actually said, “They diagnosed me with anxiety and not alcoholism, I’m not one of them, so I can drink.” I was rendered utterly speechless, and frozen in speech and mind.

That was then. This is now.

We have had plenty of hiccups. Plenty of try and fail. Plenty of try again. We have only just begun to feel our stride. And even then, we can have stumbles and falls, but we try to pick ourselves up, and look at the big picture. And as always, try to find ourselves in gratitude.

So what does a successful date look like now? It looks like nothing I thought it would. We had to try different things out, to see what fit both our wants and needs.

It began, surprisingly, during Covid, when we were forced to stay home for about a year. We began having morning “coffee dates” at 8 am on our front porch. I had just purchased two 

“mom and pop” wicker porch chairs, and a table for two for breakfast and tea. 

Here we would meet every morning to start our days, have conversation, and let the sun warm us up and greet us for the day. It was so pleasant, our little maltipoo puppy would scratch her way out, determined to join us each and every time.

These coffee dates set the tone for the day, and also something we looked forward to each morning. It was an unspoken “date.” What we naturally found us doing was having open, genuine, lighthearted conversation. We were connecting happily and unexpectedly, during a time of crisis and the unknown.

What we didn’t realize is that we were also modeling for our children what it looks like to fall, recover, and grow in a relationship. We didn’t realize we were changing so many things, and so many dynamics, just by a simple cup of joe.

These everyday habits began to change our lifestyle

Pretty soon, we had such a well established habit, it began to seep into our choices and rituals. Morning coffee dates soon became the new way of dating. We would seek sunrises at 6:30 in the morning, even in the cool changing weather of the fall as leaves fell. 

We would sit like two 80 year-olds drinking coffee in our beach chairs watching the sunrise over the mountain. Oftentimes we didn’t even need to talk. We were comfortable for the most part sitting side by side in silence.

This continued as we learned our new dance. As I reflect back, we were almost testing the waters to see what worked and what didn’t. What could we handle as a couple without ending in an argument.

What ended up being so simple was almost our own road map to happiness

As time went on, we attempted to try and add new things. Early mornings appeared to be the best time, because alcohol isn’t even a factor or glimpse on the table. There is no temptation or thought that might place him in a different head space, because what we were creating was new.

There were no past traumas, triggers, or memories to make him want to take a drink. We were carving a new path of experiences that never included alcohol, so our time was free to enjoy the fresh air, time in nature, on the water, or just finding peace in the present.

As time went on, we were able to add new things that we were able to handle (for the most part) without agitation, argument, or setback. This included our latest adventure- paddle boarding.

Yep. Those paddle boards that I told you about. The ones that were gaining cobwebs that he purchased without my knowledge. The ones that he picked out while I was working over time. Those ones. 

We pulled them out of the corners of our garage, dusted off any memory that might trigger negativity, and threw them on top of our SUV like two teenagers.

A couple times a month, while both our teens are sleeping, and the fog has cleared over San Diego bay, we hop in our car just at sunrise, and travel to a local secluded beach about 30 minutes from us.

We get there before any wind has created rippled trickling effects across the water, and paddle gently and quietly as the sun begins to meet reflections across the snoozing sailboats in the bay.

We arrive and begin paddling just as they begin the national anthem at a local naval base for our troops. This is blasted across the local fishing town to honor the fallen men and women.

As we quietly paddle, our thoughts are once again met with gratitude. Gratitude for this moment. Gratitude to be here. Gratitude for this day.

Because at one time, we were two people barely surviving. Now, as we stand adjacent in the middle of velvet water as the sun beats down at our necks, we are two people learning how to thrive. And that has made all the difference.

Voices InCourage- a place to help you take your relationships from surviving to thriving. Launching Fall 2021.