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Post Info TOPIC: Early Recovery Relationships


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Early Recovery Relationships
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I have recently over heard someone say... "No where in the Big Book is it suggested that a man and woman should not endulge in a early recovery relationship..."

But then the Big Book was published in the 1930's when AA was predominately carried by men to men.  The few women they carried the message to, were not the youth we have today in our rooms.  In the early days of AA they were 45-60 years old, worn out by the alcoholic life of 20+ years, many were found homeless on the streets when a handful of AA's  would go out on them to find a drunk to "carry the message to".

And in over 70 years, we have developed the "collective wisdom" of the whole.  They didn't have to worry about a perp hitting on an old bag lady with no teeth back then, they didn't have to be concerned about controversy, conflict, and crisis because two tics without a dog were suckin' the blood out of eachother in early recovery.  Today we have a very different population.  Yes, we are all alcoholic but the dynamics of our fellowship has changed. 

I always "gently" ask the new man (and sometimes even the older one)...  "if your sister or daughter, your mother or wife came into our rooms trying to heal and recover from alcoholism, how would you like me to start hitting on her, putting my smooth moves on her, moving in with her in the first year?  Every one of them replies along the lines of... "I'd kick your ass!"  I nod towards the female I see them doing it to... and say..."thats someones sister, daughter, mother, wife,... leave her the hell alone... Or I"ll Kick YOUR Ass."... then I smile, pat them on the back and walk away.  Most of them tell me later that they thought it was all about the female when I did that, but come to understand as they stay sober, that it was also their own early recovery I was watching out for.

We do need to give the woman who enter our fellowship a safe haven to recover in, not fall in love in, not a man to move in with, but a place to heal and recover in.  Both older females and males in this fellowship need be willing to step up to the plate, no its not a suggestion in the big book, its a directive because we care about the newcomer (both male and female) getting a fair shot at sobriety before being thrown into a emotional whirlpool.  This journey in the early days is hard enough. 

Step 13.  I admit I am a nerd, I have 37 days sober, I don't have a drivers license, I live in a group home and ride a bycycle to my part time job, my life is an absolute mess, completely unmanagable... But I love you and want to share it all with you babe.  Would you like to go to a movie tonight?  You can ride on my handle bars."

Oh, by the way, we can't go to my other house tonight, my wife is home"


John

biggrin... just putting something out there in the universe to give folks something to think about.







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ljc


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I like it John, I like your thinking.

I really do believe tho however that dating within AA is an outside issue.
I dont think its right early in sobriety, but nonetheless ... its reallly none of my business.

And, there is no 13th step in AA, just something made up , by someone, somewhere along the way.

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For me, the last thing I needed when I went to AA as a newcomer was a 'relationship'.

The key was though I DIDN"T KNOW THAT .

I didn't know it was detrimental and possibly dangerous to my recovery to start down that avenue. Infact anyone that showed me love and kindness in the state I was in would be welcomed with open arms . And when I say anyone I mean that included people who had no interest at all in our common welfare as a fellowship or interest in my recovery and well being. They were only interested in satisfying their own needs/instincts.  (Not being critical...just stating a fact.....I had only been interested for years in satisfying my need for alcohol !)

Luckily a lovely lady told the person where to go ....and I remember saying to her....Oh! that was a bit harsh.  She said Louisa - it's for both yours and his protection.  This person still tries to play the same trick with newcomers ....but we protect them! furious

Yes, I agree with you John, AA is very different today and I feel the advice/suggestion? is necessary.  I'm not  talking forever......but certainly in the early stages of recovery.

And yes, let's not forget it happens the other way round too....predatory females........I can just hear some of our male brothers shouting .........where? where? Tell me please ! ! !  biggrin

Lots of love as ever
Louisa xx





-- Edited by louisa on Saturday 9th of January 2010 04:49:35 PM

-- Edited by louisa on Saturday 9th of January 2010 05:12:00 PM

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Oh, I've seen my share of predatory females too, louisa, and can admit that I had a mess of worthless and painful so-called relationships in early recovery over a matter of years in my younger days. But, as my sponsor has told me in hindsight, I learned valuable lessons in each of them, I only hope I did not get in the way of some who have not yet managed to see long term sobriety. Young men can be extremely vulnerable too, absolutely. Well, SOME of them ...

Thank God I did not jump off a bridge over any of those "experiments". I have a friend who ran off with a newly sober guy, they were BOTH newly sober, and they went on again and off again, sober and miserable, for a good year or so... and when she broke up with him for good he jumped from a high level bridge. Serious stuff. Sad Stuff.

I do have to say that when giving advice like this to sponsees, do not expect many of them to heed the warning!! There are few that do.

Thanks for the topic, John.
joni

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"13th stepping" presumes that the one pursuing has more than a year of sobriety and the pursued is a newcomer (less than a year). This is obviously just wrong and predatory. If the newcomer winds up drinking the veteran member might wind up drinking with them. Or the shame of sending the newcomer out might eventually get to the veteran member and cause them to relapse. I think what may be more common is two newcomers getting into a relationship. The problems here are many. This program require intense introspection (looking into oneself). It's very hard to break through denial and do this. It takes a lot of continuous focus on ourselves with as little distractions as possible. Relationships (and the drama the ensues) are a huge distraction. We tend to have lots of unresolved issues (that are also linked to parental issues) that are triggered by relationships and the difficulty navigating them. Imo, relationships are the single greatest factor in relapses of those with time in the program, but that's a different subject. When relationships end or end badly, it's a very slippery time when the alcoholic is engulfed in self pitty, anger, shame, rejection, abandonment. Most relationships end, why bring that to your new sobriety?

There is also this not so little matter, in our program, of finding a higher power. Once again, this is something that takes focus and practice. When newcomers get into a relationship, they tend to make
that other person their higher power. They look to them to fullfill their needs and become dependent.
The relationships become addicting and sobriety falls by the wayside. They may not drink but because they switched addictions, they're not getting sober either. These are general comments not meaning to accuse or offend. Of course this will vary, but a newcomer is taking a great risk by getting into a relationship in their first year.

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Hi,

In my first years, there was a saying going around that the 13th step was a Guarantee of going back to Step One. 

Karma is a lot like Gravity, you cannot defy it. I was taugh early on, that if you are attracted to a man in the Rooms of AA....directions: Run as fast as can from that meeting, and don't ever go back.  Those directions, (not suggestionssmile ) really worked well for me, never had one in early recovery, and never wanted one......
Viewed a relationship with any man, then, as just another Band aide, and was keeping all  Band aids off, Alcohol, drugs, and Men.


Toni

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All good points made.

Even Bill W. had a problem with "13-Stepping." If you don't believe me, look it up on some of the websites about the history of AA that are not AA-approved. Dr. Bob's daughter talks about it.

We alcoholics tend to have problems with anything that feels good. We can fool ourselves pretty well about our intentions, too. A new relationship in early recovery is a slippery slope for both parties. An oldtimer hitting on a newcomer is downright predatory and is inexusable.

AA should be a safe haven for everyone.

-- Edited by jasperkent on Sunday 10th of January 2010 07:02:49 PM

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My name is Danielle, I'm an alcoholic & would like to share my experience, strength & hope on this issue as it is one that is very close to my heart being someone who is in a relationship with another member who is in AA. When I came to AA I was on the floor emotionally, mentally & spiritually. I was also in the throes of a codependent relationship with an addict who I had been with for 7 months & what was bringing me to the knees of my bottom. I had my bottom & realised I couldn't drink any more, that it was killing me from the inside out. So I stopped & came to AA.

We carried on our relationship hoping to recover so that we could start getting on well with each other. This was to last another 8 months but had to come to an end because there were just so many resentments & he had moved to Sweden a few months earlier to get away from his play pen. Things were strained to say the least & there was an awareness that I wasn't even sure whether I ought to have been in the relationship with him to begin with. I had already been trying to stay single but obviously had been powerless to his snowplough advances having been out of my last relationship for a mere three months & never managing more than that for the last 10/12 years.

I believe we were together for a reason & that relationship taught me so much but eventually in early recovery it was too much & we had to quit us when I was 3 months sober for putting recovery first. It continued on in emotionally entangled messiness for the following months given our states & it was my motive to stay single & celibate for as long as possible (at least 18mths as was suggested) I didn't assume that I would want or be ready for a relationship straight after!

So I continued in AA with my sponsor & the steps, going to meetings & trying to stay away from the boys even to rely on for chats & break the habit of a lifetime. It was hard & after 3 months I slept with an old friend/ex outside of fellowship to try & break the hold my ex had on me. This was a codependent way of coping I know now but all I had at the time. After that I became involved with a homeless lad who had shared his upset & vulnerability in a meeting & I felt sorry for him. I was 8 months sober & he was still drinking. I thought giving him some shelter at my place would help.

It wasn't long before he got an upgrade from the couch & you could say I 13th stepped him though that wasn't my initial intention but I was obviously ignorant to my own impulses, need & vulnerabilities. Like was said before I could hardly call it predatory given how new I was myself. By this point I'd got as far as my Steps 4 & 5 but still had a long way to go in building any defence for anything. I was full of untreated alcoholism & unresolved codependency & still behaving in ways that I'd succombed to earlier in drink. I couldn't quite shake myself of this person & it was obvious that neither of us were any good for the other & it added to my already desperate unmanageability.

Eventually we were saved by my going on holiday & him going into rehab which gave me a respite from not being able to say no to him being around. When I got back I got on with my recovery & had my second sober Christmas & New Year. There were still moments where I saw him around but I was getting stronger & realised I wasn't responsible for him (incidently he's still around the rooms & still drinking. He hasn't been able to get this yet).

In the New Year I developed a crush on someone outside the fellowship. This wasn't meant to be but I was grateful for at least the distraction of being able to get over my ex & consider someone else. I guess I always had to have someone in mind as a possibility & this seems to be par for the course in early recovery! I had met Carl by this point & he had expressed his care in a playful way but never pursued. I have to say that I thought he was sweet & amazing but it was obvious how desperate he was & needed recovery. I would laugh & tell him to carry on with what he was doing & continued in getting well myself.

I couldn't believe what a mess & mass of impulses I was myself but I carried on in earnest. I managed another three months of celibacy & then succumbed to a one off with a friend in fellowship but said I wasn't interested in a relationship. By this point I began to bond with Carl & we got together April 4th a few weeks later. Me with 18months & him with 8months. I've simplified the story but I felt me & Carl were meant to be together. I'd known him since he came in & had avoided telephone or cuppa contact with him up until February.

Eventually I couldn't help myself. I fell in love with him & we coupled up after a serious conversation about our relationship with a Higher Power & the program coming first, what we wanted for the future & how we would conduct ourselves with each other, priorities & boundaries, etc. We did our best & I was happy with how things had gone between us & how we had respected each other's space.

You could say I 13th stepped him given I had a some time & more than him but he was no way vulnerable in that he'd been hitting 3 meetings a day since Day1, met with his sponsor every week & by now was halfway through his amends & practicing steps 10/11/12. Friends in fellowship joked that he'd 14th stepped me by making his interest known in the first place before I approached him with step13.

Obviously not the perfect, pristine run up to my first serious relationship in sobriety but I choose not to indulge any regrets by association of '13th stepping' as we call it. I sometimes feel too lucky or blessed to have what I have with Carl but the love between us is genuine, sharing & healthy in that we strive to ensure we're able to live in a balanced way though of course sometimes I can get hooked into him in one way or another. I have to let go & use my program to help me be loving to me, my God & him. I work hard on my program all the time we've been together & I'm now addressing my issues in Coda.

Just because I'm in a relationship doesn't mean my recovery goes on hold. I have to be more vigorous & determined to use every tool in my pocket. Carl is not, never has been, cannot be & will not be my Higher Power. I love him more & more the more we get to know each other & grow alongside with each other. In our 20months together we've had difficult spots where this program has allowed me to learn more about myself & adapt so that I can continue to be as loving as possible whilst still practicing interdependence.

It is a challenge like any relationship & I always encourage the principles of men for men & women for women though I can feel like a hypocrit if I allow it. My saving grace being that even though I wasn't able to stay completely celibate in my early months I did manage (coincidently) to go 18mths before entering into this relationship with Carl. It was like I allowed myself to fall in love with him. I don't know if I could have helped it in the end/beginning!

I can feel guilty about that because maybe I should have done some sort of compatibility test first but still I felt I had which is why I consented to this relationship. He was happy to love from afar & thought I was phoning him to tell him to stop stalking me or something lol (he hadn't been stalking me lol) He was surprised & delighted when he realised I was phoning to have a conversation about having a relationship we could both be happy & healthy in.

So my response to this thread is that I'm in the unusual situation of having a beautifully happy & fulfilling relationship with another member who I love being with in my life. I have so many commitments & AA is pretty much top of the list. I keep all my plates spinning diligently & we have the respect & blessing of so many in fellowship who know us & are always commending us for what they see between us. I am extraodinarily grateful for what we share especially in consideration of where we've both been.

I strived my best to follow the principles as suggested & I'm glad to have & be capable of what I have with Carl today. It is only thanks to God, my sobriety & every effort I put into this program daily. I know that it could end at any time for whatever reason & I know my sobriety has to stay top priority in any circumstance. I'm not sharing all of this to encourage anyone else to do or not.

I say if you're new & particularly if you're unsure of the steps keep yourself as safe as you can until you have a firm footing & a connection with your own Higher Power (i.e. using the maintenance steps). One of the reasons if not the only reason this relationship is working is because both of us work this program every minute of every day to the best of our abilities & remember to endeavor in keeping our primary dependence upon God & all that we've been taught & shared with in this program. We are also careful to take any issues that are meant for our sponsor's careful ears first before addressing each other with anything that could hurt. You could say we have a wonderful support & we use it all the time.

If I hadn't followed any of these suggestions to the best of my ability I would still be in the mess I started out/finished up in. For anyone who is struggling & finding it difficult to stay single (or celibate) hang in there. It will get easier & so much worth it in the end when you're achieving what this program has to offer. Don't settle for anything less than the best. I'm so glad I persisted & always do my best. God does help with grace. If you've listened thank you for letting me share, Danielle x



-- Edited by Sobrietyspell on Monday 11th of January 2010 11:50:20 PM

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LOUISE!!! I could have written that post lady. biggrin  I WAS that predatory lady!!  Three 'relationships' in the first 2 years, then went on to work on MYSELF and stay single, then I met and married a 'more sober guy than me' in that he was 3 years longer sober than me, and well known in AA due to the amount of service he did.

This marriage lasted five years, which was 3 years TOO LONG!!  He was the original 'Mr Angry' which is why nowadays I always tell newcomers not to be swayed by the number of years sober another member is, since we can all do so much service we can hide from ourselves (as I have also done) and service is a great way to hide, especially when you can 'Talk the Talk'

I remember saying to a long term sober guy, 'Hell I dunno how I do it, maybe ONE of these I will get it RIGHT?'  And he replied, ;Yeah, sure ya will girl, but in the meantime, you can enjoy getting it WRONG so long as you don't drink on it'

That told me that the bottom line is always 'So long as I don't drink' no matter what it is I am doing right or wrong'

 



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Avril G wrote:

I remember saying to a long term sober guy, 'Hell I dunno how I do it, maybe ONE of these I will get it RIGHT?'  And he replied, ;Yeah, sure ya will girl, but in the meantime, you can enjoy getting it WRONG so long as you don't drink on it'

That told me that the bottom line is always 'So long as I don't drink' no matter what it is I am doing right or wrong'


I tried resisting commenting on this, so apologies in advance Avril.

There are actions and activities, that don't necessarily  involve drinking (lying , cheating, stealing, promiscuous sex, cheating on my wife or girlfriend,  getting really angry, getting in a heated arguement/fight, frivolously  spending money that I don't have, gambling....), that for myself, I'd consider a "relapse".   Hopefully I wouldn't have to pick up a white chip in the process, but it's a very likely possibility.  However, the shame and all around feeling like a piece of crap is the same as I would feel had I drank, more of less.   I heard this saying many times in AA meetings-  "as long as you didn't drink today, you are a winner".  That's true if you're in your first year or two, but past that point we need to be (also) focusing on other areas of our dysfunctional life.  IE: if I cheated on my girl friend last night, but I didn't drink, I'm still a "winner".  Not!

 



-- Edited by StPeteDean on Tuesday 12th of January 2010 09:39:36 AM

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Dean, what you say is true but remember:

"Our primary purpose is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety."






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jasperkent wrote:
Dean, what you say is true but remember:


"Our primary purpose is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety."


That's true, however, as my first and greatest sponsor said-  "our 'primary purpose' is not our Only purpose".  biggrin We certainly must always put our sobriety first, and I think what I discussed, in my post above,  would be in the best interest of our sobriety.  Not drinking, is the entrance fee to sobriety, not the end result.  After a year of two (of continuous sobriety), we must continue with our mental, physical, spiritual, industrial, financial,  relationship...progress.   The best way (a good way) to do this is to set goals, in these areas, every year or a couple times a year, and write these goals down (Now is a good time biggrin ).  I could go on and on about the power of writing goals down on paper, but you can google it if you're interested.  It is said that only 3% of people write down their goals, but those 3% control 95% of the assets.  Not that material achievements should be on the top of anyone's list (but is a good way to make yourself ready to receive the 9th step promise "Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us") , but setting goals will certainly put us on track to better manage our time and ultimately our lives.  We're doing this ,in the program, when we Write our 6th step.

For example, in my  first year of sobriety, I was taking in some motivational and business seminars  to help me with my new business (the same one that I have today).
Every one of those speakers (Zig Zigler, Tony Robbins, Hirum Smith, General Schwarzkopf, Gen. Colin Powell...) harped on writing your goals.  Every motivational tape, did the same.  So I bought into it and decided that if it would work well for business than I could write goals for personal development, relationships, health...  as well.  One of the goals that I wrote was that someday I'd like to be happily married.
As soon as wrote that things started happening.  I walked into a meeting, at an AA club, that I thought was AA and it turned out to be a Codependents anonymous meeting.  A couple weeks later I saw an ad for a seminar on "Relationships in recovery" given by Claudia Black  (Author of "It's never too late to have a happy Childhood")  http://claudiablack.com/index.php.  

So I went to this 2 day study and learned amazing things about my dysfunctional behavior and poor choices in my relationships.  Then I read some more books by John Bradshaw, (continued to attend Coda meetings) listened to tapes and video by others (Gary Smalley, Melonie Bettie, Tom Miller...) and by practicing what I'd learned, my relationships improved greatly.  I was making better choices, not getting entangled with unhealthy people or promiscuous sex.  I was becoming that healthy person that I wanted to attract for a long term relationship (in my case marriage), which manifested into a wonderful relationship of 16 years (married for 14) to a non alcoholic.  It's been trouble fee period, just amazing.  What's that got to do with "my primary purpose"?  It's a benefit that wouldn't be possible otherwise, but it took work outside of my primary  responsibility.  We can't get stuck on just staying sober, like treading water.
Personal development is a mountain that we must continue to climb or we may grow tired of the view and slip back down, disillusioned. 

 



-- Edited by StPeteDean on Tuesday 12th of January 2010 11:31:10 AM

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here is the problem i am having. I came into AA about 10 months ago.After about 2 months i met a wonderful woman that was in the program. Not long after we moved in together. Some things were rocky, as my behavior caused us some problems, to the point that she drank. The day after she drank, i drank, and this continued for a couple months, until we both decided to get back into the rooms. Not long after, she got a promotion at work which caused us to move about an hour away. Well, about two months later i drank, to be awaken by her telling me i have to leave. This led to another week of continous drinking in a hotel, and i am now back in the rooms, working the steps honestly for the first time, but the things i did in the past cause her much pain and she has told me that we can never be together again. Im trying to accept this fact, but its the hardest, most gut wrenching feeling ive ever felt. I truly believe this woman to be my soul mate, and i just dont know what to do from here. I know that recovery has to be my number one goal, but accepting just how much i miss her, every minute of every day is so hard. Any advice would help greatly. thank you


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Digging up a five year old thread to spam the forum with multiple copy & paste comments linking to your manifesto is tacky.



-- Edited by davep12and12 on Thursday 22nd of October 2015 01:05:13 AM

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Any person coming into AA for help, and disregards the warnings of an AA relationship for a minimum of 12 months, is simply asking for heart-ache and a failed program ... such a person is(unwittingly) asking to place a relationship above that of their sobriety ... it doesn't work that way ...

Sobriety is suggested as the first and only priority when coming in to work a program of recovery ... any relationship of a sexual nature will only cloud the judgement of the person needing to recover from alcoholism ... recovery is an emotional journey that can be a roller-coaster ride for sure ... adding a change in one's 'relationship' during this time can, and most often does, have catastrophic results ...

13th step at your own risk ... and if you do, you're asking for complete and utter disaster ... which in many cases can be 'fatal' in nature ...

Do your best to use 'common sense' when these type situations arise ... OR ... prepare to suffer the consequences ...


Love ya and God Bless,
Pappy



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LOL, ... by golly, you're right H1 ... and if you hadn't pointed that out to me, I may have never even noticed, LOL ... Thanks ...



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When I went to get my 1 year chip, in my little speech, I told everybody that I had strictly adhered to the "no relationship for a year" thing. Then, I said "the next girl I'm with is going to be in for a wild night. Ladies, raise your hands if you've been sober over a year, and you wanna go out with me tonight". 

:(



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Smooooth, baba!  biggrin

Well ya won't know if ya don't ask. Would have been pretty awesome if it had worked  biggrin



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Well, it was a special meeting for AA amputees. So, when I said "ladies, raise your hands", it didn't go over real well. 

They didn't laugh, either. 



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I met this girl, who had lost an eyball in a jousting/fencing match. When we were done our conversation, she said "I'll see ya around". I said "ok...if you say so". 



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She said she would keep an eye out for me.



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Ladies and gentlemen, Baba Louie! He's here all week, folks! Don't forget to tip your waitress, and try the prime rib!



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For Dave: 

It wasn't a room of amputees. It Was actually a gay meeting. Everyone raised their hand. 



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I got 12 dates that night. One for each step.



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Date number 3 was the best. He kept calling me "God".



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Yes, I think that humor gets many of us through the days.

Early on I had this boyfriend, that was very much in love with HIMSELF.   I used humor to help me get over him.

I used to say that I liked him and he liked himself.   He didn't see the problem in any of that mess.   Oh my those were not the good old days.

One day at a time is my favorite way to go.

So very grateful for everyone on this board.



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Okay, a person tries to get some SLEEP around here and they miss it ... probably a good thing I didn't get in on this one, LOL ... me and Mr. Happy are not on good terms right now, huh ... we can't even speak to each other ... not after what the radiation did to 'm ...

Amputees??? ... OMG ...



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