From the August 2013 magazine.

August 2013: Taking it Slow

A sober guy learns that the best things take time

Newcomers to AA often look for new relationships before they’re ready. Luckily, my first sponsor stopped me in time. He explained why no major decisions should be made during the first two years of sobriety. Realizing how damaged I was, my sponsor half-seriously suggested that I should wait until I was sober five years and then only seek women with 10 or more years of solid sobriety. To my surprise, I gradually learned that it was possible to form platonic relationships with women and enjoy their company as friends. It took me some time to understand why my sponsor felt that I should stay celibate for that long. Eventually I understood that it was because I was immature, egocentric and selfish. Worse yet, I lacked self-knowledge.

Rome was not built in one day—nor was the new and improved me. Thanks to the old-timers in my group, I was taught how to work the program to the best of my ability. For several years after my 90 and 90, I did service by setting up the meeting hall, making coffee, washing dishes and mopping the floor. It didn’t take me long before I saw myself as a model member of AA. I chaired meetings, participated in Step discussions and delivered what I thought were interesting drunkalogs when I was asked to speak. But I did not have enough self-knowledge to share about recovery. In my first four and a half years I had only learned to practice our first three Steps.

-- Nels H.

Quebec, Montreal, Canada

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