December 10, 2019

My Dating “Blackout”: Why I’m taking a Break from Love & Sex. 

“Blackout” is a term used for the early part of treatment, when phone and social interaction is limited.

I have put myself on blackout from sex with another person (including kissing and dating).

I’m single for the first time in about 13 years and decided I should get reacquainted with myself, as I exist without being attached to another person.

The relationship I had with my husband was a good one—unsatisfying, but relatively healthy. Some people might say that dissatisfaction is not a reason to get divorced, and they might be right. However, I left my husband because I was unsatisfied and thought another man could give me what I needed.

I was wrong.

The relationship was long (it was a so-called reunion of a previous engagement) and messy and dramatic and not healthy at all. In fact, I thank my higher power regularly for carrying me when I could not walk on my own to get through that experience clean.

I had to beg God to remove this man from my heart in order to have the strength to let him go. I asked not with “loving force,” as I often do, when requesting removal of defects or shortcomings. I literally begged, “Please remove him. I do not want this.” The relationship was pretty much over after that, but we carried on for another few months anyway.

When I finally had a glimmer of relief from the obsession of this relationship and the compulsion to continue participating in it, I devoured Facing Codependency by Pia Mellody and started talk therapy.

I went on a few dating sites. Surprised at my interest in anyone other than this previous lover, I started messaging a fellow and entertaining the idea of yet another relationship.

He ghosted me.

I heard this message loud and clear from my Higher Power: Slow your roll, sister.

This is a common message from my spirit guides. I tend to get ahead of myself.

This ghosting is what prompted my blackout. I committed to finishing out 2019 as a single, not dating woman.

Then came Elie.

We had been on a date or two as teenagers, but nothing came of it—probably because I was just getting ramped up in active addiction and he wasn’t. Over the years, through intermittently living in the same neighborhood and social media, we had occasionally intercepted.

Toward the end of my rocky, unhealthy relationship, Elie reached out to me with a desire to connect with other adults who didn’t drink. We met for coffee, and he was so warm and open and lovely that I wanted to set him up with my best friend Lynda. They feel the same to me, with their loving hearts and connected presence; I thought he would be good for her. Then he told me about his heartbreak (he was still recovering from a devastating breakup), and I saw that he was clearly not interested or ready for a new love.

Elie and I started spending more time together, trading stories, and lamenting our devotion that had fallen on closed hearts—as if we had been in the same battle and were left with the same wounds. We traded bodywork and energy work, and I felt comfortable and relieved to spend time with a person who felt gentle, strong, and safe.

Then, he brushed the hair from my face—and I swooned a little.

Maybe it was the blackout talking. I checked with my other male friends, even tried flirting with a cute guy at a school event. Nothing. No swooning. No zing. No buzz.

The last thing I need is an obsession—sexual or otherwise. I write, I talk to my girlfriends, I talk to my sponsor. I ask my friends to pray for me when I know I’m going to see him. I rely on Elie’s discipline and commitment to his own blackout. I believe that Elie and I are connected through the heart, and I feel that we can do many great things together in service to love. I’m confused by my attraction to him. I’m in no condition to venture into a sexual, romantic relationship, which would surely overtake these other potentials.

I consider not seeing him, for fear of falling into obsession. Fear of initiating something I’m not ready for. Fear of causing harm.

My sponsor, my dear, loving, clear, brilliant sponsor, talks sense into me. She says, “You don’t want it to be a game,” and I surrender. I see that I was getting off on playing with fire. Playing a game with myself by telling myself that I am committed to blackout, and seeing how close I could get to breaking my commitment to myself. I was playing a game of chicken with my own values, self-worth, and spirit.

My sponsor reminded me that I have a choice. I surrendered to win. I’m causing harm to Elie (using him for the thrill ) and me with this game of seeing how long I can resist desire. I do not need to resign to my self-imposed blackout. I surrender to the reality of this day and become present to Elie as he is and me as I am. I let go of who I think I should be and who I hope he is. What comes of this is a delightful, easy, fun friendship of the heart.

I am committed to living my best life. Committed to fully inhabiting my life and expressing my aliveness. I believe this is how we save ourselves from ourselves, by following the light of our heart to our most authentic lives.

What does that look like? It looks like being open to the possibility of doing something different in a familiar situation. Living authentically means practicing humility and following the lessons and guides that life offers. The directions for the path to spiritual freedom are presented every day. Living my best life means using my gift of free will to choose from the heart.

This experience of committing to blackout mingling with an attraction and feelings that seem to challenge this commitment present an opportunity for me to be real with myself. I can do what I have always done and get what I always get, or I can do something different.

I choose to look at the fears that bubble up (fear of hurting someone, fear of getting hurt, fear of failing, fear of making a mistake, and on and on). I choose to notice the habitual thought patterns that go along with a sexual attraction and decide to redirect my thoughts to the present moment through breath and body awareness. I choose to act as if my spiritual condition is the top priority in my life.

My blackout is not dogmatic asceticism. It is a desire to be anchored in truth, a desire to journey into the cave of my own heart, living in the love, freedom, and gratitude that reside there.

I enjoy being in love, and I like sex. I will explore those relationships again, from a whole heart—not from seeking a thrill or distraction from the messiness of spiritual awakening.

Just for today, I am going into my own heart, creating landing points for love within myself, and opening to the possibilities of love beyond my imagination.

More will be revealed.

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