Ask Aunt Chelsea, Week of Aug. 28, 2014
Dear Aunt Chelsea:
I quit drinking and drugging after my Freshman year, and I’ve got over four months clean and sober in a 12-step program. I know some cool students in AA, so temptation once I’m back on campus and going to parties again isn’t an issue. The issue is my girlfriend, who was so impressed with my desire to get straight, she showered me with affection last May. But now that I’m getting my marbles back, I notice that she has a lot of baggage.
Before me, she went out with lousy guys, many of them drunks. She’s had a hard luck time of it since she was little, but I notice that it’s always everybody else’s fault, never her own. Her life operates on Murphy’s Law. I think I fell in love with Eeyore. Help!
Straight and Narrow Sophomore
Dear Straight and Narrow:
First of all, congratulations on your sobriety. But four months isn’t the time when you declare victory and tempt fate — it’s the point where you hunker down, circle your wagons and dig in for the long haul.
While Aunt Chelsea has nothing but respect for the straight and narrow path you have successfully navigated this summer, she has serious issues with your generous assessment that “temptation once I’m back on campus and going to parties again isn’t an issue.”
It’s an exceedingly rare former toker-slash-boozehound who can spend all night at a kegger and not fall back into the old familiar pattern of beer pong, beer bongs, pot brownies and bad behavior. You’ve proven yourself worthy of that AA chip in your fist, so why throw yourself into the furnace just to prove you can stand the heat? Yes, pressure makes diamonds — but it takes a lot less time for pressure to burst a pipe. I could go on, but I think you’ve got the gist of where I’m headed with this one.
Now, for issue #2 — and here, we’re in lockstep. This girlfriend sounds like a mess in a dress who, unlike you, shows no interest in changing her self-defeating ways. At the risk of sounding insensitive, you simply don’t have the proper tools to labor on such a massive fixer-upper project (other than your own).
Seen through old Aunt Chelsea’s well-focused eyes (which haven’t been bloodshot in years), it’s quite clear that the newly sober you formed an intense bond with the first person to express support and approval. Add to that dynamic an element of sexual intimacy, and we’ve dug down to the root of why you seem to be having so much trouble acknowledging that the elephant in the room is a baggage-bearing monkey on somebody else’s back.
Abandon the notion that you have a future with this gloomy, damaged doormat and refer her to email@example.com. Providing tough but fair advice is my job. Your only obligation is to spend the next two semesters hitting the books, taking those 12 steps and discovering all of the natural highs that life has to offer. I’ll just bet that once this happens, you’ll fall in love again…and maybe again, and then, again. Youth only happens once, honey, so play the field — but not until you’ve covered all your bases!
Eventually, we all need advice from a caring but uninvolved source. When your time comes, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.