Romance in Recovery

Nicole Lynn is with us today. She sent SHAIR an email about a topic that gets brought up time and time again in recovery. Should we form romantic relationships with someone who is also in recovery? Or is better to date and marry outside the rooms?

Nicole and her fiancé raise four kids together, run a home together, do life together, work full-time, and also both work their own recovery programs. Nicole wants to share her story as an active recovering addict in a lifelong committed relationship with another recovering addict.


Listen to Nicole’s Story

Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!

Nicole Lynn was a modern dancer. Perfectionism was part of the lifestyle from a very young age. At nine years old, she already worried about being too fat and began hating herself. When she first tried alcohol at the age of fourteen, she could take a break from worrying about being perfect. She remembers the first time she got drunk at her friend’s house. She did eight shots of bourbon and drank a half of a beer. She was only eighty-five pounds and vomited out the bedroom window onto the roof. Her friend’s mother made her clean it up with a bucket. Other than that, there were no consequences.

I enjoyed being out of my mind.

As Nicole got older, she preferred drugs. As a dancer, she was used to being in control of her body. Alcohol made it hard to control herself, but with drugs, she could function better.

Despite self-medicating, Nicole never felt like she was good enough. Whenever something turned out badly, it reinforced her self-loathing. By the time she went to college, cocaine became her drug of choice and she began to suffer the consequences. She was caught cheating and almost was expelled. She had to forfeit roles because she couldn’t show up for rehearsals.

She tried transferring schools and ended up having a nervous breakdown. When she went to live with her father in Ohio, she didn’t stop using. Her father was a professor, and she remembers trying to score while sitting in on one of his classes. She stole his medications and was constantly seeking anything mind-altering.

Nicole went to Europe next, where she carelessly put herself in extreme danger in her search for drugs.

It was grace that saved my ass because there were a lot of times where I probably shouldn’t have walked away.

After graduation, she started working in theater. Her life was a series of toxic back-to-back relationships. Her using was out of control and she would get fined by the theater company for having drugs in her room. The industry started blacklisting her. She also got pregnant and miscarried at this time, sending her into another nervous breakdown. She threw away an opportunity for a role in the musical Cats to runaway to her mom’s house in North Carolina.

Nicole still used and tried to fill the void in her heart with relationships. At an aunt’s suggestion, she started her own dance studio. She continued her serial dating and got pregnant twice. She found herself with two daughters from two different fathers. She was an addict and an alcoholic who relied on public assistance. There were no diapers, no trash bags, and no food for her and her children. Everything was dark. Her kids were suffering, she was suffering, and it was time to get out.

She never knew anyone in recovery, but some divine instinct led her to search for AA on the internet. She began to attend meetings and remembers thinking:

What is wrong with these weirdos?

They were too happy to not be on anything. Even though Nicole says she was very disturbed by the cultish feeling of AA, she kept coming back. She knew she reached a turning point around her first 30 days sober. She was playing with her four-year-old daughter on the floor. In the middle of their wrestling, her daughter stopped, looked down at her, and said, “You’re back.” Then she went right back to playing again. Nicole believes God spoke through her child and this experience helped her stay sober in her early days of recovery.

Still, Nicole felt a void. During her first year of sobriety, she got involved with nine men, one after the other. They were in recovery, but they were not healthy people. Two of them have since committed suicide and one died in a motorcycle accident. She kept attracting abusive people, convincing herself she was in love with them. And after every relationship ended, she would sink deeper into despair. After the last break up, she thought she was going to die of heartache. But like a bolt of lightning, she was hit with an epiphany.

The only way that I can feel complete and whole is if I fill myself with the spirit.

She knew that she could never be or attract a loving, responsible partner until she was complete. A relationship with a higher power was what they talked about in every meeting, but it didn’t make sense to Nicole until that moment.

A few months later, after spending time alone and cultivating her spiritual life, her current partner came into her life and it was a true and healthy romance in recovery. Nicole now realizes she had been trying to force her life for so long, trying to make men fit into what she needed them to be. Only when she got out of the way was God able to work in her life and bring her the man she was meant to be with.

What kept Nicole from getting clean?

Nicole thought she had two options:

I use and I’m miserable

I stop using and I’m miserable

She did not know there was a door number three

I could NOT use and BE HAPPY

She was only able to find that through a recovery program.

That aha moment

Nicole was tormented by the power of drugs and alcohol and obsessive toxic thinking. she was overwhelmed by the pain of her thoughts. Then she realized the healing effects of prayer. She began repeating prayers and experienced the results. When it worked, she had hope for the future.

I needed evidence before I could grow my faith.

Best suggestion

Nicole remembers something her first sponsor told her.

Ask for help with everything.

Pray to your higher power to get you through your day-to-day menial tasks. This gets the dialogue going and helps to form a relationship.

Suggestion for newcomers

Nicole urges newcomers to pray for trust. Sometimes we don’t know what’s going on in our lives. We don’t understand what’s happening and that scares us. During these times of upheaval, Nicole prays to her higher power:

Help me to trust you … that you got this … that I’m okay.

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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.