This is my first time ever writing to a forum. This will be a long, long post. It may not even be allowed.
I am so grateful for this site. I have been reading for about six months; you cannot know how valuable all of your sharing has been to me. I am writing because I am earnestly seeking sound advice on a situation in my life.
Almost two years ago, during the course of my job I met a charming and wonderful man. It turned out we had many shared acquaintances, We had a lot in common, including the fact we were both in AA.
As time went by his actions to me were those of a man falling in love. He said the most amazing complimentary things to me, gave me hugs, kissed my hand, thanking me for taking care of his mother. These hugs grew warmer and more prolonged, the compliments more tender with each encounter between us. My heart was singing. But I am shy and have been hurt in the past so I guarded my feelings, yet all the time thinking, “This is who I have been waiting all these years for!” I give the appearance of poise and quietness. He would call me the love of his life, say what an incredible person I was (yes, I have read it all here on this site). I am old enough and wise enough to have realized this was a bit overboard, but I knew he was impulsive. However, the oddest thing was that he never actually asked me out. I put this down to the fact that I was at work and he did not want to jeopardize my job. This went on for six months.
Crisis arose one day and my job was over. As I left that day, he grabbed my arm with what seemed like such love and said “I’ll call you.” Of course he was going to call me! Two weeks went by and I never heard from him. I decided to attend his home group meeting one night to see if I could see him. When I entered, he spotted me from the other side of hall and almost jumped (I mean literally) over chairs to reach me. He grabbed me in the biggest, deepest hug yet, kept kissing each side of my face, kept stroking my face, told me how happy he was that I was there. He put his arm around me and directed me towards people, introducing me to his sponsor, “This is __________ who I told you about!” He introduced me to other people in the group as his really good friend, teased me about my computer knowledge (I do free lance work at home), etc. etc. However, as the evening went by, I was in shock because I saw him treating other women in much the same manner, perhaps not to the extreme as with me. He hugged, stroked and made declarations of love to other women. I sat through that meeting in a fog, the pain was unbelievable. When I went to leave, he pursued me out the door to hug and kiss me again. Had I perhaps overreacted to a little affection on his part to other women? I continued to attend some meetings where he was (I couldn’t seem to help myself) He always seemed to be waiting for me with a look of love on his face, embracing me warmly.
Shortly thereafter I began to notice I would always see his car wherever I went. He lives on the other side of our town, yet I would see him in my neighborhood. He always seemed to be popping up at the library/grocery store, etc, places I had never seen him before. I knew he was seriously interested. But he never made a move. I would always catch him looking at me. During the course of AA talks or discussions, he would often bring my name up, or deliberately direct the discussion to me out of sequence, as if he wanted to hear my thoughts or my voice. At EVERY meeting he would always catch me before I left to say goodbye. People would tell me what nice things he had to say about me. I was in emotional turmoil. Why didn’t things move forward? Why didn’t any of our conversations make sense, I would always think afterwards “We never got to the point here, what happened?”
I had occasions to call him, he would promise to call back/stop by, but never did. I began to realize he really did not remember promising things. I continued to watch. He was extremely fidgety, could not concentrate, jumped from topic to topic, surprised me with some of his inappropriate/tactless remarks. Yet, he was charming, compassionate to other people, funny, funny, funny, kind and good. And especially, seemed to continue to send signals of caring for me.
Fast forward to today. I had begun researching things on the internet (like “love shyness”, “men in love”, etc. etc) it makes me laugh with embarrassment now. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I knew nothing about ADHD, with only the layman’s assumption it was a hyperactivity/attention/dyslexic thing. Needless to say, my researching led me to ADHD and all of its ensuing psychological problems and comorbidities, etc. I have literally received an education through all of this. (he has it all, former alcohol/cocaine abuse, OCD, gambling, hyperactivity, impulsivity, self-loathing, anger, car accidents—he is the proverbial poster child). As far as I can tell, he had been diagnosed. He appears to be addressing it. He does take an anti-depressant, exercises religiously, is in counseling, drinks gallons of coffee. Well, the hyperfocus is over, with all of its accompanying pain and hurt that so many of you have described so well on this site. It was like watching the unstoppable tide turn and go out. The only advantage I had over some of you was that I knew through my reading it was going to come. (And I give him credit; I think he has gone through this before and knew it was coming, too, hence the inaction on his part) I never once said “I love you” back to him. I was cautious. I have suffered agonies of self-flagellation over that, perhaps I should have, I just couldn’t ever make up my mind. I have removed myself from him for three months now and can see that I will go on. I don’t even think at this point he even has noticed I am not around. I weep only on occasion now.
Now my problem. Two women who I know in AA have each approached me separately, asking about him (they think he and I were really friends). Sort of little puppies trying to sniff something out. From what they have each told me, they are interpreting his overly demonstrative attentions to them as real love interest on his part. I do not share my experience with them. I do not counsel them. My heart aches for them. I tell them “Oh, that is so-and-so, he’s like that with all the women.” A heart seeking love, especially a newly sober alcoholic woman with her low self-esteem, is extremely vulnerable and wishful. (so is that of the woman now 32 years sober!).
Now my question: I have prayerfully written him a letter, sharing my experience with him and suggesting that he moderate his behavior, most particularly his words. He tells these women impulsively that he “loves them madly”, they are “the love of his life” etc. etc. I feel so sad for them. I have couched the letter in the most loving of terms, making sure that I let him know what is so admirable about him, but he should consider carefully what he is actually doing to some women. I know he has a great sense of responsibility to other recovering alcoholics (as do I) and that point is what will mean the most to him. Besides possibly seriously warning these women, do I have the right to bring all of this to his attention, is it even my business, should I mail this letter? I am concerned. I covet you advice and will wait for your input. Thanks to you all for being here.
Submitted by Miss Behaven on
Trying to warn other women might be mistakenly seen as gossip or sour grapes. I think you were right in telling the women who came to you that he tends to be with way with everyone and ending it there. That was the best you can do in such a situation. But I wouldn't recommend seeking other women in his social circle and warning them.
Just as women in your situation may need that self esteem boost, it could be that he is looking for an ego boost in his flirting. Adders also sometimes don't get personal boundaries and can be a little too forward and overly friendly. If I were you I'd sit on the letter for a few days and then rewrite it. Keep it short and to the point (no more than one page), while still empathetic and kind. Don't write an emotional out pouring. Be like a "big sister" warning a flirty "little brother" that he may be playing with fire and hurting vulnerable women, without really being aware that is what he doing.
Or I would just pull him aside and say "Hey I've had a few different women come to me thinking that you are falling head over heels for them. You might want to tone down your affectionate displays and only use the word LOVE when you really are in love. These women are often desperate for love and attention and can take things the wrong way and then be crushed easily."
But this fellow is also no spring chicken, so be prepared that he may know full well what he is doing and enjoy every moment of using other women to boost his ego.
Thanks, Miss Behaven
Submitted by best-is-yet-to-be on
Thanks for taking time to reply to what must seem like trivial questions on a site addressing such serious matters. I appreciate it. I have been reading your posts on the site since you "popped up" a while ago and find them particularly wise because of the dual ADD in your household. Lots of wisdom there.
I have decided your advice is good and will sit on that letter, (unstamped, in case I succumb to an impulse, too!) until I believe it is the right moment or not the moment at all. I agree, and had thought already about the fact: actively seeking out any other women to warn, could only be motivated by a feeling of "sour grapes" and promoting very harmful gossip. No matter what my experience and reactions to it, I cannot know completely or speculate on what motivates this man. I don't want to cause any harm.
Actually, I have a pretty healthy ego at this point in my life. Besides my faith, I do have years of "working the Steps", as does he.
However, I must tell you sometimes I grieve over the fact that this very smart man might have been better served by rigorously addressing his ADHD rather than focusing as much on the alcohol, which I see as a side effect of the ADHD. He is undereducated and worked the last 20 years in a menial job because of his ADHD. He has only gone on to further his education in the last year, a real change for him. I suspect he got some poor advice from a sponsor who doesn't know anything about ADHD, perhaps doesn't even believe it is real. Some sponsors are "old school",--don't do anything, just don't drink and go to meetings, meetings, meetings, or else you might drink again. I have been taken aback each time this man comes out with something so sharp, so intelligent, he has such a good mind! But in the end he is and always has been an adult who, despite his ADHD, must decide these things for himself
I also must tell you, Miss Behaven, that I was very happy to see your forum topic of "What ADD is NOT." I had been looking for this very good, gathered list for some time. I have been puzzling over the exact things you mention, "Is this ADHD or something else?" Thanks for thinking about it and sharing it.
Again, thanks for your thoughtful response. I will re-write (shorten), I will wait, I will go on.