If you’ve been addiction to drugs or alcohol for a relatively lengthy period, let’s say a year or more, then your relationships may have been impacted by your addiction. You might have hurt friends and family. You might have felt hurt by them too. When relationships have suffered from addiction, it’s important to revisit those relationships once you’re in recovery and getting sober so that healing can begin.
Although you might be afraid to begin those challenging conversations, the benefits of restoring your relationships are worth the costs! Let’s say you talk things over with three friends, those are three more people that can possibly support you in your recovery. And these are three more people that you can maintain long-term, healthy relationships with.
Relationships can be fulfilling, especially with those that have known you for a long time. They can see where you’ve been and where you’re headed. They can witness the change and transformation you’ve gone through. However, before you can access that supportive, healing relationships, you do need to take a couple of steps to repair the relationship:
- Find out about the expectation others have of you. Once you feel comfortable, talk to your friends and family about what they expect. You might need to talk about how they hope you will behave in dealing with them, and what they need from you. They may say things like, “I don’t want you to dismiss what I have to say anymore,” or “I want you to talk to me when you’re feeling stressed”. It’s important to let your friends and family heal from the past too. And by sharing their thoughts and feelings about the relationship with you, you can help them heal. Remember that if you’ve been addicted to substances for a long period of time, life may be very different now compared to when you were last sober. Now that you’re healthy again, it’s time to re-establish healthy roles and expectations. This is especially true for families.
- Let others know who you are. It’s time to bring your relationships current. As mentioned above, if you’ve been sober for a long time, then your friends and family may still have a certain perception of you. They’ve grown accustomed to thinking of you as an addict, and they’ve gotten used to expecting very little of you. They may have a tendency to continue to respond to you in that way. But it’s time to show them who you are now: responsible, safe, and emotionally present. At the same time, your friends and family might demand too much of you. They might think to themselves that everything is different now and that you need to make up for lost time. If you feel that others are placing too many demands upon you, especially during recovery, you may need to let others know that you need more time to meet their expectations. Although you’re sober, you can let others know that you’re still fragile in some ways. Talking about expectations can help you and your friends and family form realistic expectations for moving forward.
These are two reasons why it’s important to heal your relationships in recovery. It’s important to communicate your needs and expectations while at the same time hearing the same from your loved ones. Recovery can be a challenging experience, but it can also be rewarding and meaningful!