Getting clean and sober after years of using alcohol or drugs to deaden pain and hide behind can be an exhilarating experience. Relationships in recovery can be difficult. For some it is like coming out of a cocoon or being reborn. The world looks new, the future bright, and you are beginning to feel things you haven’t been able to feel for a long, long time. For some people they feel a very natural urge to share this new world they have discovered with someone else. The idea of starting fresh with someone new can be almost overwhelming, but, getting into a new relationships in recovery is a bad idea on so many levels.
To begin with. A recovering addict just like a new born child needs to learn to crawl before he can walk and needs to walk before he can run. In other words, you need to concentrate on you and your own emotional growth and development before you can hope to grow in a relationship with someone else. In the early days of recovery you are probably feeling all kinds of emotions and these emotions are stronger because you have denied them for so long. Your mind and in some cases your body needs time to heal. Those emotions that are so strong and powerful now need time to become stable and you need to keep your focus on your recovery and your own emotional needs not those of someone else.
While it is a good sign that you want to share all the new things you are feeling with someone, you need to be sharing those things with those who have gone through this same thing, who understand both your eagerness to rejoin life and your need to take care of yourself.
Another reason why entering a new relationships in recovery early on is bad is because you still need to learn coping skills that will allow you to deal with stress, disappointment, and problems without turning to those drugs or that alcohol you once leaned on. A new relationship even one that is working well is filled with ups and downs, highs and lows and emotional upheavals. You don’t need the added stress that starting a new relationship will put on you at this stage of your recovery. Your entire goal at this stage should be to make yourself strong enough to deal with whatever emotional upheavals will come your way not to jump into a situation that is filled with them.
The last reason, is that in most cases those who are in the first stages of recovery are still focusing on healing the damage they caused in their past relationships and taking accountability for their mistakes. Not only is this part of your healing process but, it also will teach you some new and valuable skills in dealing with new relationships and the more skills you develop now the better chance a new relationship will have to succeed.
AA recommends that members be in recovery at least a year before starting a new relationship. While a year seems like a long time, it really isn’t and your mind, body, and soul needs a little time to explore this new and different world you are discovering, to heal completely, and for you to have time to learn who this new person is that you have become. Give yourself that valuable time and you will be surprised at just how much difference it can make when you are ready to begin a new relationship.
What do you think about relationships in recovery for the newcomer?