I don’t know about you, but when I was first in recovery it felt like I had to learn to live all over again. While my physical body was fine (well, operational after the years of abuse I put it through), I was a wreck on the inside.
Like an infant sitting in a high chair, I received my daily emotional and spiritual nourishment and spit it up all over the place. Addiction may not totally rob you of the ability to think, act and feel, but it sure crosses the wires and makes your social life awkward and new.
There are many many lessons to learn in living substance-free, and rebuilding relationships in recovery is at the top of the to-do list. It goes without saying that healthy relationships are a necessary component to our well being and health.
If we are unable to repair and restore the bonds we have to the people we love, we simply wouldn’t be able to exist as a happy and healthy being. While this is certainly true in the relationships you have with family and friends, this is especially true in those more intimate relationships you have with a spouse or partner.
Relationships in Recovery: A Slippery Slope
For those newly sober, no subject kicks up the dust like relationships in recovery. On their own, relationships are complex, nuanced and unique. Relationships have the potential to be something of great beauty and they also can become completely devastating–and can often be both.
Now throw your recovery into the mix.
Imagine trying to navigate these complexities and nuances of communication, respect and trust when you don’t even know how you can handle the rawness and newness of your emotions in your recovery. It is the proverbial F5 twister that can level anything and everything in its path.
Yes I know… you want to feel the comfort and intimacy of a relationship in recovery because you feel it will provide you safety and security. The reality is though, that relationship early in recovery need to be avoided if at all possible.
This even goes for those “casual” types of relationships. They may seem benign on the surface, but any smoldering undercurrents of sexuality or intimacy can provide the kindling to reignite addictive ways of thought and behavior.
People in recovery have enough trouble trying to mend the fences with their family and loved ones, what are the chances that a deeper relationship would survive?
The Most Important Relationship in Recovery is You
So, what can you do to repair your relationships in recovery? Well, first things first; you have to start with that person you look at in the mirror every day.
In order to truly repair and restore relationships and experience the comfort, trust and security they bring, you need to start with repairing and restoring yourself. It is often said in recovery circles there should be no relationship in the first year of sobriety. While it is not necessary to grab a calendar and count down the days, you need to give yourself all the time you need to work on yourself.
In order to fix yourself, you need to utilize the tools that you were given when you were in treatment such as 12-step meetings, adopting a healthy diet and exercise-based lifestyle and taking on new and healthier hobbies. These life and coping skill components will be continually need and called upon as your progress in your recovery, but these are CRUCIAL in building a solid foundation early in your sobriety.
What Else Do I Need To Do?
When you establish the basic foundations on getting yourself right and your own house in order, there are other basic things that you can do to help repair those relationships damaged by your addiction.
First, you need to effectively communicate to your spouse or partner that you are working to kick your addiction. Whether you do it in person, email, letter or carrier pigeon, you need to tell them you are working hard to make amends. This action alone may not be convincing, but it can get the ball rolling.
If you talk the talk, you must walk the walk, so it is important to also do your best to restore trust in your relationship. You must acknowledge the emotional hurt that you caused and find ways to truly make amends.
You must also be willing to understand that those you love will more than likely hold resentments against you. While their resentment may be to the point where the relationship itself cannot be saved, it shouldn’t discourage you from attempting to mend fences.
Most importantly, you must keep trying. Do not give up on a relationship. Continue to show your willingness to do right and understand that restoring a relationship takes time. If you don’t succeed today, there is always tomorrow.
There Is A Lot To Learn About Living A Life Of Recovery
Learning to restore relationships while in recovery is no doubt an important component of recovery and your overall being. With that being said, recovery can be as complex as addiction itself and you may be unsure of how to start over.
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