What Sobriety Means in Your Relationships
Recovering alcoholics and addicts are not going to change over night, therefore relationships that have been strained over the years are not going to be healed or mended right away. Sometimes when we get sober we wish to make right all we have done wrong immediately. We wish that on the basis of our sobriety alone, our friends and family will trust and respect us. This is not reality. Mending relationships can take time effort on our behalf.
Being physically sober is just the beginning of our recovery journey. We have done damage to ourselves and to others. With the help of a sponsor or a therapist we are able to see clearly the ways we have affected the lives of others through selfishness and destruction. Sometimes we have no idea that we have wronged a person until we get completely honest with ourselves.
Family and Friends aren’t always on the one-day-at-a-time program and may not be impressed that you have simply stayed sober. Often they want results of healthy behavior and restitution for the harm we have caused over the years. It’s too much for us to expect to regain trust of our family and friends after a short period of time. Good relationships don’t happen overnight for us, this is something we have to nurture on a daily basis.
How can we expect ourselves to know how to have good relationships if we’ve been leaving a trail of wreckage in people’s lives for years? Recovery is like being reborn and given a new set of tools for living. Of course we’re not going to know what a healthy relationship looks like if we’ve never had one. This is where we trust the experience shared by our friends in recovery to help guide us into better living. With a clear view of ourselves and our behaviors, we can take new approaches to the way we treat people. For some, it may mean consistently calling their relative once a week. For others maybe it means showing up for a friend in a time of need. Sometimes it’s as simple as offering to pick someone up from the airport without expecting anything in return. Our friends and family like consistency. We want to become dependable people.
Don’t be upset if your friend or family member is wary about getting close to you. Our drinking and drugging has caused people a lot of pain and it’s not realistic to think that everyone will be so forgiving. Recovery takes daily effort and relationships need time to heal and grow. Listen to people that have relationships you admire. What are they doing differently?
Because alcoholism is a family disease, our friends and families may chose to go to Al-Anon or other family support groups to help build better skills for themselves. Often alcoholics themselves have found these support groups helpful in recovery as many of us deal with Al-Anon or codependency issues.
While we can’t expect all of our old relationships to be healed in recovery, if we work hard we can build new and healthy relationships.