Repairing relationships in recovery starts with your relationship to self. There’s a reason why you hear people in long-term recovery suggest no new relationships during the first few years.
Relationships can be a huge trigger for people and feed into old patterns of codependency, love addiction and other destructive behaviors. When you are focusing on someone else, you usually are not focusing on yourself. Relationships turn into a distraction from the much-needed inner work that needs to be done to heal, recover and live an extraordinary life. Relationships become another tool of avoidance for many people.
Someone in early recovery is reestablishing a relationship with themselves so that they can then have improved relationships with others. Early recovery is about a relearning of your likes, dislikes, needs, boundaries, strengths, values and so much more. There is a self-discovery process that one embarks on that requires tremendous devotion, commitment and dedication.
Have you ever heard yourself say…
“I don’t deserve to be happy because I’ve put my loved ones through hell.”
Keeping yourself in perpetual shame and guilt doesn’t support the people around you in having a healthy you. It’s counter-productive to keep beating yourself up and isn’t doing anyone any good, especially you.
“I don’t want to lose my relationships, so I’ve got to do everything in my power to heal these relationships now.”
Pressure to heal relationships quickly doesn’t make a lot of sense since your use really impacted those around you. Give space and time for the process to unfold, even if patience isn’t a strong suit. Patience with yourself and others will pay off in the long run.
“I thought that I would get more support from those around me but it seems like people are just waiting for me to fail.”
Just because you’ve done some work on yourself, doesn’t mean your loved ones have changed or healed the wounds of your substance use. You can’t expect for healing to happen on your timetable. Do and be your best so that people can start trusting you again.
It’s really common to feel disempowered by relationship issues. But there’s a tremendous opportunity for healing available for you and others. Stay the course as you learn so that you can heal and so can important relationships around you.
Here are some common relationship issues so you can know you aren’t alone in your experience. Which one most resonates with you?
1. Getting sober, and family, friends and partner just don’t trust you
They think you’re still in your old behaviors and keep accusing you of using or lying. This can be incredibly frustrating for someone in recovery while totally understandable due to mistrust created through your use.
2. Getting sober, but my partner still uses
You are making significant changes in your life, but your partner is carrying on same as usual. You don’t want to change anyone else and know you can’t do it for them. But you secretly wish your partner was more on board with your new healthy choices. It would be so much easier if they made similar changes too.
3. Getting sober, and my behaviors have driven everyone away
The hard truth is that behaviors have consequences. You may be experiencing feelings of loneliness, isolation, abandonment because people have decided they can’t participate in your self-destruction. It hurts to have this realization yet can also be a motivating factor in making necessary changes.
4. Getting sober, but I use relationships to feel good about myself
You know you shouldn’t be starting a new relationship while you’re trying to get yourself straight. But you keep reaching for relationships to feel good. You get a lot of worth and value from what other people think or say about you. You gravitate to relationships so you can feel loved and needed.
5. Getting sober for other people
You are really just getting sober for someone else. There are consequences on the line, and you’re doing what someone else wants you to do to get them off your back. Or you’re basing your recovery on others like your kids, partner or parents. You think that doing it for them will be a good and strong enough reason to stay sober.
No matter which of these you connect with the most, there is an opportunity to shift into a solution instead of playing the blame game. Blaming others disempowers you. Looking for solutions empowers you.
You can stay in solution mode by…
- Working on yourself first
You want to attract or grow a relationship from the healthiest version of yourself. That starts with how you are relating to yourself. If shame and guilt are part of your process, working on self-compassion, self-forgiveness and self-love are great focal points to your healing journey.
- Demonstrating your change versus talking about it
Repairing relationships takes time, patience and communication. And most of all, repairing relationships with those you love requires you to show action and follow-through. No one wants to hear lip-service anymore. They want to experience you doing and feeling better so that a relationship can be rekindled and worked on.
- Give people the dignity of their own process
Just because you are working your process doesn’t mean that everyone else is on the same page. It’s important to give people space and time to work through their own thoughts and feelings about your past behaviors. You will find some people totally open and willing and others shut down and closed off. Remember that your behaviors have caused people pain. Giving them the dignity of their own process while following through on what you say you are going to do is a great recipe for success.
You have an opportunity to be the best version of yourself today, to make the best choices you can make for yourself today. If you stay on this track, gaining trust in yourself and trust from others is inevitable.
By dropping negative self-talk, understanding common relationship issues and staying in the solution, repairing relationships is possible. There’s no turning back. There is only moving forward. You and your relationships can heal.