There are a few areas which need to be addressed for the newly recovering person and how they deal with their family through all the new recovery stuff.
If your family was with you through your active addiction most likely they will be there for you during your recovery. That can be good and bad depending on your perspective. Often family members who sat back and watched an addict through the darkest times are thrilled to be involved when things begin to turn around. The problem is when the attention becomes overwhelming to the point of smothering.
I will mention a phrase now that I want you to burn into your memory for the period of early recovery: it is only temporary. Early recovery is a process and with luck you will only have to endure it once. After a period, you will move successfully into the next stage of recovery.
Families which have endured addiction often times have boundary issues. It comes with the territory. You may have hidden yourself away in a dark hole somewhere to do your addiction business or maybe you were the type to let it all hang out on the front lawn for the neighbors to see. Regardless your family may be eager to know what’s going on with you now that you are back in society.
They have shared your misery so why not let them share your joy? Your parents, wife or husband may be legitimately interested in all this Recovery business you are talking about and would like some inside information. Remember, it’s only temporary. Clue them in; tell them what you need to do on a daily basis. If you attend 12-step meetings, find one that is open to the public and have them come along once or twice to get an idea of what goes on during these meetings. The more they know, the more they will relax and, at some point, they will realize you’ve got this “Recovery” thing under control.
You may also find that “Trust” is a big issue. Constant questions of where are you going? Who are you talking to? Who just texted you? When will you be home? Questions and attitudes like these may plague your early recovery. The husband who is greeted at the door by his wife’s kisses only to realize he had just been subjected to another “Sniff” test to see if he smelled more like Ralph Lauren or Sam Adams can be deflating.
Well, guess what? You earned this mistrust. It does not go away overnight.
But, it is only temporary.
There will also be those loved ones who don’t care about what you are doing as long as you get better and stay that way. That is their choice as well.
In this case you need to stay close to those that are assisting you in your journey of recovery and stay on track. It does not matter in the long run what your wife, husband or great aunt thinks of the addict or alcoholic in the family. What matters is that you keep doing what you need to do. Your success or failure will have little effect on your great aunt’s beliefs. When it comes to recovery, I firmly believe you need to recover for yourself first.
Another area where I see newly recovering people running into issues is the quick fix approach to recovery.
So often for the newly recovering addict or alcoholic there is a burning desire to repair what was broken, to set things right to a point where they believe things had been before everything had gotten so out of control. Issues with finances, employment and, yes, family can be corrected with just the right amount energy and persuasion. Although overtime may work in the workplace, family and loved ones are not so easily swayed.
Keep in mind that recovery is a process. If everything goes well, you will not be the same person you were prior to getting clean and you would not expect your loved ones to want the “old” person they knew back. They want the new and improved version! In that light, try not falling into the trap of wanting everything back (including your family) the way it was. The most important aspect to remember is the process of recovery and not get stuck fixating on the end results. All this takes time.
Time: That aspect of life that no alcoholic or addict ever dealt with properly, time was a concept that was cheated by fast deals and quick fixes is now the medicine that will heal those wounds that have been inflicted on those so close to them.
Stephen King who makes his own recovery very public put it best in his book, On Writing:
“At the worst of I no longer wanted to drink and no longer wanted to be sober, either. I felt evicted from life. At the start of the road back I just tried to believe the people who said things would get better if I gave them time to do so. . . Little by little I found the beat again, and after that I found joy again. I came back to my family with gratitude and back to my work with relief-I came back to the way folks come back to a summer cottage after a long winter, checking first to make sure nothing has been stolen or broken during the cold season. Nothing had been. It was all still there, still all whole. Once the pipes were thawed out and the electricity was turned back on, everything worked fine.”
Early recovery is a process and it is only temporary.