Early recovery is an extremely difficult time for a number of reasons. It is a period of vast readjustment in all areas of life; we must re-learn how to be functioning and productive members of society, re-learn how to learn and love and feel and contribute. One of the difficult things we must re-learn is how to be a daughter, a mother, a father, a son, an uncle, a cousin, an aunt, or a grandparent. Without question, our addictions have caused us the lack severely in familial regards. It is important to remember that while we are active in our addictions, the fractures we cause to our families are not a reflection of whether or not we are good people, or how much we love those closest to us. While we are using, obtaining and ingesting the substance we have fallen desperately in love with becomes top priority, and every other realism falls by the wayside almost instantaneously. It is not uncommon for us to abandon our loved ones completely, recoiling from the notions of recovery and treatment they may seem to constantly hint at, frantic to protect our addictions at all costs. We tune out worry and love and torment and only open our ears to criticism and unrealistic expectation. We may know deep down that our loved ones truly care for our wellbeing, but we can only translate this affection into annoyance once our diseases have reached a certain intensity of volume.
Coping With Family in Early Recovery
Once we sober up, we recognize this unconditional love for what it was truly. We may be overwhelmed with guilt and shame as we realize we have been continuously causing harm to those who have shown us only patience and adoration. Maybe our loved ones have lost hope, and we cannot help but think we were the ones who so selfishly misplaced it. Because of these newly surfacing feelings of guilt, it may be difficult to face the ones we love at first. We may want to call them and apologize profusely first thing, or avoid them altogether for as long as humanly possible.
Healing From Deceit is a Long Process
In many instances, trust will have been completely compromised. It is important to keep this lack of trust in mind when initially communicating with family members. Maybe you have repeatedly made false promises, swearing you will quit time and time again while drinking all the while. Maybe you have stolen from your mother, lied and deceived and manipulated to get your way. In any case, try to understand that trust must be re-proven over time, and that just because you call your family and enthusiastically tell them how well you’re doing, you may be faced with a response of skepticism rather than matched enthusiasm. When facing your family in early recovery, be patient – forgiveness and healing are both slow processes, and while the damage you have done is far from irreparable, everyone takes ample time to thoroughly and comprehensively heal from the devastation of substance abuse.