After getting clean many expect an almost overnight change and applaud from their nearest ones as well. The road has been long and winded and often we thought we just wouldn't make it. That this life was not for us.
That we didn't have what it takes to live in this skin.
Every minute felt like another stabbing pain.
Yes, that is how many feel about that long road to finally figuring out how to live in this paper-thin skin without relying on drugs, food and alcohol.
So when we finally do figure it out, we tend to expect an appreciation and applause from our surroundings as well.
After all, we made it. We are still here breathing that sweet air, that once felt so cold and chilled right into our bones.
The thing is, our family has most likely been through hell and back to just stick around for someone who is actively engaged in self-destruction. That is a pretty painful thing to stand by and no one can force anyone to get better, before they themselves decide the time has come to let go and move on. And many never do. And so they say goodbye to this place as their body crackles from the pressure one day. As family one can only wait and watch that - and hope that their loved one is not one to succumb. Pretty suffocating to say the least.
When we finally get clean, our family is often times totally drained. So here are 4 simple ways to rebuild relationships in early recovery:
1. Give it time. Forgiveness takes time. Just because you are clean doesn't mean your family won't need some time to recover at their own pace too. Yes, they need some time to recover from you. It's nothing personal, but addiction is not an easy family member to live around.
2. Listen more, talk less. Don't explain everything all the time. They need time sometimes to vent and express their hurt and frustration. After all they are not turning to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism, so there will be more outwards venting, as they too are only human.
3. Be tolerant. Don't begin your recovery by focusing on changing your family members' character deficits and shortcomings. Do not be that annoying person why thinks (s)he is going to perfect everyone else and get involved in their self-development in life, just because you had an epiphany. It didn't work that way for you most likely, so let other people be the way they are. Each has their own path to walk.
4. Accept the way it is. That sometimes things fall apart and cannot be repaired. Sometimes people have to withdraw to not drown with you. Sometimes they can't go back. Sometimes they will leave you and not look back. Sometimes we need to accept that we hurt someone so much that the wounds cannot be healed totally. That regardless of how much we might have changed and however much we say, they still need to walk away from us. And we need to allow them to go. Perhaps using this as a reminder that some things cannot be erased, some memories just hurt too much. And to never ever let ourselves go that far again and repeat those actions, ever. Knowing that in the end, everything will be okay. Even if it is sad in the moment. Sadness is just a feeling and it too will pass, with time. That we can even feel sadness and regret is a sign of our recovery. Of that we are now able to feel pain outside ourselves - and understand the impact of our actions. This is a healthy sign that we are increasing our Emotional Intelligence and social skills. It is a sign that we can handle difficult feelings without needing to numb out. In turn, we will be given access to happy feelings too. That is how it all works out.