Relationships In Recovery
February the month of “love”, with the celebration of Valentine’s day right around the corner, we figured now would be a good time to talk about relationships in recovery and more specifically early recovery, always a very tender subject. I’ve got a little bit of experience in seeing what works and what doesn’t work, Being in and out of recovery for the last 7 years, consistently in for the last 3.5 and working in the substance abuse field for the last 2.5 so it’s safe to say I’ve seen a few things. Of course these are all suggestive and I would never write anyone off. What I intend to discuss is what gives people the best option and highest chance for success for early recovery to transform into long term and permanent recovery.
It’s safe to say being accepted, being wanted, being liked, being loved makes any human feel good or better about themselves. Relationships are a great thing, a beautiful thing and are what many people long for in life. They are great to ADD to one’s life. The key word there is add. Many people come into recovery with the preconceived notion that they just need to get clean, get in the right state of mind, get a job and find a nice man or woman and everything will be okay. All those things are great and wonderful things to set goals for in recovery. But I often hear addiction treated as a “hole in the soul” I’m sure everyone has heard that one right? It’s my experience that I can get the best job in the world, make the most money, have the most beautiful girl, the nicest car, the nicest house, the nicest sneakers, the most tattoos whatever the case may be. The idea behind that is once we obtain these things that they take place and fill that “hole in the soul”, and it never really quite works out that way, the bank account eventually drains, the job becomes routine and bores one, the girlfriend or boyfriend quickly gets tired of me and eventually everything that was making me feel good isn’t quite working out the way I thought it would, my expectations aren’t met and I am back in the same position as when I began, angry, resentful and let down. If I choose to feed those feelings long enough it looks like a quite the recipe for relapse. It’s safe to say that relationships alone are unable to fill that void within ourselves that we are so honestly searching for when we finally get sober.
Relationships are a prominent factor in the human existence. Not just relationships with a significant other, but how about relationships with oneself, with family, with a higher power?
So what’s the solution? I think a great way to look at it is to use the law of attraction. The law of attraction is the ability to attract into our lives whatever we focused on. If I am focused on bettering myself, becoming sober and happy, becoming self-sufficient, growing spiritually as well as financially, and in the career path I have chosen. I will attract what I am. So rather than look for someone to fill those things in my life I feel I am missing, and that I am certain will make me happy once obtained. I focus on bettering myself, growing myself and achieving the same values, accomplishments and living by the code of morals that I would want my partner to have. Most people live in the thought process of once I get this I will be happy or successful. What if that was flipped, once I am happy and successful I will be able to obtain this? What if we focused on growing ourselves, making ourselves happy and being the best person we could be and things began to come to us?
Relationships are a prominent factor in the human existence. Not just relationships with a significant other, but how about relationships with oneself, with family, with a higher power? What do those look like before we decide to share ourselves with someone else? I came into recovery I barely knew myself or what I was interested in or what my goals were. My relationship with family or friends was torched; I had stolen, and torched every relationship I can ever remember through the bi-products of my active addiction. The relationship with whatever guiding force, higher power, God was absolutely nonexistent, I served one thing and one thing only and that was getting my next one, however or whatever that looked like; insert imagination or relatable experience. But I come into recovery and instead of repairing any of those relationships, self, loved ones, higher power I go for the quick fix, HER or HIM (whatever your preference no judgement here) Like most good things in life, mending relationships take work. But I would rather focus on giving the shell of myself away to someone equally if not sicker than myself, still in the delusion of active addiction with or without the drugs. Until someone comes along and tells me some truth about myself; that maybe I should focus on repairing the relationship with my higher power to have some form of guiding force in my life, maybe I should work on a relationship with a sponsor or mentor, and get a grip on how I can overcome the guilt and shame of my addiction by mending the relationship with my family or friends, prior to getting into a relationship with someone who I hardly even know, and sharing my hardly even known self with them and just causing more harm, heartache and resentment down the road. Relationships of any caliber take work, but when I come into recovery and I am driven by fear, selfishness and self-centeredness, it makes it exceedingly hard to care for someone else when I can barely care of myself.
I think it’s safe to say that relationships are hard work and they take dedication to pull off. Prior to recovery I spent my life taking everything I could from everyone possible, peace of mind, love, money etc… If the phrase stands that we come into recovery we just have to change one thing and that one thing is everything. Why don’t I focus on giving those things first rather than going back to what I’ve always done? If you are in a happy healthy and loving relationship; GOOD FOR YOU. But if you are looking for a relationship to fill your happiness you may want to reconsider. It’s time to start thinking about what we can put into life rather than take away. Hopefully some of those relationship ideas and theories help some of you in the month of love, and you can carry them on into any of your future experiences with relationships. Have a great February guys and girls, chat soon.
About the Author
David Goloski is the Director of Alumni Services at Banyan Treatment Center. He is diligent worker in the 12-steps of recovery, and has been clean & sober for over three years. His passion is maintaining relationships with clients post treatment through weekly alumni meetings and monthly alumni outings.