Does Time Heal All Wounds?
It’s been said that early recovery can be like a mine field for the person healing from using and the family as well.
Memories become triggers and triggers can lead to regressing back to old behaviors.
So what’s a family member to do?
First, let’s talk about the concept of triggers. For a person recovering from using, that first year can take tremendous concentration on staying sober. Anytime an old person they drank with or an old place they drugged in pops up, they may feel the urge to go back to drinking or drugging again. These temptations, also known as triggers, can range from mild to severe.
All of this is going on inside the person, so if a family member doesn’t know about them, they can just feel angry at their loved one for not wanting to get together with family or help with the chores they used to do during the using days. Even something as simple as walking the dog can be a trigger, if during the using days, the person picked up a stash of drugs along the way.
Hence the adage often told to those new in recovery, “Stay away from people, places and things” applies to much more than just staying away from bars and drug using friends. It can, for awhile at least, mean staying away from everyone and everything that you inwardly relate to your using days.
Just this understanding of a loved one’s struggles can help a family member relax and stop nagging when the person new to recovery seems to be unwilling to do what it seems they “should” do.
But then there are the things that trigger the family members. Things like:
- asking for help and not getting it
- having to attend events alone
- all of those years of hurt and loneliness that just seem to be continuing into new sobriety
- a feeling of isolation as the loved one makes new friends and doesn’t seem inclined to make up for lost time or past bad behavior…
So, there a family member sits with anger and resentment, wanting more help, more attention, more love, more appreciation and definitely some serious apologies for all they have gone through for and with their loved one during the using days…
And when these triggers of loneliness and abandonment start to appear, they get mixed up with fear and anxiety and before you know it, a fight is brewing in the family!
Does any of this sound familiar?
If it does, and you love someone struggling with using or newly sober, it’s time to look at YOURSELF.
Time will help heal your wounds, but you, not your loved one, have work to do.
That work is what family recovery is all about.
It starts with dropping your expectations of your loved one and moves into keeping your focus on yourself. These are two essentials of the family recovery journey.
Come back for more on this tomorrow, when we will begin a five part series on tips for a family member to deal with early sobriety. These are:
- Drop Expectations
- Focus on Yourself
- Be A Loving Mirror
- Set Boundaries
- Get Support
Of course we are talking about this in depth this week in The Daily BALM® telecourse. Today is discussion day, so please come prepared to discuss your issues with all of this.
Being related to someone in early recovery isn’t the easiest thing in the world. But like everything else, there is a well-worn path to follow that can make the journey much simpler and easier to travel.
Join me tonight at 7:30 PM ET on the call and tomorrow on this blog for part one of the series when we will discuss how you can Drop Expectations. I’m putting this up on our private FB page. After you read it, please put up your thoughts, feelings and q and a on the topic.