Many addicts come from troubled families; addiction is an ugly tradition, but one that passes down the generations easily. If you’ve struggled with family connections in the past, either because your addiction challenges or the addiction of others, you may not be comfortable trying to rebuild family connections post-treatment. Will my family still love me after I’ve hurt them with my addiction? Good question. There’s a very good chance that your relationships will change, but that may not be a bad thing.
Family dynamics are always under a lot of pressure. Sadly, our culture encourages us all to believe that everything either needs to be a Hallmark Christmas Special or a Norman Rockwell painting. However, most of us live in a twisted variation on the Adams Family. Some people are family and some are the genetic accident you grew up with. Some connections are hard. For example, you may love your parents and siblings via phone, email and text, but need to get out of the house 20 minutes after arriving at the family homestead. Be prepared honor these feelings. Your family knows where all your weaknesses are, as you know theirs, and some of those feelings are too big to see around.
Focus on Respect
In the throes of your addiction, you may have done things that you’re not proud of. You may have been abusive, verbally, physically and emotionally. You may have stolen from your family members to purchase your drug of choice, or destroyed their possessions. You may, while under the influence, have caused great upset at family events, holidays, and one of a kind experiences like weddings. It would be nice to say that those events and feelings can be put away and never looked at again since you’re in recovery and are trying to build a new life. However, this attitude is simplistic.
Even if you weren’t aware of it, the crashing around in the lives of others that you did while you were under the influence left some big holes and caused a lot of damage. Some of these craters may never be filled. For some of your family members, you’re a hot stove; they got burned and are not going to risk you again. Some see you as a land mine that should probably be avoided. Others may want to reach out, but can’t see you as a person of strength. Being treated as though you’re fragile may be the most destructive pattern of all if you’re not able to disbelieve it.
Some lines of communication may take a professional therapist to lay the groundwork. You may have family members who really never want to see you again. They’re entitled to their feelings and you will need to respect that. However, if you can get those who want to get to know the you that is on the other side of addiction, a professional therapist can help to break down the walls of hard feelings.
Some family will be there for you no matter what, so start with them.
- Spend quality time together
- Help them out with something
- Demonstrate your commitment to recovery
Quality Time: Play cards. Go for a walk. Fix a meal together. Don’t sit side by side and watch a movie, and do not drag out old photos or home movies. The goal here is to build a new relationship, not stand on the ragged edge of the past.
Help Out: If a loved one is moving, pack and carry boxes. Cut the grass. Demonstrate your new level of fitness or show off a skill that you’ve picked up. Help their child with homework. Be there, be useful, and build positive memories.
Show Your Commitment: Invite your loved one on a hike on your new favorite trail. Fix them a delicious breakfast of vegetarian omelettes and excellent coffee with a nice fruit salad. You are building a new life. Invite them into it.
You may have amends to make. They may be emotional, and many may be financial. As you can, reach out with those repayments. Prove that you’re trying. There may be people who turn away. Risking contact with you may be too painful for them, but this is temporary. Focus on your recovery, build and maintain connection with those you can as you gain strength, and be patient. Use empathy. Your addiction held a lot of pain for you, so you know pain. Give them time. Ready to get started? Call us today at 833-610-1174.