The Rewards of Healing as a Family
Recovery from addiction takes time. It is perhaps the biggest lifestyle change anyone can go through. Life without substances after years of substance abuse is seeing life through an entirely different lens and point of view. It is likened to a person learning to crawl, walk, and then run all over again. It is a process that involves a lot of growing pains and learning new ways of doing things. There is a lot of excitement and curiosity involved, but also things that are scary and uncomfortable at the beginning. This discovery of oneself is not done alone, as the people in that person’s life are also along for the journey and are also discovering new things about their loved one and often themselves. The family has the same feelings of excitement in getting their loved one free from addiction, but also similar fears. Are they going to relapse? Is this going to last? How should I act around them? Is this ok to do or say?
There is a period of adapting that takes place for all involved, and every situation will be different and have their own set of circumstances. I think the most important thing for everyone is to maintain patience, sometimes the most the difficult task. Addicts tend to want things instantaneously, and it is important to slow down and let things naturally evolve after getting treatment. Relationships with family members did not become damaged or broken overnight, and they do not heal overnight. Family members can also expect too much too fast from someone in recovery. If the person is staying clean and making progress, however, relationships do heal, and the strength of those relationships can become stronger than ever. That is the exciting part.
As I mentioned before, a person in recovery is seeing life through a whole new lens, but the family is also seeing their loved one in an entirely new perspective. There is a lot of joy in watching a loved one not only clean up their life but begin to prosper. Whether it is with a job or simply the way they carry themselves, life has the potential to become so much brighter and better when enough time has separated the addiction.
I am going to be spending some much-needed time with my family this week. Each time I get to see my family, even though I am far removed from my days as an addict, I do not take it for granted. Every time we laugh together, have quality time together, I am immensely grateful. There was not much to appreciate regarding time spent with family as an addict. I was either causing upsets by my behavior or simply there but not present. These days are so much different, and that gratitude never leaves me. I do not have to worry about sneaking around or painting a false narrative about my life. My family has gone through a tremendous healing process since I cleaned up my life, and while we rarely revisit the past in conversation, there is a calming peace when we spend our time together now that also provides my family a very satisfying sense of gratitude.
There is a feeling of happiness within our family that I once felt was an impossible fantasy when I was an addict. We all worked very hard to get there, myself by making the changes that needed to be made and my family by offering the support and encouragement I needed when I was making them, despite their fears and reservations. They never once made me feel like they did not believe in me or that I was doomed to continue failing. Those feelings of failure, the doom and gloom, were attitudes that I had to figure out how to let go of along the way. It has been a very long time since I viewed life in that way, and my family was a big part of pushing me to find the life I have now through their love, care, and understanding. We all healed together by loving one another, through the best of times and most difficult of times.
Every family that has a loved one recover from substance abuse has a chance to obtain this same sense of gratitude and peace that is unique to overcoming addiction. I have seen it take place in countless families other than my own and it is what drives me to be an advocate for helping people overcome drug and alcohol addiction. There is more hope for a better life than those that are in the midst of the struggle may realize due to the jaded perspective that occurs during the addiction, by both addicts and their loved ones. It is that message of hope that I will continue to convey, and it is my hope that it will reach anyone that needs to hear it.