Relationships and Managing Expectations in Early Recovery
So often we hear people saying “But why don’t they trust me? I’ve been clean for a few months now, I’ve done 3 months of rehab, surely, they should trust me already.”
Firstly, I think we need to look at what a relationship looks like with an addict before we start expecting anything from anyone. If we take a moment and reverse our roles, we might start to see things a little differently.IN ADDICTION: THE HOSTAGE
It has been said that addicts and alcoholics don’t have relationships, they take hostages.
This might sound extreme but if we look a bit closer, this statement has many areas that ring true.
People in relationships with us are often held or controlled by our behaviour, they feel frightened, they are often manipulated, cheated on and lied too. When they threaten the connection between us by saying things like “if you don’t stop using, I will leave you” we take it a step further.
Here’s the thing, we don’t even need to say anything, even though addicts often do. Things like “well then I’ll drink myself to death” are often used as emotional blackmail to keep people around.
But we don’t even have to say anything because the people around us know that addiction is fatal, they know that the way we use or drink will one day kill us and their belief is that if they are not around, that process will be accelerated. The fear is gripping; they love us, they don’t want this life for us. They stay because they think they can help.
All of this sounds like a hostage situation, the problem is, it’s their loved one who is holding the gun.BROKEN PROMISES, BROKEN TRUST
“I SWEAR THIS TIME I WILL STOP, I PROMISE YOU!“
The saddest thing about this statement is that at the time we meant it. It was a real promise we made, we feel that promise in ourselves. We promise ourselves often that this will be the last time.
“Just one last time”. What our loved ones don’t know is just how out of control we really are, they don’t know that addiction hijacks the brain, they don’t know that its main control center is where our survival instincts live. Just like the need for food and water, our brain tells us we need to use/drink in order to survive.
If you want to test out your survival instincts, find a very dry place with no water and hang around there for a while, then put yourself in a place with lots of shade and water and see if you can control yourself not to drink the water when your life depends on it. It will reach a point where will power alone will not be enough and you will drink the water.
The same is said for drugs and alcohol. The primitive brain once hijacked will make sure we use or drink regardless of feelings, relationships or promises.
So we do mean the promise, we ourselves don’t want this life. For every promise, we break to someone we have already broken hundreds to ourselves.
Above are two of the many, many different reasons why people have a hard time trusting us. It’s not hard to understand if we take an honest look at ourselves. We have done some major damage, people are left with trauma after being with us while in addiction.
Time is the best healer here, we have to prove ourselves worthy of trust again. Our behaviour and actions are in line with our words and people will start to see the new you that is starting to shine through.
Finally, be gentle with yourself, but also be gentle with others.
Their love for you has hurt them in the past, they need to do the healing in their own time, not yours.
If you fear yourself or a loved one is addicted to substances if you want yourself/them to stop using and sabotaging relationships, feel free to contact us. We're here to help. Admitting there is a problem is the first step on your road to recovery.