Recovery: How to Deal With Family

Ahhhhh… the beauty of family.. what do we do with them and what would we do without them? This coin has some chunk to it either way you flip it.

Family units are as unique as we are. There are no two alike. There is no sense in comparing and despairing either. What might seem at times like a great situation for you, is not the case for others. ie; Your friend’s mom smoking marijuana with the boys while everyone hangs out in the house. Your dad sharing his six pack with your friends while watching the game citing that “it’s safe since you’re under adult supervision”. Then there’s the opposite parent that never let you have anyone over unless they were home, or the sibling that instead of sharing their stash, told on you when he found yours. Meanwhile, your friend does not feel so cool that his mother is hitting on your friends or that his father is passed out a few hours later when you guys are leaving the house. You’re teased that your brother muscles you around and you don’t have any friends since no one is allowed to come over your house. Fast forward a few years and you’ll find a whole set of other challenges regarding your relationship and of course, substance use.

Being in recovery presents a challenge to either you, your family, or both! Here are a just a few scenarios to ponder:

Your family are regular drinkers and now you’re not.

A family member is hiding their use while you’re hoping it won’t affect your not using.

Your family is in denial that you have a problem.

Your family has many personal issues and doesn’t validate what you’re trying to do.

Your family will have nothing to do with you due to their experience with your substance use history.

Your family continues imposing their issues onto you disregarding what you are going through yourself.

Your family irritates you a lot more than they used to.

Your family is actually supportive of what you’re doing.

Your family has enabled you in the past and is not sure of how to deal with you now.

You would like your family to be more involved than they are.

Regardless of the situation, the one thing that you want to remember is that YOU are the one in recovery, they are not. YOU are the one who is working on change. They are not. YOU are responsible for your own recovery. They are not.

At times, it’s much easier said than done. There’s no telling when that one family member will mouth off, be rude or disrespectful. Understandably, this can “push your buttons” and stir things up for you. That’s where your team comes into play. You want to be in close contact with your supports.

Prepare yourself the best you can in order to have the most positive interactions possible. Speak with your supports about alternative ways to cope with this. Make a list of common issues and plan on how to deal with them in a positive fashion ahead of time. Writing out mindful responses will get your mind pointing in a positive direction which will then help you be more mindful when you get thrown a “curve ball”. Being reactive can escalate things rather quickly and derail a positive mindset. Keeping your supports at bay can be a great asset to keeping you on track.

Picking your battles can also facilitate things going smooth as possible. Now that you’re seeing things much clearer than before, take an extra step back to get a broader perspective. You will find that a possible good portion of conversations will be trivial. The slightest misunderstanding might set things in a tailspin and at the end of the day, there really wasn’t any meaning to it.

Taking an extra breath before responding will give you just enough extra time to do so in a positive fashion. One thing that we always have to remember is that we’re the ones recovering. We’re the ones that want to change. There is no way on earth that you will ever be able to change anyone else’s outlook, opinion, attitude or situation. Who was the person that changed yours? The truth is that most people have issues of their own and a good majority of them are not dealing with them in a healthy fashion.

This journey of recovery involves quite the process for us. The best thing that we can do is to be gentle with ourselves. Tolerance of others is also key. I know for myself that there were many people that were quite tolerant of my antics and at times still are. Lead by example and at the end of the day, the people around us change by osmosis. When we change the way we act/ react/ engage/ exist in the world, the world around us also begins to act/ react/ engage/ exist differently relative to us.

For some people, none of this will be possible at all and removing yourself from a negative or even toxic atmosphere will be the best solution for the time being. Some of us have caused extensive damage to our familial relationships throughout the time of our active addictions. Moving forward and changing ourselves will be the best “I’ll show you” ever. They might not tell you, but after a while, the people around you will take notice.

I can’t stress having a “team” to help you through. For some, therapy can be a Godsend. Family groups, whether you go alone or your family participates can also be quite eye opening. Al-Anon groups are common in many countries. They can be extremely helpful in guiding you to better deal with your family and loved ones. You can also read up on Co-Dependency here. The more work you do on yourself, the better you’ll be able to deal with family and all other relationships in your life. The more perspectives you get, the clearer you’ll get to see recovery at work.

No one ever said it would be easy, but it CAN be done. If this post has been helpful to you, share it with a loved one, leave a comment below, and like us on fb. YOU CAN do it. Love Life Today. THiS ReCoVeRY LiFE .

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