Relationships in Early Recovery

Early recovery is a tender time. Emotionally, we’re all over the place. We thought we knew what to expect when we were using and it was not always the case. Now, we’re still not sure. It’s both unfamiliar and at times, waaaay too uncomfortable.

I like the analogy of the apple. When we’re putting substances in our system, our brains are overflowing with all kinds of activity. Like putting tons of sugar on an apple. A candy apple! Now that we’re not adding sugar to the apple, our brain tells us its SOUR!, when in reality, apples are pretty sweet to begin with.

The brain has much less activity now. As we keep stepping into recovery, we begin addressing things differently, we create new habits, new ways to have fun, new sense of self, positive coping skills, new schedules, we slowly begin addressing things we never did before, establishing new relationships and so on and so on and so on….  It’s going to take some time for our taste buds to establish a new “norm”.

The one thing that this brings up in establishing the “new” is the idea of the romantic relationship. As we all know, these can be very emotional, exciting, and blinding even without the added emotional experience of being in early recovery!

Generally speaking, it’s not recommended for a person in early recovery (1st year at least…) to procure a romantic relationship. The simple reason being that in early recovery, you’re going through extreme transformation which takes much courage, focus, determination, action and then some.. This is all easier done without the added emotional baggage of a new romantic relationship.

I encourage you to take the time to learn about yourself. Explore this new life and sense of self to the max so that you can stand strong…  on your own. There are many relationships you will have to address outside of the romantic one with; family, friends, bosses, co-workers, school, for some people, the courts, doctors, therapists…

When I first heard this suggestion, I could barely even deal with myself, let alone someone else. As a few months went by, I started clearing up mentally and my physical health was improving as well. Yoga had come into my life and I was feeling good.

I met someone I knew from my past who was in recovery as well. We started spending some time together and I thought I had it made. She had a few years ahead of me in recovery and I was on my 9th month! Pretty awesome, right? .. well actually, NOT!! I ended up being just as used as I had been in the past, except this time, there weren’t any substances involved.

This threw me for an emotional loop that I of course, did not expect. Completely unnecessary. I now knew exactly what everyone was talking about and I fell into that mental trap that “I can now handle this”.

In retrospect, it was a good thing since I quickly learned that I had a lot of work to do which led me to step up my program.

I was fortunate here. I had surrounded myself with others in recovery and was able to maintain my recovery. For other people, this type of scenario could completely derail them. It’s not so uncommon for people in early recovery who do go on romantic dates to be tempted with that glass of wine with dinner or other substances. This is where that “blinding” moment takes shape. In lieu of feeling “bad”, “abnormal”, “less than” or whatever the ego tells you, there is a great chance that you might take that drink or puff on that joint or…. and end up in jail or in the hospital or…. People who don’t have issues with substances do not have any idea what we have gone through, not to mention what we struggle with. It’s all too common to hear things like, “just have one..” or “your not an alcoholic/addict” .. or “come on, it’s just ____, it’ll be fun!” Hopefully, you’ll make it back from that one… not everyone does.

This of course, might not be the case for everyone. There are the cases where people meet at whatever points of their lives, and they end up married forever happily ever after and that’s great! That’s just a very, very rare case though.

The other thing is that if you’re already in a relationship, things are likely to change.. Hopefully for the better. Hopefully your partner is supportive of your recovery and will get help as well. Maybe you enter recovery together. Either way, the dynamics of the relationship will change and people usually grow even closer together or they start growing apart. After all, you’re changing and when we change, the ones around us change.

There are thousands of scenarios we can get into regarding relationships in recovery at this point. You are THE expert on YOU. Only you know what you’re capable of and what you can or can’t do. Can you take care of yourself? Are you emotionally stable? Are you mentally prepared to take on someone else’s issues (no matter how “little” baggage they may bring)? Have you cleaned up your side of that proverbial “sidewalk”?
If you find this post helpful to you or a loved one, please share it, like us on fb and leave a comment below. What’s your experience with this? Love Life Today, THiS ReCoVeRY LiFE.

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