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Healing The Ties That Bind

"He who has a why to live can bear almost any how." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Most people experience significant guilt, and shame related to the harm their substance use has had on their own lives, as well as the impact on the people they care about. An individual may feel an urgent need to repair important relationships, typically with the desire of wanting to alleviate the emotional pain of having hurt loved ones. The human side of a person that loves instant gratification may cause someone to be insistent upon making amends and progress as soon as possible, only to realize that the people around us may not be ready to trust or grant forgiveness as quickly as we may like. Recovery requires us to learn the art of acceptance and easing into (rather than running from) the pain that life brings. The most important thing is that one's actions match their words when they begin to make their direct and indirect amends with others. As one continues to work on healing themselves, the relationships with the people around them will likely begin to heal as well.

Supportive relationships provide many benefits to those working towards recovery. Unfortunately, early recovery can feel very lonely and cause a person to isolate and/or avoid accepting support. This could be for a variety of reasons, whether it be to avoid diving into the painful emotions someone has spent a lot of time hiding from (enter in substance use), for a lack of trust in others (because sometimes the world is not a kind place), or due to the damaging impact that low self-esteem has on an individual causing them to feel as though they are not worthy of a better life.

Whatever the reason(s) for avoidance, I respect and honor those reasons. However, please know that support becomes even more important in early recovery when people are adjusting to lifestyle changes. Developing and maintaining supportive relationships takes time and often some vulnerability. Consider how difficult this is for a person who has spent so much time building up their defenses to protect themselves from the world around them and the feelings within them!

Part of the growth and healing that occurs in recovery is learning how, when, and with whom a person can begin to shed their protective layers and reveal their true, authentic self to. Peer support groups offer insight and guidance from others who have been through similar experiences and are looking to make positive changes in their own lives. A gift we can give to others who are hurting, is to walk alongside them in solidarity.

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