When someone first gets sober, they can be confronted with many questions, resistance, and complexities about their sobriety and the journey going forward from strangers and loved ones alike. However, it is perhaps the most painful and confusing when it is outwardly coming from the people closest to us. The strangest parts of recovery can be learning how to live a completely different lifestyle than the one that was hurting us and begin living completely different lives from some of the people closest to us.
Perhaps the most challenging lesson to learn is that not everybody in our life will support our recovery. Even if they aren’t outwardly dismissive of sobriety, they may begin to create distance or sometimes even poke fun at our new lifestyle. What is incredibly important when facing all of this is that none of it means that our sobriety is invalid. It is of utmost importance that we continue what we know is right for us, no matter how difficult some people are taking it. Sobriety is not an easy road, but it is undeniably worth it, and even if there are people in our lives that don’t want to understand it, it never means that it is not right for us.
Most of the time, if a person is giving us a hard time about something very personal or important to us, it has nothing to do with what we are doing with our life. It is more about how what we are doing in our lives is triggering something for them in their lives and causing them emotional pain or mental discomfort. In sobriety, we see this a lot.
Often when first getting sober, we come across the phenomenon of other people defending themselves about their drinking or the amount they drink, without us saying a word about it or even acknowledging it. Just the simple act of saying “No thank you, I don’t drink” to an alcoholic beverage can trigger this sort of reaction. While bizarre at first, the more aware we become of ourselves throughout recovery, the more we realize this was due to the person’s insecurities around their relationship with alcohol, drugs, sex, or even merely life itself rather than anything to do with us.
Though it may seem challenging to be around, let alone be close with people who have a hard time supporting our new lifestyle, it is possible to continue a relationship with them. Now, this is nuanced and varies from person to person and relationship to relationship. No one defined answer will work for everyone. We will have challenging relationships with family, partners, and friends for our whole lives. Sobriety allows us to show up to them as our best, most authentic, and conscious selves. The few crucial factors here are that we are always putting our sobriety first, not causing harm (to ourselves or others), and acknowledging other people are human and dealing with their pain and suffering without taking it on ourselves. The outcome of those variables will probably always look different.
The key to any conscious, loving, healthy relationship; is firm boundaries, healthy communication, and empathy. Strong boundaries can look different depending on the relationship we have with a person. It could be telling a person we love that we don’t feel comfortable being around their heavy drinking, and if they continue in front of you, you will have to stop seeing them. It could be telling your family that quitting drinking is not a “phase,” and you are very serious about your sobriety. It could be letting your friends know that you want to come to the party and love them for inviting you, but don’t feel comfortable yet going to bars and being around that much active drinking. It could be going to a yoga class every day instead of out with your friends to watch them casually drink and gossip about work. It could be letting a parent know that they don’t appreciate the sarcasm regarding your new healthy lifestyle. It can mean distancing ourselves from people we were once very close with. It can mean having hard, raw conversations. It can look like a lot of things.
However, the most important things to consider are this:
Healthy relationships are both the foundation of a strong recovery and the outcome of it. We learn how to be healthy participants in loving connections through our sobriety, yet we feel we truly need support to get here. Luckily, we can find help in so many places: groups, meetings, recovery centers, sober events, therapy, and more. This isn’t to say that we don’t deserve our closest people to support us as well but to know that it isn’t a lost cause if we feel like we aren’t supported from the beginning. Our transformation can feel just as revolutionary to the people closest to us as it does for us. Learning to be strong in our sobriety is always a crucial step to long-lasting recovery.
When first becoming sober, recovery can feel like a lonely road. The people closest to us often do not understand our process and sometimes hinder us along the way. We may feel undersupported, alienated, and confused about why we feel so different from the people around us that once felt like our best friends and family. But the truth is, you are never truly alone. At Hired Power, we are here to support you through all phases of your recovery process and remind you that you always have opportunities for support from the very beginning. Hired Power is a dynamic group of recovery professionals that provide an empowering range of services in a compassionate and healing environment that gives people the best opportunity for long-term success and happiness. Our Personal Recovery Assistants encourage and motivate clients to become active participants in their own lives. Contact Hired Power today at (714) 559-3919.
“I have worked with Hired Power extensively in collaboration with Clearview Treatment Programs’ individualized outpatient program. I am always impressed with their effectiveness and professionalism.”
“Thanks again for being there for us and guiding us through some rough waters. Your kindness and genuine concern deeply touched my soul and we are all grateful our paths crossed when they did. You are a truly gifted professional, keep on doing what you do so well.”
“I just want to thank Hired Power for the PRA. He was a perfect match and I can’t say enough…. He was intensely committed. This is the first time I have been clean in over 30 years. Thank you again.”
“I don’t look at you (Hired Power) as hiring a service, I look at you as saving my life.” (referring to his ability to stay sober after returning home).