There are several reasons why you may not be spending time with family during your recovery. One may be that you’re scared to hurt them – or that they’re worried you’ll bring more tragedy to the table. Another might be that there are some serious differences between you and some of your family members and coming to terms on some of those differences might be impossible.
We cannot all lay aside certain conversations and arguments simply because it’s the holiday season. But it’s important to understand why family is sometimes critical to a person’s recovery from addiction. Don’t be scared to involve those you love – the accountability and support you receive from being a part of a family again can make you stronger in your attempts to stay clean.
Family Can Be Crucial
Family doesn’t have to be every relative you have, or even just your relatives. You might only consider your mother or little sister family, or you might have friends who have stuck with you for so long that they’re practically brothers and sisters. Whoever is closest to you, they will continue to be some of the most important people in your life for the next few months.
Rather than being a solo venture, recovery is often about how the people around you help you shape a new you. It’s through our relationships with others and the commitments we make and steps we take towards changing our lives with or for others that we cement a recovery. Moving away from drug use always leaves a person vulnerable and in a state of confusion about their life and their goals. Something like a new job or a fiery passion can help us stay sober, but it’s in our darkest moments that our family and friends keep us from plunging back into addiction. But getting back to good terms can be difficult.
Using the Dinner Table
It’s a common tradition in tribes across the planets throughout countless civilizations to gather to eat. Even to this day, every major gathering and event of loved ones and relatives revolves around a planned feast. The dinner table is where we all come to take a seat, put aside trivialities, and take time to appreciate a good, wholesome meal. It’s over the dinner table that the most important conversations tend to happen. It’s across from two opposing sides of a dinner table that long-standing arguments and confrontations between family members can potentially come to an end.
No matter what day it is, we can all come together to eat. And eat we must. Everyone has to eat at some point in the day, and few of us, thankfully, have to go without eating. If you’re struggling to find the opportunity to be with your loved ones for one reason or another, then suggest food. No matter how small of a starting point that may be, the best way to get everyone together is through a meal.
Work on Individual Relationships
Family isn’t just important in the context that we have to stick together. Individual relationships matter as well. The relationships between a parent and a child, between two lovers, or between siblings, are some of the strongest and most important bonds we can experience. Just as you should focus on being with your family over the holidays and learning to be a part of a bigger group once again, you need to work on individual relationships as well.
There are such things as irreconcilable differences. There are times when two people simply can’t be together, in any given context. But rather than experience the pain of being brought together over and over again, it’s important to learn to separate yourself completely from that other person. But that doesn’t mean you have to remove everyone you both associate with, as well. You can accept that you’ll never be on speaking terms with your parent, but still have your adult sibling be a big part of your life.
Why It Hurts to Fight
Family trouble is common, and it’s perfectly natural to be in conflict with those we love and care about. But it also hurts the most to fight those we truly love. And sometimes, it’s not worth maintaining and continuing an argument past a certain point. If ever there is a time for forgiveness and concession, it would be towards the end of the year, as all things wrap up, and everyone looks forward to the possibilities of something new and better on the horizon.
You don’t have to believe in Christmas or give in to the spirit of any other holiday to accept that, on a fundamental level, we all need people who love us and who we can love. Whether they’re your relatives or your friends, having a family around is important – especially through this cold and at times very dark season. Recovery is not a solo project, and as much as you might believe that it’s on you to change and be a better person, it’s also important to learn to accept the help of others on your way to making better choices.
When a person passes away, we often sit and think on what kind of legacy they left behind. When the time comes to focus on only the most important and positive attributes of a person, we home in on the things that set them apart, the things they did for others, the things that made them selfless and important within the context of something bigger than themselves. Addicts cannot be selfless while they’re addicted, because part of the addiction is the urge to focus entirely on your own need to “scratch the itch”. But a recovering addict can be anything they want, and recovery gives you the opportunity to shape the story of the rest of your life and turn your legacy into anything, be it someone who struggled with addiction and lost, or someone who struggled with addiction and won, became a loving wife or husband or uncle or aunt, a father, a mother, a teacher, a mentor, a role model, a respected community member, or a professional without peers.
Making big changes starts at home, with the people you love the most. By being there for them and being a part of their lives during your recovery, you set the tone for what’s to come in the future.