Sober living isn’t just learning how to stay sober and alcohol and drug free. Sober living also means learning how to have a healthy life. It means learning how to take good care of yourself, protecting yourself when needed, and respecting yourself and others by creating firm boundaries in your relationships with them.
In fact, learning how to be in a healthy relationship is also part of healing from addiction and creating a sober life. It frequently includes learning not to hand your power over to the one you love. Just as in an addiction, powerlessness can also get played out in relationships. For instance, the belief in being powerless in life (which significantly contributes to addiction) leads to a dysfunctional relying on the other person for things that one can and should do on their own, such as being financially stable. This underlying belief in being powerless seems to attract an enabler who in turn believes that no one else can perform a task as well as they can. Enablers tend to take control of a situation thinking that they are being helpful without seeing that it would be more healthy to allow the other person to do that task on his or her own.
This imbalance of power can become destructive in relationships that are already harmful. For instance, if there are dysfunctional patterns in the relationship you’re in and you recognize that you would be safer and happier by leaving the relationship, sometimes a lack of power might keep you feeling stuck in the relationship. You might know how to leave. You might feel as though you need to stay in it and just learn how to live with it.
However, a significant part of sober living is learning how find your power, especially in relationships that might be harmful. Furthermore, if you have difficulty with boundaries, you may not be able to detect dysfunction in a relationship when it’s present. Unhealthy relationships include being frequently criticized, manipulated, physically harmed, exploited, or controlled. If your partner discourages you from getting help, lies to you repeatedly, ignores your physical needs, or makes unreasonable requests of you, then you might be in a harmful relationship.
If this is the case, the following are some steps you can take to detach from the relationship:
You do not have to explain yourself to the other person; you can simply leave. If the relationship is physically harmful, get the support of a local therapist, domestic violence shelter, and police. Domestic violent relationships are serious and without help can only get more and more serious. In fact, some violent relationships can lead to death.
If you feel guilty, remember that it is your life to live. You don’t have to live your life based upon the ill feelings of others.
Destructive relationships can be addicting too. If you can’t stay away from someone you know is bad for you, you may be addicted to that person. Destructive relationships may feel familiar from childhood experiences or love relationships prior to your addiction. The step to take in this situation is like any other addiction: aim for abstinence. Do you best to stay away from that person because you know that he or she is harmful to your health and safety.
Finally, remember that sober living is healthy living. If you’re in a dysfunctional relationship, removing yourself from that relationship is a form of self-love. You’ve gotten this far in your self-love by getting sober. You can continue your journey of healthy living by only choosing relationships that are respectful, honoring, and loving.
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