Many friends and family members have felt elated and hopeful when their loved one who suffers from addiction chooses to enter treatment and recovery.
They may assume that recovery will make everything go back to “normal.” They may envision spending much more quality time with their loved one; they may hope that their loved one will start to pull their own weight and share life’s burdens with them.
A word of caution: don’t get carried away with expectations about your loved one’s recovery.
Those who have been in the support group of Al-Anon define the word ‘expectation’ as “resentments waiting to happen.” When we have expectations of someone, we believe that we can, in some sense, control them. Our visions for a new life are way to control outcomes in our favor. When our loved one or circumstances don’t behave the way we expect them to, we get angry, upset, and/or resentful.
If a loved one is early in sobriety, here’s what to expect from them: NOTHING.
Here’s why: Your loved one is on their own journey to recovery, and it has nothing to do with what you want and how you want it. If your loved one is working a 12-Step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous, they will probably be attending many meetings, socializing with others in recovery, and spending a lot of time with a sponsor. These are important actions for their long-term sobriety, but they may mean that your loved one does not have the time or freedom to meet your expectations. And if they are choosing not to do these things that will help their sobriety, that is still their choice and their journey.
So what should you do? You can’t just stop needing things or stop trying to help. So your own “recovery” work will involve taking care of yourself. Seeing a therapist will help you learn how to communicate what you need, how to monitor your expectations, and how to let go of what you can’t control (and how, in some cases, you can walk away from a relationship that does not fulfill you). You may also seek support in the form of a group like Al-Anon. You’ll meet others who are in similar situations, and you can support each other and maybe even build friendships that extend beyond the meetings.
If you or someone you love is in need of addiction recovery, contact Summit BHC today. We can help point you in the right direction.