Relationships are a beautiful thing. Think about it. When two living beings can coexist and provide happiness to one another, how is it not? Whether it be a platonic relationship or that with a lover, the idea of two people with completely different genetic makeups and opinions have the ability to care so much for each other is purely remarkable. Yet no matter how seemingly perfect a relationship may be, evil forces lurk in the shadows waiting to disrupt such unity. Many relationships eventually become tarnished by the disease of alcoholism, a camouflaged disease that manifests chaos. It interlaces itself into the fabric of the bond, eventually changing the behaviors of the addicted one. The previous nature of the relationship then fades as it’s locked away beneath layers of obsessive insanity.
Many relationships are laid to rest in this fashion. Some bonds later reawaken when the addicted person(s) begins taking care of themselves, but much of the time it doesn’t because they don’t. How can somebody care for another if they don’t care for themselves? A person in the throes of alcoholism can barely make sense of that, but we cross our fingers that they do sooner than later. Just not too much later, on account of sometimes soon enough isn’t soon enough.
Should fortune strike down upon their soul and they choose to see the light, then there are measures we must take in helping somebody close in early recovery. There will be many changes to get used to. Having the right support can make all the difference in the world.
Helping Somebody Close Before They’re Too Far
Sobriety is one of those things that you don’t want to be too easy for the addict, or they’ll get bored with it. In the same breath, the last thing they need is for us to make it harder on them. We’re supposed to be ‘helping somebody close in early recovery’, not hindering them(hopefully).
You see, once our loved ones get clean we become so excited from seeing the changes that we forget this is kind of a rebirthing process. Not all things will be able to go back to how they were. We start thinking about how things are changing and how the future is looking. All sorts of rational hopes and irrational fears will pop up, but give the person time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Johnny didn’t get sober in a night. Helping somebody close in early recovery will mean trying not to overburden them, allowing their process to unfold. One of the best things we can do is the avoidance of putting their sobriety on a pedestal. We can learn how to deal with that pedestal by:
- Keeping expectations realistic
- Staying present
- Not exaggerating
- Not minimizing
- Not enabling
It’s not entirely fair for us to expect things to go back to normal when they haven’t exactly for our loved one. Eventually their new life will dissolve into normalcy, but for now we have to recognize while helping our somebody close in early recovery that it is a huge adjustment to them.
Being Here for Them
Always keep in mind is that chemical dependency is a disease, as mentioned beforehand. It is not something that can just be forgotten about, or as Nancy Reagan egregiously put it “just say no”. This is an open wound that kind of affects the person for all of their life. Helping somebody close in early recovery can give that person the edge they need to get their feed underneath them. Their overall wellness will then depend on what they put into their recovery. It is their recovery anyway, we’re just here to help. Alcoholism never goes away or becomes cured, it’s just dealt with in a healthy enough manner to quiet the obsession. This of course takes patience for all parties involved.
Most addicts/alcoholics are dealing with other psychological issues revolving around or simply involving their abuse. This can apply to any form of alcoholic thinking. For some this is substance abuse or gambling, and for others it shows up in self-mutilation, body dysmorphic issues, all of the above or anywhere in between. There is a root problem inside the mind of the chemically dependent that subconsciously causes them to act out on their addictions. Maintaining that patience with your newly sober loved one can help strengthen the foundation of this re-established relationship. We ought to constantly remind ourselves that no addict wants to deal with this. Addiction itself is never a choice, but what you do about it is.
Being There for Them
At the end of the day, when helping somebody close in early recovery it all boils down to showing love and support thru all forms of acceptance. This lifelong disease that your newly sober friend is facing requires back up. There will be times they fall that they may need words of encouragement to pick them back up. There will also be times their ego barely lets them fit thru the door and you’ll be needed to help lower them down a few notches.
When we place expectations and unneeded stress on our loved ones battling addiction/alcoholism, we are also setting ourselves up for disappointment. Hope is a wonderful thing to have and clutch onto it in the most cautious of situations, but hope won’t revive or guide a person.