Relationships & Early Recovery

Early recovery from addictions is a hard process. The success rate of drug or alcohol rehab is only 20%. Recovery requires self-absorption in order to stay on track. This means partners and families get left behind out of necessity. Addicts are overwhelmed with learning what it means to be sober.  Learning to be alert in your life after years of being numb and pickled in a powerful process. AA, sponsors and the steps all require a lot of time and effort. It can seem impossible to grapple with anyone else’s wants besides your own. All of that being said, it is important not to leave your family completely behind.

After recovery marriages suffer a 75% divorce rate. What’s different about the 25% who survive? I believe the survivors are the ones where the non-addict learns to take alcoholism seriously as a disease and attend Al-Anon to learn about their part of the problem. Those who fail, tend not to look at themselves, blame the alcoholic and have evolved from resentful to bitter. Bitterness kills off relationships every day.

Success in relationship survival means learning about control, codependecy and enabling. Success means embracing the idea, you too have a lot to learn.

Recovery is a scary process for the alcoholic/addict or the codependent partner. Fear does not invite us to be the best that we can be. With a lot of fear floating around while people are in recovery it can be hard to communicate. The codependent partner has lied to themselves and been lied to so often that having faith and believing in the alcoholic can be illusive.

Whenever people don’t know what to do I encourage small moments of honesty. Below is a letter I imagined writing for someone to share with a partner who is brand new in the recovery process. It’s my hope that it can be used as a way to begin talking about hard things, the lynchpin to relationship survival.

Dear Partner in Recovery,

I know we’ve just started down a path that requires a lot from both of us. I know that it is important for you to focus on yourself in order to not relapse. I’m a mixture of feelings and I’m not going to spill them all over you. I won’t burden you with them now, because it’s most important you find the courage to continue the recovery process. I respect you’re only in the beginning and that it’s a huge undertaking. I want you to know how hard this is for me too. I feel as if you’ve tossed our life, like a deck of cards into the air and I hope we will both grow and learn and finally build a solid infrastructure together. I want to restore honesty and being a team. There is one huge missing piece that concerns me and that played out in your recovery choices. Your decision to leave detox left me out of the picture completely. I don’t want to tell you what to do but I would like my opinion to be at least factored into the decision. I want to be open to understanding that our marriage has been disappointing to you too.  I’m seriously working on understanding my control/codependency issues. I want you to know I’m willing and available to be a team with you. I know your recovery has just begun and is fragile. I respect that. I want to have the seeds of truth begin to grow for both of us. I’d like to be someone you share with, to understand what’s hard about recovery for you. I’m interested in being a part of your recovery. I will sort out my resentments. I ask you to be honest and begin sharing, not leave me out. We have to take time to find out if we have a future together, that’s scary for me.


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