Many people believe that once their loved ones get into recovery, everything is simply going to be ok, their loved ones immediately are "fixed." But recovery isn't rainbows and sunshine.
Sure, in the beginning, many people are on what is called "The Pink Cloud." Everything is bright and shiny and the world is fabulous and wonderful. People want to scream from the rooftops how wonderful life is and they are so grateful "to be done with all that shit."
But much like humpty dumpty, they take a great fall...right on off that pink cloud. Reality starts setting in, emotions that haven't been dealt with properly for years are rearing their ugly head. The consequences of their using life styles start setting in...and the people recovering are faced with a tough cross road.
In general, people revert back to what they know, even out of the context of recovery and substance abuse. It's a perfectly natural human reaction to revert to the road you know, even if the road is a dark, scary, and potentially fatal road.
This initial cross road is the first of many difficult crossroads a person faces when they enter into recovery. And it can often be the most difficult. To use again or not. Many people find themselves going back down that road they are familiar with. But for those who choose the different road, the new road, the road that will lead them into the life people dream of, that's when things get messy IN recovery.
People in recovery can start acting no better in recovery than how they acted when they were using. Why? Because healthy coping skills aren't learned overnight. We revert back to what we know, without the using drugs/alcohol part. And it continues to wreak havoc in lives. Sure, in a lot of ways, our lives are still better clean than when we are using, but it sure isn't perfect. It's messy, it's hard, some days it just sucks to be alive because we have to deal with all those stupid emotions.
So, when it comes to family members who are being supportive and trying to help, a few good things to remember for yourself for the first couple of year (God, I know that sound like a long time but in the scheme of things, it's really not:
1. Recovery is messy and emotional
2. Be patient and compassionate as they are sorting through all the crap they did.
3. If you are waiting for apologies, you will get them in the forms of amends when the person has learned how to actually change their behavior...that can take some time but it's worth it, be patient.
4. Sometimes they may need space, sometimes they may need love and support and a validating word or two, sometimes they won't know what they hell they need and will be frustrated because they won't know what to ask for. You can't fix it and make it go away for them, they need to sort it out on their own.
5. They are dealing with new situations all the time, so just because they have a year or two clean/sober, doesn't mean they know how to handle new things. They will make mistakes.
6. They are human, no matter how long they have clean/sober.
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