Relationships are difficult to maintain for anyone, but especially an alcoholic/addict. I’m sure all of us have heard the saying “If you can’t make yourself happy, you can’t make anyone else happy.” As active alcoholics, we are never happy. We trudge through our lives. We are lost. Most of us have nothing to contribute to our relationships.
I believe that in order to have a successful relationship, you must first have a solid sense of self. You must have your own identity. There are many things that contribute to how we feel about ourselves and how we build our sense of self:
  • Occupations (e.g., teacher, physician, plumber)
  • Social relationships (e.g., husband/wife, friend, colleague)
  • Familial relationships (e.g., brother/sister; son/daughter; mother/father)
  • Quasi-occupations (e.g., helper, volunteer)
  • Avocations (e.g., athlete, musician, artist, collector, helper, volunteer)
  • Affiliations (e.g., Shriner, Yankee fan)
  • Abilities/disabilities (e.g., smart person, funny person, shy person with a disability, “patient”)
  • Salient attributes (e.g., reliable, hard working, good looking, lazy, dishonest)
  • Spirituality (e.g., child of God, Catholic, Buddhist)
We need to be healthy in all aspects of our lives. Without these things, who are we? What do we have to give? Did we ever have an identity and if we did, did our alcoholism erase it? What are our values? What are our boundaries? These are the questions I ask myself. Fortunately, I can now answer some of these questions. When I began recovery I noticed that most of the things listed above were not solid in my life and most were non-existent. When I began recovery 9 months ago, I saw myself as a blank page.
As active alcoholics, we lay so much burden on our partners. Sometimes we selfishly use them as our comfort, our distraction, our entertainment and we try to find some sort of peace outside ourselves that we never find. We certainly never found it at the bottom of a bottle. We become a weight that our partners can’t carry. This also happens even while we are in recovery because we haven’t completely healed ourselves.
Relationships can be a terrible distraction in recovery. You can be easily influenced by your partner in many ways. If you are in a relationship and recently in recovery, it’s important that your partner gives you space to grow on your own. As recovering alcoholics, we need space to look deep within ourselves and become aware of why we do the things we do, no matter how painful it is. We need to learn not to be driven by our egos and come from a place of honesty. Being honest with ourselves and others is crucial. We need to find out what we like to do, what our boundaries are, what our values are and be deeply rooted in that. We need a belief system that serves us and others well while being openminded enough to learn.
Being a recovering alcoholic gives us a chance to have purpose and give back what was so freely given to us. We are given hope, direction and a purpose. We may be blank pages now, but that means we get to write a new story.
Author: Christina Carman, Certified Life Coach and Recovering Alcoholic
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