Posted by Steps to Recovery on January 14, 2013
Over the holidays I got to spend a lot of time with family I haven’t seen in years. Family that I still do a lot of processing about, especially regarding my dad in relation to my childhood. Through my addiction we eventually broke apart, and went long periods of time without even speaking. Although we reconciled over the phone a few years ago, we still hadn’t spent time together aside from a few hours one day last summer when I was visiting my grandma and they were there at the same time. This holiday season I committed to spending an entire week with my dad and family, over a thousand miles from my home and comfort zone. I had to put a lot of thought into that! Was I ready to make such a big commitment? Here are some of the things I asked myself and considered when making my decision.
1) Have we both experienced significant emotional growth and deep personal change since we last saw each other? If there hasn’t been some major personal growth on both ends, a different type of relationship cannot be expected, even if much time has passed. If you can’t answer yes to this question, it probably isn’t a good idea to put yourself in a situation where you may feel hurt or rejected. This could be a perfect formula for relapse.
2) Is there still anger around the issues I have been processing and learning to cope with and heal? If you are still feeling anger, that’s fine, it’s completely normal, but it might not be the best move to put yourself into a situation that can be triggering.
3) Is there a threat of violence, physical or emotional abuse? This one was really big for me. Last time I saw my dad one on one I ended up feeling very cornered and scared, it wasn’t a safe situation, and it brought back a lot of emotion from my childhood. If you feel like there is any chance of any type of violence or abuse, the time is not right.
4) Can I set and maintain strong and healthy boundaries? Can I remain completely authentic to who I am now? For most people, when around family and especially parents, this can be very difficult. There is something special about the parent child relationship that tends to influence how a person acts and responds. Especially in early recovery, this can be very difficult.
5) Will reconciling make my life better or worse? If a relationship isn’t adding positivity and value to your life, it’s sucking up your precious time. Investing in valuable relationships is directly connected to feeling valued as a person.
All of these questions had to have a positive answer for me to make the decision to take my trip. Reconciling with family can be so very difficult and scary. What has your experience been when reconciling with family in your recovery?