Expectations About A Loved One’s Addiction Recovery
When your loved one is suffering from addiction, your top priority is keeping them alive and out of trouble. You make personal sacrifices in an effort to manage the collateral damage that accompanies the disease of addiction.
When your loved one enters treatment and recovery, you may be so used to managing their life that you find it hard to stop. You may also find yourself feeling all of the resentment and anger that you pushed aside.
When this happens, it’s important to step back and start working on yourself. Ultimately, being willing to seek professional help and/or the support of others by attending Al-Anon meetings opens a door to sanity. It takes a leap of faith to “mind our own business” and accept that our loved one’s recovery is their responsibility, not ours. Having expectations about what our loved one’s recovery should look and feel like will only lead to frustration. It has been said that “An expectation is a pre-meditated resentment” (Courage, p. 153).
When we expect things from others, we are imposing our own standards of conduct.
Addiction recovery is not measured by timelines or based on any universal standards. It is a process that is fueled by each individual who wants it and is willing to work toward it. That said, expectations about a loved one’s addiction recovery are usually neither realistic nor supportive.
When you are willing to deconstruct your thinking, you realize that you, too, need to recover from addiction. You need to deal with the complicated emotions that arose when your loved one was in active addiction, and you need to bring your attention back to your own goals and dreams.
It’s normal to want to be included in your loved one’s recovery.
Likewise, the person in recovery welcomes being accepted and reunited with family and friends. The greatest gift of recovery is re-discovering and re-defining our most treasured relationships. The new foundation to nurture these relationships does not include judging, setting conditions, or outlining goals for anyone other than one’s self. Each of us has a duty to work on ourselves, ‘stay in our own square,’ and support our loved one’s recovery with understanding rather than expectations.
Courage to change: One day at a time in Al-Anon II (1992). New York: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters.
If you or someone you love is struggling, please contact us at (337) 456-9111 anytime. We’re here to help.
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