When you overcome your addiction and choose recovery, part of the process is learning how to establish relationships that support you by putting your needs first. However, it is not always easy to determine those in your network who might harm your well-being. Further, recognizing and detaching from those who are negative influences could be just as hard to accomplish.
When a friend or family member harms your recovery, you need to correct the behavior or separate. Part of this takes building a healthy relationship with yourself and understanding what you will and will not accept. Here are some ways to identify negative relationships and work to either improve or leave the relationship healthily.
Be Truthful About the Relationship
The first step to detaching yourself from a negative friend or family member is to be honest about the relationship. Even after you have decided that this person is not helpful for your recovery, you might carry the notion that they can change. The truth is, you cannot change people, and therefore being honest about this relationship will help you see the reality of this relationship.
Think about how the relationship operates; do you no longer have fun with this person? Do you feel drained after spending time with them? Any relationship that leaves you feeling stressed or exhausted is not healthy. Even if you have mixed feelings, this does not mean you should continue the relationship. You might love this friend or family member; however, if they neglect your needs, enable you, or pressure you to participate in something you don’t want to, it is okay to move away from this relationship.
Prepare a Script
Ending any relationship is difficult; you might feel as though you are abandoning a friend or family member, you might also feel guilty if they are a blood relative. However, your recovery needs to come first, and if any person jeopardizes this, then moving on will be the best thing for your recovery.
While preparing to talk with a friend or family member about no longer seeing them, it is helpful to prepare a script. Friends and family members might deny wrongdoing or talk over you. Having what you want to say prepared ahead of time and practicing it can help you stay calm and focused on what you are trying to convey.
You can start by writing down your thoughts. Think about the most important aspects to use in the discussion. For example, if they still use, you can let them know that their substance use is not conducive to your recovery, which is why you can no longer see them. You can practice what you want to say a few times to help you gain more confidence when you meet them. If you are worried about their response, you might consider meeting in a public space such as a park to help reduce an adverse reaction. You can also consult a therapist or counselor who can help mediate the conversation to avoid confrontation.
Remain Firm and Direct
When you decide that you do not want this person in your life, be very clear about this. Giving them any indication they can convince you otherwise or that you need time away will only keep them around. In relationships where a person is toxic, you might encounter manipulative, controlling, or very attached behaviors, which is why being as straightforward as possible helps you sever ties under no uncertain terms. You do not need to be confrontational or mean-spirited. Even if this person has hurt you, becoming aggressive can escalate the situation. It is essential to be clear without being contemptuous. It is also crucial that they know how you feel and your expectations for moving forward.
Sometimes friends and family members think they have your best interests in mind and are helping you when what they are actually doing is enabling you. This is why it is important to be honest about the relationship. For example, does this person allow you to live rent-free? Do they help you pay bills and run errands for you? It can be easy for you to take advantage of these behaviors, but understand that recovery is about gaining back your identity and independence; therefore, if someone enables you, be honest and set boundaries with them and yourself.
Make a list of your boundaries, and be sure to make these clear to your friend or family member. Don’t apologize for having boundaries; let them understand that these boundaries protect your recovery and help build a healthier relationship with them. For example, you might tell this loved one not to help you financially or run errands for you. This way, you can develop the means necessary to become more self-sufficient. You also might ask them not to drink around you, as it triggers your impulse to want to drink.
Finally, if you express these boundaries, but the friend or family member cannot comply or regularly crosses the line, it might be time to separate from them.
After leaving a relationship, you might experience feelings of sadness, guilt, or depression. While it is normal to experience difficult feelings after ending a relationship, you do not need to be alone. If you have just gotten out of a relationship and are turning to substances to cope, then the time to get help is today. At Renaissance Ranch, our male-focused programs help men rebuild healthy relationships in themselves and with others. We offer inspiring settings and even use the beautiful Utah landscapes to help men heal through outdoor activities that build trust, teamwork, and friendships. Our faith-based programs such as 12-Step further help men establish clear ideas about developing healthy relationships. Our efforts help motivate you to move closer toward a stronger sense of self and purpose. Remember, you are never alone on the journey to recovery. To begin your path to recovery, reach out to Renaissance Ranch today and call (801) 308-8898.