Daniel Linder, MFT
How can my partner help or hurt me during the recovery process
Early in recovery, if you’re single, the rule of thumb is that you don’t get involved in a sexually intimate relationship during the first year. Why? Well, the first year of recovery is spent adjusting and learning how to live being sober. That’s a huge challenge on its own. And then as days pass and you have more time being sober, the more emotions are going to come up for you because you’re not hiding them or suppressing them or altering them through your addiction. And for all those years of active involvement in an addiction, your ability to cope and deal with your feelings was nonexistent. The beginning stage of recovery is very, very overwhelming because most addicts in recovery have not developed the skills necessary to cope with these feelings. Previously, they would have resorted to external means of relief.
So, what would happen if they get involved in a relationship early on? Those feelings are going to come up, and they’re going to be at tremendous risk of treating the relationship as an addiction, as a means of relief. They won’t know that they’re doing it, and they’ll be back into an addiction, just not using what they were accustomed to using previously as their means of relief. The relationship can become a way of compensating for all the pain and challenges that they’re feeling.
For couples where one person, or even both, are in early recovery, couple’s counseling is strongly recommended so they can kind of put the relationship on hold or let the relationship proceed in slow motion, so that the primary focus can be put on the individual’s recovery. If the addict doesn’t stay sober and grow on a path of recovery, they’re not going to be able to show up for a healthy relationship or create a healthy relationship. It’s a process. For those in recovery who are already in relationships, they need to slow down and focus on either one or both of their recoveries for a long time.
This process can be monitored, supported, and facilitated a couple’s therapist who can help them keep their priorities in order and focus on their individual needs and their own self care. And, as they demonstrate their ability to take better care of themselves, make better decisions, live sober, and deal with these feelings, they can move back into the realm of the relationship. They’ll have what they need. They’ll have the strength. They’ll have the awareness that they need in themselves so that they won’t be as likely to seek refuge in the relationship or use the relationship as a means of relief.
Copyright – 2013-14 – Tunomi Unlimited Incorporated (Twoology)