Dear friend in recovery,
When those who we have become accustomed to spending time with in recovery go back out, relapse, use, slip etc., it often times impacts us who have “stayed in” in a profound way. A myriad of emotions tend to surface ranging from guilt, fear, sadness, jealousy, disappointment, anger, resentment, compassion, and empathy. I think the root of the reactions we experience is one of fear. These occurrences make clear the one thing we strive to keep in mind as we follow the path of recovery; if we don’t take care of our recovery at all times it can and will slip out of our grasp.
How do we deal with these emotions? Many people increase their meeting attendance, hoping the solidarity of the group and the connection with others who are in the same position as we, can provide some bit of comfort. Some of us process the emotions and reactions with others such as professionals, sponsors, close friends, family etc. I think the one thing that we don’t want to do however, is bottle it up and not address it.
It’s difficult not to let it affect us and in the end, no matter how many times we tell ourselves that our recovery is our own and theirs is their own and no impact on eithers’ behalf should come of a relapse, it will ultimate make an impression on your life and recovery. I don’t think this is a horrible thing either. Rather, I think it’s beneficial to know and feel all the emotions we do in this type of situation. For one, it means we are compassionate beings; perhaps something we were not capable of being when in active addiction. It also shows us that the support and connection with others sharing this struggle, is real and tangible and worth cultivating and nurturing.
I am definitely not making the assertion that we are in any way, responsible for another person’s recovery. I just don’t want to mitigate the fact that we rely on each other for support in our endeavors to attain and maintain sobriety. The peer support we have as a group is one of the most important aspect of how we live with this disease and its okay to feel however we do in the face of these difficult occurrences.
If this is something that you are experiencing right now, I want to encourage you to reach out to your recovery support system. Likely, many of them are experiencing similar reactions to what you are. Lean on them for support as you allow them to lean on you. You will get through this and in the end, you will be stronger for trudging through the adversity.