29 Apr Picking Up the Tools for a Healthy Relationship
Having a relationship in recovery is exciting, difficult and fun, whether it is with friends or romantically. There are a lot of things that I have learned as a result of getting sober and going through a sober living that allow me to have lasting healthy relationships with other people. The tools I developed in New Life House put me in a position to succeed once I graduated.
Before I got sober, my relationships were very dull and bland. Most of my conversations with friends consisted of “hey what’s up, you wanna cruise over?” By the time I was actually hanging out with my friends we were getting high and sitting on the couch not saying a word. When we were having conversations it was usually us talking behind other people’s backs, judging others or talking crap to each other. At the, time these relationships were fun but there was no substance to the friendship. When I didn’t want to hangout with them I would just tell them something came up and lie to them and then blow them off to do something else. Sometime, I would just sit at home because I was too scared to say that I didn’t want to hang out with them or that another opportunity to do something came up. At the end of the day these friendships were selfish, empty and lacked any sort of depth. We were never there for each other, or talked about what was really going on in our lives. They were relationships of convenience. With girlfriends, it was even worse. I was never able to voice how I really felt. The relationship was filled with very little communication and lots of lies. I would basically say whatever I could to sound emotionally attached and to make her happy. As a result, I followed a pattern of constructing relationships based off of lies and dishonesty. Because of this, every relationship I was a part of led to me pushing the other party away.
What I have learned about having relationships with other people is that friendships and relationships are a two way street that are based off of truth, honesty, and emotional investment. Now instead of fabricating stories and creating lies in order to get out of doing things or to make people feel appreciated, I am upfront and honest with people. I tell them how I really feel or what I am really thinking and we are able to discuss it. I allow myself to go to emotional places and talk about things that are burning inside me with my friends and it allows me to feel a sense of freedom as well as to allow our friendship to have substance and go beyond the surface level.
With romantic relationships, I am able to communicate and walk through fears. I used to always beat around the bush or expect other people to understand what I meant or wanted, and would get resentful when they wouldn’t. Something an interventionist of mine told me 3 years ago was to “get your needs met.” That quote has been very beneficial because now I have been taught to walk through fears, say what I am really thinking and be honest and straightforward with others. These things have really allowed my friendships and romantic relationships to grow and flourish, and it allows me to have relationships that I value and allows me to know that the people that are involved in my life also get to be a part of my life and we get to go through the process together.
-Matt L., New Life House alumni