Each one of us has our own unique struggle with substance abuse, just as we have our unique recovery journey. Our accomplishments, struggles, values and experiences are all different, both in the context of substance abuse and everyday life. Unfortunately, this sense of uniqueness can often compel us to believe that nobody has an adequate appreciation or understanding of what we went through and we continue to go through. We think our experiences, specifically our less dignified actions during our active substance abuse, somehow makes us alien to the rest of the world around us. If this isolation persists, we run a significantly higher risk of relapse.
It’s true that our experiences are unique to us. However, that doesn’t stop those around us from grasping the emotional factors that drove them. This is why it’s so critically important that we continue to embrace our recovery community, while repairing our past relationships. While our friends in recovery may not know what it’s like to lose most of their lifesavings to addiction, they may know first-hand what it’s like to lose their job because of it. While they may not understand what it’s like to be estranged from their families, they may understand what it’s like to have their homes monitored by child protective services. While our circumstances are unique to us, tragedy is not.
Building relationships with others in recovery and sharing at meetings can provide an important sense of catharsis and provide us contextual understanding from a group of people that truly get it. At the same time, we can work with our therapists to identify our level of readiness to open up to others regarding our experiences with substance abuse and recovery. Relating to others is an integral part of the recovery process, and it will only happen when we stop thinking that we can’t.