Being Sober Doesn’t Automatically Fix Relationships

If you’re like many people, relationships can sometimes be a roller coaster ride. Whether it’s with family, friends, or partner, there can be ups, downs, and plenty of twists.

On one side of the spectrum, you’re happy, excited, and feeling content. On the other, you’re angry, resentful, insecure, and more.

If you happen to be in early recovery from addiction, you may not be sure how to deal with some things that come up in your relationships.

Perhaps you thought that getting sober would automatically fix your relationships, but that’s not necessarily true.

Do Relationships Get Better When You Get Sober?

For those of you on the sobriety path, do you think that once you stop drinking or drugging, your relationship will instantly improve?

Or do you think it will become a drag and you won’t be able to put up with your partner?

A variety of factors come into play once you get sober. First, if you were not such a great partner while actively using, it’s likely you’re going to have to work on yourself before your relationship will improve.

For example, if you had anger issues and were mean to your partner time and time again while actively using, you may still have anger issues after you put the booze down. You will also have to allow time to build up trust.

Other factors that come into play are how well you communicate, your coping skills, conflict resolution skills, past experiences, and more.

Can your relationship get better once you’re sober?

Yes, but you may have to work on yourself and on the relationship.

Changing Negative Thoughts & Beliefs

Relationships can be challenging at times. If you’re like most people, you’ve got some negative thought patterns that you bring to the relationship about yourself, others, and perhaps the world.

What kinds of thoughts do you think? Are they mostly positive or negative? How do you think those closest to you would describe you? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? If you are in a relationship, how would your partner describe you?

As you continue to journey in your recovery, it can help you to become a detective of your thoughts and belief patterns. When you come across the negatives, work at reprogramming them into positives. This is a common practice in counseling, where you and your therapist work with your thoughts and beliefs.

As you work on your inner dynamics, you can feel the benefits of this in your relationship. If you burn some bridges or people cut ties with you because of the things you said or did while in active addiction, you can slowly work at building those bridges by continuing to work on yourself. Making a commitment to do your inner healing work will not only benefit you but your relationships as well.

For example, do you struggle with feeling insecure? Are you afraid of being abandoned? It’s easy to feel those feelings and then point fingers at other people, but that rarely does any good. When you can learn to take full responsibility for your own thoughts and emotions, you’ll find that you are able to experience more peace enjoy along your journey, rather than strife and anxiety.

Do Some Soul Searching

Do some soul searching when those negative feelings arise, so you can get to the root of them and begin the healing process. Let’s say you find yourself angry a lot. You’re angry at work. You’re angry at home. You yell at your kids a lot and scowl at your spouse. When you find yourself dealing with certain emotions repeatedly, take these tips into consideration:

  • Label your emotion: Anger
  • Sit with that emotion. Notice how it feels in your body. What sensations do you feel? Are you able to feel it for the moment? Just be with it?
  • Sit quietly and think back to the last time you felt this emotion. Then, think back as far as you can. Can you think of a memory of feeling this emotion when you were a child? If so, what was happening?
  • If you can remember, what kinds of thoughts do you think were running through your head at the time? (I’m not worthy. I’m a mess up. I’m bad.)
  • Now, keeping that image in your head of your child self, imagine you as an adult approaching that child. Sit with them, affirm them, and give them a big hug if you choose. Let them know they are not a mess up. They are not bad. Tell them they are worthy of so much love! Tell them that whatever happened is over and they don’t have to feel that negative emotion anymore.
  • Then, take several deep breaths and speak kind and loving words to yourself out loud. Affirm your adult self just like you did the child.

By going through this process, you’re essentially re-living those negative emotions, integrating the stored energy into your body, and allowing healing at a deeper level to occur.

So when negative emotions arise, remember to do this exercise. When you do this, you’ll spend less time projecting onto others and more time feeling happy and peaceful.

Healing Yourself & Relationships

No matter how long you’ve been on your recovery journey, old wounds may be asking you to deal with them. Putting down the booze or drugs is just your first step toward healing and freedom. Emotional healing and growth are your next steps and it takes time and effort. If you find yourself struggling, reach out for help via a counselor, support group, mentor, etc.

Sobriety is wonderful, and so is committing to a mind, body, and spirit growth-oriented lifestyle. Empowering yourself feels good. When you can hold your head high, take responsibility for your emotions and your own recovery, your relationship with you and others will certainly benefit.

Now, take some time to think about what intense emotions you are contending with on a regular basis and take it from there.


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