My family had seen me struggle with alcohol and emotional issues for so long, that when I declared myself as sober to them, I didn’t get the hugs and the pats on the back that I had anticipated.
Now I understand: the only evidence they had was my word. Something flimsy and frequently retracted going off the evidence of the past, even with my best of intentions.
I benefit from a very close family bond, particularly with my siblings, and as my sobriety has progressed we have grown in closeness. It was through my actions and my interactions with them that this happened – not simply by the virtue I wasn’t drinking anymore.
Therapy has been entirely necessary to heal my familial resentments, and a lot of pain around not being seen. It has been painful, necessary work. I can now say I love my family, and within that we have our own complex network of differences and points of conflict. Sobriety has meant I can deal with those with grace, and become even closer to them.
I had to give back to my family, as I had taken a lot over the years. I disappeared for many years, and made myself a stranger to them. So I offered my true self, and got to know them again – tyring not to bring in my old reactions and resentments. I had taken from them financially and energetically, so I tried my best to be there for birthdays, help out around the house, and not just give them a card that said “sorry” as a gift. It’s taken years, but I’m finally getting somewhere.
If your relationship with your family of origin is fraught or non-existent, sobriety gives us a chance to have that ever-true, ever-cliché phenomenon of chosen family. When we present as our whole, flawed self and are loved without conditions, we have found family. Sobriety has afforded me that gift in so many ways.
Is there a safe and fruitful way you can invite your family (biological or chosen) into your sobriety?
Three tiny things:
- Call/text/voicenote a family member.
- How have you been keeping in with your senses, as we discussed in week two?
- Do something for your inner child.