There is an illusion that once our loved ones get sober, things will be perfect. This is generally not the case. The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us that the work has just begun. In the chapter, “The Family Afterward” it says, “The family of an alcoholic longs for the return of happiness and security… It will take time to clear away the wreck. Though old buildings will eventually be replaced by finer ones, the new structures will take years to complete.” It will take time to adjust to the changes in a family after sobriety.
Sometimes, when a family has been swimming in the mire of alcoholism and addiction for so long, it seems strange to suddenly be left alone without the one who was using. The waters are still and empty and the only ones left swimming are the ones who were trying to do the saving. This can be a confusing and frightening place to be. Family members can feel lost and many times don’t know what to do with their extra time. The family disease of alcoholism is much like carbon monoxide poisoning. We can’t smell it, taste it, or see it, but it seeps into the home and before we know it, everyone is sick.
Growing up in an alcoholic home, my behavior and personality was steeped with codependence, brewed and cooked in the family disease of alcoholism. This veiled every relationship I had. I found that when my life became void of alcoholics and addicts, when I had no active addiction in my life, it became really clear that I needed to look at my own behavior. This can seem daunting at first and completely overwhelming to some. Finding a twelve step meeting I felt comfortable in, working the steps myself, getting a sponsor, and reaching out to others allowed me to discover the freedom that comes from family recovery.
In the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, it says, “All members of the family should meet upon the common ground of tolerance, understanding and love.” The rules of engagement begin to change as we discover new tools for living, but tolerance and love can ease the discomfort. Much like those who did the using, it takes time for those affected by the disease of alcoholism to find hope and the willingness to work a program of recovery. But I can assure you, if you put in the work to get there, and enter into the work with an attitude of tolerance, understanding, and love, your life will be transformed.
“If we willingly surrender ourselves to the spiritual discipline of the Twelve Steps, our lives will be transformed.”
P. 269-270 “From Survival to Recovery”
By: Jessica Robison | Operations Director