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Regaining Trust from Family in Sobriety

I had just completed a 90 day treatment program. I was 20 years old, sober and floating around somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. I had no home, no job and no money. I had lost my car and my cell phone due to consequences of my alcoholism. I returned home to the San Francisco Bay Area with my tail between my legs hoping my family would provide me with these material things. After all, I had 90 days sober under my belt and my rehab “sentence” had been fulfilled. I believed my family should look at me as “good as new”, trustworthy and responsible. I expected cash and prizes for my efforts and I expected a parade for my return.

What hadn’t occurred to me was the pain and suffering my friends and family had gone through as a result of my addiction. Most alcoholics and addicts are selfish and self -seeking by nature, unaware that their actions can have great effects on the people around them. I had done a great deal of financial and emotional damage to my family and I believed that my 90 days in a rehab would be enough to mend the wounds I had inflicted. Yes, my family was grateful that I was sober and relieved I didn’t bail on treatment half way through. They were happy to see me alive and 20 pounds heavier. They welcomed my arrival home but remained skeptical, and for good reason. How could I expect my family to think I had changed completely in a mere 90 days? I hadn’t. There was more work to be done. I had to learn that my family wasn’t on the “one day at a time” program. They wanted results and actions, not empty promises and apologies.

While in rehab I had this presumptuous idea that I would be awarded a cash settlement for my time spent at the tough-as-nails women’s rehab I was in. I thought I would be given a new phone, a new car, and cash. I was wrong, and thank God for that. Upon returning home I was allowed to stay at my Aunt’s house for a week or two before I had to move on to a sober living home. I was fed, but if I wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes I would wash my family’s cars for a little cash. Later I got a baby-sitting job and made a little more money. It felt good to be accountable and responsible. My self-esteem started to grow.

I was angry about not having a car to drive when I got out of treatment. I had “lent” it to my drug dealer before I got sober and of course I never saw it again. Losing my car was my own fault, but still I felt I deserved help from my family. I believed that my sobriety hinged on having a vehicle to drive. It didn’t. I have learned in the years I’ve been sober that no material item controls my sobriety. You don’t need a car or a house or a lots of money to stay sober. I learned that if I placed more emphasis on the material instead of my internal well being that I would surely drink again. I had to let go and trust that I would be taken care of, and I was.

When I was newly sober I still felt uncomfortable around my family. I still had this ugly feeling in the pit of my stomach. The fog was slowly lifting and I was beginning to see the effects my drinking and using had on my family. I couldn’t expect them to not be wary of my behavior. I had to practice living by new principles on a daily basis if I was to regain their trust. This was a slow process for me, but I soon became a part of the family again. I made new friends and learned about having authentic relationships with people. I learned the difference between and empty apology and a real living amends. Sobriety had given me the tools for navigating life that I thought had skipped me when I was born. My family began to trust me again. Sleep came easier to them because they stopped worrying about me overdosing or running away or being arrested. I no longer felt unwelcome and harshly examined at the dinner table.

Today I am very close with my family. I have mended the relationships that I thought were un-mendable. I think about this a lot during the holidays. I think about how grateful I am that I have a place to return. That I can look people in the eye. That I have shown my family the results of recovery.

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Filed under: Latest News, Recovery · Tags: alcoholism, drug addiction, drug rehab, drug treatment, early recovery, early sobriety, rebuilding trust, sober living home, treatment center

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