Sunday, March 15, 2009


Family... that word can conjure up such mixed emotions. For some, there is great anticipation of the next visit and pleasant memories of the past. For others, there is much trepidation. Will this time be okay, or will Dad blow his fuse? Will Mom drink too much? Will Brother steal again? Will Sister be high again?

Our family of origin can be a place of nurturing or of dysfunction. As we walk down our path of recovery, time with our families can be plagued with discomfort. We are no longer participating in the denial and white washing that has been the status quo since we were children. We clearly see the elephant in the living room. How do we continue to have relationships with our families when they are not on a path to recovery? What do we do to practice self care when faced with the dysfunctional patterns of our family of origin?

We begin by realizing that those who come to recovery do so in their own time. We cannot force another to take those first steps anymore than we can force a dog to become a cat. Each of us has within us a locked door leading to change that can only be opened from the inside. Our only path is that of detachment and acceptance. We can dislike the behavior that our father displays when he loses his temper, but we continue to love the person within. We can feel dismay when our mother drinks excessively, but we still love the individual. We can be angered by our brother's stealing, yet love him regardless. We can feel disappointment that our sister continues to abuse her body with drugs, but continue to love the human being.

We separate the person's actions, which we find offensive, from the person within, the human being, realizing that all are fallible. We try to accept that each of the members of our family are simply people with problems. We focus on what we can do to take care of ourselves. We use our tools to keep ourselves centered. We try to keep a healthy perspective throughout our visit. When we are able, we take time to practice self care. We use our tools: journaling, taking a time out, walking, calling a trusted friend, just to name a few. We can limit our visit if necessary. We can listen if someone needs to talk, but we try not to get pulled into the old family drama. We try not to take the bait. This can be a very difficult balancing act requiring much effort at living in the moment. We try to enjoy what we can while we are with our family.

We may not be successful during our first attempts. We will be better over time as we practice. Recovery is always three steps forward and two steps back. We practice patience with ourselves as we continue on our path, using our tools and practicing self care. In this way we give ourselves the gift of possibilities. Possibilities of relationships with our family based on honesty.

No comments:

Post a Comment