By Beth Leipholtz
The One Who Tells It Like It Is tells you the truth, even when it’s hard to hear—especially when it’s hard to hear.
It’s good to have a diverse group of people who support you.
Think about the people in your life for a moment. Chances are that they all offer something different. Not one of them is the same, and that’s what makes each relationship special and meaningful.
The same is true of the relationships you create in sobriety and recovery. Different types of people can offer different perspectives. They may keep you grounded in different ways or remind you why you chose this lifestyle. Sobriety isn’t something you can likely do alone, so it’s good to have a plethora of people in your life. Here are a few of the important ones:
- The one who has been there. This person is vital in recovery. Without them, it’s hard to have hope that things will be okay and that recovery is possible. They have been in the same position as you, and know how difficult it can be to try to remain sober in a world where it seems so many things are focused on alcohol. When I got sober three-and-a-half years ago, there were a few people who stepped up and told me about their own battles with alcoholism. They told me what their life had been like when they drank, what made them stop, and what their life is like without alcohol. Their passion for life and energy to share with others gave me hope. They made me realize that life without alcohol is possible, that people can be happy without drinking. They gave me someone to go to in the times when I didn’t think I could possibly stay sober—or when I didn’t want to. They made me realize I can do hard things.
- The one who tells it like it is. This person tells you the truth, even when it’s hard to hear—especially when it’s hard to hear. They don’t care about whether or not you will be hurt or react poorly, they just say what they mean. That can be difficult to grasp initially, but eventually you’ll appreciate this person. First though, you’ll probably dislike them immensely. At the end of my drinking career/in early sobriety, I hated this person. I didn’t appreciate their blatant honestly because it forced me to pay attention to the things I’d have rather ignored, like the toll my drinking was taking on myself and the people in my life. It made me open my eyes and consider the fact that if other people thought I had a problem, then maybe I did. And I didn’t want to have a problem. I wanted to remain oblivious and continue my drinking. Now, I am grateful to this person because they made me open my eyes to what was really going on.
- The one who loves unconditionally. This could be a family member or a close friend. I can’t say enough about the necessity of this person. When it feels like you’ve messed up beyond repair and that no one could possibly love you any longer, this person will. And they will do everything possible to let you know that, to prove that nothing you do could make them love you less. However, this doesn’t mean they approve of your choices or will support them. It just means that regardless of what you do and where you end up, there will always be someone who loves you. For me, this is the person I can voice my biggest fears to, both fears about sobriety and unrelated ones. I can say exactly what is on my mind without fear of being judged or rejected. Everyone needs this type of person in their life, especially in recovery.
- The one who pushes you. As if we don’t all know this already, sobriety can be uncomfortable. The process of getting and staying sober forces you to look deeply at yourself, and sometimes you may not like what you find. Some people, like myself, are not built to push themselves when it comes to really difficult tasks. When I was in treatment, I needed someone to reach inside and pry things out of me. I wouldn’t offer anything on my own at first. Sometimes I got angry at this person (my counselor) for pushing me past what I felt comfortable with. But today I realize it was necessary to visit those hard topics and to discuss the things I didn’t want to voice. Without doing that, I wouldn’t be as comfortable in my recovery. I’d question myself and my sobriety, which can be dangerous. But because I had someone to push me then, I understand myself better now.
- The one who knew you then. Though your friendships will likely change in recovery, I think it’s important to have some of the people from your drinking days in your life. Not necessarily bad influences, but people who knew you when you drank and also know you in your recovery. For example, a few years after getting sober I moved to a new town, one that I had never drunk in. Here, I met many new people. But none of them knew me when I drank, so in a way they don’t fully understand me and the choices I’ve made along the way. But the people who were in my life when I drank and are still in my life now are able to recognize the changes in me. It feels rewarding when people notice that you are doing something good for yourself and that the changes you are making in your life are positive ones. It can be easy to want to erase reminders of when you drank, and sometimes those reminders can be people. But it’s also important to remember that some people from your drinking days will fully support your lifestyle change and will want to remain involved in your life. You also never know when you may be an example for an old friend who wants to stop drinking.
- The one who hasn’t been there, but supports you nonetheless. When you get and stay sober, you’re going to meet new people who didn’t know you when you drank. And some of these people are going to become important relationships in your life. In a way it may feel odd, as if they don’t know firsthand about a vital part of your past and the events that shaped who you are today. But since they love you, they’ll do their best to understand your past and to support your present. For me, this person is my boyfriend of two years. I sometimes struggle with the fact that he didn’t know me when I drank, because it feels like he’ll never fully understand why I am how I am today. But all I can do is try my best to explain what happened when I drank and why I stopped. And for him, that is enough. He loves me so he supports the choices I make, including my sobriety. This type of person is important because it’s proof that people will go to great lengths to understand things when they love you enough.
Of course, other types of people will cross your path in sobriety, too. Not every person in your journey has to have an obvious purpose. Still, sometimes it feels good to sit back and identify who’s who and the role each person plays in your life — because it helps you to not only understand them better, but to understand yourself better as well.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse and in need of detox treatment in West Palm Beach, give Summer House Detox Center a call at 800-719-1090 to schedule a FREE consultation. You can also visit us at 13550 Memorial Highway Miami, FL 33161. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.