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Do You Feel Awkward When You Talk About Your Recovery

You’re not alone. Broaching the subject of your recovery can be an a scary experience among coworkers, acquaintances, and while dating. Especially if you’re new to recovery. The stigma of dependency and substance abuse can overshadow a conversation and lead to the other person making assumptions about your life and experiences. How do you effectively talk about being in recovery and dispel any misinformation or pre-conceived notions that your friends, family, and coworkers might unintentionally hold?

Luckily for you, dear reader, that’s what we are going to explore in this post.

Let’s dig in:

Some People Will Get Negative When You Talk About Recovery

When you bring up your recovery, some people will openly react negatively. That’s ok—these are not your people. Their close-mindedness is not so much a reflection of your personal struggles with substance abuse as it is a reflection of their lack of compassion and inability to imagine what it’s like to be an addict. They either can’t (because they lack the imagination) or won’t (because of some deep-seated insecurity) react with empathy towards your situation.

You don’t need their approval.

Other People Will Have Questions, Questions, and More Questions

It is certainly not your job to be a recovery ambassador. Depending upon the level of trust you have with the person asking, you’ll need to set clear boundaries about what you are willing to talk about and what is off-limits.

Usually, curiosity is not meant to be offensive, and it can signify that the other person genuinely wants to understand your point of view. However, you are never obligated to answer any question you are uncomfortable answering. Be clear (and polite) about the limits of the conversation, and the other person should respect you and your privacy.

You Don’t Have To Drink And Party. Be Prepared to Respectfully Turn People Down

There will be times at work and amongst friends and family where you’ll be invited to join in on the festive, nightly activities of your friends, family, and friendly coworkers. Repeatedly turning people down can be a source of anxiety – human beings are social animals, after all. There is always a chance that a friend or co-worker might get offended that you continually postpone or cancel plans. In situations like this, the plain, unadulterated truth delivered calmly is the best way to get your point across.

Once they are made aware of your struggles with substance abuse, true friends and family will not pester you to join them for a night out at the bars. They’ll never invite you to engage in any activities that might serve as a trigger and cause you stress. Better yet, your true best friends and family will engage in safe, comfortable activities with you.

You Understand The Path To Recovery. Be Patient, It takes Time.

Ultimately, you are in recovery for yourself and no one else. When you stand up for yourself, have patience with yourself, and set proper boundaries with others, you build a strong foundation to resist temptations and successfully remain in recovery. When others question us or attack our convictions, we might start to second guess ourselves and our newfound purpose. Sobriety takes time to love. Everyone possesses doubts, even the people doubting you.

As long as you approach your thoughts with self-love and compassion, other people’s opinions, beliefs, remarks, or judgments can’t destroy that solid foundation that you have built your life in recovery on. You know you best!

You Can’t Be a Savior for Others (Only for Yourself)

There might be people that you love and care about who are still trapped by their dependency. How do you talk to them about being in recovery?  If you become obsessed with saving these loved ones, you are simply exchanging one dependency for another.

The best way to help them is to be a shining example of what living in recovery looks like. Help others by being the best version of yourself. If those loved ones are ready to help themselves, then they might follow you toward a life in recovery.

But, you need to be prepared for when they are not ready or willing to help themselves.

Recovery Brings Growth. It’s Okay To Move On

Sometimes the life you once lived is wholly incompatible with the life you are leading now. Think of the moments that brought you to your great epiphany. Think of what brought you to recovery. If there are people in your life trying to bring you back to the way things were, then you need to make your new path in life absolutely clear to them.

If they can’t or won’t understand it, then move on.

Be Unapologetically In Recovery

Talking about living in recovery is straightforward, if not always easy. Your old relationships will need to adapt to the new circumstances that guide your life. You should build new connections on that same foundation of self-respect and self-love that you’ve fashioned your new life in recovery on.

The genuine people— your people— will accept you for you.

Keep being you. Jenn

Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, and dog enthusiast living unapologetically in recovery. She writes for Maryville, which specializes in addiction treatment in NJ.

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