Ok, so we’ve already established that he has the possibility of relapsing. Right? And then we’ve also discussed the idea that we can “relapse” by falling out of (or not beginning) our own recovery. It’s the mindset of it, even if we aren’t actually relapsing in the same way they would. But what about cravings? Can we have those?
The answer is: yes.
But it’s a little bit different. Here, let me explain.
I’ll begin by explaining a little bit about the timeline of recovery for my partner and you can see if it’s similar to what you have experienced.
When he enters a treatment facility he is not in a good place in any area. Mentally he is low, and this is where things begin: the hard work of building everything up again and the foundation of how things will keep progressing. After about a month or so, he feels enough in the swing of things to be more confident, and in the past this is around the time he would leave rehab. Then, in the coming months it swings back and forth between feeling confident, and again feeling low and prone to relapse. One area that contributes to this are the cravings, which is when he gets pulled back into old ways of thinking and patterns of behavior, brought on by the desire to use.
Now for me, my timeline resembles this a lot, and surprisingly, I didn’t notice this until recently.
When he would leave for rehab, I was at a mentally low point as well. I was dealing with his using and his needing to leave to a facility, and also my own feelings of sadness at missing him and being unsure of the future. Then, as time went on being alone, I would gain my sense of independence again and feel more sure of myself. And as time went on even more, even when he returned, I would do well, and also fall back into old habits and ways of thinking.
Honestly though I forget sometimes that it’s ok to do that.
I beat myself up a lot and think that since I have overcome a particular topic I will never feel that way again, or that my slip ups in thinking somehow mean that I’m not doing as well as I thought I was.
This is not the case at all.
I am able to have ever shifting frames of reference, ways of thinking, and opinions on things. And I can also look at the past with new eyes and process old hurts and traumas without thinking I’m slipping or becoming the old me I’ve tried so hard to change. After all, these triggers are showing me what it is I still need to work on and improve my reactions to.
It’s all completely normal.
Sure, it doesn’t feel normal when I’m minding my own business at work and the orange straw from yesterday’s smoothie poking out of the trash catches me off guard because my brain sees a needle cap.
But that’s the thing with trauma: it catches you off guard.
It comes at the weirdest times, and I can either run from it, guilt trip myself and feel even worse, or recognize it for what it is and move on from it, stronger in myself and knowing it’s just part of healing.
And yes, I said trauma.
I used to not like that word because to me it sounded too dramatic.
Oh, sure, trauma ok. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be “dramatic” to be trauma.
It’s true, my mental and emotional health suffered as a result of my experiences, and while it’s my job to do the work to overcome it, it still is a fact that what caused it was traumatic. And the sooner I accept that, the easier the whole thing gets for me.
Give yourself some grace, yeah?
So you see, we are a lot like the ones we love. And when we realize that, we become more able to give ourselves kindness and room to grow, without the guilt and negativity that only causes our faults to go deeper. Also, not only that, but we also are able to give some more kindness and grace to our loved ones, because you see, we are just different players in the same game.
Empathy for everyone!
So, let’s get to the work of building ourselves and those around us, ok?