Being patient with our loved ones when they’re in recovery is one of our greatest challenges but also one of the most important things we can do, both for them and for ourselves. Throughout their struggles with addiction, we’ve watched them self-destruct, create turmoil everywhere they go, and wreak havoc on both their lives and ours. We’ve allowed them to take us down with them because we care about them so strongly and because we at times have chosen to prioritize their well-being over ours. At times, their addictions were so overpowering and debilitating that we felt as though we were caught up in the storm of their difficult emotions and destructive behaviors. We didn’t always know how to separate ourselves from them and their problems, how to create safe distance between us, and how to put ourselves first. Sometimes our instinct when our loved ones are finally in recovery is to be impatient with them, to feel frustrated with their progress and to rush them into getting better because we want them to be fully healed as quickly as possible. We want them to get back to their normal lives. We know how hard it is to watch them suffer. We’ve dealt with the stress and depression that can come with watching loved ones struggle with addiction. Our impatience is understandable, and our feelings are natural. We’ve all been through so much. But we do ourselves and our loved ones a much greater service when we’re able to be patient and understanding with them.
Being patient with our loved ones when they’re recovering doesn’t mean we let them get away with behaviors that hurt us, or that we enable them in any way. It doesn’t mean that we condone things we’re unhappy with. Having patience with them means trying to be as understanding as possible of the fact that they’ve been struggling for some time, and changes take time to implement. Our loved ones are not going to change overnight. Habits they’ve been practicing for years take time to shift. The limiting beliefs stored in our subconscious minds take time to reprogram. Our toxic, destructive behavioral patterns take time and energy to transform. When we rush ourselves through these important steps, we’re not getting the full benefits of the healing, and we’re not putting in the full work. We want to allow our loved ones the time and space to create a whole new foundation for themselves that is built on self-love and self-nurturing. We want them to start seeing themselves in new ways, ways that are empowering and uplifting. For so long, our loved ones have been treating themselves with such unkindness and self-deprecation. We want them to have the time they need to shift their self-perception and heal their wounded self-image.
While our loved ones are doing this crucial work, we want them to know they are fully supported and loved by us. We want to show them that we accept them for who they are, and that we love them unconditionally. We want them to know that their addictions don’t make us love them any less. We believe in them, and we see the best in them. We believe in the best version of them, and we believe in their potential to align with their highest, truest self. We believe in their capacity for change, and we want to be there for them along the way. We can’t live their recovery for them, but we can be patient with them while they do the work.
Patience can be hard to cultivate, especially if we’ve grown accustomed to responding to our loved ones’ addictions with fear, panic and doubt. We’re afraid of what harm will come to them. We panic whenever we think they’re unsafe. We’re afraid they’ll always be suffering, and we doubt that they’ll ever able to be recover, especially if we’ve already seen them relapse in the past. Many of us feel anger and frustration as well. We’re angry with our loved ones for everything they’ve put us through and what they’re continuing to put themselves through. We feel frustrated with their lack of progress and the mistakes they continue to make. We often feel bad for our anger, though. We want to be there for our loved ones, and our anger can hurt us and make us feel we’re not being as supportive and understanding as we could be. Our emotional responses also impact our loved ones. They look to us to be able to understand them and relate to them, and our impatience can hurt them. They need our empathy and our unconditional love.
Developing patience is shedding our judgment and releasing our expectations. We’ve been holding onto judgments about our loved ones and their addictions. We’ve had expectations about when and how they will recover, and at what rate they should be progressing. Having patience means we let go of what we think should happen and realize that other people’s recovery is out of our control. What we can control is how we respond to things. We can work to cultivate a sense of peace within ourselves that isn’t destroyed any time our loved one relapses or makes a mistake. We can be at peace with ourselves no matter where they are in their journey, and we can bring that peace to the relationship, giving them the benefit of our emotional stability, harmony and tranquility.
The community of Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and the feelings of hopelessness and disconnection that come with it. We’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. Call (800) 871-5440 today.