Relationships in Recovery
Here’s the dilemma; chemically problematic men and women don’t do well in ‘relationships’.
An extremely high percentage of people who try to get clean and sober but then repeatedly find themselves relapsing, relapse because of relationship breakdowns and the subsequently overwhelming feelings of hurt, loss, and failure. For too many people, conflict in a relationships spells the end of the relationship.
That’s one of the reasons why many counsellors and many 12 Step Recovery stalwarts advise, ‘don’t get involved in romantic relationships in early recovery’.
And whilst that makes sense the fact is, some of the key character failings within many addiction orientated people and a major contributing factor of most relationship failure is the lack of boundaries and the inability to say yes when we mean yes and no when we mean no.
So telling them to avoid romantic relationships is like telling the alcoholic not to drink anymore, it’s a good idea and everyone can see the sense in it, but it is inevitably the build up to further disappointment. Bethesda Addiction Rehab assumes and accepts that many of our struggling families and relapsing pilgrims, without even realizing it, would rather have a bad relationship than no relationship.
So, reaching out to those guys, I want to ask, ‘did you ever consider that you may not know how to handle conflict in a healthy way’? I want to talk to you about how to identify what you turn into when the going gets tough.
FIVE CONFLICT STYLES:
Avoiders – Have one intention, ‘staying out of conflict’. Avoiders are unassertive people-pleasers and therefore the ‘other side’ to feel as if they are right and/or that they can get anything they want from you.
The Turtles silently say; “I am not interested enough to invest in this conflict”. Long term avoidance increases inner frustrations and fosters a belief that ‘I am weak’ which then develops internal (passive) hostility
Accommodators – With the intentions of preserving relationships at all costs, they will sweep issues under the carpet and do anything not to hurt anyone’s feelings.
They are Teddy Bears that silently say: “We must get along and not let ‘things’ come between us”. Putting the other person’s feelings or wants above their own out of fear of being abandoned, but still develop resentment towards those they bend over backward for, as resentment towards themselves and self-pity.
Long term accommodators produce a false front of cooperation, cheerfulness, and love for other people. Accommodators always increase in self-dislike and frustrations about having to hold every one of their relationships together
Compromisers – always have the intention to award the other side just a little bit of winning in order to manipulate them into a majority loss.
Foxes silently say: “We must all submit our personal desires and serve the common good, as long as I benefit the most”.
Long term compromising create strained relationships with very little commitment to anything and recurring relational conflicts.
Competitors – They are intent on winning in a conflict situation. The shark has the following philosophy, ‘there are only two options, winning and losing, and winning is best’.
Sharks say: “I know what’s best for everyone concerned all the time so don’t get in my way”, effectively taking control, even if it’s for the worst. Their controlling and angry nature is upsetting to many, and they often fail to admit when they are wrong in order to keep winning an argument, no matter the cost.
Long term competing styles produce ingrained hostility and half-hearted implementation of solutions and a decreased goal achievement.
Collaborators – Whether you are right or wrong, you can choose to take 85% of the responsibility for getting all parties fully involved in defining the conflict and in carrying out mutually agreeable steps for resolving the conflict.
Owl’s say “Everyone’s goal is important, let’s work together, let’s create a win-win situation” This conflict style is the most effective and results in stable conflict resolutions, and helps keep relationships stable and healthy.
All in inclusive collaboration produces trust, strong relationships, mutual enthusiasm and workable implementations of solutions.
If you see yourself in these conflict styles, try adopting a Collaborator conflict resolution style to help maintain the stability of your relationships and enforce your own dedication to staying clean and sober. With the support of strong, healthy relationships where conflicts don’t result in breakdowns and destruction, you can continue on your journey of recovery with more confidence.
Just remember never to give up or breakdown in conflict situations. Even the best relationships have conflict, they are just resolved effectively by all parties involved.