Recovery is a Beautiful Gift: But You Have to Give it to Yourself

Recovery really does have a ripple effect. Making the decision to get better, do better and be better, benefited me and everyone around me. I was able to build a life far better than the rock bottom where I started my journey.

My sister, just a year younger than I, has long been both my best friend and bitter enemy, as is often the case with sisters. After our parents died, I assumed the role of mom at 17. My sister and I struggled along together, caring for her son as well as our much younger siblings.

When the shit hit the fan several years later, we took to the streets together, maintaining both an “us against the world” attitude and an extreme co-dependence on each other. A lot of really bad, really fucked up stuff happened and it took some work for me to clean up my end.

Today, I’m still super close to my sister. We live in neighboring towns and my sons adore her. But my sister had a slip up awhile back, and although she’s not actively using, her home life is rapidly declining. She tells me she’s unhappy.

She’s not the only one.

One of my buddies has also relapsed a few times. He’s a close friend and the godfather to my youngest. My kids both love him and think of him as an Uncle. He is always invited for holidays and birthdays and when he’s sober, the kids love to have their uncle babysit. But now he’s drinking and he doesn’t know if he can stop, or if he even wants to.

I’m watching these people who are huge parts of my life just give up.

Unemployed and possibly on the way to unemployable…settling for less or nothing. Expressing hopelessness and defeat. 

It fucking sucks.

I’ve never been on this side before. Having to sit, and not being able to do anything, except say “I’m here when you are ready. I love you. ” It’s soul crushing and it makes me physically ill.

My kids ask me for their aunt, who is depressed and hasn’t really wanted to be around. They ask for their uncle all the time.

I can’t make my sister answer my calls or texts. I can’t let uncle over if he’s drinking. I can’t ask them to babysit because neither of them can commit right now. It hurts.

I hate seeing people I care about hurting. Their pain ripples out into their loved ones. My kids hurt when they can’t see their favorite people. I feel sad when I can’t help my peeps or explain to the kids why they can’t see so-and-so.

So, what do I do?

I stay available. I offer an ear or resources or food or whatever might help. I do not overextend myself or chase them.

I send a text or call. I talk to mutual recovery friends. I pray and ask the universe to guide them. It’s frustrating.  It doesn’t feel good and that’s okay. If I can accept that I’m doing my best, then I will continue to do my best.

I want to give everyone this beautiful gift of a new happy life. I want to be able to bottle up the hope and love that I have found in recovery, and tell them “you too, can have this.” But I can’t. They have to get there on their own. So until they’re ready to get it…I’ll be holding on to the love and hope. I’m right here waiting.

Nicole is an East Coast mama in long-term recovery. A survivor of all the things, she is a fierce advocate for women, loves the “f-word,” practices kindness, and loves patchwork. Nicole lives north of Boston with her fiancé and their two sons.

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