Imagine a mobile. I mean a real mobile that hangs above a baby’s crib. When picturing this, picture how it is a constant balancing act. It manages to stay centered because each piece on is an even weight that keeps it in balance and spinning. Now imagine if you removed one of the hanging pieces. What happens to a mobile if you do that? It leans heavily to one side right? It becomes lopsided or unbalanced.
This is what happens when the addict in the family decides to get sober. For so long the family has played this balancing act with their sick loved one and everyone knows their role so they manage, in essence, to keep the “mobile” or family balanced and even. When the addict gets sober its like removing a piece of the mobile and the mobile all of a sudden is off kilter; all of a sudden the family is off kilter. Everyone has to adjust in order for everything to be in balance again. This is why addiction is a family disease. It is a family addiction. Because the addiction and/or recovery of one individual in the family unit, effects the entire family as a whole.
So this means there is going to be a lot of adjustment once the addict in the family gets sober. It doesn’t mean that everything is hunky dory after the addict gets sober. Often times addicts and alcoholics have expectations. They expect their family to be so proud of them, to support them, to understand, to forgive and to trust. Unfortunately, this may be the picture that is sometimes painted but the truth is that it can take the family months, or even years to get back to normal. There is even the possibly that they never will. There is the possibility that the family will never trust or be proud. And that is the reality of it. The addict can sometimes damage their family, beyond repair. Not going to sugar coat it. Now is this common? Is it common that the family never forgives the addict in their life? Absolutely not. Most of the time the family is more than willing to forgive, support and understand; it is the trust that can take some time. And for good reasons.
It didn’t take a day for the addict to screw up their relationship with their family and it is going to take more than a day to get that relationship back. That is why it is highly recommended that the alcoholic or addict do what they need to do get sober for themselves AND also that the family go and get help for themselves. The addict doesn’t have to be the only that gets support and tries to change, the family can do that too. And this is great, this is when the best results happen; when the addict and the family get help. Because I cannot say it enough; THIS IS A FAMILY ADDICTION. ADDICTION IS A FAMILY DISEASE.
So if you or your loved one are the addict or family in this situation it is imperative for both sides to realize that everything will not magically, all of a sudden, go back to normal. The family is going to take some time to learn how to trust and understand. Not only that but the addict is going to need some time to get a strong footing in their recovery. It isn’t abnormal for the family to be weary and they should know that relapse is a possibility. It isn’t necessary, but it is a possibility.
Either way if everyone is getting the help they need, amazing things can happen when families begin to heal together.