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Toxic Relationships

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

One of the hardest aspects of growing is understanding and accepting you may outgrow some of your relationships. At first glance, this may come across as snobbish or even haughty, but in reality, it's just reality. Something the addict rarely understands is the concept of surrounding ourselves with people who make us better people, who challenge us, and who are doing what we want to be doing. Even to the addict, this concept makes sense, but when it comes down to it we struggle because the reality is we do not want to be challenged. We are too busy finding our next drink or high to worry about becoming a better person. Having someone in our lives who reminds us of all we are not doing is not only unwelcome but also downright annoying. Our answer is to surround ourselves with people struggling in the same ways as we are. We seek out people who do not make us feel bad about who we are. I would go so far as to say we even seek out people who make us feel better about who we are. Now, of course, this is not to say we do not have good friendships and people in our lives. We do, but ask yourself this question: with whom do you spend more time?

As with any relationship, over time we experience ups and downs; highs and lows; good and bad memories. All of these characteristics in a friendship leave lasting impressions, and they create loyalties that are not easily forgotten or left behind. Bonds are formed. Pacts are agreed upon. Promises are made. Homages are stated. At the time, all of these actions made sense to us and our friends. Whether these actions were healthy or not was unimportant. We simply knew we needed those people in our lives, and we did what we could to protect those relationships. It never occurred to us anything could ever change the way we felt about our friendships. There were no scenarios we could conjure powerful enough to change our perception of the people around us. We did the best with what we had and nobody could expect anything more from us.

With Positive Change Comes Growth

Something very powerful happens almost immediately following the first real steps away from addiction. I say the first real steps because when they are not the "real" steps, we know the difference. The difference is in the conviction. It is either present or it is not. If it is present our first steps toward sobriety bring with them a certain amount of confidence and growth. The confidence comes from knowing we are actively engaged in a successful journey. The growth comes from the learning we have always been capable of doing so. It was never outside our reach. We have always been strong. We were never incapable of anything. We just told ourselves we were, and some of our relationships backed up those sentiments.

When we successfully make the emotional and physical changes necessary to walk away from addiction we see and feel the changes in ourselves. We begin to think differently. We begin to act differently. Our perceptions of ourselves and the world around us changes. The world's perception of us changes too. We no longer feel trapped in a life of submission. We want to take control of our actions, our behaviors, and our thinking. We feel an increasingly strong desire and urge to finally take back control of our lives. As we do this, we inevitably begin to feel the ramifications of our own growth and change. It is not only us who are changing. Our growth and changes affect everyone around us. Some will grow with us, others will not. Some will support us, others will attempt to suppress our growth and keep us down. Some will join us on our journey. Others will let us go. This is a natural progression of change and growth. The problem, however, lies in our ability to let go of those who do not want to join or support us.