Many of us in recovery spent our formative teen or early adulthood years drinking or using. During the time we might have been learning to build authentic closeness, we were cut off from ourselves by substances.
I’ve always kept many relationships of all varieties, even during active addiction. But there are layers to true intimacy that I’m still learning, over six and a half years into recovery. By intimacy, I mean all types of closeness—in romance, in friendships, in familial relationships. Intimacy requires vulnerability, active communication and listening, the ability to set boundaries, self-awareness, and many other things that can be lacking in active addiction.
Even in recovery, all these things can be difficult. But being sober allows us to do this work. It opens so many possibilities for our relationships. Many of the difficult things tend to lead to more growth, intimacy, and connection—more of the things most of us crave in life.
One of the reasons it’s often recommended to stay connected to a support system in recovery is because if you are feeling alone, you may seek comfort in alcohol or drugs. The closeness that you can build with other people in recovery—or with those in your life with whom there’s any kind of mutual support—is really powerful.
Getting close requires hard and vulnerable conversations, which can be scary. Many of us were used to having difficult and vulnerable conversations while under the influence of substances, or avoiding them altogether. We’ve shared some tips for coping with vulnerable conversations here.
Some of us in recovery may have experienced trauma during or before active addiction, and this trauma can impact close relationships. If you are experiencing fear of getting close to anyone due to trauma, you are not alone. As part of processing your trauma, you can also start to work on coping skills that can make you feel less powerless.
Connection is important for any human, and particularly meaningful for recovery. It can take work to feel comfortable with certain layers of closeness—but that work is worth it.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you heal in recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.