Rebuilding Trust and Connection with Your Family

Let’s make something very clear: Recovery is about change.

And as you change, your relationships with family members and loved ones must change also. This often happens in a very natural, unavoidable way. But not always. So, let’s get into it.

Family Relationships and Recovery

For a lot of people, their most complicated and difficult relationships are with their family members. As we explore our relationships, especially those with our parents, there is potential for very deep healing. But both sides have to be open to it.

Every one of us has heard society’s advice to respect our parents, to be grateful for them, and to love them unconditionally. We have also experienced how impossible this can feel at times.

Add to that the difficulties of navigating recovery and the family arguments caused because of substance use, and things can get complicated very quickly. But underneath the complicated dynamics is love, and there are ways to reconnect.

family members holding hands during difficult conversation

The Power of Perspective

For those in recovery, it might be hard to see where your family is coming from at first. And for your family, they cannot understand why you use or have used in the past. This disconnection between yours and their realities often causes a lot of pain for everyone involved.

Through honest communication and an openness to understanding different perspectives, connection is possible.

7 Starting Points for Better Communication with Family

1. Look into your parents’ eyes, especially during moments of big conflict to see their deep love and genuine concern for you. Even when they aren’t doing a good job of expressing themselves in truly helpful ways in those moments.

2. Take a time out when you feel overwhelmed or angry. Take a step back from the conflict and your feelings of hurt. Give yourself time and space to work through your feelings.

3. Before an important conversation, get very clear about what you are looking for in your interaction with your parents and family members. Have an intention and a direction for the conversation and try to stick to that. 

4. Stick to being respectful, no matter what happens. This is a standard of behaviour you get to set for yourself. It’s not about them, necessarily. You simply refuse to become hurtful and aggressive under any conditions.

5. Become aware of when you are shutting down and going numb during your interactions with your family members. If this happens in the middle of a conversation, you can announce it by saying something like, “I’m shutting down right now.” You can decide to continue the interaction once you feel connected with yourself again.

6. Give up the hope that your parents will change. This doesn’t mean becoming hopeless. This simply means you aren’t desperately waiting for them to change. You are freeing yourself from big expectations even as you stay open to anything that might happen.

7. Become aware of any pressure and guilt you feel towards your parents. The more pressure you feel to treat them a certain way, the more it will backfire. Guilt (as in self-blame) isn’t healthy motivation. Love is. Peace is. Joy is.

family members in cafe talking

Family Services at Sunshine Coast Health Centre

At the end of the day, finding a good therapist to explore your relationships with is always beneficial. The more you explore your childhood wounds, the freer you will become, and this freedom benefits every relationship in your life.

At Sunshine Coast Health Centre, we understand the complicated dynamics within families. It’s important to us to help improve relationships among family members and close friends to aid in successful long-term recovery. Through our Family Services, we help family members better understand their loved one’s struggles and equip them with tools to support loved ones once they’ve finished treatment. To learn more about our programs and services, visit our website or contact us today.

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