We invest so much of ourselves into friendships. Making the proposition of ending a friendship a terrifying thought. Letting go feels like losing a piece of ourselves. As someone who has been through addiction recovery, I have had my share of experiences of surrendering friendships that were no longer healthy. As well, I have experienced a friend distance themselves from me. Having friendships end post-recovery is common. Here are a few reasons why our connections with certain friends weaken and lessons to learn:
Our health is how we treat our body. Recovery is the practice of daily surrendering our alcohol abuse, drug use or eating disordered behaviors. Though we have found new and healthy ways to care for our bodies, our friends might not be up to speed just yet. Being a witness to a friend who is engaged in addiction can be incredibly triggering to a former addict. I once heard, “My recovery is my number one priority. If I don’t have recovery, I don’t have anything.” If you notice that your recovery is jeapordized among certain friends you are wise to examine that friendship.
Sometimes an addiction creates a facade of who we’d ‘like’ to be. While recovery requires us to be honest in every facet of our life; our emotions, motives and actions. Through this process of rigorous honesty we may find that the loud party animal that we thought we were is actually quite reserved. The cynical atheist is now a spiritual seeker. Recovery starts the rich process of self-discovery. It reveals the authentic person beneath the alcohol, drugs and eating. However, sometimes the revelation of the new person doesn’t match the interests of our old friends. Letting go of a facade of ourselves can couple with letting go of a friendship.
“Ya know, some people change ‘chapters’ of their life… But Layla, you’ve changed your entire ‘book.’ I just don’t know how to relate to you anymore.”
This statement was said to a friend of mine post-recovery. A friend of hers was frustrated with how much she had changed.
Even though we can change for the better, sometimes the people around us aren’t fully on board. Not because they aren’t happy for us, they just prefer their old friend- the friend they are used to.
Imagine this scenario, you and a travel buddy have taken many road trips together. Having been on numerous trips you have established your roles.
She’s the driver.
You pick out the music.
She brings books on tape.
You make the jokes.
She picks-out the restaurants.
You select the scenic stops.
But, then recovery happens. You change. She stays the same. You both get back into the car for another road trip and you realize:
I’d like to drive.
I’d like to bring the books on tape.
I’d like to pick out the restaurants.
When you tell your travel buddy this, she doens’t like it. She was comfortable with the way things were before. This can leave both of you frustrated in your roles on the trip. Comparable, this shift can leave two friends confused on how to show up in a friendship.
I believe in compromise. I believe that when people really care for each other they can work work together and restore peace. It takes each person seeing their part in the situation, working on their side and both making compromises so each person feels that their needs are being met.
I also believe that sometimes it’s not about compromise. Sometimes it’s about finding a new travel buddy. As we grow our needs change and so does what we need in our friendships.
Just like letting go of an addiction, letting go of a friendship is painful. What I have learned is to look at the closing of a friendship as two people who have helped each other on their path. Two people who have come to the fork in the road, looked at eachother with great gratitude and said, “Thank you for the adventure. I’ll see you up the road.” Sometimes, we let people go in order to explore a new path, and let them do the same.
Happy travels to you.