Are your unrealistic expectations for recovery leading you towards a relapse?
When people get sober, great things can happen. This isn’t to say that things are easy. Recovery takes work. It takes action and dedication. But when you get sober and are working a program of recovery, it feels great. Good things start to happen. You get back on your feet, you get a job, and you make friends. Your life is no longer controlled by drugs and alcohol. Hopefully, you get a relationship with a higher power. You feel good when you wake up in the morning.
Things change so quickly in early sobriety that later on, when things slow down, you may end up feeling disappointed. A good friend of mine once said, “In sobriety, things get good, then they get really good, then they get real.”
Life shows up. Things get real. Recovery is a process, not an event. If we start to have unrealistic expectations when things are going really well, we end up setting ourselves up for disappointment later on. This can lead us down a path of ungratefulness and discontent. Eventually, we may relapse.
Unrealistic expectations for recovery can be dangerous in many different ways. They may cause us to become disillusioned and give up. We may become complacent in our program if we are expecting recovery to be easy, and then we may stop doing the necessary things we need to do to stay sober. If we do not know what to expect, we have no way of judging our progress. If we have unrealistically high expectations, we will naturally judge our progress negatively. Your unrealistic expectations could be leading you towards a relapse.
Unrealistic expectations can also turn into resentments. Many of us begin expecting a lot more of other people once we become sober. We get that people didn’t trust us when we were using drugs, but now that we’re sober, we want to be trusted by everyone. We begin to treat others with love, honesty, and respect, and we expect them to offer us the same courtesy.
I remember becoming extremely upset in early sobriety when my father refused to give me cash. He wanted to help me out with food money, but he was wary of putting money in my bank account because he didn’t want me spending it on drugs. He ended up getting me a prepaid credit card. I was offended. I was doing the right thing, why didn’t he trust me? After speaking with my sponsor, I realized that I had unrealistic expectations of him. After all, I’d only been sober for 90 days, and we’d done this song and dance before. He’d watched me get sober for a couple of months and then go back out. Rebuilding the trust between us was going to take time. I knew that I really wanted it, but he didn’t know that, and I’d said it a million times before. My word meant nothing.
The best way to prevent unrealistic expectations from leading you towards a relapse is to realize that recovery is a process, and it is unique to each one of us. When you start feeling disappointment because someone is not meeting your expectations, call someone before it becomes a resentment.
If your loved one is in need of addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.