“David” sat in a crowd of fifty with tears streaming down his face, as he told the story of a relationship found at last but only just before it would be lost forever. “David” shared details of his relationship with his brother, a relationship they didn’t share for a long period of time. He talked about how pending death and his recovery allowed that relationship to be brought to life, after addiction had taken it from them. It was an emotional story, the type that is typically only shared with family or very close friends, yet “David” sat with a group of peers and strangers and poured out his heart.
Addiction can take a lot of things from a person. It can take away health, freedom, employment and relationships with family. All too often a person becomes isolated from family because of addiction, and relationships that were once closely knit become more like the relationships of mere acquaintances. Trusted family members can turn into emotional strangers that cannot connect with one another on a deeper plane.
A lot of healing occurs, once a person commits to a life of recovery. Healing extends beyond the physical side to psychological and emotional levels. Working a program of recovery involves honesty and opening up to others who share the problem of addiction. It is common to see a person share the most intimate details of his or her life with a group of complete strangers. These strangers are people that are connected not by blood but by the bond of trying to amend a once-addicted life. The details the recovering addict shares are things he or she never shared with family for fear of ruining that relationship, hurting feelings or causing shame, but he or she openly shares them with this second family, this family of strangers, that is connected by the blood of addiction and the blood of recovery that flows through them. Support groups and addiction recovery offer the promise of lifelong friends.
“David” finished sharing his story and was greeted with love, support, and compassion. He was offered encouragement, and undoubtedly his words resonated with someone in that group who had been in or was in the midst of a similar situation. “David” had connected with people that might have appeared to be a group of strangers but in reality were his second family, his family of strangers.
If you have been through something similar, please share your experience of seeing addiction turn families into strangers and how recovery has helped groups of strangers come together to form a family of recovering addicts. For those of you that may be in the middle of dealing with addiction that has isolated your family, I encourage you to give recovery, and the wonderful second family you can gain through it, a try.