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Friends and Family—Reframed

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Recovery has allowed me to enjoy the pleasures of friendship, really for the first time since childhood. Now I can truly say that I am a friend and I have friends, both in and out of the rooms.

When I was in the food, I was so unhappy I couldn’t be open to the often-subtle pleasures of friendship, such as sharing a meal and conversation with another or getting to know them and their life a little better. I’ve learned so much—practical, emotional, and spiritual—from contact with other people. This was a pleasure I’d denied myself. Now I take time for friendship and value it highly.

I am also beginning to learn about boundaries with others. This is very difficult for me because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and I want them to like me—sounds like people-pleasing to me! I am at the beginning of this particular journey and, as with all other recovery lessons, it’s a lot of work but so worth it.

I am also just beginning to readdress and reframe my relationships with my family of origin. Through work with another member, and also a lot of pain, I realized I had the same view of those connections as I did when I was 15. Well, I’m 62 now, so it’s high time to revamp. Primary to this process is accepting (there’s that familiar Twelve Step word again!) my family members exactly as they are: their faults, strengths, failures, and successes. If I accept and esteem my mother’s almost limitless generosity, I also need to accept her sometime ferocity. It’s all part of the package of who she is—as I too am a collection of varied traits.

I’m using the Eleventh Step Prayer: “Lord, make me a channel of thy peace . . .” (AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 99) It reminds me of the virtues I would like to bring to the family dynamic: love, pardon, faith, hope, light, and joy. Again, it’s a lot of work, but is there anything else more worthwhile?

— Christina R., Montvale, New Jersey USA

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