I’m in recovery, and most of my friends are sober as well. But, I may be in recovery and still have the need for non-recovering friends, too. But, when I say I need friends that aren’t recovering I don’t mean friends that are actively doing drugs, either. I don’t mean that kind of non-recovery. I absolutely need friends that are not afflicted by addictions, or that are able to go out with other friends while not around me and have a safe, but decent time doing things that I couldn’t do. That is really important! It might even be essential to my recovery at some point, when I’m ready…
So yes, it’s still important to have these friends in my life despite all of the signs that point to danger. I’m active in recovery and have been for well over five years, but I am here telling you, I do have friends that are not in recovery. And I know that some of you have friends in either “group meetings” or rehab facilities or just your day to day recovery process who say, “Hanging out with people who don’t get it, or understand why I choose to stay clean and sober, are so frustrating!” or “People who can still drink make me uncomfortable!” or even “Those normies will never get it!” But I respond saying this:
“You know what? It’s just as much our job to let them know what it’s like, as much as it’s their job to let us know what their day to day is like as well… isn’t that a way to help breaking the stigma? Let us not segregate based on addiction vs non-addiction. Let us come together for understanding instead. Isn’t that uncomfortable feeling you get the same one when you asked yourself if you should get clean? Maybe it’s time to start trusting that feeling a little more, so we all can benefit, not just a you benefit situation.”
For many of you this may seem like a farfetched idea. Why would I want to risk having friends that aren’t in recovery? But, I look at it different, too. Why would the person you call a normie want to have a friend who is in recovery? The sword is double edged in this battle.
If I don’t go out into this war with an even head on my shoulder, able to communicate with everybody on an even ground then I’m just making the stigma that much worse. In fact, I am segregating addicts from non-addicts. And I know many of you in recovery, who are still early with recovery say, “It’s hard for me to even see a ‘normal’ person.” But, in time you will be able to get there, just like in time they will get there for us. And then for some others it’s more than natural, and they don’t even have to think twice. But who knows what stage of recovery that person is in!
I remember nights I’d come home crying after trying to hang out with friends who were “normies.” It was so hard and it wasn’t because of them, it was because I was just too darn uncomfortable. Someone would be said and I would see the elephant in the room get bigger. Or they would ask to go somewhere and I would have to leave early with my heart broken. I can still feel the tears strolling down my face from those times. Luckily I have to this day–for the most part–gotten over these times, as I now have my own family and am doing well in my recovery. But, there will be times my parents will want to do things and I simply have to say no. Today they know why, but before, until we educated each other on what each other was thinking we just didn’t understand each other. There was the slightest resentment in the room, but as we grew together those resentments faded.
Now onto another note with education and putting the stigma aside, if I didn’t have friends who aren’t in recovery we wouldn’t be able to teach each other on social and cultural norms the other has to do. We wouldn’t be able to show which situations were okay for each other to combine groups with. And we wouldn’t be able to truly understand each others triggers, let alone positively great feelings as well. So it’s like an icebreaker, getting past that comfort zone where one and all can enjoy it all, not just some.
Let’s think of it this way… Something might be normal for them but not normal for me, and I might have a blast doing that “thing.” So why is it not okay to have a “normie” friend? (By the way… see how people in recovery have stigmas for normal people, too? Ie. Normie).
Think of this, with them educating me/us on things that I may have never thought to do sober, that are still healthy for me, there may be things that they never thought of doing either that a person in recovery does. There were some essential things people taught me when getting into recovery who weren’t even in it themselves. I took up the passion of power-lifting, drinking extra water, and eating different foods that I’d never of found out unless it were for these friends some call “normies.”
You see, the key to awareness is educating each other and if we’re to segregate ourselves away from recovering or not recovering then we will never learn from each other.
Let me ask you, “How did you learn right from wrong?” Well, 1) From someone who’s been there and done that and 2) Experimentation. Now hearing that what is it that both groups of people—recovering and “normie”—have to offer each other? They have a completely different culture that is eye opening through the power of awareness to offer each other. Without being friends with “normie’s” I would still be blind to many things in my life.
My wife is a special kind of breed as well. She is sober, but hasn’t always been. But, she’s also not in recovering and doesn’t suffer from addiction. So I had been able to culture her in my sobriety world and what it means to become mindful. She was also able to make me mindful of other parts of my life I was lacking that were essential for recovery that only a “normie” did know. So you see each person is just a person no matter the title. And I hope this lesson in stigmatizing, or de-stigmatizing, awareness, and mindfulness resonates with you as much as it does with me to say:
Yes, I can have friends in recovery or not. In fact, in some ways it may be better to have both, rather than one or the other, or none!
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