Categories
Adolescence Feelings Recovery

Strengthening our Adolescent Friendships

Adolescence is the time when long-standing friendships are developed and refined. communityFriendships can also take a real beating in adolescence as a result of several mitigating factors, which can include:

 

  • Different stages of maturation
  • Bullying
  • Perception of popularity or lack thereof
  • Emotional and physical changes
  • Mood swings

 

Friendships require a commitment from both people involved to be active participants in the relationship, and they require reciprocation in order to be successful. In other words, they need to be a two-way street. Reciprocation requires active listening and compassion. It means showing up for each other even when things are difficult.

 

Friendships are relationships where reciprocal interactions are valuable, necessary, and vital. When a friendship takes on a one-way-street status, it becomes lopsided and will inevitably fracture into facets that include resentment, anger, judgment, complacency, and even anger.

 

Here are two examples of a classic one-way relationship:

  • You’re always there for your friend when they need support, but when you ask for it, or need it, there’s little to no response.
  • You only call your friend when you need something or your friend only calls you when they need something.

 

Neither of these scenarios is indicative of reciprocal behavior. They both tend to leave both parties feeling out of sorts and dissatisfied with the friendship as a whole because neither person’s needs are being met.

 

The following actions support healthy relationships: 

  • Both parties are supportive of one another;
  • Both parties are encouraging;
  • Both are willing to compromise;
  • Both have healthy boundaries;
  • Mutual respect for each other;
  • Be open and willing to talk about disagreements;
  • Willingness to say “I’m sorry.”

 

Employing all of these actions is not only wise, but a keen way to maintain our beloved friendships. At the same time, these tools will also provide us with ways in which to let go when that’s the healthiest thing to do.

 

Adolescent friendships can be tough, because they are rife with drama and quixotic change. The hormonal changes alone can set off a string of unfortunate events. Cultivating healthy friendships in adolescence is very important. It teaches teens positive and healthy communication skills; it teaches the value of connection and community; it shows teens through viable examples that they can work through difficulties, set healthy boundaries, and take care of themselves in healthy friendships.  Being a good friend doesn’t mean you are a doormat or a pushover. It means you have your own sense of self that is honored and respected by those you have in your life.

 

As parents and educators, it’s important to mirror healthy relationships, and we can start this by cultivating a healthy relationship with our kids. Reflective listening and mutual respect are vital. Speaking from a place of “I feel” instead of using the accusatory and defensive tone implied with “You always” can positively shift the course of a disagreement. Adolescents want to be seen, heard, and respected. It’s not uncommon for adults to gloss over what teens are saying, but the truth is, an adolescent’s voice worth of the same respect we give our adult counterparts.

 

Categories
Mental Health Recovery

Cultivating Healthy, Healing Relationships in Recovery

Developing positive, healthy relationships are the one of the cornerstones in our recovery process.  One’s earnings or the size of one’s bank account doesn’t define success in recovery, though that doesn’t stop us from placing the expectations of monetary success upon ourselves. It’s not unusual to get sober and equate success in recovery with what we have, whom we date, where we live, what we drive, et cetera. In time, however, it is our cultivation of healthy relationships with those around us that are the true markers of success. Think about it this way: if the things we have define the quality of our lives, what happens if our accumulation of stuff is abated?  Are we left empty and bereft of joy? I think not. Instead, we must find a way to enjoy the skin we’re in, sans outside pleasures and impermanent pleasure

 

When we fixate on accumulating stuff rather than cultivating strong, supportive relationships with those around us, we may find we’re not as happy as we want to be. The more we ignore that which causes us pain, and the more we attempt to fill ourselves with stuff, the more uncomfortable we’re apt to become. We tend to place undo importance on what we have during our lives but speak primarily about the quality of relationships with family and friends at the end of our lives.  When we face our mortality, the issue of “stuff” isn’t high on the list of important topicsOne of the most important relationships we learn to cultivate early on in recovery is with a sponsor. The only guideline we have is to find someone who “has what we want.” That doesn’t refer to the kind of car they drive; it refers to the quality of their program, if they’ve worked the steps, and if they are spiritually sound. Unfortunately, we often times are influenced by someone’s outsides rather than what’s important for our insides. The moral of the story is this: cultivate your relationships with others the way you would nurture a burgeoning garden or pot of coffee. You know I know how important coffee is in recovery!

Categories
Adolescence Recovery School Self-Care

It’s Cool to Go Back to School: Sober

As summer fades, we begin to feel the pull of school and all that it entails. Walking into any store right now will confirm this, hook, line and sinker. Target has their entire back section stocked to the brim with back to school supplies. Seriously. It’s happening right now and we can’t avoid it. It’s time to wipe the sand from beneath our feet and get ready to rock our backpacks once again.

Often, the dilemma for those who got sober or stayed sober through the summer break is this:  How do we navigate going back to school without getting sucked into the rabbit hole of drugs and alcohol, or stress and anxiety, or all of the above? Is it even plausible to keep our old friends or is moving on safer? Will we still be hip or cool now that the crutch of a bottle or a pocket full of pills has been removed? For some, yes, it’s possible to go back into those spaces without falling down, for others, perhaps not. The answers to these questions are really contingent on the individual. Just as addiction and mental health don’t fit into a one-size-fits-all category, neither does recovery. There are definitely some suggestions that might help you find the way to your own answers and help you get back to school using a safe, sober strategy.

  • Make sure you are going to meetings. Now, more than ever, you will need the security and support of a recovery community.
  • Do you have a sponsor? If not, get one, stat. If you do have one, make sure you continue to work with him or her and continue to check in on a regular basis.
  • Ask your school advisor or counselor if there are any sober clubs or groups at your school. You are more than likely not alone in your recovery.
  • If there isn’t a sober group or club at school, start one!
  • Make new friends. Some of your old ones may, in fact, have to go. It’s for the best anyway. You are on a new path now.
  • Stay connected. There’s nothing worse than finding oneself in a situation where you feel emotionally alone and unsupported.
  • Ask for help–no matter what. It is not a sign of strength to suck it up; it’s a sign of strength to ask for help. (Took me forever to “get” this one!)
  • Get excited about school and about learning in general. You are feeding your brain, after all.
  • Make school your full-time job, in other words, give it 100% of your energy.
  • Keep your sobriety your priority and make school your driving force.

Don’t forget to have fun! Life is so much better when you have a sense of humor.