by Justine Decker
When we are actively drinking and using, we tend to make associates rather than friends. The people we surrounded ourselves with typically had something to offer us, or they felt we had something to offer them. When we got together, it was primarily to drink or use; otherwise we had little in common. Even in a room full of people we may have felt strangely alone. When we were in a tough situation, these people were nowhere to be found.
In recovery, we begin to learn the true meaning of friendship. Although social interactions may be uncomfortable at first, we begin to connect with people in and out of the Rooms. As we learn more about our interests, our views, and overall ourselves, we begin to find people that share things in common with us beyond just the need for a substance. The friendships we build in recovery are especially beautiful, because they teach us what it means to be—and have—a real friend.
One of the greatest things about the friendships we build in recovery is the selflessness of them. For the first time in a long time, neither party expects to get anything from the other person. The connection is based solely on a bond between personalities, and is not conditional. There are no ulterior motives; there is only pure friendship. These are people we can laugh with, have real conversations and experiences with. These are people we learn lessons and make memories with.
Naturally there is some give and take within a friendship. But instead of this always being a material exchange, it is more often an exchange of love, support, and advice. When we need someone, they are there; when someone needs us, we are able to be there for them as well. We are able to share the experiences we’ve had and the lessons we’ve learned, and vice versa.
The types of friends we make in recovery sometimes act as a mirror to us. They show us things about ourselves that we might not have noticed before. They tend to awaken parts of us that we forgot we had, whether it be our sense of humour or the ability to be silly. They openly vocalize their appreciation for us, or it may just be apparent in their behaviour and the fact that they continually choose to spend time with us. They can also be teachers to us. They teach us things about life and how to handle situations. They help us through troubled times, and teach us to believe in ourselves.