Romance in Rehab?
Advice on How to Keep Romance in Rehab From Distracting You From Recovery
Dear April Masini,
I am currently attending a drug program and I have feelings for my counselor who is also a woman and a fellow recovering addict. I told her that I have feelings for her, but her response was that because of my job she would feel guilty if we were to get into a relationship. But, at the same time she is telling me that if the feelings I have for her will help me to get over my baby’s daddy, I should keep those feelings. Also, she is telling me that she will be here for me, so I am getting mixed messages. What should I do? I need some dating advice fast!"
April Masini's Advice :
Congratulations on attending a drug program to help you recover from your dependency issues. Drug addiction is a very difficult and serious affliction. It takes a lot of strength and courage to do what you are doing. And the fact that you have written me for more help in your romantic life, is just more proof that you are strong enough to ask for help – a sure sign that you have the stuff that will help you to recover and get better.
Having feelings for other people is very normal. They can be sexual, romantic or platonic feelings. You have a big heart and you are a loving person. However, having feelings and acting on them are two very separate things and the distinction between the two is very important for you to grasp. Right now, your recovery from substance abuse is the most important thing you can do for yourself, your baby and anyone else in your life. This is not the time for you to be in a romantic relationship of any kind. I’m sorry if this sounds cruel, but you really have to focus on what you’re doing. If you do, and you do live a life of recovery, you will have lots of time for romance and all kinds of new, rekindled and old relationships in your life.
It is very easy to have romantic feelings for people who help you. In your case, your crush on your drug counselor is understandable. She is not just helping you, she, too, is a recovered addict – someone you want to be like. Your feelings you say you have for her may actually be feelings you want to have for yourself. In fact, your counselor hit on the same idea when she said that if you were able to get over your feelings for your child’s father by transferring those feelings to her, that would be a good thing. I’m suggesting you take that one step further. Transfer those feelings you have onto yourself. Really love yourself and take care of yourself the way you would someone you truly loved and cared for. That is the best gift you can give yourself and everyone else.
Give yourself an entire year off from romance to focus on your drug program. During that time, allow your heart to be open, but love without romance. Think of it as global love. Take care of yourself and ask for and get help. If your counselor does like you and have romantic feelings for you, it is not the right time for her to approach you with them. And so far, she hasn’t. She, like you, needs to focus on not just your healing, but her own, as well.
Now is also not the time for romance because romance creates chemical reactions in your body that you may confuse with drug recovery. People also do crazy things when they're in love -- or think they are. Love and romance can distract you at this time from your recovery, which is hard, disciplined work. Having an addictive personality may make it difficult to deny yourself romance or anything that feels good, but this is also part of your recovery.