How to encourage our loved one to be in connection?


#1

Recognizing that connection is the opposite of addiction, how do you encourage connection for your loved one even in spite of possible mental health issues?

Maybe this is you personally creating connection. Or, I’m interested to know specifically how you engage the support of others to connect with your loved one.


Has anyone’s loved one described themselves as sociopathic?
#2

This an interesting topic. I personally always just try to come from a place of understanding, asking questions, actually listening to the person, genuinely caring about the other persons well-being. I feel like doing that builds a core trust that is key to building connection. To be honest though, I’ve always being socially awkward haha so connection building something I’ve always struggled with so I’m curious to see what others have to say about it.


#3

This is something I need to get better at.
My husband was incredibly isolated during the depths of his addiction and I forced my way in there and wouldn’t (couldn’t) just leave it alone, like many of our friends. Three years into recovery and I recently realized, when talking with @erica, that he’s still very isolated. And I don’t do a great job at encouraging him to reconnect / build connections with friends. I think part of this stems from my deep-seated fear that his friendships used to be formed around substance use so it feels safer to see him at home than wonder (worry) what’s happening if he’s out with others.
I think it’s important he has more deep connections than just me. Especially in light of the recent relapse when I was busy with work and not able to give him enough attention / connection.
Thinking about how I can change to support this: I can be positive about encouraging his outings with friends, and suggest he make plans with friends, I can also join for some of these in the beginning where it makes sense to encourage the behavior - it’s all about experimentation to see what works and I think this is a good place to start.


#4

This takes effort, patience, and like @polly mentioned: experimentation. If something doesn’t work, don’t keep trying to force that one thing. Instead, think of other ways to encourage connection that could be helpful! In addition, I like what @Dean_Acton mentioned about coming from a place of understanding, asking questions, and listening to our loved ones as a way to facilitate trust and encourage connection! We can all be a little socially awkward at times, I like to try and use that to my advantage: push through it and be awkward but embrace it and allow it to evolve into humor, or even shared feelings of awkwardness with others!

When my brother moved back to NYC, my parents wanted to distance themselves from him due to a history of his trips home being stressful. @katie, this was a moment in which I engaged the support of others to connect with my brother. I sat my parents down in a public place (to avoid any yelling or outbursts - specifically a hair salon :rofl:) and let them know how much positive change I had noticed in my brother, and despite the years and years of bad history, that things felt different now. I didn’t ask anything of them in that moment other than to take what I had to say about him and go home and speak on their own about letting him in a little more. This is an example of me experimenting too - I had never tried to communicate with my family in this way to support my brother. Later that night my brother told me he received a text from our parents saying they loved him, supported him, and would always be there for him no matter what.

Just as we have this wonderful community at Village, I’ve encouraged my brother to find his own place, separate from me, to connect with people he can relate to. My brother is now three years away from his last use of heroin and to this day if he isolates he feels worse, more depressed, more detached. But as soon as he pulls himself out of it, or as a family we work to snap him out of it, he’s back to feeling motivate and excited by life every day! Substance use or not, as human beings we need connection, and by being a supportive family member and modeling healthy connection, I hope it shows my brother and others how incredibly amazing it is to feel part of and know they are never ever alone!


#5

I like this focus on experimentation!

Here are some ways I can think to try to encourage my dad to be in connection:

  • Reach out to counselor who was very helpful to him in rehab to see if he’ll check-in,
  • Reach out to dad’s neighbor about their weekly mens meetups,
  • Offer to setup & teach dad how to use an online dating site,
  • Arrange a bi-weekly family Skype call,
  • Research volunteer opportunities in his community,
  • Go to church with him once monthly.

Probably won’t do all these things at once :wink: but this post is helping flex my creative muscles to think of ways to encourage connection without personal burnout.

Other ideas welcome!