Knowing what you are going to say is a good first step, but you also need to practice saying it as you are recovering from addiction treatment at a rehab center. This is important so that your delivery matches your words. You don’t want to come off as defensive or argumentative, or dismissive if the relationship means a lot to you. But you do need to be forceful and direct. The other person should have no doubt about the fact that discussion of your past is not a topic you care to address.
Depending on how well you know the individual, you can probably ascertain their motivation for bringing up what are obviously painful memories for you. This may help you develop the appropriate words to say to the person. Again, discuss various scenarios and verbiage with your counselor and/or support group members. You may even want to discuss and practice it with your significant other – with whom you’ve probably already had some occasion to go into what’s happened in your past in some detail (during family or couples therapy, joint counseling sessions, and private conversations between the two of you).
Does the other person want to hurt you – because you have hurt them or because they have a vindictive streak? Do they want you to relapse? Yes, this is a tough thing to say, but some people don’t want others to be in recovery. If they continue to drink or use drugs, it makes them look bad because they’re either not ready or may be too weak to quit. As you already know from your time in treatment, these are friends you really need to ditch. They will serve no useful purpose in your recovery and, chances are, will do everything they can to get you to fail. Potential things you can say may include:
- “There is no point bringing up the past. That’s over and done with. End of story.”
- “I’m not going to discuss what happened before, not with you. If you can’t respect my wishes, then I can’t associate with you.”
- “Your lifestyle and mine are no longer compatible. I’m not going to [drink and do drugs] any longer, and I choose not to be around others that do. I hope you understand, but if you don’t, it’s not going to change my decision.”
You might even call them on their game if you feel that may deflect the barbs. That’s up to you. Perhaps say something like the following:
- “I have known you for a long time, and what you are trying to do is drag me down to your level. It will not work.”
- “What’s past is past, and I’m not going to indulge in your game of ‘how good it was.’ It was not. It was an addiction, and that’s not part of my life any longer.”
“I think you’re jealous that I’ve quit [drugs and alcohol], or maybe you just can’t stand to see me happy. I’m sorry you feel that way, but that’s your problem, not mine. I have a new life, one that I have chosen.”