Updated: Jul 8, 2021
When an individual is in their active addiction they are faced with a lot of consequences from physical to financial losses but also their support system and family supports are typically affected as well. When you are starting your recovery process this can be overwhelming in regards to focusing on not only making amends with those in your life that you feel you have hurt or affected but also can be overwhelming when you try to think about rebuilding those relationships and mending the broken ties. It can be difficult and not easy. It takes time and consistency because of the fact that not only do you have feelings around the relationship and your actions that affected that specific relationship but the other individual(s) also have some feelings that could very well include anger and resentment towards you.
Repairing relationships in recovery can be done with these important tips:
1. Communicate and Listen
Relationships require communication. It's important to be transparent in recovery not only with yourself but with others involved. You need to start to trust them by allowing them to be involved in the recovery process. Start by letting those you want to reconnect with know how you are feeling, what you are struggling with, and be vulnerable to the point where you can apologize about the actions you engaged in while you were in your active addiction. It's ok to ask for help and let them in, not only does that help you and your recovery but it also helps them see that you are taking your recovery seriously and that you are trying to move forward.
Listen to their concerns. Allow them to provide you with feedback and encouragement. Try to really listen to what they are expressing to you. Remember at one point you were really pushing those loved ones in your life away and placing your substance use as a priority. This causes mixed feelings from them in regards to where they stand in your life. You have to give them the ability to express their feelings and concerns in order to be completely on the same page. This helps with the ability to communicate more effectively as well as building the trust between you both in the relationship.
2. Be Honest With Others While Making Amends
In order to move forward in not only your recovery process but also working on repairing those relationships you have to be open minded and accept that you have made mistakes and in a way hurt those in your life and around you. Rather than carrying guilt and shame about your past, apologize to those around you, and be comfortable with the idea of asking for forgiveness. This is a step you will work on with your sponsor within the 12 step program so don’t be afraid to ask for help when this becomes overwhelming. Being able to make amends with those in your life not only helps you with rebuilding that communication between you both but it also helps with building the trust that has been lost.
3. Be More Involved in Their Lives
Think back to when you were actively using drugs and alcohol, most likely your family and friends became secondary to your drug of choice and you were not as active in your relationships. Focus on the activities that you may have been absent for whether it was birthday parties, anniversary dinners, school activities, or just regular get togethers with friends, challenge yourself to be more present. Be more open minded to pushing yourself to engage more actively. This again ties back into the concept of trust. They are used to you forgetting about an event or isolating yourself from them, so now you have to challenge yourself to be more present and active in their lives. Sit down with them and ask them what they would like to see you do, what they need from you, what they miss about your relationship. Set up goals or a plan together to be more engaged and active together.
4. Reach out to Sober Supports and 12 Step Meetings
Getting involved in support groups is so important. The old saying “It takes a village” is so accurate for those that are in recovery from addiction. Attending meetings will help you to connect with others that have the same or at least similar situations that you do. Support or advice from others in the same situation can go a long way – and keep you accountable. Work with a sponsor when it comes to working on the 12 steps. Learn how to make amends with those in your life and the steps to take to get to that point with your loved ones. Go to a meeting when you are feeling frustrated or that you are not doing your best- because lets be honest you are going to feel frustrated at times. There is also a possibility that your loved ones may not be ready for the conversations that you are trying to have or ready to forgive you and if that happens you will need the support from others to help you through this process and be able to maintain your sobriety.
5. Take it one day at a time
A big part of the healing process is the acceptance that life hasn’t stopped for you. It can be overwhelming to see how much those around you have changed or grown without you being physically and emotionally present for this change. Interests and priorities change. Be understanding that this is going to be a challenge for you to not only learn about them all over again but also be able to catch up to them in their life. Take it one day at a time. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be the person they need or be able to jump into these high expectations that they may have set while you were in treatment. Communicate with them your concerns, listen to their concerns, and come up with a plan together. Be patient and realize that it will take time to earn their trust again. This patience and your ability to stay humble throughout the process will make it easier. Set small goals together.
You have to remember there are going to be ups and downs in the recovery process. There will be easy days and hard days. You have to trust within yourself and focus on the tools you have learned throughout your recovery. Be open minded and understanding that there may be individuals in your life that struggle with forgiving you and may take longer to trust you again. Some relationships may be “fixed” sooner than others. Focus on your recovery and your actions to help you navigate through this process and be comfortable with asking for help..at the end of the day you have to be comfortable with being vulnerable especially with your loved ones if you want the chance to have a healthy relationship with them again.