Mending Relationships in Recovery
Addiction doesn’t just affect the individual. Family and friendships, professional and intimate relationships have been torn apart by alcohol and drugs. No matter how short or long the individual abuses a substance it seems like the damage results in the same. So, how does one begin to mend a broken relationship? Once in recovery, there are a few key steps that you can take to repair some of those burned bridges.
Initiate healing by simply acknowledging the other person’s experience. First allow the correct amount of time to pass before trying to force a conversation. You know the people in your life well enough to feel when it is safe to open a dialogue about what occurred. Sometimes people need to see that you have begun to initiate change before they will feel comfortable hearing you out.
Keep in mind that this needs to be a safe space for you too. Prior to taking responsibility, you have to prepare yourself for disappointment. You can’t control how the other person communicates. So, it’s important that you have a support team during this process. Consult with your clinical team and other people who have been through similar situations.
When taking accountability, it’s very important to listen. Listen to respond rather than listen to react. You can’t go back in time and change what occurred, but you can take responsibility for what your part in the situation was. Let them know that you have heard what they are saying and validate their feelings.
2. Be Honest
Be willing to own up to things that you are not proud of. You can only rebuild a relationship if you are going to be truthful. This includes divulging things that you wish didn’t happen. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and describe some of what you were going through during your addiction. Give them a glimpse into your world and how it got to a certain point. They may not ever understand, but at least they can trust that you are beginning to seek resolution.
Grant them access to parts of your life that you previously would not. Show them, through your actions and follow through, that you are trying to live a trustworthy life.
3. Nurture the Relationship
After you follow through… follow up! No matter what, stay consistent. Continue to show up for your loved ones. Be there for them. This could look like; calling when you said you would call, doing the favor you promised to do, communicating when you aren’t able to do something. Give them kindness and compassion. Exercise patience in their healing process. Don’t be quick to judge or become offended. There may be times when they pull back out of fear, but continue to show up anyway. The best and most important thing that you can do to nurture the relationship is to focus on your recovery first. Whatever this looks like for you, take part in it every day.