Addiction can destroy the life of the sufferer. It can also create confusion and devastation in the lives of family and friends. Often, terrible things will happen, events which damage the emotional bond between people who otherwise care deeply for one another.
One of the first inclinations when we venture into recovery is to heal and rekindle every damaged relationship immediately. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out according to our perceived expectations. We aspire for everyone to see how wonderful recovery is and enjoy our own childlike exuberance.
So, what can you do to help rebuild relationships during your recovery from addiction? How long might it take for broken relationships to heal? These are questions that most addicts and alcoholics think about almost from day-one in recovery.
Let’s look at how you can manage your expectations for rebuilding your valued relationships, while continuing along a successful road in recovery. We’ll begin by discussing one important relationship we often neglect. We’ll caution you to never make this one mistake. Finally, we’ll talk about healing relationships with others during your addiction recovery.
Your Inner Relationship with Yourself
Many people forgo this critical stage of early recovery. It is imperative that you begin healing relationships by healing the one with yourself. Most of us are ridden with guilt over things we have done and responsibilities we have neglected.
Rebuilding relationships, including the one with ourselves, requires forgiveness. You must address any bitter feelings you have towards yourself before you can work on relationships with others. It’s been said many ways that it is impossible to love others if you don’t love yourself first.
A key to building a healthy foundation for recovery will be to let go of the guilt and shame associated with your addiction. You are a sick person who needs help to get well, not a bad person who deserves lifelong condemnation. Make peace with your inner self to help begin healing the most important relationship you have.
Your Relationships with Others
Once you begin to make peace with yourself, you’ll begin a lifelong process of healing the broken relationships around you. You must appreciate that some may never be the same.
An enormous part of successfully rebuilding relationships with others is knowing whose decision it is. The decision to heal and rebuild a relationship is not yours. It is not up to you to force another person to forgive you for any wrongs you committed during your struggles with an addiction.
That may seem harsh, but it is a reality that must be accepted. Another important aspect of helping rebuild relationships is to avoid doing more damage. Never make a promise to anyone that you will never, never drink or use again.
You should never promise anyone you will clean and sober forever. You do not know that. Most recovery programs insist you should only make a promise to yourself to stay sober for one single day. Don’t project into the future.
Follow this same sound advice when talking about your sobriety with friends and loved ones. No one ever sets out in recovery planning to relapse. However, the statistics prove it is possible.
If you don’t make idle promises about your new lifelong commitment to living clean and sober, you will not burn yet another bridge in a relationship. Make no promises, except for today.
Closely related to this important part of healing relationships is another suggested way to help. Speak through your actions in recovery more than with your words. This is a key in rebuilding broken trust.
Many people in your life, especially those who may have been witness to multiple failed attempts at sobriety, will grow more relaxed as they see what you’re doing. This is a part of recovery akin to the old adage, seeing is believing.
A final suggestion to remember when working to rebuild relationships during recovery is to let time heal. This is the third common saying that echoes true for recovery from addiction. Time takes time may sound silly.
However, when it comes to healing broken relationships from addictive behavior, it can prove critical. As we mentioned, you are not in control of when or if someone forgives a behavior or decides to mend a broken relationship.
Your single task in your addiction recovery is to do what is suggested to stay clean and sober. As we also said, your actions in recovery will be far more valuable than any words, especially promises.
If you follow the principles laid out for your recovery, your actions and the changes you will make will speak volumes. As time passes, people will realize that you are serious about your recovery. Many relationships will begin to heal naturally without any effort.
Mending broken relationships can be a tough part of recovery. Each one will be unique unto itself. If you stick to your commitment to live clean and sober, you will be doing the single most important thing to help the process along.
We strongly suggest that you never make promises about your recovery. Allow people the time to heal themselves. Never insist that someone rekindle their feelings until they are ready. But most of all, remember to heal one vital relationship first. The one you have with yourself.
If you think you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, ask for help today. Help is there, all you need to do is ask. Once you take that first step into recovery, you will instantly begin the process of healing broken relationships with family and friends.