There are often many family relationships and friendships that suffer when someone struggles with an addiction. If this is you and you’ve recently become sober, there may be some relationships you would like to restore. There might some relationships you would like to heal.
Recovery is not a journey you can take alone. It’s essential that you have family and friends around you to provide support. You may want to include others who can offer various forms of support such as compassion, a listening ear, understanding, love, and acceptance. However, if the relationships around you have become distant, it may be time to repair those relationships.
This process may be difficult. As the recovering addict, you may need to make amends for the damage caused by past behavior. You may also need to accept your friends and family for who they are. At the same time, your friends and family will likely go through their own recovery process. Re-establishing trust and mutual respect can take a long time, perhaps months or even years.
One of the most powerful ways to rebuild relationship in recovery is to move through the 12-step process, created by the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) community. Each step invites you to heal in some way. In fact, two of the twelve steps are focused on making amends with yourself as well as others. Steps eight and nine are specifically intended to facilitate healing in relationships:
Step Eight: Make a list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.
Step Nine: Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when doing so would inure them or others.
Making amends means restoring justice as much as possible and doing so in a direct way that repairs what has been broken. If this cannot happen directly, by having conversations with friends and family, then you may be able to do this indirectly. For instance, you might be able to simply forgive them or find an acceptance of them along with an acceptance of yourself in order to move on. In other words, you may be able to repair the relationship inwardly, but only if you can’t work it out directly with your loved one.
Of course, this process is going to take time. Give yourself the time you need to rebuild relationships and slowly build a network of support. It’s also worth pointing out that rebuilding relationships and setting up a support network requires trusting in the belief that you deserve this kind of help. Gathering the right amount of support means developing a trust that you are basically good and that within yourself there is a wonderful person who deserves healing, health, and well-being.
At the same time, if you are in recovery, it’s important to recognize when it’s better to live without someone in your life. Instead of rebuilding relationships, you may need to cut them off. Ideally, you don’t want to do this to someone, but if they are going to jeopardize your sobriety for instance, then that person may not be good for you. Relationships might be harmful if:
- Your boundaries are not being respected.
- He or she doesn’t support your sobriety.
- That person triggers you to drink or use drugs.
- He or she is still using or drinking.
- He or she is argumentative or negative.
- He or she represents a past that you’re trying to move on from.
- The relationship/friendship is draining or feels burdensome.
And there might be a host of other reasons why a relationship or friendship could be toxic. Relationships that don’t support your sobriety might become a danger at some point. And if you’re aiming for a life change, this might also mean changing the people you spend time with. It might mean making new choices about the communities you hang out with.
Rebuilding your relationships will likely be an important step in your recovery. Although it can be incredibly uncomfortable and awkward at times, it can most certainly be worth it. When you have the people around you that love and support you, you’re likely to feel more secure in your sobriety.
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