Rebuilding and Repairing Relationships After Addiction
Dominic NicosiaJanuary 23, 2020
In order to start rebuilding and repairing relationships after addiction, you have to rebuild yourself into a new person. It’s significant to take into consideration what your actions have done to others before repairing relationships with them. If you aren’t able to see how you’ve hurt the ones you love, how can you fix what was broken?
Taking steps to repair every relationship is different, and often depends on how the relationship was impacted by addiction. Some friends and family members set hard boundaries during active addiction, while others encourage codependence. Sometimes parents will reach out after their child gets clean, and other times will be convinced that it won’t last.
Unfortunately, loved ones are more often than not left with PTSD from the trauma their loved one put them through. In many cases, this comes from feeling helpless and expecting their loved one to die from their drug abuse.
Spending so much time imagining someone you love in a casket at their funeral can leave you with mental scars. More often than not, this will leave those who love you the most feeling jaded and cynical about your recovery. Only time and patience will really show your commitment to being clean and sober.
Making Amends for the Past
Part of the process is getting in touch with those left behind and those who broke off relationships with you. For many people in recovery, having to face those that they’ve wronged can be challenging. This is especially difficult depending on how you hurt them in the past.
There’s a lot of shame and vulnerability with recreating relationships with people who have cut us off. Fear of rejection and the embarrassment of having to face the consequences of your actions can keep people from taking that step.
Working on understanding both sides of the picture is necessary to making amends and rebuilding relationships. Communication and putting everything on the table is significant to allowing everyone to feel heard and like they can move forward. Only then can loved ones address the root issues and overcome the divide that addiction exacerbated.
The truth is that some relationships aren’t mendable. It’s significant to recognize that not all relationships can recuperate from the chaos that we’ve inflicted during active addiction. Some damage is irreparable and accepting the consequences of our past behaviors is necessary growth.
We all lie, cheat, and steal, and we have to accept that we can’t always fix the problems of the past. Some of the people we’ve hurt don’t want to make amends with us, and learning to accept their points of view is significant. Some bridges are burnt beyond repair— all we can do is make peace with and grow from the experience.
Being Patient and Purposeful
Early in recovery, it can be hard to convince people that you’re serious about repairing what was broken by addiction. This is especially true for those whose family and friends have gotten accustomed to hearing excuses and false promises.
Family members will emotionally distance themselves from those in active addiction in order to keep from getting hurt further. If your family and friends aren’t receptive to your attempts to fix things, don’t let it discourage you.
It’s important to recognize that trust can take a long time to rebuild. Time and patience are the only things that can truly help rebuild a relationship that was scarred by the chaos of addiction. You have to do what’s in your power while accepting that they might not be as receptive as we would like.
Making amends, forgiveness, and accepting that trust will come with time to those who are patient. Staying clean in and of itself builds trust— one of the biggest amends is just living well and staying clean.
Accepting That Things Have Changed
One hurdle we have to overcome is accepting that rebuilding relationships involve changing them. The tenor of relationships change after addiction, and it’s okay that they never go back to what they were before.
In recovery, there’s a new kind of relationship being built and new trust being established. Parents often enable their children without meaning to, which needs to be addressed to prevent the relationship from falling apart again. Parents, friends, and family have to relearn relationships and boundaries that will encourage their recovery and not enable negative habits.
When it comes to repairing romantic relationships, you need to feel whole as a person before returning to romance. Being codependent and insecure in your romantic relationship can ruin it and ultimately hurt your recovery. Sometimes this means that the relationship you forged before getting clean will either fail or change into a new relationship.
Boundaries between friends and family are necessary and healthy, and healthy boundaries and honesty can help relationships heal. Accepting that things have changed for the better is important to rebuilding and repairing relationships after addiction.
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