A Complete Guide to Making Amends With Loved Ones Once Sober
Addiction is nicknamed the family disease because of its damaging effects on all members of the family, and not just the addict. Nearly 24 million people suffer from some type of addiction over the age of 12.
After reaching out for help with addiction and faithfully following your steps to recovery, you may be ready to apologize to your family and friends for the hurt the addiction caused.
But making amends should not be done lightly.
Though it’s wonderful that you’ve taken steps to become sober, your loved ones may be hesitant to trust you after all the pain they’ve endured as well.
Don’t let that hold you back. Your family probably wishes to welcome you with open arms and desires to work on creating a stronger relationship. Before you go head-on with an apology, follow this guide to do it right.
Things to Remember When Making Amends
Making amends is an element of the 12 step list developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. While it’s important to repair broken relationships, there are ways to approach it well.
Are You Ready to Make Amends?
You’ve been through a lot, but are you really ready to face your family or friends and make things right? Talk with a trusted counselor, support group, or others that have made amends with their families and friends. Get their insight and share your concerns before taking the steps to resolve the conflict.
Consider Your Words Carefully
During the darkest times of your addiction, you probably said some things you regret. Maybe you’ve apologized too many times, or made promises and broken them.
It may help to write out your feelings or thoughts and outline what you’d like to say and whom to say it to. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it can even change once you’ve gained more perspective. Sit down and think about ways they may have experienced significant pain while watching you suffer.
Understanding Their Point of View
Communication is a two-way street. The other person could be having very strong, negative feelings about you and the situation of addiction. While your apology may be sincere and genuine, it may not be received well at first.
Allowing and respecting others to work through their feelings, whatever they are, is essential in creating a lasting relationship. Open, honest communication is the remedy that’s needed to repair broken bonds with parents, children, grandparents, or friends.
Seek forgiveness, but be humble enough to accept their struggles, fears, anger, or other feelings. Go to lengths to do the right thing to show them the seriousness of your apology, but be patient with them also. Try to listen and understand the depth of their sorrow and pain.
It’s possible some people do not want to see you. In this case, reach out with a letter or email, leaving the ball in their court.
More Than Words
To make amends means to right a wrong. It’s more than just having a deep conversation about how sorry you are and moving on. Making amends and saying sorry go hand-in-hand.
It means taking action to show that you care about how the other person has been hurt. It’s doing what you can to make that right by understanding and considering the needs of the person that’s been offended.
Keep promises, show up to events, remember important dates, and be there for them. Do something nice unexepedetly, just to show you care, without asking anything in return. This will look different in every family, but do your best to communicate that you’re holding yourself accountable.
Don’t Stop Counseling or Recovery
The best way to show your loved ones your dedication to sobriety is by continuing to attend meetings or counseling. Not only does this build trust within your relationships, but keeps you on track. Ask a loved one if perhaps they’d feel comfortable coming with you sometime to a meeting or session.
It’s up to you to disclose with your loved ones what you discuss with your support group, counselor, or therapist. Some of the details are extremely personal, but transparency can be a key in making amends.
Consider the trajectory of your life, and begin a job when you’re ready. Start a new hobby or exercise routine, and maintain a presentable appearance. All these things go a long way in showing those around you that you’re taking your recovery seriously.
Take it Slow
All recovery is a process for everyone and true forgiveness does not happen overnight. As difficult as it is to remember, forgiveness is not owned, it’s earned. This does not happen easily, so have a realistic outlook when it comes to making amends.
Each person will have a different perspective of the situation, so remain open and respectful to their view.
Unfortunately, there may be people in your life with whom the damage is too deep, and they do not wish to make amends. This is undoubtedly painful, but try to pour into those people who are accepting of your apologies and work hard to mend those.
Don’t Live in The Past
Most likely, reconnecting with those you love may bring up moments of the past you’d rather forget. Remember that you’re on a journey to recovery, and you’re leaving the person you used to be, behind.
As your past emerges in discussions with loved ones, remind yourself that you cannot change what’s happened. If you’ve forgiven yourself, set your sights on moving forward, not letting your past deter you.
Communicate Your Journey
Recovery is a time of growth and you’re working hard to stay sober. Communicate this with your loved ones as difficult times arise. Recovering addicts experience symptoms of withdrawal which are very physical and real. Help them understand this, so they don’t retreat to thinking you’ve returned to using.
Some people may not believe you at first and that’s OK. Just focus on the path of sobriety and your steps to staying well.
Recovery And Relationships: It’s Possible to Have Both
The road to recovery from addiction is difficult, deeply personal, and insightful. Making amends with those you love, and who love you, is completely possible, and can forge stronger relationships than before. There’s always hope.
If you’re considering saving and healing your relationships, go over the steps above to make certain you have everything you need to move forward in a positive light.
Know someone struggling with addiction? Contact us today and learn about the hope that is possible after addiction.