It’s no surprise that active addicts can burn plenty of relationship bridges due to their behavior while using alcohol and drugs. Whether it’s broken promises, lies, irresponsibility, risky behaviors, or abuse, addicts can certainly hurt loved ones. It’s not that the addict doesn’t love his or her family and friends; they simply say and do things out of their nature due to the disease of addiction.
Getting On The Road to Recovery
Once an addict stops using and gets on the road to recovery, he or she will most likely begin to see life differently. They may begin to see how they hurt his loved ones and feel some remorse. If ties have been completely cut, they may begin missing loved ones deeply. The addict will get some clarity on how and why the trust has been broken and may want to begin rebuilding the relationships.
If you’re an addict, how do you start rebuilding the bridge that’s been torn down by months or years of active addiction? How do you forgive yourself and how do loved ones forgive you? It starts with trust.
The Importance of Trust
Cultivating trust is essential when rebuilding a relationship. Trust is likened to a firm foundation of a home. Without a solid foundation, the house will not be sturdy over time. Lack of trust is like building a house upon sand, and in time, that house will sink. Good news is that you can rebuild trust after an addiction, but it will require time, patience, and effort. You’ll also want to make sure you follow two important steps, including 1) Focus on you, and 2) Be honest and open.
Step 1: Focus on You
Before going all in on rebuilding a relationship, set aside time for recovery. Take some time to get real with yourself and begin rebuilding the relationship with yourself first. When you can dig deep, become vulnerable and honest with yourself, you’ll be more apt to do this with others. Keep in mind you may benefit from professional counseling in order to get to a spot where you can forgive yourself, heal some old wounds, and move forward rebuilding bridges in your relationships. If you cannot attend counseling for some reason, consider attending a 12-Step group or SMART Recovery.
Step 2: Be Honest and Open
Honest communication is essential to rebuilding relationships. Once you’ve taken some time to build yourself up, take some time to sit and have a real heart-to-heart conversation with your loved ones. You can do this one-on-one or as a group. This may be a difficult step and may provoke some anxiety, but afterwards you should feel some relief. Being honest about how you feel, apologizing wholeheartedly for hurting them, and asking them to forgive you is essential for moving forward. Keep in mind they may not believe you at first. They may think of all the other times you told them you were cutting out drug or alcohol use or they may not be ready to forgive you for all the pain they feel. Be patient. Be strong. Allow your loved ones the time to heal and see that you really are serious about your recovery journey.
Let Them Be In Their Process
You can do your part by becoming vulnerable and honest. You’ll also need to work hard at your recovery. If your loved ones are having a tough time forgiving or trusting you again, let them have some time. They’ve been hurt and that pain will need time to heal. They may not let you back in right away or they may put a guard around their heart. Don’t take it personal; it’s their way of protecting themselves. What you can do is continue to focus on your recovery one day at a time and trust that as you stay on the recovery road, they’ll see that you are indeed changing. They’ll take note that you really are serious about recovery and creating a different life for yourself. Then, most of the time, slowly they will let you in again and you’ll have a chance at rebuilding your relationships.
Dominica Applegate is dedicated to the art of self-discovery and creative expression with a passion for creative art. She’s got a deep-rooted passion for helping others heal emotional pain and trauma, as her own journey through love addiction has served as a catalyst for her own healing and beautiful transformation. Find out more at www.dominicaapplegate.com.