By LYLE R. FRIED, CAP, ICADC, CHC In First Steps, Social Issues, Tools for Recovery
Posted December 12, 2017
For recovering addicts, it’s common to experience tension, strain, or resentment in relationships with family and friends. Fortunately, the holidays are a great time to begin repairing these relationships.
The holidays are a warm, joyful time shared with family and friends. You’ll likely see many relatives that you don’t get to see often, and everyone is in the “holiday spirit.” This gives you the opportunity to mend relationships that have been damaged by your addiction.
Here are a few tips to help you repair your relationships this holiday season.
Initiate the Conversation
You may feel nervous or anxious about reaching out to heal a strained relationship. But you can never take steps toward repairing relationships if the lines of communication aren’t open.
Take responsibility and initiate the conversation. You may need to apologize for wrongs done in the past, and you should tell your loved ones that you’re truly committed to your sobriety. Ask what steps you can take to move forward with your relationship or to right your wrongs.
If your loved one is comfortable, you may even want to invite them to an open AA or NA meeting so they can see your commitment to treatment, as well as form an understanding of what this treatment involves.
One reason addiction strains and destroys relationships is that addicts tend to neglect those they love in favor of drugs or alcohol.
In order to repair the resulting damage, you need to show your relatives that the “new you” can be dependable and reliable. The “new you” can prioritize loved ones and make a genuine effort.
You don’t have to get expensive gifts to try to mend relationships with your relatives, but try giving thoughtful gifts this holiday season. Think about what your loved ones enjoy or need, and give gifts accordingly. If you aren’t sure, ask your relatives what they’d like, and get it for them. Write kind, heartfelt cards. These gestures show your loved ones that you’re thinking of and making time for them.
If a friend or relative invites you to an important event, attend and support them. Organize events of your own, like inviting the family over for a Christmas movie night or a dinner. Plan to go look at holiday lights together, decorate your tree, or go ice skating. Remember that actions speak louder than words, and be sure that your actions are meaningful. Show your relatives that you have made a significant change in your life.
Some family and friends may be quick to offer forgiveness, while others may take more time. Do your best to be patient and understanding. Time may be needed to rebuild trust and heal emotional wounds.
Also keep in mind that while you can repair your relationships, they may never completely return to how they were before your battle with addiction. Hurt, pain, and resentment can be hard to forget. If you understand that you’re developing a new relationship with your loved ones, this will be easier to cope with and accept.
Take Care of Yourself
As you work to heal relationships with your friends and family, don’t forget to continue caring for yourself. The holidays are full of triggers that recovering addicts must navigate, so don’t let your treatment plan lapse. Continue going to meetings, exercising, calling your sponsor, eating right, etc.
Holiday stress in particular can be a trigger, so make sure to mitigate your expectations. You want to mend your relationships, but understand that things might not go exactly how you’re hoping they will. Prepare yourself for how you will handle it if some of your loved ones aren’t ready to fix the relationship.
Remind yourself that any step in the right direction is progress, and remember that with time, consistency, and continued effort on your part, your loved ones are likely to come around.
The family togetherness and warm spirit of the holidays make them the perfect time to repair damaged relationships.
Tell your relatives that you’re committed to sobriety, and then show them that you’re willing to make an effort to repair broken relationships. Give them the gift of time, patience, and understanding as they work to rebuild trust with you.
Although your relationships may never be exactly the same, you can build new relationships based on forgiveness and renewed trust.
If you need help and guidance repairing your family relationships call The Shores Treatment and Recovery.