Some of the biggest targets for collateral damage in our substance use are the relationships we have. Some do not survive our addiction and related behaviors.
The ones that do may be left fragile. Once we have taken steps to heal ourselves of our addiction through treatment, how do we mend these relationships and build stronger healthier ones?
One of the mistakes we make in substance use is trying to heal our relationships before we heal ourselves. All of the counseling in the world will not heal our relationships if we are actively addicted to alcohol or substances.
Yet we cannot just agree to get treatment as a fix for our relationships either. We have to make that choice for ourselves.
Treatment for addiction can help us get sober, and maybe some of what we learn will stick. Until we are ready to begin our actual recovery, however, our chances of relapse are very high.
Recovery is different than treatment because we are not simply trying to “sober up” for work, the law, or our relationships. In true recovery, we seek our holistic healing – mind, body, and soul.
We commit ourselves to find the source of our substance use and healing our inner pain so that we can also heal from our addiction. We can only do that for ourselves.
Making Apologies and Amends
Relationships require trust and accountability, and too often in our substance use we violate trust and fail to be accountable to those we love most. We cannot undo the past and we are not helping anyone by dwelling on our mistakes.
We do, however, owe deep and sincere apologies for the pain that we caused. We can be accountable in any way possible by making amends, such as repaying monetary offenses, repairing broken objects, or simply by living a life of integrity different than the life we’d lived that had caused so much turmoil.
We must keep in mind that within a relationship, there are two people. We might offer apologies and amends that are not accepted.
Within healthy relationships, we can allow others their agency and through our healing, we can accept the decisions of others gracefully. With recovery, we gain healing of the self and so we can come to terms with our past and respect the hurt we have caused others. If an apology is turned down or amends denied, we can be understanding.
Learning to Communicate
Most relationships struggle with communication at some point. We can all improve on how we can communicate in our families, with our friends, coworkers, and others.
However, substance abuse further complicates communication in relationships and can create toxic and sometimes abusive patterns.
In treatment, not only are we removing a barrier to communication by ceasing our substance use and many related behaviors, we learn how to communicate for ourselves. We learn how to express our own needs and wants, as well as how to respond effectively.
So often in the past, our emotions may have interfered with clear communication. We were too reactive, too impulsive or just not present.
As we gain clarity through treatment we are learning how to regulate our emotions, which helps us express ourselves, but to also truly listen to what the other person is communicating.
Learning to Listen
Listening is a priceless skill that is difficult to hone when we are in the throes of substance use because the only thing we hear is the call of our substance. Once we eliminate the dependency, we are suddenly able to do a lot of new things that we never could before, and one of those is being able to listen to the other people in our lives.
We don’t have to agree with what they say or even like it, but opening up the conduits of communication of both speaking and listening allows all new possibilities for our previously damaged relationships.
Being Willing to Compromise
When substances ran our lives it was difficult to think about anyone but ourselves. Through treatment that self-centeredness starts to dissipate and we become more willing to look at things from the perspective of others.
In relationships it is important to be able to compromise, but what does that mean exactly? To compromise is to find a space in between our wants and the wants of the other person where both parties get something out of the agreement.
Both people get some of what they want and both people sacrifice some of what they want to come to peace with each other. This skill is crucial when it comes to having and maintaining healthy relationships of all types.
Building healthy relationships is a lifelong process. Just like recovery, every day we have to wake up and re-confirm our commitment to both ourselves and our relationships.
As we heal and learn to communicate and compromise, we learn as much about ourselves as we do about the other person. The process of building healthy relationships begins with our healing and comes full circle to being authentic not only with the other people in our lives but also ourselves.
We can become the person that we see reflected in the eyes of others. As we step up in our lives and are authentic, we can truly build healthy relationships.
Discover how you can learn how to build healthy relationships with all of the people in your life at AToN Center. Call (888) 535-1516 today. Share your success with all of the people you love.