Making Amends For Your Addictive Behavior

How I Said "I'm Sorry" To Those I Hurt In My Alcoholism

As I near my one-year mark of sobriety, I am amazed at the number of relationships I have repaired in a relatively short amount of time. Perhaps a year doesn't seem that long, but when you consider I spent 11 of them in debauchery, it might help give you some perspective. How, you may ask? Well, I recently asked myself the exact same question. How did I repair so many relationships over the course of a year, without constantly chirping "I'm sorry?"

Upon breaking it down, I realized I uttered those words maybe twice in my repair. For they no longer held any meaning, coming from me. I had worn out their power years ago. So, without consciously knowing it, I found other ways of expressing remorse and regret for the unsettling behavior of my past. I showed up for my family and friends, sober, and stayed present. It would not do to say sorry, or offer an elaborate explanation of my actions. Rather, remaining constant and stable was a much more effective way of apologizing. In AA, I believe this falls under the category of a living amends.

For so many years, I had been but a shell of a person while in the company of my family and friends. I wore a mask of doing well and coping. Because as long as I presented myself this way, I was making up for my previously poor behavior. Sure it's fine to drink in front of me, I don't mind, I'll just slip away later and get plastered on my own. Little did I know, I was fooling not only them, but myself, as well. Fooling myself into thinking I had control of my recovery when I most certainly did not. No one was winning in this situation, 'twas but a half-life we were living.

It was imperative I turn these scenarios on their heads, and spend quality time with my friends and family. Of course, I needed to vocally acknowledge my misgivings during my active addiction, but it was so important that me and my addiction did not dominate the conversation. I needed to let them talk about them, their lives, their hopes, and their fears. I needed to return to the person I used to be for them. I needed to return to myself. For at the core of it all, that's what everyone was missing. Me. A lengthy dissertation about my heartache and repentance was not needed, I was needed.

Understanding this was not only vital for mending the relationships I had fractured, but for my recovery, too. It helped me notice how much I missed being someone my family and friends could turn to for support and advice. How much I missed the trust and respect that comes from being securely engaged in another's life. We need our family and friends like we need oxygen, yet they are among the first treasures we forsake in our addiction. Twisted, isn't it?

So, what's the moral? Be there for your family and friends. Over and over and over again. In time, they will see that you're changing, you're growing, and they will want to join you on the journey. And trust me when I say, everyone involved will be the better for it.

I would like to address one other thing, though. And it is of grave importance. When seeking out members of your family and friends with which to begin the healing process, be mindful that both parties are ready to heal. At times, letting a sleeping dragon sleep is best. Make sure you're not running on a personal agenda, that you're not mending a relationship just for your sake. This is not fair, it is self-indulgent and the polar opposite of what we're trying to accomplish. It is a great lesson in learning the nuances of healing for self versus healing for others. We shan't be too greedy in our recovery, lest we slip and fall.

This is tough, y'all. Probably more tough than putting down the bottle or the needle. Treat it delicately, and be aware that some may not be as receptive to forgiving and forgetting as you may want them to be. We have seriously hurt our family and friends, y'all. And it's very difficult to heal that pain quickly, it takes time, patience, and fortitude. You can do it, though. As I've said before, I know you can do it, because I did it.

Time is a beautiful, powerful tool, y'all. Let it work its magic, and until next time, have fun!

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