If your relationships have been strained or destroyed due to drinking or addiction issues, keep in mind that there are ways you can rebuild your relationships as you walk your road in recovery. It’s pretty common for loved ones to be casualties when it comes to an alcoholic’s behavior, so know that others have certainly been in your shoes. The good news is that you can rebuild bridges over time with some insight and effort.
Offer a sincere apology
Whether you’ve stolen money from your parents or emotionally abused your partner, at some point, both will require that you offer a heartfelt and sincere apology. They may or may not be willing to accept your apology right now, but at least you can offer it. This lets them know that you are sincerely sorry for your behavior and any pain that you’ve caused them. It most likely will not be nearly enough for them to begin trusting you right away, but it is a start.
Another thing you can do to continue rebuilding bridges is to remain sober. Chances are you’ve told your loved ones over the years that you will stop drinking and then you started drinking again. That type of action makes it difficult for loved ones to believe you. If you stay sober, they are more apt to believe that you are really making the effort to get your life together and be more willing to trust you.
Apologizing is one thing, but go one step further (actually, the 9th step!) and make amends where you can. If you’ve stolen money, repay it if you can. If you’ve damaged property, replace it. Maybe you can meet with those who you’ve really hurt face to face in order to let them know how sorry you are. If you’re in doubt whether making an amends is appropriate, ask your sponsor or support group. There is also such a thing called living amends. This is where you make amends through an alternative way. For example, maybe you stole money from your grandmother, but she has past on. You could donate money to an elderly group or organization.
Not everyone is going to just let you into their lives again. It might take time for those that you’ve hurt to heal and trust you again. Be patient. If you get angry and act out, that just goes to show that you’re not really doing internal work. Your goal is not just to stop drinking, but also to change from the inside out.
Keep yourself on track
Your loved ones want to see you successful in every area of your life, so do your best to work on yourself. If you attend 12 Step meetings, work on each step consistently and go over them with your sponsor. Create some goals for yourself and work towards them regularly. As you grow in your own life, rebuilding bridges that have been burned will become easier.