How To Forgive An Addicted Loved One
The negative effects of addiction are not limited to your affected loved one. Addiction affects everyone else in the family. There will be feelings of anger, distrust, and betrayal as the entire family dynamics will undoubtedly change. This is one of the most difficult hurdles that the family has to overcome. No matter how hard it is, it is not impossible.
Part of addiction recovery is to apologize to the family. After that, it is also your obligation to find it in your heart to forgive. Forgiveness is necessary for everyone to move forward.
5 Steps To Forgive An Addicted Loved One
Acceptance Of The Disease
The best way to start your forgiveness journey is to accept that addiction is a disease. This does not mean that the addicted person automatically does not have any fault in the situation. It just means that they are helpless to some degree and they need professional assistance.
You may be tempted to hold grudges because your addicted loved one may have hurt you by lying or with bad behavior. However, these are all symptoms and side effects of addiction. Rather than zeroing in on those hurtful cases, it is better to take a look at the bigger picture and realize that their addiction made them act that way. Therefore, eliminating addiction will help them become better people.
Addiction is a disease that requires professional treatment. Recovering addicts are patients that need care, love, understanding, and compassion.
Do Not Take Things Personally
Another reason why you might be having a hard time forgiving a loved one is because of how seemingly personal their attacks were. However, you need to understand that they are not in their right minds or when they did those hurtful things. They were under the influence of addictive substances which caused them to abandon their principles and act in undesirable ways.
They might have done or said hurtful things. Those will undoubtedly leave emotional scars but you can heal from them if you do not take things personally. Recovering addicts will apologize once they realize how grave the consequences were, and holding their past misdemeanor over their heads will only stunt recovery. Remember that they are in a lot of pain, too – perhaps way worse than what you are dealing with.
It is better to give them credit for trying to heal. Their willingness to attend treatments or get checked into rehab should be acknowledged and applauded. Be more understanding so that you can provide them with the support they sorely need. Encourage their attendance in group therapy or AA meetings. They need your support, not your resentment.
Lower Your Expectations
Some families or partners expect things to go back to the way they were after their loved ones get back from rehab. Such a high expectation will only lead to disappointments since there is always the possibility of things permanently changing. However, this change is not necessarily bad. Recovering addicts will strive to become the best versions of themselves and that does not automatically equate to going back to their old selves.
Regaining some sense of normalcy will take some time. You need to give them time to find their footing and live an addiction-free life. It is important to extend patience and compassion since recovery isn’t always linear. They may relapse or fail. They may get frustrated with the process. The best you can do is to accompany them through it all and ensure that they are staying on the right path.
Additionally, holding expectations for your loved ones may result in resentment, especially if they fail to live up to their idealized version in your head. Find a way to take things in stride. Adapt to the new version of normal and keep an open heart.
Forgiving an addicted loved one shouldn’t mean abandoning your needs. You should also find ways to support yourself, physically and emotionally. Dealing with an addicted loved one is a draining process and it may be difficult to find a support system that understands exactly what you are going through.
We at R&R Recovery recommend attending family therapy since addiction is a family disease that affects everyone. You deserve to be heard and to listen to inspiring stories of other families who conquered this hurdle.
It is also a great outlet to eliminate negative pent-up emotions. Bottling up these negative feelings may cause you to implode at the worst possible time. You may find some relief through these support groups as well as wean some tips on how to proceed.
Forgiveness may feel completely impossible at first. The wounds may feel too fresh and you might be tempted to just cut off ties. However, no one would benefit from that. The patient may be unable to fully recover without forgiveness. You may also feel burdened since you might hoard negative emotions that may remain unresolved.
Forgiveness may be a long process, but it is worth it in the end. It paves the way for the patient’s healing as well as the rest of the family’s. It helps repair relationships and strengthen the support system that the patient needs for a successful recovery.