Repairing Relationships During the Holidays
The holiday season is a time centered around connecting with family, friends, and loved ones. For many in recovery from active addiction to drugs or alcohol, these relationships may have become strained and damaged, and holidays can act as a reminder of these failed relationships. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we begin to “get into the holiday spirit,” providing a great opportunity to reconnect with family and attempt to repair relationships once damaged by addiction. Below we will discuss some helpful tips for reconnecting and mending relationships during the holiday season.
- Reach out. This may seem simple and obvious, but sometimes we let fear and anxiety stand in the way of taking action. In order to begin repairing relationships, the lines of communication must be open – and it is your responsibility to take the initiative. Let your loved ones know that you are committed to treatment and your sobriety, and are willing to take the steps necessary to move forward. Addiction leaves much pain and suffering in its wake, and only through time, effort, and openness can these relationships be healed.
- Make an active effort. While in the cycle of active addiction, you most likely were neglectful of important relationships and made your loved ones feel as though they were secondary to drugs and alcohol. We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s the thought that counts,” but when it comes to mending relationships damaged by addiction, actions speak louder than words. If there is an event important to someone in your family, show up. If a friend needs your support, be there for them. Plan a surprise dinner for the family. Send holiday cards. Take meaningful action in proving that these individuals are important to you.
- Have patience and understanding. Though you may now be sober, the damage done over the course of your addiction will not be healed overnight. After you apologize for the past, some friends and relatives may be quicker to forgive than others. It is also important to recognize that these relationships may not ever go back to how they were before. It is entirely possible to repair these relationships, but understand things may be different as hurt and pain cannot always be forgotten.
- Stay on track with treatment. In this transitional period of mending relationships and building a sober life, do not neglect yourself and your treatment. Family and friends will be looking for you to prove your dedication, and staying actively involved in bettering yourself will certainly help. Attend local NA or AA meetings. Reach out to your sponsor, support system, or treatment professionals. It may also be helpful to schedule a family therapy session, where everyone can air their grievances and discuss their past and present concerns.
Repairing relationships with your loved ones may be hard work, but it will be extremely rewarding in the end. A sense of stability and support will be very uplifting after the difficult struggle with addiction, particularly during the holiday season when so much focus is placed on togetherness. For additional support during the holiday season, whether it be individual or family group therapy, please call A New Start, Inc. at 1-844-TALK-ANS.