Working in the field of substance use treatment for a number of years, we’ve noticed that clients tend to come into counseling with a large amount of baggage. They have typically wronged people, hurt people, lied repeatedly, or stole. You may be wondering, when will you be forgiven?
Clients typically have two emotional states regarding this type of baggage. They either want to fix it immediately or avoid it indefinitely. When attempting to avoid these issues, the favorite choice of words to get people off of our backs is, “I'm sorry.” This will work for a time, however, with chronic relapses and constant harm to friends and family, eventually family will have had enough and sorry will lose its luster. Family will begin to cut the individual off, block phone numbers, and not allow burned bridges to be rebuilt. On the other hand, we have the overly ambitious substance using individual. They immediately want to fix everything and show their family how well they are doing. The only problem is they tend to have nothing to demonstrate that things are different.
“Look, I'm in treatment!”
“Yes, for the 20th time in two years.”
“But I'm sober!”
“For now, and you've been sober before.”
“Look, I’m sorry for all of this, let’s put all of this behind us.”
“You've been sorry before and then did the same thing, nothing is different.”
This is the normal proceeding for this situation. Friends and family want to see change, not hear pretty words about how you are changing. They've heard it all before.
So, how can you fix this? Well, one way is with 12-step recovery. Making amends with those hurt is the culmination of the core of 12-step recovery. Actions taken will lead to behavioral and emotional change. This change will become apparent to those around the individual. This process means eventually you will meet for a very formal process that is much more than I'm sorry. We cannot control other’s belief in us, but we can show them that they can start to again. Friends and family will come around in their own time through this process. Some may be days, some months, some may take years. Unfortunately, some may never agree to forgive you, or even talk with you. This is a burden to bear but it is part of the recovery process.
Counseling will take a similar but different approach. First, 12-step recovery is free and non-professional. Counseling is a paid service by trained professionals. Professionals working on damage control with you will first help you to make the change you wish to make. With this change made, they can help you to repair damage done. Once again, some may never forgive, but if they are going to, they will first need to see change. One chief difference between these two approaches is that counselors may act as mediators, attempting to mend relationships and improve communication in family sessions. This is something that will not be done in 12-step recovery. Thankfully, both approaches can be worked together in harmony., leading to better chances of successful abstinence and family reparation.
At Independent Recovery, we support whatever path to family and relationship reparation you choose to take. We are here to help you create a comprehensive plan to correct these relationships. Please reach out to us for a free consultation.