Addiction births many difficult emotions, with those suffering from the disease, their friends, and their family all being affected. It is a dangerous disease that can cause an individual to damage the relationships most important to them or compromise one’s ability to nurture these relationships.
Mistakes and feelings of guilt are common. Despite navigating a program at a center for alcohol and drug treatment and maintaining one’s sobriety after treatment, these feelings can still linger. Forgiveness is a difficult part of recovery, but it is also necessary for families to heal together, move past the destructive effects of addiction, and create a unified front for continued, healthy sobriety.
Acknowledging Difficult Emotions
Depression, guilt, frustration, anxiety, and much more are all very common at various points in one’s recovery journey, and acknowledging one’s feelings is the only way to truly process them. However, family, friends, and loved ones all have to navigate their own emotional battles. It is essential to acknowledge each person’s perspective and feelings to begin a unified healing process.
Those Struggling With Addiction
Those who have suffered from addiction may experience pervasive feelings of guilt or harbor resentments toward family or loved ones for their own reasons. Whether one feels as if they have to atone for mistakes or were unfairly treated while suffering from the disease, acknowledging these difficult emotions is challenging.
Loved Ones of People Struggling
Family members and loved ones will harbor their own feelings and experiences and may be angry about how an individual acted while under the influence of addictive substances. Without acknowledging each person, blame can quickly overtake entire relationships.
Moving Towards Forgiveness
The first step toward forgiveness, whether it is an individual forgiving themselves for their own mistakes, forgiving others, or allowing themselves to be forgiven, begins with acknowledging the difficulties and guilt that addiction may have brought. Recovery is more than learning to cease the use of addictive substances, and while incredibly important, it is only part of the journey. Recovery is also about transforming one’s mindset and lifestyle to promote the skills and mentality needed to pursue one’s life goals in sobriety. Exploring forgiveness is integral to this truly transformed future.
Reflect on Specific Details
In order to embrace forgiveness, one must first be aware of what they are searching for forgiveness for. Searching one’s mind for specific examples of how one negatively impacted another or instances where one felt wronged creates a more impactful, directed dialogue. While acknowledging that addiction has affected the family is necessary, knowing specifically how family members were affected can be the necessary catalyst for true forgiveness.
Having a Tough Conversation
The first step in forgiveness is preparing oneself for the difficult conversations ahead. Whether an individual is asking for forgiveness or is facing their own guilt, it is a highly emotional and vulnerable time. Families and loved ones may need to express their grievances, while those in recovery may explore some of their more uncomfortable memories.
Having these emotional conversations is crucial and necessary to take the first steps toward forgiveness. By airing pent-up feelings and facing one’s mistakes, those in recovery and their friends and family can all get on the same page, establish a unified front for recovery, and rebuild trust.
Explore Forgiveness in Parts
One may not be able to face all of their mistakes and the need for forgiveness all at once. Likewise, being able to give and receive forgiveness is a skill. Starting with forgiving oneself or others for small things on a daily basis can introduce an individual to embracing a forgiving mindset. Forgiving others for being late or for small mistakes on a daily basis can create a more forgiving atmosphere needed to scaffold this new perspective.
Give It Time
Each individual will explore forgiveness in their own time. Even if one is willing to forgive another, that doesn’t mean that anyone is owed forgiveness at any point. Loved ones may require more time to process how one has changed, and trying to force forgiveness can counterproductively cause damage to the relationship. Continuing to live one’s sober life and express how one has changed is important, but it is also essential to provide others with the space and time necessary to explore forgiveness on their own terms.
Practice Voicing Your Feelings
Feelings of guilt and shame are difficult to process, and it can be impossible to forgive oneself or others as long as these feelings remain festering within one’s mind. Practicing voicing one’s feelings can promote the most effective way to express them to others. Writing letters to oneself, saying one’s thoughts out loud rather than thinking them, or expressing oneself in art or music are all ways to explore these feelings and open up to the idea of forgiveness. This strategy also helps those in recovery prepare for a difficult conversation and can ensure that one is saying exactly what they mean, creating the most effective and honest dialogue possible.
Forgiveness is an important but complicated part of the recovery process. For those navigating substance abuse treatment in Hawaii, Hawaii Island Recovery can help you practice the skills necessary to explore forgiveness with yourself and those most important to you. Our uniquely Hawaiian rehabilitation services, coupled with our extensive and flexible programs are designed to meet you where you are on your recovery journey. Allow us to create a truly transformative experience complete with a supportive and communal atmosphere of peers and professionals and a rich experiential and spiritual culture to help you explore new perspectives in your journey through sobriety and forgiveness. For luxurious and effective treatment at our Big Island substance abuse center, or to learn more about how we personalize a program to fit your unique needs and goals, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.