One marriage. Four friendships. Two employers. Oh, and one neighbor.
The tally of ruined relationships in Jamie’s life are really starting to add up. The good news is, after years of substance abuse, Jamie has decided to get help. The bad news is, she’s extremely anxious about relationships. How can she connect with people once she’s clean and sober? She’s already burned so many bridges. She has a history of breaking relationships, not building them.
Is it possible to reconnect with people once you’re clean? What should this look like?
Repairing Broken Relationships
Julie’s concerns are common. She’s experiencing a normal side effect of substance abuse: shattered relationships. Fortunately, it’s possible to rebuild old relationships and form new, healthy ones in recovery.
Here’s a few secrets to help you achieve relationship success:
- Get Real: Meaningful relationships require emotional intimacy. You have to be willing to open up and be vulnerable. Recovery is a lot of work and it’s full of emotional turmoil. But don’t shut people out. If you want to build (or rebuild) relationships, share what’s on your heart. It might be scary to take this leap, but you have to be willing to trust others with your real self.
- Get Grateful: Has anyone helped you (or tried to help you) with your addiction and recovery? Who was there for you when you needed them most? What support can you be thankful for? Let those around you know you are grateful for all they do. Whether they helped you in the past or they are just now getting to know you, it’s helpful to cultivate a grateful heart. Be quick to say thank you for acts of kindness both big and small.
- Get Positive: When people spend time with you, do they feel encouraged or drained? You don’t have to be a Pollyanna, but it’s good to build others up. Don’t hold back compliments. Be supportive. Nurture a positive outlook on life. This hopeful attitude is contagious and strengthens relationships. Be positive about yourself, too. A healthy self-image will help you in your recovery process.
- Get Physical: We all need physical affection. Even those who enjoy a great deal of personal space could use a hug now and then (whether they admit it or not). When it comes to family, this is especially important. If you’re working on reconnecting with your spouse or kids, include physical contact in your relationship. Take your spouse’s hand. Kiss your kids good night. Send your spouse off to work with a hug and a kiss. Enjoy some cuddle time on the couch with any or all of them. This physical contact helps you connect on more than just the physical level.
- Get Together: It’s a simple fact. You can’t build a relationship with someone without spending time together. Part of this time might include phone calls, texts, direct messaging, and other forms of online communication. But it’s important to have in-the-flesh, real-life, honest-to-goodness time together. Put down the phone. Get off social media. Go get some literal face time.
Additional Reading: Burning Broken Bridges – A Common Mistake in Early Recovery
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