One of the hardest but most important things we can do when in recovery is try to make amends to the people we hurt as a result of our addiction. This can be extremely scary and difficult. We are filled with remorse and regret. We feel embarrassment and guilt for our actions. We feel deeply ashamed of ourselves. Making amends is part of the process of not only seeking forgiveness from others, letting them know how sorry we are, but also in working to forgive ourselves. Self-forgiveness is a crucial part of recovery. Without it, we are likely to fall into our same old patterns in order to cope with the pain.
When we make amends to other people, we know they might not forgive us, but what’s most important is that we tried. It’s so important for us to know that we were able to apologize and that our apology was heard, even if it’s not accepted. We have no control over whether or not the other person forgives us. All we can control is how we handle the situation once we’ve gained enough clarity to know that we need to apologize for our wrongdoings. It can be therapeutic to know that we did the best we could to make amends. We can’t undo the damage we did, we can’t make it all go away, but we can express our genuine remorse and hope that the other person appreciates our honesty, humility, vulnerability and courage.
Sometimes the process of making amends to the people we’ve hurt is something we put off, for years even. The fear of it makes us want to avoid it altogether. As we go about doing the emotional work of recovery, this can be one of the hardest things we have to do because we’re not just dealing with ourselves, we’re also dealing with the hurt and anger of other people. We can’t predict their responses. We can’t prepare for them. All we can do is hope that our attempts to make peace are received and that our intentions are understood – that we care about the mistakes we’ve made and how we affected other people, and that we have a genuine desire to right our wrongs.
Whether or not our apologies are received is less important than the fact that we mustered the courage to give them, that we humbled ourselves enough to reach out to the people we wronged, that we were willing to be honest and forthcoming enough to face up to our mistakes. When we make amends, we are more likely to be able to forgive ourselves, and this can make all the difference in our ability to move forward.
Treatment programs at Riverside Recovery include various kinds of therapy, as well as recovery meetings, to help you with your recovery goals. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.