Life After Rock Bottom: Seven Initial Steps to Healing Your Relationships
Picture yourself on the world’s biggest roller coaster blindfolded. You’re flying through the sky not knowing when and how much to brace yourself for the next twist or turn because you can’t see. Then without warning you fall 200 feet from the sky as you dive into a turn. All this seems tolerable if you knew when the ride would end. You could then tell yourself “just one more turn.” But to your frustration, you learn that this ride is indefinite. There is no predetermined end.
This is how the people around an addict feel...
As a former addict I hurt a lot of people – family, friends, business associates and partners. The guilt and shame I felt watching myself destroy my life paled in comparison to the guilt and shame I felt torturing the people around me. I broke trust, encouraged secrecy and many other things that contributed to hurting relationships and many of them I found in this article.
Luckily, after many years of therapy, love and support, I was able to end the addiction and begin to rebuild my life. I chronical this journey in my book Perfect Pain.
Once I began to see through the fog that was my life I was, naturally, faced with the daunting task of rebuilding everything I had damaged. Here’s some first hand advice.
1. You must be obsessed with mending your relationships
Nothing great happens without an unwavering desire to achieve it! If you aren’t obsessed with cleaning up the wreckage you left behind then you will fail. This has to be the single most important goal in your life. Meaning if you don’t really want this, then you won’t get it. If your obsessed, your actions and words will follow accordingly and come out genuinely …you can’t do this half-assed.
2. You MUST take baby steps
The mountain that you created to climb is massive. If your eyes keep looking at the top of the mountain you will find the climb daunting and unachievable. The only way to tackle this massive mountain is to break it down into a series of smaller hills. Hills that you can actually handle.
3. Establish trust
Trust was the major covenant that was breached with your relationships. The main reason trust is breached is because addicts are liars. And it is impossible to have a healthy relationship if one side feels that the truth is not being reciprocated. Then advice is simple. NEVER lie again. My philosophy is simple. “you can’t go broke telling the truth.” Even if that means being honest with any transgressions you may have had.
4. Accept a slow process
Do not put a time frame on anything! No real relationship can be fixed overnight. The more important the relationship the longer it will take to heal. When you rush and expect too much too fast you will fail. It took a long time to get to this point so don’t expect people to suddenly erase the memories of the rollercoaster they were on. It will take a long time for them to feel as if they are no longer wearing a blindfold.
5. Accept that some relationships will NEVER be the same
You can only control you. People around you evolve and change. And you may have gotten left behind in someone’s evolution or change. So be it!
6. See things through their eyes
Know that you’re the one that caused this. Always and always remember that it’s your fault. The problem with the world is YOU. Not the loved ones around you. The faster you can truly see and feel what they saw, the faster you can know what it is that they need from you.
7. Some relationships aren’t worth fixing
You don’t have to fix everything. You don’t have super powers. You’re not equipped with all the tools to fix every relationship simultaneously. You can only do so much. Start with the most important few and focus all your energy on those. Start with the relationships that mean the most. So pick thoughtfully and have a plan.