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Family and Forgiveness

Real Deal is launching a family program. Addiction is a disease that affects the whole family, so it only makes sense that the whole family needs recovery. It’s something that we hope will take things one step further toward complete recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

It also got me thinking about addiction and my own family.

Forgiveness is huge in recovery

A Painful Realization

Back when I was drinking and using drugs, I knew my lifestyle wasn’t good for me. But I was convinced the only person I was hurting was myself. In fact, I took it one step further. When my family seemed to always be upset with me and urging me to seek help, I saw myself as the victim. I was just living my life. They didn’t understand. They were being unfair. They were trying to hurt me. Looking back, it’s easy to see how delusional I was.

I regret to say that things had to progress a lot further before I finally did seek help. I had to get to the point where I was almost completely broken before I was willing to accept help and change the way I was living. Naturally, my relationship with my family suffered accordingly.

Some of them, like my mother, felt sorry enough for me to keep talking to me. Others had had enough and cut me off completely. Honestly, I don’t blame them. I caused so much damage that I would have done the same thing in their shoes.

Finding Forgiveness

Obviously, I did end up finding my way into recovery, or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this today. It didn’t happen right away, and recovery was a bumpy road early on, but that’s a story for another time. The point is, through treatment and putting effort into a program of recovery, I was able to get my own life more or less back together. Of course, I was still left with totally fractured family relationships.

I’m not ashamed to admit that much of my recovery happened through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Part of that program is the amends process. For those of you that aren’t familiar, making amends is when we approach those we have harmed and outline to them the ways we believe we have hurt them. We then ask if there is anything we have missed, and offer to do whatever we can to make things right.

A Painful Process

It’s a painful process, to say the least. There’s nothing fun about looking into the eyes of someone you care about and realizing how much you’ve hurt them. I got lucky with my amends. Everyone I approached was willing to attempt to repair our relationship. It took a while for some people to be willing to even see me, but once they did, amazing things happened.

I had dinner with a group of family members who spent years without speaking to me last night. We laughed and joked and had a great time. The crazy thing is, our relationship today is stronger than it ever was before addiction tore us apart. Working a program has fundamentally changed who I am as a person, and for the better. I am able to take these improvements with me into my relations with other people. The miracle of living sober has made my life and relationships better than ever before.