Forgiving is a tough thing to do. It’s hard enough forgiving someone who has wronged you once, but how about when that person has been hurting you for years? When they have taken everything from you and not given anything back in return? How do you forgive a recovering drug addict? Finding the strength to forgive a recovering addict takes time. When you face so much pain and betrayal from someone you once loved more than anything, it’s hard to find it in your heart to do something as simple as letting go. However, even if you are struggling to forgive a loved one trying desperately to get their life back together, you have to try.
Remember that no one chooses to struggle with addiction. Addiction is a disease that brings out the very worst in people and changes who they are from the inside out. It robs them of their dignity, their self-respect, and it makes them do things they would never otherwise even consider. Remember that recovery takes time and patience. The addict will never recover if you walk away from them because they have relapsed and done something terrible. You can’t rush recovery. Remember that recovery takes more than just one person. Recovery is a family affair, and you must be willing to let go of the resentment you feel towards the addict and turn all your strength and love towards helping them get sober and stay sober. They cannot do it alone. Remember that forgiveness does not mean forgetting.
You can forgive someone for the wrongs they’ve done, but that doesn’t mean you have to pretend nothing happened and let them back in your life without any consequences. Forgiveness allows you to move forward with a clean slate, but it does not absolve them. It does not mean that you give the person permission to continue doing the things that hurt you. Remember that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Forgiveness doesn’t benefit the addict nearly as much as it benefits you. When you forgive an addict, you free yourself from all the anger and resentment holding you back. You can’t progress forward in your own life until you learn how to forgive with your heart as well as with your mind.
Listen to them.
When a person is frustrated with an addict in recovery, it’s easy to get on the defensive and make sure they know all of the pain they’ve caused you to go through. When you do this, you aren’t doing anything to help the addict. Instead, try to listen to what they are saying and try to understand their side of things. The process of recovery is transformational. They have different thoughts running through their head than they did before. They have a new story to tell, and they have new ambitions to live for. When you listen to their story and understand that it is different from what you know, it might help you realize that their changes aren’t just superficial.
Look at the person’s future, not their past mistakes.
When someone does something that hurts you, it’s easy to think of all of the pain they have caused in the past and how it validates your belief that they will never change. However, when a recovering addict is trying to get better, don’t focus on their past. Instead of thinking about how they have hurt you in the past and why it makes sense that they would do so again, think about their future. Imagine what life will be like when they are sober and have turned their life around.
This might not seem possible now, but once they are sober for a while, their behavior will begin to change. If you only talk with the person when you are angry with them, it’s easy to forget about all of the good things about the person. It’s easier to think about how they have hurt you and the negative things they are capable of, but when you work to love them as a whole person instead of just the one that you know, it will be easier for them to recover because you won’t take them down with your own resentments.
Fear can keep you from forgiving a recovering addict.
When you have been afraid for so long of what someone will do to you next, it’s hard to let that fear go. Loving someone who is struggling with addiction is often one of the most painful things a person can go through. If you can find forgiveness deep within yourself, there is always hope for a better tomorrow. When a person is trying to get better, they need all of the support and forgiveness they can get. If you or someone you know needs help, please call 954-523-1167 to reach our counselors. They are available 24 hours a day to provide support.