Making amends is a recommended part of recovering from substance abuse. When you were abusing substances, you probably told yourself that you never hurt anyone but yourself. Now that you are sober, you likely recognize that you did hurt some people along the way. You could have hurt others by stealing from them or treating them poorly through verbal or physical abuse. You may have asked others to lie for you or cover up your mistakes, or you may have caused other people a lot of stress, worry and anxiety.
How Loved Ones Have Harmed You
When you are making amends to those closest to you, you may find that some of them believe they need to make amends to you as well. Addiction is a family disease, and members of your family may have behaved in ways that actually contributed to your addiction and your inability to quit. They may have given you money or given you rides to drug dealers. They may have covered up for your mistakes and made excuses for you when you neglected your responsibilities. They may have treated you with extreme anger and verbal abuse because they didn’t really understand that addiction is a disease.
Letting Go of Expectations
You may have the opposite experience when you are making amends. You may approach someone that you harmed, and you may expect that the other person will admit that he or she was at least partially at fault for the things that went wrong. Instead, even though your loved one probably should be making amends to you too, he or she chooses not to.
Choices made by others are not up to you. If you expect other people to make amends to you, you are setting yourself up to be disappointed or hurt, because whether they do or not is out of your control. Your task is to make amends to the people you have harmed and not to worry about whether you think they have harmed you. Let go of expectations or the urge to blame others. The more you take full responsibility for your own actions without expectations of others, the more making amends will be very healing for you.
Recovery Ranch: How to Work Step Nine