Restoring Healthy Relationships
If you’re following a 12-step program, then you may eventually want to make amends with friends and family members whose relationships were impaired during your addiction. Doing so can not only help with feeling better about yourself, removing any guilt you might have about the addiction, but it can also help restore relationships that may be supportive for you in your recovery.
Making Amends With Others Is Suggested in Steps 8 and 9 of the 12 Steps:
- Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
And after you make amends, you may want to do your best to keep your relationships healthy. In recovery, men and women are asked to do their best in taking responsibility for their own unhealthy relationship patterns as well as no longer placing the blame on others.
One way to have a healthy relationship with those you love is to have clear communication about your needs and desires – including what you’re okay and not okay with. In other words, healthy relationships may mean learning how to say now and when to set boundaries.
Creating Healthy Boundaries
For instance, it’s common in families with addiction to have co-dependent relationships. Co-dependent relationships can commonly include blurry or nonexistent lines between two people involved in that relationship.
Unhealthy boundaries can occur when someone in the relationship puts the needs of the other first, when someone disregards him or herself and feels like they do not have any rights in the relationship.
The result is that boundaries between the two people become nonexistent. One person ends up wanting what the other person wants, instead of voicing their own opinion. When boundaries are too close (when they are enmeshed or when one person lets the other in too much), you might:
- have a hard time saying no
- give in too much
- get involved too quickly
- trust too easily
- intrude on others (such as violate their boundaries)
- stay in relationships too long
If you recognize that you are too enmeshed in your relationship and that you need to establish a healthy space between the two of you, perhaps you need healthier boundaries. Healthy boundaries have the following characteristics:
- Present and clear
- Appropriate versus controlling or manipulative
- Firm but flexible, not rigid
- Protective, not hurtful or harmful
- Receptive, not invasive or domineering
- Not set by anyone else but yourself
It May Be Difficult at First
Keep in mind that establishing healthy boundaries may at first feel difficult because it might feel like you are pushing the other person away. Yet, it is important for the emotional and psychological health of both parties to have clear lines between them. Being too close may create patterns of confusion, indecisiveness, and uncertainty in one or both people.
If you want to establish boundaries in your relationship, first become clear about what you need in order to stay healthy physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Then, learn to communicate those needs to your partner. If you’re having trouble, don’t be hard on yourself. Changing your relationship patterns can be challenging.
But once you do, you might notice greater freedom along with a healthier way of being in your relationships and friendships.
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