Relationships and life after drinking or drugs
So how do you establish respect in relationships after active addiction has ceased? Once again, I have to draw on personal experience along with what I have personally witnessed in the lives of others. Watching the power of example that I witness in my clients is a great teacher. My experience tells me that establishing respect in relationships is a process.
1. Begin with self respect
As with most things in life recovery, it all began with me. When I faced the reality of my addictions, it is safe to say my self-respect was almost gone. Any honest person starting life recovery and the transformation to a “new and improved” is light on self respect if they are honest.
The road to gaining respect from others began by my getting respect for me. This did not happen overnight and took action based on hard work. But it did happen. How can I gain from others what I don’t have for myself?
2. Create an action plan for addiction recovery
For me, the most important person in my life was my wife, followed closely by my children. Suffice to say, with my actions, they had lost a lot of respect for me. I say respect; I don’t mean love; for that was never lost in my case. To those reading this, be aware, relationships will not change overnight. As I recall, it was likely four years before I regained my wife’s trust. Respect came back with action and new behaviour, but trust took a lot longer.
The biggest factor in regaining respect from those closest to me was action. They’d heard the words and I made the promises before. So, I put together an action plan for recovery with short term and longer term objectives. I sought their input and support. Then I went about executing the plan and used them as monitors along the path. I took the action I said I was going to take and they gave me support and feedback. As time went by, and I did what I said, things began to change and respect rejoined love.
3. Approach friends, colleagues and others face-to-face
In addition to my family there were a group of people: friends, close work associates and some “observers” who had lost respect for me. For those whose respect I wanted, I talked with face to face, explained my situation (to most it was no surprise; my addictions were a secret to me only). I took responsibility for what I had done and committed to a new path. Once again, the respect of others came incrementally with time; time where it became apparent to others that I had a major attitude adjustment and was living a healthier life.
Many I met with “respected” the decision I made to start recovery and were supportive. However, it should be noted that some were not and to be perfectly frank, their reasons don’t matter. I had lost their respect and I was not going to gain it back, at least publicly.
Getting respect from others is an action process
The simple truth is that getting respect back in relationships was an action process on my part, giving respect to others that they deserved and a reasonable amount of time to show I was sincere and continuing to make positive changes. Through help from many others, spiritual awakening and growth as a part of my journey of life recovery and transformation. I have not actively engaged in my addictions for many years. I regained respect for myself, and through deeds and actions, have gained the respect of many. It is an ongoing process and one I love to share with others.
Are you struggling with getting back respect from friends, family and co-workers? Have you started on the path to recovery or getting ready to change your life? Share your experiences about respect in recovery here. Or ask questions, and Keith will answer them personally!