No one holds resentments and grudges like an addict. They’re hypersensitive people, feel things deeply, and they’re easily affected. These characteristics and character defects often drive them the trials of relationships, and their overblown egos made it difficult to cope without a fix. They need to simultaneously control the situation and escape it. Food, or the restriction of it, promised to grease the wheels of an unmanageable life.
What addicts learn in recovery is that they can’t get sober or stay sober if they don’t begin to address life head-on. They stuff their resentments and try to avoid feeling guilty. They don’t know how to have healthy relationships with the people around them and find it difficult to address domestic violence during addiction treatment. These things drive them to even abuse food. While they may experience a temporary reprieve from addiction when they get into addiction recovery, their deep-seeded resentments and unreconciled relationships will eventually come back to haunt them. That haunting usually leads straight back to the food.
Our creator has commanded us to live reconciled to all those around us. Not only are we to tolerate our neighbors, brothers, sisters, and parents, we are to love and serve them. However, it’s impossible when we harbor grudges and guilt, which must be swept away.
A 12-step program can provide a practical process for relational reconciliation. Human relationships are challenging, and fixing them is often unpleasant. When faced with the decision of growing up and taking care of past business or being swept back into the addiction undertow, most will choose to buck up and take the high road.
The reconciliation process begins with the addict’s personal inventory. Here, we can examine their grudge and guilt. The inventory asks the newly addict to list every resentment that they can remember. No grudge or irritation is too small. Every human being around us has caused disappointment at some point. If it’s still in our memory, it goes on the sheet.
After looking at our grudges, we move quickly to an examination of our guilt. We’ll be surprised to see that we’re often more at fault than we thought. When the personal inventory has been completed and shared, we proceed to the amends. It’s not enough to forgive the other person or to make peace with one’s own guilt. We must go to the other person and verbally apologize, doing whatever we can to clean up our side of the street.
Here the wisdom of the sponsor is invaluable. With the help of your sponsor, compile your list of the people who deserve amends. For each person, write out a letter expressing your apologies and your sincere desire to reconcile the relationship. No accusations or blame-shifting is allowed. When the letter has been completed, meet with the recipient inperson to share the contents of the letter.
Few things are more uncomfortable than this process. It’s excruciatingly pride-slaying to go to the people you have wronged and own up to your faults.
Despite their initial fears and apprehensions, recovering addicts experience joy and liberation following the completion of their amends that they didn’t anticipate while tired and worn-down relationships are revived, estranged friends are reunited, love is rekindled, and partnerships are reconciled. All relationships won’t be healed immediately; some will require more time.