What If I Can't Make Direct Amends?

Making direct amends is often encouraged in addiction recovery programs. In other words, you will be taught strategies for directly apologizing to people whom you may have hurt as a result of your addiction and for asking to move forward with these relationships.

However, making direct amends might be impossible in certain scenarios. When you can’t complete this task, you may feel overwhelmed or defeated. Remember that your health is the main focus. You can find ways to navigate this perceived obstacle and continue on your road to recovery.

When You Can’t Make Amends

While each person’s circumstances are going to vary, there are some common situations where individuals aren’t able to make amends. You might encounter the following scenarios:

  • deceased loved ones
  • legal issues
  • loved ones who aren’t ready

Deceased Loved Ones

You might have hurt family members or friends who are no longer living, so making direct amends is impossible. If you are a religious or spiritual person and believe that the deceased can hear you when you’re talking, consider setting aside a quiet time to meditate, reflect and chat. You can still let your loved one know that you’re sorry in this way.

Another approach is to try writing a letter to your loved one and leaving the note at the graveside or by the urn. Even when you can’t get a response from your relative or friend, you can feel a release in apologizing. You might also come up with a way to regularly honor and remember your relative or friend. Consider how bereavement counseling could offer another layer of comfort and guidance in this situation.

Legal Issues

Legal issues may also affect your ability to make direct amends with a loved one. For example, your addiction might have led relatives or friends to get an order of protection issued against you. Breaking that order of protection is a serious matter and could lead to more problems for you.

Do not, under any circumstances, break a legal order of protection so that you can make direct amends. If the order of protection expires and is not renewed, you may then have the opportunity to make amends with the individual. In this type of situation, consult with a lawyer so that you do not take any legal errors. In the meanwhile, try to get yourself to realize that there are no further actions that you can take in this matter.

Loved Ones Who Aren’t Ready

Your loved ones simply may not be ready to talk to you. Try to understand that people sometimes feel profoundly hurt as the result of an addiction. Your relatives or friends might be concerned that they will get hurt again. You have a couple of options in these scenarios. Your loved ones might say that they are not ready now but will contact you in the future if they feel like having a conversation. Your loved ones might also say that they do not want to ever hear from you again. Even when doing so is difficult, you must respect these boundaries.

On the other hand, your loved ones may simply say that they are not ready at this moment and leave the conversation there. Do not be pushy. You can try again in the future to reach out, but you need to wait a significant amount of time. Talking with your counselor can help in determining exactly how long to wait depending upon the circumstances of the situation.

When the time comes to try again, ask your loved ones if they are ready to speak with you. Do not be aggressive. Making direct amends can be a seriously important part of recovering from an addiction. Do keep in mind that making amends does not necessarily mean that the relationship is entirely healed. Your relatives and friends may choose to have a distant relationship with you. These situations can be difficult, especially if making amends isn’t possible at all. Speak with a caring counselor for further strategies to navigate your specific situation by calling 833-497-3808 today.