Rebuilding, One Relationship at a Time

Couple hugging.

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”

-Creighton Abrams

One activity that is imperative (and good recovery operations know this, understand this and apply this) is doing the work of “relational amends” after an addiction has plagued an individual (and that surrounding individuals’ community) over a series of days, weeks, months and years.

I remember meeting with a guy one time that had a list of individuals who he needed to make amends and it was like a book. Page after page after page of names, specific situations, and relational carnage.

When I asked the guy how he felt about making amends to every relational difficulty on those pages and how he was going to do it his response was brilliant (although now I know he borrowing the words from Creighton Abrams:

Him: “Ryan, how do you eat an elephant?”
Me: “Uhm, I have no clue”
Him: “One bite at a time”

Holding hands of supportHow do you engage all the people you’ve hurt over the years by choosing substances, food, pornography, gambling (aka- your addiction) over years of neglect? How do you move toward the individuals you’ve hurt over the years? How do you make amends with what might be pages upon pages of folks you’re responsible for hurting?

Let me suggest 3 important perspectives you must have as you doing the important work of building healthy relationships with those you’ve hurt.

1.  Make your amends one at a time.

Instead of trying to fix every relational blunder you’ve had in one week be honest to yourself and others that this is going to take some time. Move to one key relationship every week and instead of trying to make amends with 100 people in 4 days just embrace the fact that your poor choices (over years of neglect) got you into this mess and you won’t get out of it overnight. Patience and perseverance are key in this part of the process.

2.  Be ready to be saddened.

When you come to someone and ask, “How have I hurt you?” and you know you’ve deeply wounded them it takes courage and honor to shut up and listen. You will be saddened and shocked by how destructive your behavior has been to not only you, but by those around you.

Part of your recovery is coming face to face with how bad you’ve really been. Face it head on, own it and engage in it. To receive the cup of life one must simultaneously drink the cup of death.

3.  Take good notes.

Couple reading togetherMaking your amends one at a time means that you will give people personal conversation and connection and in those moments sacred things will be shared. Write it down, remember and enjoy the powerful work of reconciliation. You might not fix every relationship but the ones you do will have an incredible impact for the rest of your life.

Community Discussion – Share Your Thoughts Here!

What are ways that have helped you repair relationships through your addiction recovery?

Pastor Ryan Moffet family photoAbout the Author:

Ryan Moffat is the teaching pastor at Vast Church in Sisters, OR and is currently working on his Masters in Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, OR

Ryan received his BS in Bible and Theology and a minor in counseling from Multnomah University. He has pastored students, families and is passionate about Christ-centered recovery and healing. He’s been married to his beautiful wife Michelle for 13 years and they enjoy raising four crazy, unique and special kids together.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 31, 2017
Published on

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.