Once you have completed treatment, it can be hard to earn back the trust of loved ones. Significant damage can be done during active addiction and it is, in large part, up to you to rebuild that trust. This can be challenging, and sometimes even appear impossible, but it can be done if you do the work and take the appropriate steps. One of the most important things you can have in your life is trust in your relationships.
Communication is the foundation of building trust. This skill is essential if you ever want to progress in the relationship. This entails expressing how you feel, which might not always come naturally. Although it is difficult, push yourself into those uncomfortable places. Part of building trust requires being vulnerable with another person. As the person in recovery, you likely had a large hand in damaging the trust in your active addiction, so it is up to you to be the first to be vulnerable, to reach out and start rebuilding that bridge.
This is not to say that reparations should be one-sided. Trust is a two-way street and while you may be the one initiating the vulnerability, whoever you are trying to build trust with must reciprocate to get anywhere. If you pour your heart out to someone and they betray that show of trust, the relationship may border on toxic relationship territory.
Good communication that leads to a foundation of trust takes time, and the suggestions below can help you build it.
Daily check-ins are a great place to start when working on effective communication that leads to trust. This can allow you and your loved one to have a formal conversation about how you two are feeling. It can be over dinner every night or right before you go to bed. The point of this is to have a chunk of time carved out in the day that allows you and your loved one to express where you are mentally, emotionally, and physically.
This does not mean you have to have deep existential conversations every night. A check-in can be very straightforward. For example, consider something like, “Sorry if I'm a little quiet today, there is a big project at work due soon and I'm nervous.” What this simple sentence does is explain why your behavior is off, what is on your mind, and how it makes you feel. Now your loved one knows exactly where you are at and can offer support or suggestions.
Progress meetings are another way to start constructing healthy communication. Think of this as a long-form daily check-in. A progress meeting is when you and your loved one sit down and evaluate each other. This is not a time to criticize one another or spew all the things that you do not like about your loved one. What a progress meeting is about is evaluating how the two of you are when it comes to the goals you have set for yourself and for the relationship.
You might evaluate things like how your anger has been over the past month—has it gone down, stayed the same, or increased? If it has not improved, you know that anger is something that you need to focus on for the next month. This does not only have to be negative things. If you are trying to rebuild trust with a romantic partner, you could assess at your progress meeting whether you two have spent more quality time with each other than last month. You can address that accordingly. The point is to sit down, discuss, and track goals.
Honesty is another key component in trust building. Being vulnerable only works if you are truly honest about your feelings. You may find at times you are holding back from saying something to protect your loved one's feelings. While this may be with the best of intentions, it is often better to say how you feel and make a request for what can be done about it.
Patience may be the hardest of all the things that come with rebuilding trust. This is something that you have to have, like it or not. When you complete treatment, you feel like a new person. Sometimes you may feel that, being a new person, you should be treated as such. Yet, much like how the things in the past you did should be forgiven and forgotten, this is not always the case.
Building trust takes time. It does not happen overnight so you must be patient with your loved ones. You have likely had more time to process things through your treatment and time in therapy, but understand that your loved ones may need more time to work through things. Do not rush them; trust will come in time.
Building trust in your relationships can be difficult. It can be hard to know who to turn to for help. This is especially true if you have a few positive examples of healthy relationships in your life. Luckily, our staff of highly trained professionals is here for you. NorthStar Transitions, located in Boulder, CO, can be the place to find help. We offer services to help you get through this difficult period in your life. Whether it is a problem related to substance use or mental health, our experienced staff can guide you through diagnosis, treatment, and long-term recovery. It is not always easy, but knowing there is a solution can put your mind at ease. If you or someone you know needs treatment, NorthStar is a great option. You can take the first steps by calling us today at (303) 558-6400.