Why Self-Forgiveness is So Important in Addiction Recovery
Life before addiction treatment and life after addiction treatment are two totally different worlds. If you think back to your life before treatment you’re more than likely going to remember too many things you said or did that caused significant harm to yourself and others. A trip down addiction’s memory lane can be a scary place to travel in recovery for sure.
Memories are going to resurface though, and they’re more than likely going to make you feel like less than wonderful about yourself. If you’ve hit the point of recovery you’re more than familiar with the feelings addicts all know quite intimately. Guilt, shame, and remorse are all very real. And if you thought these feelings were hard to deal with when you were using, facing them sober can be a nightmare.
Think for a minute the things that you’ve done or experienced that were directly related to your addiction. While the damage for each addict is decidedly different, the results are always strikingly similar. Basically, life and everything important in it gets absolutely destroyed. Anyone who’s experienced addiction first hand though, knows there’s nothing simple about it and that the wake of destruction is huge.
Whether it’s the relationships that were destroyed, the things done to hurt others either intentionally or unintentionally, the important things let slip away, the property that was damaged, destroyed, or lost or the heavy financial burden this addiction has cost, thinking about it all is enough to make you crawl into a hole of resentment and never want to leave.
The thing is you’re never going to make it through recovery and find lasting success if you don’t forgive yourself. Finding self-forgiveness is fundamental in the process of recovery. And while finding and truly living with forgiveness may be hard, the struggle is worth everything it takes. Finding forgiveness for yourself in the recovery process will literally change your life, and the things you’re feeling now will be but a shadow of the person you will become.
No amount of wishing things would have turned out different is going to change what’s happened in the past. What’s done is done and you can’t change it. What you can do though is begin to change the way you feel about yourself now in regard to the things you did before.
How exactly is this done? Through radical self-forgiveness, of course. No one else is going to do it for you. You’re the only one that can change the way you feel about you and the sooner you begin to accept what’s done is done and begin to forgive yourself for what it was, the sooner you’ll take steps towards real freedom.
When you recognize that forgiveness is necessary and accept it as a very important part of your recovery process, you’ve already taken the first step. And as you well know, baby steps are a big part of the road to recovery. There are many “first steps” in recovery, and recognizing the importance of forgiveness is definitely one of them. You don’t need to know how to forgive; all you need is a willingness to surrender to the forgiveness process.
To begin the self-forgiveness process, allow yourself to revisit the memories associated with your addiction that are causing you guilt, shame, self-loathing, or resentment. Identify not only the things you did, but also what motivated you to do them in the first place. The person you were in your addicted state of mind is not the person you really are. You’ve got to stop beating yourself up for what you did when living under the false illusion of an addicted state of mind.
Let go of the burden you carry from the weight of past experience. What you did is not what you are. The person you were is not who you now are. Begin to let go of the guilt associated with your addiction and the actions you prescribed to while in this state of mind. Start to forgive yourself for these things by reminding yourself that while you cannot change the past, you can change your perspective of it.
Nothing has any meaning but the meaning we give it. While this might seem difficult to comprehend, think of what it could do for you if you changed the meaning you gave to your past actions through the power of practicing forgiveness. With forgiveness comes acceptance, and rather than feeling guilty and ashamed of what we did it becomes much easier to accept the things we did as not part of who we are, but who we were when caught in the tight clutch of addiction.
The past is done, the future is uncertain, and the present moment is all we have. Finding forgiveness in the present moment is one of the most important things you can do for your actions of the past and the state of your future. When you’ve made it to the point of recovery, you’ve made it to a place where you have the opportunity to finally forgive yourself and experience the freedom that living without addiction offers.
We’ve all done things we’d care to forget, but ignoring them only brings more feelings of guilt and shame and keeps you in a place that is not at all conducive to recovery. Finding your way into a new life filled with awesome opportunity will only come when you’ve found yourself immersed in forgiveness for your actions under your addicted state of mind.