Getting sober comes with a series of challenges, most obvious is remaining free from the vice given up.
Something not as frequently discussed yet one of the most difficult aspects of sobriety is not the calling of the substance given up but rather, finding peace with who you were.
I’m learning how to forgive myself for who I was and all of the things I did and to be completely honest, that has been a bigger challenge than dropping the booze.
Read on for what I’ve learned and three insights which can help you get started on this path of absolution.
Stop Running From Your Past
The first step in the process is for you to stop running from your past.
You have to stop and face whatever it was that pushed you towards your addiction.
Take a moment to reflect on what I just said because most people miss it…
You weren’t running to alcohol, drugs, porn, or pills because they caught you like a fish in the sea; you turned to them to escape something. You enjoyed the feeling of escape and in that sliver of time, I need you to look and see what were you escaping from?
Often it’s a traumatic childhood filled with abuse, pressure, an inability to develop an authentic character, trying to meet expectations, anger at the absence of parent, or your position in life (poverty).
Something chased you to the abyss and you have to face it.
The only way you can ever forgive who you were is if you remember how you became that person.
Nobody sits there as a child and thinks, “I sure do want to be addicted to alcohol when I grow up.” yet thousands and thousands of people are addicted and dying directly related to alcohol and drugs.
Porn addiction has destroyed marriages and continues to do so through today and beyond.
Addiction is not the cause of your problems; it’s a symptom and we need to find and face directly what it is your previous self was running from.
Allow yourself to go deep on this and to push through the pain to face why you turned to the numbing agents in life. When you find that source of pain, you need to confront it and have the conversation with whomever or whatever hurt you.
When you can do this, even before confronting it but at the least when you can identify it, you can look at who you were with more sympathy than rage. You didn’t want to be what you were; you were chased to that life and then had the hooks of addiction grab hold.
Even though you were the problem, it wasn’t your fault and you are also the solution to this.
Drop the hate and anger, allow yourself to let the regret and pain subside so you can see who you were through a lens of connection and peace. You needed you then, you have you now, and it’s time you see that who you were was a product of something greater than a “Lack of will power” or “weakness”.
You were wounded and your vice offered a false salvation. Instead of healing and escape, you traded one demon for another.
Own Who You Are
Trying to run from your past is like trying to hold a demon back in a closet out of fear that if it shows it’s face it will share with the world how ugly you were and then it can consume you again.
Hiding from your past does not protect you from it.
Ed Latimore wrote a piece that is an excellent read which brings supplemental tools to help you on your journey.
Repressing who you were makes you a liability because of the time, mental energy, and increasing fatigue from hold back the demon who, like a prisoner doing pushups and pullups, is getting stronger and stronger while locked away.
It’s time you went against everything in your gut and instead of hiding the shame instead you fling the door open and welcome that demon, as it charges you do not flinch; this is your moment…
Place your hand on the chest of that black monster and watch the darkness fade and how a beautiful light resides within.
Who you were was never a bad guy or demon, who you were is who you are without the focus, connection, and joy inside. You were hurt and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Openly share with the world the trials you faced and obstacles which beat you down. share your losses and struggles, show the world that you’re human and that not every addict is a failure but that some who struggle are truly fallen angels; good guys in a bad spot.
We slipped, we were lost, but you’ve been found and the journey from there to hear may inspire the light to shine bright in others.
One of the reasons there is such a stigma on addiction is because nobody wants to share it so people walk around with these silent struggles and while everyone would improve if anyone spoke, nobody takes the lead.
You too can share that and own it, allowing yourself to see who you were and to recognize that there is nothing wrong with you for falling into the hole and that the only true failure would be your decision to remain in that hole because climbing out would require too much work…
You did the work, you fought your way to sobriety, and now, you can look back on who you were not with shame, but pride. you can finally begin the process of forgiving that demon because you see, it was lost and blind; it did not know what it did not know.
Owning that now and being able to share it could be the rope someone else needs to have thrown their way for them to get out of their hole.
You Need to Be Making Something of Yourself
The best way to forgive your past is for you to have purpose and a vision in the present.
It’s easy to continue to hate who you were when you’re currently nothing. If you’re doing nothing, chasing nothing, seeing nothing in life, and enjoying nothing then all you really have to do is look backwards.
But, if you were to begin living again, then you’d have to stop looking at who you were and start focusing on who you are and who you’re becoming.
Who we were does not dictate who we become
Get back to chasing goals and setting milestones that will get you heading towards the vision you have for your life. It’s honestly the greatest gift you can give yourself and the ultimate show of acceptance to your previous self.
You were there, you did slip, but you’ve gotten up at least one more time than you fell and that’s a testament to who you are as a person.
The world can’t love you again until you love you again and you can’t love you until you forgive you.
Let’s start that process, right now…
Acta Non Verba,
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