Please Forgive Me
When I got home from treatment I was racked with guilt for just about everything I’d ever said or done to everyone I’d ever met. That’s a lot of damage involving a lot of people over a very long period of time. Needless to say, guilt was a heavy burden on my heart and in my mind.
In those first precious months, I did everything I could to find the nearest ear that would listen to my long-winded words of apology. I needed to be relieved of my guilt and shame so badly I would say whatever necessary, begging for forgiveness.
After 30+ years of drinking and manipulating my way around food, it’s not surprising I would eventually say and do really stupid things around friends and family. I did my utter best to behave respectfully in my professional life but even then there were moments. Some I still shudder to think about. I’m sure I was the brunt of many “…and did you see when Alison did that?” type stories. Nothing I can do about that now other than to behave differently today, which I promise you, I am.
I spent a lot of years acting selfishly and foolishly in the midst of some very important personal moments for friends and family. Admittedly some of those moments I only have a vague recollection. Again, while there is nothing I can do to turn back the hands of time, today I don’t act that way. Today I am fully present for every experience and will cherish those moments forever.
When I initially rushed with various expressions of apology to those who I had hurt by my addictive behaviors, it was not well received. I had said, “I’m sorry” to these people so many times before I got help, that when they heard these newly crafted words of remorse it was like white noise to them. They didn’t hear me because they had heard it all before. Over the years of untreated addiction, I had taught them my apologies were empty.
I was crushed. I needed so badly to be relieved of the guilt I would have done anything to attain their forgiveness. If I could just hear them say, “it’s OK, all is forgotten” I could get on with my recovery with less internal stress. If they forgave me, I’d be free.
In retrospect their words of forgiveness were not what I needed. What I needed was to forgive myself.
I falsely believed I’d be free from the guilt and shame if someone told me I was. Healing cannot occur that way. The healing I needed was only to be found as I took a good look at why I acted they way I did, living on wine and little else. The healing from forgiving oneself is only attained by owning the behavior and then changing the behavior.
Those affected by my addictive lifestyle would eventually find their way to forgive me when they saw, not heard, I was behaving differently.
The only way to relieve my guilt and shame was to see it for what it was and come to forgive myself for the choices I made. I had to stop wishing the past could have been any different. It was what it was and I’m not that person anymore.
Forgiveness for harm done living in addiction is a gift and it is readily available only when it comes from the inside out.
Easing our burdens and finding ways to forgive ourselves is so important. If you have a story of how you’ve found that relief I’d love to hear how you did. Please take a moment to share about it by leaving a comment below.