It is common for addicts to feel guilty for the things we have done when we were living in the midst of addiction. Unfortunately, the same types of emotions still affect us when we’re in recovery. We feel guilty for what we've done to ourselves and others, for the past, for treating others in some way, for isolating ourselves from the rest of the world or our loved ones, for losing our jobs, our spouses, our children...the list goes on.
We may have burned bridges during our addiction that we feel cannot get back. We may have stolen money, engaged in risky behavior, faced jail time or found ourselves in trouble with the law. And it doesn't just extend to drastic measures. Some of us may have fed our addictions quietly and without causing any major problems to ourselves or the world, but we may have simply shut other people out or acted in a way that went against our nature, causing us to lose friends and family to respect us.
Here are 3 things to do in order to move forward with life in recovery without all the baggage.
1. Forgive yourself.
Understanding that we are all human and that we all carry with us the ability to "screw up" and falter along the way is the first step in forgiving ourselves for our past behaviors. We must first forgive ourselves for the things we've done and find understanding and compassion for ourselves, regardless of the nature of the offense. Carrying guilt around is a huge burden that can take us away from our inner peace, which is so important to our sobriety. No one is perfect, and we all have our struggles and stresses that can cause us to behave in ways that we aren't proud of.
2. Love yourself.
There is only one person who we need to please once we're living a life outside of rehab, and that is ourselves. Before we can begin to repair our relationships with others, before we can begin the work of rebuilding our lives and building positive and strong connections back up, we must first have a positive relationship with ourselves. Learning how to be kind to ourselves and how we can be a better person, one that is in line with our goals and how we want to see ourselves, is part of our inner work. It can be challenging but it is also deeply rewarding. Once we are more comfortable with our state of mind and our emotions and communication levels, we can then better extend that to our loved ones, helping them understand us and to trust us again.
3. Celebrate yourself.
No one is without their ups and downs, their trials and tribulations. We all have things we go through, and for us addicts, that struggle comes in the form of addiction. To move past the difficulties and the extreme struggle of addiction to a happier place is to have succeeded in overcoming adversity, and I think any of our fellow human beings can appreciate that. We should be proud of where we stand today, and of who we are. We can look at our past as a series of events that brought us to be the person that we are today, and that person is an ever-evolving, changing human who is just trying to make their way through life like everybody else.