For many of us who suffer from addiction and are trying to recover, “Guilt” plays a huge role in relapse. When we are sober for an amount of time, we start to realize the things we’ve done & the people we hurt. Not only do we start to realize it, we start to “FEEL” it. I call them the “Guilt Gates” that seem to open and we are flooded with guilt. For some, rather than feel that guilt or even acknowledge it, we close the gates and go back to our addictions as ways not to deal with it. That’s just fact. Truth is, we MUST learn to forgive ourselves and realize that it wasn’t “US”, the people that we are capable of being that did those things….it was our addictions. We would not have done the things we did, or acted in the manor that we did, or hurt the people that we did, had we not been controlled by our addictions. Stop for a minute and ask yourself; “Would I have done what I did had I not been driven by my addiction?” Nine out of ten times, the answer to that question is “NO” you wouldn’t have. You MUST deal with your guilt and FORGIVE yourself for your actions. There’s no way to dance around that fact.
Here’s the key to letting go of that guilt….” Acknowledging you have a problem, being WILLING to do something about it, Unconditional Faith AND realizing that you CAN’T build a better past so stop trying!” What do I mean by “You can’t build a better past?” You can’t change the things you’ve done or said. They are in the past. Therefore you cannot build upon the past and make it better. The ONLY thing you CAN do, is learn from your screw ups. Use them to build a strong foundation as what NOT to do again. In the beginning of sobriety although you may not realize it, all of your screw-ups no matter how little or how extreme, can and WILL become your biggest assets. You can use them as examples of how extreme your addiction was at times when you are trying to help another to become sober or clean, you can use them as reminders of where you were and where you do not want to go back to.
If you sit and fester upon the guilt, it can and will lead you right back into your addiction. It will become just another EXCUSE as to why you can’t get clean or sober, but that’s all it is….an EXCUSE. I’m not proud of trying to throw my son out of a second story window in a drunken stupor, I’m not proud of not remembering my own wedding night because I drank myself into a black out. I’m not proud of the people I hurt and the extremes in which I hurt them. But with help, I faced my actions, therefore I faced my addiction head on. This is something that you can NOT face alone. There are support groups, meetings, recovery centers and many options to help you deal with your addiction but you have to want it and be willing to do whatever it takes to reach that goal. You can’t half step it by saying things like “Well, I’ll deal with this, but I’m not going to deal with that.” It’s all or nothing. Guilt is a very powerful thing, especially when it comes to someone who suffers from an addiction, but it doesn’t have to be the end. Sobriety IS possible no matter how extreme your addiction, but you have to be WILLING to face your demons….ALL of them. You not only have to deal with the physical addiction, but you must deal with the things that drove you to it. Luckily, if you’re serious about your recovery, the Guilt Gates only flood & overwhelm you once to an extreme extent. Once you deal with it all, you then will hopefully have the tools you need to deal with guilt when it shows it ugly face again. At no time will you ever hear me say that this is an easy process…in fact, you’ll never hear me say recovery is an easy process. But it IS possible.
I can say in all honesty, I DEFINITELY can’t tell you I’ll never drink again, but I WILL do WHATEVER I need to in order to make sure I don’t. I DEFINITELY have another relapse in me…that goes without saying. What also goes without saying is that I DEFINITELY do NOT have another Recovery in me. If I go back out, I WILL drink myself to death. That’s not an option for me, therefore I’m WILLING and DETERMINED to do WHATEVER I need to do to stay in a sober state of mind, body and soul.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist
April 28, 2014