“Few suffer more than those who refuse to forgive themselves.” ― Mike Norton, Fighting For Redemption
We all make mistakes. We are all human thus we all are imperfect. Unfortunately, our most terrible mistakes hurt those closest to us. It would seem that while forgiving others in difficult, forgiving ourselves is impossible. We sit for weeks, months and even years allowing the guilt of what we have done swallow us. As a recovering addict, you cannot allow yourself to become consumed in guilt.
Not only is this damaging to your emotional health, but it also affects our physical health, worsening conditions such as cancer and heart disease. You do not have to pay a lifelong penance for how you have hurt yourself and others, or you will never truly be able to move on.
The best way to repent of what you have done is not to allow that guilt to consume you, rather, use it as a way to move forward. So how do we forgive ourselves, especially if through a drug addiction we destroyed our lives, and the lives of those around us?
Understand what is holding you back
Sometimes we do not forgive ourselves out of fear that we will forget and return to our past mistakes. However, the opposite tends to happen. If you cannot forgive yourself and move on, the stress from that guilt can cause you to be more likely to repeat past blunders. It can also lead to other negative self-harm behaviors. Forgiveness is not the same as not being accountable for our actions, it means not hating yourself for what you have done. Forgiving does not mean forgetting, simply healing.
Acknowledge the difference between who you were and who you are
Dale Renlund shared a moment from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” at the LDS General conference in April 2015.
An older brother [Oliver] attempts to have his younger brother [Orlando] killed. Even knowing this, the younger brother [Orlando] saves his wicked brother from certain death. When the older brother learns of this undeserved compassion, he is totally and forever changed and has what he calls a “conversion.”
Later several women approach the older brother and ask, “Wasn’t you that did so oft contrived to kill [your brother]?”
The older brother answers, “’Twas I; but ’tis not I: I do not shame to tell you what I was, since my conversion so sweetly tastes, being the thing I am.”
In acknowledging where he had come from, Oliver was able to forgive himself and change his behavior for good. Realizing that who we were is not who we are anymore can help us forgive ourselves and move forward.
The cycle of negative self talk can become impossible to escape without help. A therapist can help you better understand the situation and find reconciliation. They can help you healthily express your emotions and rebuild your confidence in yourself as you seek self-forgiveness.
“When you initially forgive, it is like letting go of a hot iron. There is initial pain and the scars will show, but you can start living again.” ― Stephen Richards, Releasing You From The Past