• Why Forgiveness Is Not Everything
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    Why Forgiveness Is Not Everything

    Immediately after getting sober, for the first time which unfortunately only lasted about eight days, I wanted to begin apologizing. I wanted to begin earning back the trust of those I had betrayed and hurt during my drug using days. After two days of sobriety under my belt, I felt I was ready. Looking back now, I am glad I did not take that leap. Even as addicts, we still have the care and concern for others in our hearts; we just place them on the back burner during our active addiction. While forgiveness is important, it is not everything.

    Forgiving Yourself

    It seems as though we often get so caught up in wanting to make sure that everyone around us is okay that we forget about ourselves. Even now, after being sober for the longest I have ever been, I still find times when I have not forgiven myself for some of the things that I have done. It’s an important step in your recovery to take a moment to give yourself a break. We’ve all made bad decisions; some more than others. Some things we will never be able to forget, while others are such a blur that we cannot remember them. When it comes to yourself, forgiveness can mean everything. If you don’t forgive yourself and make attempts to move forward, you may get stuck in a situation that could lead to a relapse. We are only human so making mistakes is only natural.

    Who Are You Forgiving?

    Once I began to forgive myself, I made a long list of other people who I wanted to forgive as well. Of course there were people on my list who truly deserved more than apologies, but it was a start. Then I began to notice that there were people on my list who I was no longer in contact with, who were still using or who I resented. Although I had personal reasons for wanting to apologize to them, I still had formed resentments because of things they had done to me or made me feel. Taking the time to make a list, and maybe even a list of reasons why they deserve an apology, can be beneficial for you. While you may believe that they deserve some sort of explanation, it may not be healthy to take any counterproductive steps. I made sure to make amends with my parents, not only for stealing from them but for making them feel the way they did for years. Then, as I went through my list, I crossed off the friends that I may have ripped drugs or money off of, especially if they were still using. I did my own, personal form of apologizing by staying away from them and praying.

    Apologies Accepted (or Not)

    One of the things that can be detrimental to your recovery is if someone does not accept your apology. And the truth is, no matter how hard you are working in your program or how long you’ve been sober, that can always happen. Some family members or friends may feel too betrayed, unsure of your willingness to stay clean or skeptical that you are truly sorry for your mistakes. It is important not to let that bring you down. The feeling of having someone accept you back into their lives with open arms is a wonderful feeling but when someone does not it can be extremely painful. The best thing to do is to continue to stay sober and do whatever it takes to be healthy. Not everyone may be interested in accepting your apologies and that’s okay. Taking the step to show that you are staying sober is all you can do. As addicts, we must understand that it may be hard for others to move past the lies, the stealing and the hurting. Ultimately, it will take time to heal.

    When going through the program, we see that step 8 and step 9 talk about making amends with others. As many of us learn and hear in meetings, they are all the way at the bottom of the steps for a reason! It takes time for people to accept us back into their lives and forgive our past decisions. As long as we are taking steps in the right direction, staying sober and being the best we can be, time will help heal the wounds and people in our lives can begin to witness our progression.


    Cassandra Huerta is a freelance writer who lives in an extremely small Michigan town and lives life one day at a time. She enjoys regularly entertaining her six-month-old daughter and can thank her wonderful fiance and coffee for all of her work.

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