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In the past few weeks, I’ve had a lot of people in recovery come to me about the topic of forgiveness. Sometimes it was them struggling with receiving it by someone they had hurt and other times it was the inability to forgive themselves. Making amends is important for someone in recovery. It’s not always easy, but when it’s done, the “letting go” is the tough part. Sometimes we are unable to receive forgiveness for the wrongs we’ve done to someone during our active addiction.
A young man came to me recently asking for advice on wording selection when making amends to his father. I told him to speak from his heart and let go of the result. I told him to not be attached to the outcome, but be open to it. His wording was beautiful and it was noticeable that he was sincere with his apology. His father forgave him. As beautiful as that was, not everyone forgives addicts.
Being rejected and denied in life is a terrible feeling for anyone. However, when people in recovery get those feelings when someone doesn’t accept their apology, their monkey fuels off of it. It will whisper in an addict’s ear and convince them to feel worse than they already do. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that the person receiving the apology is obligated to forgive, instead, try to understand that this is how the monkey uses feelings to form false facts. For example, The Monkey whispers to me, “See they didn’t forgive you so that means you clearly aren’t worthy of forgiveness. You might as well keep playing with me because no one will ever forgive you. Plus I can make you feel much better about all of this. They don’t want you, but I do!”
Another part of forgiveness that addicts struggle with is forgiving themselves. My monkey took over me while I was using and controlled my every move. A lot of those moves I am not proud of, at all. A lot of them still try to haunt me. Even when others have forgiven me, I still feel almost a sense of unworthiness of their forgiveness. Sometimes the pain I have caused others ends up doing more damage to me than to the person I hurt.
So what do I do with this rejected forgiveness?
I focus on who does forgive me.
I focus on my God who forgave me and continues to.
I focus on my family who continues to reassure me.
And most importantly, I focus on what I’m doing now. If my apologies are pure then I have to be ok with just that. I have to apologize to myself when I have difficulty forgiving me. And when I reject my own apology, I have to focus on the good I am doing now and do it with a pure heart, not to “make up” for what I’ve done in the past.
Forgiveness is possible, but it starts by forgiving yourself and allowing your Higher Power to forgive you!
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