Yeah, you messed up. Big time. But that was then, and we are here now.
Sometimes it is hard to move forward when we find ourselves stuck in the past. Addicts are known to have more than their share of self-hatred and self-recrimination. They blame themselves for being addicted, for being in this place in time where so much has been lost. Being depressed about what they have done and being scared about what they will do are probably the two biggest fears and concerns I hear from my clients.
I tell you now: depression is almost always about the past, while being scared and anxious is most always about the future. What we need to do is to start to live in the here and now.
Here and now is all that matters. Yesterday cannot be brought back, and tomorrow is not promised to any of us.
One of the exercises I do as a recovery coach is to have my clients tell me the age they first started doing drugs or alcohol. I ask them to make me see them at that precise moment. I want to visualize them right down to what they were doing, who they were with, if they were indoors or outside, and if it was night or day.
I ask them to be as descriptive as possible. I ask them to get me to see what they see. Then I ask for their age. Ninety-nine percent of them were very young teenagers. Thirteen seems to be the age of most. I ask them, as I ask you now, do you know any thirteen-year-old people now? Do you?
If you do, it is easy to see that this age is still a baby. For sure, this is not a person who is able to make a decision based on future consequences. I ask them, as I ask you now, how difficult is it to be forgiving of a bad decision made at that age? Not difficult at all.
That thirteen-year-old was you. Peer pressure, wanting to be cool, having fun, tasting the forbidden fruit, these are the things you were doing. Worrying about future consequences? That doesn’t happen at that age.
You were a child. It wasn’t your fault that you got hooked. It certainly wasn’t the plan. Even if you were older, be forgiving.
Does it matter if what is wrong is not your fault? It does matter. It really does. Once you start to look at the reality of where you were, who you were, you can see how forgivable the beginnings of addiction should be. Forgiveness, we are told, should be granted to others so as not to be burdened with feelings of hatred within ourselves. So believe in forgiveness, and forgive your young self. There was an invisible line that you crossed. That line took you from casual using to casualty using. If you knew the line was there, the line that would take you on the path to hell, you would not have crossed. You didn’t know.
Stop beating yourself up. Forgiving yourself matters, but that doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility for the consequences of crossing that line. You are responsible now for how you go forward. Do not go forward dragging the past with you. Do not go forward fearing the future. Go forward today in peace. With patience. With purpose. With hope. With forgiveness. With help.