These four words are the words I hear the most from people in rehab. The first one, guilt, according to www.dictionary.com, is “the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law.” Honestly, I do not think I have ever had one client that does not feel tremendous guilt. Guilt about what they have done to themselves, what they have done to others, guilt about what they lost, what they did, and the time that can never be returned to them. Making amends is steps 8 and 9 of the twelve steps, but that is far away from being in rehab. Working through the guilt is so difficult because at this stage, there is not a whole lot you can do about what you have done. Maybe you have tried to make amends while recovering and have gone back to using, and now you are without any credibility. Guilt upon guilt. Guilt is one of the hardest hurdles to get over. The best you can do right now is to focus totally on yourself, your recovery. In time, as you are able to try to make amends, you might be rejected. There are no guarantees that you will be able to actually have another chance with some people. That’s just the way it is. As time goes on and you remain in recovery, there will be forgiveness from some, and you will be grateful for that. But the goal is not alleviating guilt. The goal, the prize, is recovery.
The next emotion is fear. Dictionary.com says, “Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” There is enough real fear to speak about here, never mind imaginary. People have expressed the fear of life without drugs because they do not know what life is without drugs. Even though they know they cannot continue to live the way they have been, they have absolutely no idea how to function clean. They are truly terrified, especially if they started using at really young ages and are without any clean experience. Some of them are scared to the point that they cannot participate in group sessions. Many need medically assisted therapy of varying types. In addition to therapy, vocational help and basic social skills have to be addressed. Fear comes into play in every imaginable way. Fear of not being able to hold a job, have a relationship not based on drugs, fear of having to give up the only friends they have ever known. Time and patience. Time and patience. Staying in recovery meetings, developing recovery friends, opening up to your sponsor and therapists about your fears are meaningful. Your story is not unique. Many people have overcome these fears, and you can as well. Time and patience.
Disgust. Dictionary.com has this to say, “To cause loathing or nausea. To offend the good taste, cause extreme dislike.” Oh yeah, plenty of loathing going on. Self-recrimination runs deep in rehab because of the things people have done to provide the addiction monster with its next high. Beautiful young females have prostituted themselves. People have stolen and done physical harm to others to get the needed money. Some people have been in jail, some of them numerous times. Some have abandoned their children, and some have gone through whole pregnancies putting a needle in their arm every day and have delivered newborns that have had to go on methadone and the pain of withdrawal. Disgust might be the contest-winning description for the way many addicts feel and for good reason. A good therapist who understands the uncontrollable craving will help alleviate these feelings of disgust. Addiction is uncontrollable craving. No one in their right mind who was capable of choice would choose to do what they have done. Time and patience. You are on the road to repair.
Failure. What is failure? It is, according to our source, “proving unsuccessful . . . nonperformance of something due or required as expected.” So much failure. So much to turn around. But what is the alternative? Using? Dying? Dealing and stealing? What you have failed at is over, and failure is not exclusive to addicts. Some of the world’s most successful people have failed before they met with success. Some of them had multiple failures. Here is a great Japanese saying, “Fall down eight, get up nine.” Love that saying.
So guilt, fear, disgust, failure—all overcomeable. Is that even a word? Make it be more than a word. Make it be a seed that you allow to plant itself in your heart. Overcomable. Each of these emotions can be overcome. Time and patience. Time and patience. What every seed needs.