It was not until the 5th year of lasting recovery, that grief and regret that I thought were healed, from 20 years of addiction reappeared. Deep levels of regret were calling for my full attention, not as punishment but to help go deeper in my healing.
The grief was the body, wanting to heal, and I needed to pay attention. I shed buckets of tears revisiting and accepting the loss of family, girlfriends, a wife, friends, pet, houses, cars, careers, etc. I had to come to a new place of acceptance and forgiveness. Knowing that the harsh judgment from others about my past had everything to do with them and not me.
Healing is not a one day, two weeks, three months or year event but a journey of knowing how to best live with our past in the present moment. I think many forget that all healing happens in the Now; only here can we courageously face our history is by being present.
“See, memory is an illusion—it’s all gone—so everything you know about, that makes an impression on you, is no longer there. That memory has got you hooked—it holds you to the past, and it holds you to death. But on the other hand, what is life, except there is a memory, except there is an echo. So, the course of time is very much like the course of a ship in the ocean. It leaves behind it a wake, and that tells us where the ship has been, in just the same way as the past and our memory of the past tells us what we have done. Now the important thing to remember in this illustration is that the wake doesn’t drive the ship. So you see, if you insist on being determined by the past, that’s your game. But the fact of the matter is, it all starts right now.” ~ Alan Watts, author, speaker
Knowing that I steer the boat and the past is the wake behind the ship, helped me develop more compassion, and lessened the subconscious mind wanting to beat myself up.
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” ~ Pema Chödrön
Believing we are alone in our healing needs to be smashed. Because there are millions of us in long-term recovery who can say out loud – WE DO RECOVER. I cannot overstate the importance of sharing the regret, loss, and shame with others who have been there and done it. The stigma of addiction is still very alive in the world, and the reason I will continue to sing from the mountain tops “RECOVERY is the New Cool” and possible for everyone.
It is my belief that everyone has some type of healing that needs their attention. Healing is part of our human journey not as a punishment but as a vehicle for enlightenment, peace of mind, and joy.
The bottom line: we can learn from our past, and we are not our past, it’s another great paradox.