Did you know there was a difference between the two? Guilt is healthy part of the recovery process and being able to forgive yourself.
Guilt and shame are two things I’ve always struggled with. I’ve struggled to understand what each one truly meant, and how to cope with each one, as well. I never knew there was such a thing as “healthy guilt” or how these things affected my recovery and my life in general.
Shame is holding onto a mistake or bad choice; the embarrassment and disappointment that come with it. Thinking less and less of myself and what I deserve. Shame is letting a mistake define me. Some things I’ve struggled for years to let go of and be able to forgive myself.
Guilt, to me, is recognizing a mistake or bad choice. Guilt also means that I’m taking ownership of that particular choice. I think this is why making amends is so important and powerful to the recovery process. Being able to admit something out loud to someone that won’t bat an eye or judge anything you’re about to say is such an empowering and freeing moment. Someone once told me that “pain shared is pain lessened” and that has stuck with me for years. It’s so true though.
Being honest is definitely not a part of addiction. So, being able to share my mistakes and make amends if/when I can, truly is me owning up to my choices and forgiving myself. I can never change the things I did, but I can make changes and change my future. People haven’t always forgiven me, but I still continue to make those changes because I know words only go so far, but my actions show a real difference.
Recognizing my guilt, coping with it and forgiving myself has made me feel like a completely different person over the last few years. By nature, I’ve always been a people pleaser and cared much more than I should about how others perceive me or what they think of me. That was really hard for me coming out of an addiction where people knew what I had done and who I had hurt. I think it’s only human to care what others think sometimes, but I’ve found my happy medium. And now that I’ve been able to forgive myself and accept my mistakes, it’s become a lot easier for me to love myself regardless of what others think.
I know I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and bad decisions, but they do not define me. The changes I’ve made in myself and for my life are what define me. Being an addict was most definitely not my plan growing up, but one thing I am proud to say about being an addict is that it makes you a fighter. We find strength and persevere through so much. We are lucky enough to have a second chance at life and to truly appreciate it.