Forgiveness in Addiction

Happy FamilyForgiveness in addiction can be one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome, both for the addict and those close to them.  As addicts we feel wronged by those close to us and the world at large.  There is always someone to blame and a reason to stay angry.  By holding onto these resentments we give ourselves permission to stay locked in our addiction and resist change.  Those close to the addict also feel slighted and carry equal amounts of resentment and this too keeps them safe.  If their guard is always up then there’s less of a chance that they can be hurt.  Practicing forgiveness is one of the most courageous and noble things that the recovery process requires of us.

From a very young age I can recall getting angry, holding grudges and plotting my revenge. Most of the time the result was additional and needless suffering on my part.  This behavior continued into adulthood.  I remember feeling so fragile.  I would isolate myself from people because I was afraid I might get hurt.  There was always a fear that someone would see me the way I saw myself.  I couldn’t deal with that level of rejection from another person.  Additionally, I wronged others on a regular basis.  I was dishonest.  I manipulated and used people to my advantage.  I was in desperate need of forgiveness but felt unworthy to ask.  Looking back, my addiction really had very little to do with the substances I put in my body.  I needed a way to make the pain I lived with a regular basis go away.  I needed an escape.

As I entered into sobriety, I learned about forgiveness.  It’s not expressly mentioned in the 12 steps, but it is certainly implied.  Step 4: Made a searching a fearless moral inventory of ourselves.  Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.  Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.  So what I learned is that as I sought to find the errors I had made, the luxury of holding on to my resentments became forfeit.  I could not admit my mistakes to you without the expectation that I would forgive others of their mistakes as well.  On page 66 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous it reads: “If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison.”  If the family is going to heal from this disease the addict and the codependent must both learn the value in the constant practice of forgiveness.

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