If I had to narrow down all the things I regret from my drinking days to one single regret, it would have to be the loss of time. I have written about forgiveness, especially of ourselves, in my blogs quite often. While everyone is different in regard to what, specifically, we may need to forgive ourselves for, there is unquestionably no doubt the loss of time while drinking has been the hardest, for me. Even though I am now embracing and grateful for every minute of every day, I occasionally remember how much time I lost from myself, my partner, my son, my job, my passions, and my life. In those times of remembrance, I have to dig deep to remember, even after all the loss, I still deserve forgiveness; and so do you. There are a couple of things I enact in times when my personal crisis of guilt presents itself. One, I remember, while I chose to drink, the drink did alter my ability to act from a place of presence. Two, I am human, and I make mistakes. Three, in sobriety I am making up for as much lost time as I can. These three things enable me to act from a kinder and more understanding place toward myself when I struggle with the time I lost in addiction.
While we may have made the choice to drink, it is okay to forgive
ourselves for not understanding the full
consequences of our choices.
It is no secret alcohol is the culprit for innumerable negative consequences, not the least of which is the loss of time while drinking. When I look back on my life through a non-addicted lens, it is almost impossible for me to not want to beat the shit out of myself for everything I have lost. Thankfully, early in my sobriety, I was also going through therapy and one of the things I learned is it is okay to forgive ourselves for our past. While the statement, we choose to drink, does not always sit well with people, I still believe it to be true. What we did not choose, at first anyway, were the consequences of that choice. I am fairly certain nobody reading this blog took their first drink and said, "Nice, now I get to forget every memorable event of my life." No, we did not know the severity of our actions. Alcohol numbs us to people, events, circumstances, and the outside world. While we may have made the choice to drink, it is okay to forgive ourselves for not understanding the full consequences resulting from that choice. Now that we know, however, fool me twice...
Throughout our time on this planet, we are bound to make mistakes, some repeatedly. We are human and we are fallible. The sooner we accept this notion the sooner we can give ourselves a little bit of a break from the ridiculous circumstances in which we undoubtedly put ourselves. Most of us can look back on our lives and point out a couple of times where we can honestly say we were lucky to have survived. In hindsight, most of those times we can look back
and say, "I should have known better." Hindsight, as we know, is 20/20. With that said, without hindsight, we are left to our humanness to survive, and our humanness is susceptible to mistakes. We cannot beat ourselves up for the human condition under which we are governed. We can, however, be kind to ourselves and open to forgiveness. How many things have we had to forgive ourselves for over the years? I for one, have had far too many forgiveness conversations with myself. Why should our mistakes while in active addiction be any different? It shouldn't. Mistakes are mistakes and we are all worthy of forgiveness for those mistakes, as long as we are willing to learn from them.
For many people, in the early days of sobriety, excess time feels
overwhelming, uncomfortable, and unnerving.
Understanding the chemical effect of alcohol on our minds is one thing we can keep in mind when trying to forgive ourselves for the loss of time. Accepting we are human and fallible is another. Nevertheless, the most effective means I have found to cut myself some slack when the inevitable guilt of time lost rears its head is to focus on what I am doing about it now, in sobriety. There is no question in my mind how important time has been for my successful and easy sobriety. Of course, time can work against us in sobriety too, if we do not take advantage of it. In my experience, I found time to be the single greatest benefit of sobriety. If used correctly, time can be a blessing we never knew we needed. I immediately began taking advantage of the time afforded me in the very beginning days of sobriety. For many people, in the early days of sobriety, excess time feels overwhelming, uncomfortable, and unnerving. This happens because we are not used to having to deal with ourselves without the constant distraction of alcohol.
Given the extra time provided us by our letting go of alcohol, we have two options: we can wallow in the preconceived notions of misery people thrust upon us in sobriety, or we can use the extra time to get our shit together. This will look different for everyone. For me, it looked like this. I went into sobriety with the belief alcohol was the one thing I could remove from my life and benefit from the most. I believed this because there were several things I was not doing in my life that I attributed to the n