Recovering Addicts Talk About Gaining Forgiveness

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By Guest Blogger Cecelia Johnson

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Addicts face a major obstacle on the road to recovery, and that’s gaining back trust and forgiveness from those they’ve hurt while under the influence. Depending on just what the addict has done, forgiveness can seem nearly impossible in some cases.

I’ve spoken with a lot of recovering addicts lately, and many have actually been surprised by the forgiveness afforded to them by their loved ones. In other words, it may not be as bad as you think.

“People will forgive you,” said Zach, who recently reached a year of sobriety with help from the Treehouse in Texas.  “They’ll see where you were and where you are now. Addicts are the strongest people I’ve ever met. We just got into a bad situation and something took a hold of us, and now we’ve got to figure out how to live a new life, how to find sobriety, and how to reach out if we need help.”

“When you’re an addict, you feel like a horrible person, that you’ve done terrible things and people aren’t going to be able to forgive you,” said Sally, who also has a year of sobriety under her belt.  “But when you work really hard to make yourself healthy and make amends, you find out that people actually have a different view of it.”

Jeff, who’s been clean for about a year, told me, “It’s all about being honest — you’ve got to be honest with yourself and you’ve got to be honest with others, and that’s hard. It’s especially hard to be honest with yourself. It was amazing taking a step back and looking at what I’d done and being able to forgive myself and ask for forgiveness without dwelling on it. You’ve just got to let it go. My fellow addicts helped me to do that with their stories. I didn’t expect any of that to come out of it.”

Forgiveness doesn’t always come easy, and I don’t want to sugar coat it here. No matter how hard you want it, it is possible that some will just be unwilling to let bygones be bygones. Wendy, who actually works for a rehab facility now after going through the program herself, has struggled with this.

“My sister will not forgive me for what I did, and I have a friend who won’t even talk to me right now,” she told me. “People not wanting to make amends is pretty much my biggest hurdle to get over, but I have to accept it for what it is. And I do accept it. I realize now what I did to them, but at the time, I didn’t care what I was doing.

“I tell my fiance all the time that I feel like with all the things I did, sometimes I don’t always deserve the good things I’m getting now. I’ve had 10 months of doing the right thing, and I feel like I’m getting so much in my life right now and that I’m getting more than I deserve sometimes. But at the same time, sometimes I do think I deserve it. It’s a double-edged sword.”

Ultimately, you’ve got to be in it for yourself. Making amends is important, and forgiveness is a wonderful thing, but you can’t get clean for other people. You have to want to do it.

“I’ve seen so many people that are here for the wrong reasons,” Wendy added. “Those are usually the people who don’t work in the program. They’re just doing what they have to do to get out of here. And those are the people that relapse, because they’re doing it for other people, not for themselves.”