During my recovery, I discovered a lot about forgiveness. I learned that sometimes you have to pardon someone, even if their actions do not warrant your forgiveness. I learned that you can wait your entire life for an apology that may never come. And most importantly, I learned that you must forgive yourself in order to let go and move on from the past.
With the stories I have given you thus far, you can probably tell I was not always sympathetic to other people’s feelings while I was drinking. I said and did some extremely hurtful things that took me a LONG time to forgive myself for. And while I don’t regret going through any of the lows to get to my current highs, I do wish I had not hurt people in the process.
I wrote a letter in my first month of sobriety that was full of this pent-up guilt that I wanted to release. I see now, more than anything, I wanted to forgive MYSELF.
I could start with “I am sorry” but you and I both know I have wasted apologies on you before. Those words have escaped my heavy, drunken, tongue or dry, hung-over, lips countless times. I know my anger left you in the path of debris. I promise I see you in the wreckage, and I hate myself for it. I’m not myself when I drink…but that girl, she is slowly fading, and I am replacing her with the woman I am meant to be. We learn from a young age that actions speak louder than words, and at this point, my actions are all I have left. My words may be shot to hell, but I am ready to prove to everyone, including myself, that I can get back to a place of being whole. I hope to have a conversation with you a year from now and show you I am never going to be reckless with your heart again. There is a possibility that I could lose you. And for that, I will not hold a grudge. Instead, I will remember you as a part of me. You are a piece of my story that has now propelled me into the greatest adventure of my life. If you choose to stay, thank you for not allowing my wreck to define my worth. Your support shows me that I am not only worthy of love, but also forgiveness. Now, one last time, with the greatest sincerity, I AM sorry. I am sorry for the hurt I caused you. I will spend the rest of my life trying to become the opposite of the hate I held so close to my heart.
Full disclosure, it made me upset to write about the possibility I could lose friends because of this decision to better my life. That seemed so backwards to me! If anything, wouldn’t people want me around more now that I wasn’t a mess? Wouldn’t they want to support me?
However, I quickly learned that the majority of those friendships were fueled by the drama that came along with drinking. The very thing I was feeling guilty and seeking forgiveness for was what they thrived on. Not that hurting people is excusable, but once I realized being a “victim” was part of the appeal for those people, I knew my life was better without them and it was easier to forgive myself.
The good news is, the RIGHT people do want to be around. In fact, my circle has grown since I became alcohol-free. I value my current relationships so much more because they ARE real. They are either people I have met since becoming sober, who see me in all my awkward glory, or they are the individuals who chose to forgive and love me regardless of the past.
I think it’s pretty cool that a lot of my closest friends have never seen me intoxicated. And if all goes as planned, my future children will never witness me drunk – and that makes me OVER THE MOON HAPPY!
The sober path can mean giving up a lot, but don’t for a second think you are not worthy of all good things you WILL GAIN. Like me, you may have done some severely sketchy things but that can all be forgiven once you accept that your past doesn’t define your future. Remember to be forgiving of others, but also yourself.
Forgiveness is one of the highest expressions of love, and it is a gift we give ourselves.