Who do we forgive and for what? Why is it important for an alcoholic or addict to forgive to stay sober? These are all very important questions that need answers and action for someone to overcome addiction and find recovery.
Who do we forgive? First and foremost, we forgive ourselves. We are the ones who got us in so much trouble to begin with. Addiction is a disease that affects our body, mind and spirit, and we are the ones who ingested the substances. However, once we cross the line of addiction, all bets of self-control are off. It is kind of like having an out of body experience and not realizing it. A sense of powerlessness takes over and does remarkable damage to our body, mind and spirit, and we often have no clue to the damage it is doing to us or those around us.
Once we start recovery, we are made aware of the havoc our addiction has caused. This awareness can lead to feelings of guilt and shame. Does forgiving ourselves take us off the hook for our responsibilities? Of course not. Forgiveness hopefully helps us heal so that we can take responsibility for our recovery and our need for help. We must not lose sight of the damage we have done, but forgiveness allows us to make peace, to learn that we are afflicted with a deadly disease that could have killed us. We learn we have to work hard to keep it at bay.
We must also forgive others around us that we think didn’t treat us fairly. Why? Refusing to forgive is like poisoning ourselves, even though we are mad at someone else. Sure, some of our anger is justified, and those around us may have exhibited inappropriate behavior – but how much of it was a reaction to our addiction?
A new life means a clean slate. Forgiveness is rolled out in The 12 Steps (especially steps 8 and 9). When we make amends and ask that we are also forgiven, sometimes doesn’t happen and we need to move on and hope that, in time, our sober actions will help in that process. The best amends we can offer is to lead a wonderful and caring live, living the principals of recovery every day.