When I think about my shame and guilt, it is through a lens of what (I think) a healthy, normal person would have done, not someone with the disease of addiction. That is how sneaky it is; we addicts are more comfortable seeing ourselves as mean spirited, lying, manipulating, stealing, evil minded selfish monsters than admitting we are sick people. People who, if we were in our right minds, would never have done the messed up stuff we did while in our addiction's sway.
And it was our loved ones that got the worst of it; their love and trust was a great resource for helping feed our addictions. But that addiction is an illness. Instead of attacking on a cellular level like other illnesses, addiction clouds our judgement and makes us susceptible to making bad choices.
Emotions like guilt and shame are useful only because they warn us that other people can have real consequences of our behavior. In order to stop me from hurting other people, I built a jail and lined the walls with my shame and guilt.
Our facilitator asked if, since we got clean, were we still doing shameful things? I can honestly say that in the last 24 days, I have not. I did those shameful things because I am sick, not because I am a bad person. I am a pretty decent fellow, capable of loving and being loved, respecting of others and worthy of their respect.
Alcoholics and addicts in recovery strive to change their behavior first, then their thinking. Next, we are urged to "clean house" by examining our old bvehavior, especially those behaviors that affected others and making amends to them.
I have been sick for a long time, not just the last few years. My drinking and drug use has always been irresponsible since I was 19 (the drinking age in Ohio in 1983). One of the things that has motivated me these last 3 weeks is that I have 20 years of amends to make.
In movides and TV,when ever some goes into recovery from addiction, they immediately begin to make a series of awkward and insincere amends. They are apologies are for their benefit only, "I don't want you to be angry at me any longer." or their amends are simply thinly disguised resentments.
Right now, I am working to get better. Until then, I won't be able to process and appreciate my responsibility in my actions. Only then, will I feel worthy of asking you for forgiveness.
Until then, every day that I don't use, I get stronger and my disease gets weaker.