Consequences tell me I need to change, but hope tells me I can change. Both are important. Let me tell you how it is. Reviewing the consequences of your substance use disorder can actually be helpful. Reviewing the damage that was done in the past can provide conviction that you are destroying the very thing you were trying to build. Looking back provides a reason to change and yet it does not provide the motivation to do so. Scolding yourself for digging a hole does not get the hole filled.
Turning it Around
Acknowledging the consequences of the addiction and taking a fierce and thorough inventory is a necessary step. It is the pivot point upon which recovery turns. Repentance, making amends, restitution, and reconciliation are all ways of moving forward.
These actions are meant to address the past and help change direction rather than a review of the past followed by repetition of the same. They are not shame instillers, they are shame killers. Facing the consequences of your addiction enables you to beat it. Denying that consequences exist or minimizing the damage that has been caused seems to only intensify and magnify future problems.
Breaking Down the Wall
In our mind our past failings magnify our inabilities and minimize our potential. The circumstances that have blocked us in the past form a monumental wall in front of us. Breaking down this wall is our challenge. Using this metaphor, each hammer blow against the wall moves us toward our goal.
Every treatment effort, every meeting you have attended, every day of sobriety is another blow against the wall. And if you slip, don’t see it as “back to square one.” Don’t you dare wear the label of loser, addict, or worthless. Rather than seeing your efforts as failure because the wall has not fallen yet, realize that each subsequent hammer blow gets you closer to your goal. Don’t give up. Hit it again!
When you drive a car, glancing backward in the tiny rear view mirror is an appropriate way to determine what is behind you. Spending a couple of seconds now and then looking back seems right. However the major focus while at the wheel is to look forward through the, comparatively much larger windshield in the direction you are traveling.
So it is in recovery, most of your time needs to be focused on where you are going, not where you have been. Moving forward in hope, you can be confident that your recovery efforts will change your life.
There is Hope
Hope is the belief there are good things ahead for you. You are not where you were. You are headed in a different and better direction. Having acknowledged the problems and consequences of the past, it benefits you little to keep staring at them.
Use the past to determine how and where to make the necessary changes. Once you do, you can look forward to a positive and hopeful future. Keep your vision in front of you. You will work again, love again, raise your own children, go to school, and make a contribution to others. The acknowledgement of the consequences of the past and the hope for a positive future, combine their efforts to move you forward toward a fulfilling life of recovery.
Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!