Putting the Past in Its Proper Place
Everyone has something in their past that weighs on them or still troubles them in other ways. We all have a moment of regret or remorse, something we wish we had done differently or hadn’t done at all. Perhaps there is something we wish we had done. It’s quite common to have some negativity in our past. Some of us even have trauma from our past that still hangs around. In an ideal world, we could effortlessly process our experiences, grow and learn from them, and then move forward. Unfortunately, most people don’t learn how to do this until later in life.
For alcoholics and addicts, we usually don’t pick up on any of these techniques until we find the program of recovery. And even then, it’s quite a steep learning curve. Our pasts before our disease took hold are often filled with painful memories or feelings of shame and confusion. These experiences scarred most of us and drove us further towards our awaiting disease. Once our alcoholism or addiction took hold, we were lost. Most of us spent the majority of our time in that prison of disease feeding our alcoholism and addiction, trying to bury our pasts, hide from the shame and confusion, and escape as much as we could. The extremes to which we ventured to appease our disease often caused more negative emotions and experiences, which gave us even more desire to escape all over again.
This vicious and deadly cycle is exactly why our recovery is nothing short of a miracle. The impossible prison of disease is broken as long as we stay close to the 12-Steps, the recovery community, and our higher power. This simple formula keeps us out of the terrible cycle, but we can go even further in our recovery. The 12-Steps don’t stop with mere sobriety, they aim to help us recover. Recovery doesn’t stop with freedom either. It can mean healing and growth in ways we never imagined possible. This is the promise of recovery, that we can grow and heal and learn how to live, becoming happily and usefully whole.
Everybody Has a Past
Sure, everybody has a past — but not everybody is equally hurt or bothered by their past. We all have different experiences throughout life. Not everyone has to deal with the same stuff. The details don’t really matter, it’s how we let our previous experiences define us. Again, not everyone has a say in how things will affect them. Alcoholics or addicts like us are particularly susceptible to things like regret, depression, anger, and other reactions that can make the past harder to let go of. We are sensitive people, whether we like to admit it or not. Many of us are haunted by things that we can’t forgive or things we can’t forget. We know now in recovery that our disease never really helped us escape or heal. It simply put all that aside in its relentless abuse of our lives.
Being blessed enough to find recovery, we finally have a chance to learn how to relate to our past experiences the way “normal” people do. Keep in mind, not everyone is well-adjusted and not everyone has an easy past. The goal is not to make life a field of rainbows and erase the past in our minds. Life will always be life, with all its good and bad, and ups and downs. But life still beats the alternative! The key is to find the healthiest way to live on life’s terms.
No one really wants to pine away their precious present in nostalgia for the “good old days.” Nor do they want to spend their present haunted by the ghosts of pain and regret. What we want is balance and freedom. To learn from our past and take the lessons forward. To heal from our past and show others that healing is possible. To turn our troubled past into an asset so we can help other alcoholics and addicts achieve recovery for themselves. That sounds like a pretty good use for the past, doesn’t it? There’s not much else we need it for when we realize that all we really have is the 24 hours of today, right here and now.
Use the Past to Help Yourself and Others
Not surprisingly, the 12-Steps are our best bet in becoming well-adjusted and putting the past into its proper place. As we work the 12-Step program of spiritual action, so much happens. We discover how we can start recovering from our disease. We begin to grow and heal. We become part of a community and learn how to exist in brotherly and harmonious action with the world at large.
One of the most special things that occur as we work the 12-Steps is that we reconcile with our past. We come to understand it and our feelings about it in the 4th-Step and 5th-Step. When we get to the 9th-Step, we are guided through the process of amending our past — making it right as best we can, and then letting it go with love, learning, and hope. The book Alcoholics Anonymous has this to say: “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.”
No more regret. No more being haunted. We will be peaceful and connected to the present. If this sounds nice, it’s not even half of what we can expect from this process. Work the 12-Steps and experience it now for yourself.
A troubled past can haunt anyone. Trauma, regret, generally wishing things had been different — these are common feelings among most of mankind. For those of us with alcoholism and addiction, our pasts are often even more difficult. It can be incredibly hard to process and heal from the past. We get so stuck in the regret, the pain, and trauma, and the skewed nostalgia as our disease takes over our lives that we fail to do much living at all. Thankfully, there is a solution. The 12-Step program can transform our past from a haunting, painful memory into our greatest asset as we utilize our past experiences to help other alcoholics and addicts begin their own journey into recovery. This profound action helps us heal while helping others to heal, strengthening the recovery of all involved. No matter what your past contains, we at Jaywalker Lodge believe that recovery is possible for everyone. Call us now at (866) 529-9255.