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Open Yourself to the Future by Forgiving Yourself for the Past

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Forgiveness is a word that rings true to everyone’s heart. We either want it, or need to ask for it, or both. Either way, mentally it is a huge task.

For myself, I had so many apologies to give when starting this recovery journey. I really didn’t know where to start. The obvious was friends and family; many hung tight with me for the addiction rollercoaster I had put myself on. I was lucky that the majority of people just wanted me to do better and be better. Over time, after proving I was on the right track, people around me seemed to be at peace. Although, one person still struggled with forgiveness: Myself. 

I always have been my biggest critic. I was never good enough in my eyes. When I started in recovery I was emotionally depleted. I felt broken. How could I have brought my life to this? I was selfish and didn’t let anyone or anything stand in my way. I always have had the “I know better than anyone mentality.” It was savagely thrown in my face that this was just not true. For myself, forgiveness equals acceptance. I have to accept that my past IS what my past IS, but I DO NOT have to make that my future. 

So how do we get to this point of forgiveness and acceptance? I had to be completely honest with “what really did happen.” Just because someone bought me a drink, did not mean I had to take it. The dope fairy didn’t just magically place a bag in my hand. I had to take responsibility for every action and decision I had made. Recognizing that my choice to occupy my time with certain individuals was a bad decision. To be completely honest, I wouldn’t have been able to recognize my bad choices along the way if I didn’t talk to a trusted person about my situation. 

I have been lucky enough to find a close-knit group of friends that I can tell them everything, and in-turn they set me straight. Speaking YOUR truth is important, and being willing to listen is just as important. If you do not have someone to talk with, write the situation out on paper. After reading what you wrote, you might have a different perspective on the situation. Once you have a full understanding of your part, you can make changes that you might not have done in the past. I won’t hang out with people that will give me the opportunity to use. I deleted the numbers to my dealers out of my phone. Choosing not to gossip about other people. Doing good things for others. Write all the things you are doing good down. Add it in your journal, or start a new one just for this. Those are great reminders of you evolving and will lighten your heart about yourself. 

Forgiveness and acceptance are huge components of my recovery. I still make mistakes. I definitely don’t always like myself or my choices, but I have learned to be less critical of my actions, and most importantly “do better.” We all want happiness and peace. If recovery has taught me anything, is that it takes WORK. Constant effort and work. Without taking consistent actions, when bad things do happen, it will rock your happiness meter. And the best place to start with happiness is internal. Be kind to yourself. You are worthy of all this effort. You deserve to be happy. Be well. 




Chris McMullen is an advocate for the LGBT community, sexual assault awareness, and recovery. He uses his own experience, and wisdom as a platform to help others.

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