Those of us using the 12 Steps as a path to recovery describe them as “simple, but not easy”. Step 5 can seem particularly tough, but there are good reasons for digging down on it. First, it informs our work going forward. Second, if we don’t we might not move forward at all.
Step 5 is about admitting our mistakes, in detail, to someone else that can both understand and remain objective. A lot of our mistakes happen in relationships. Going back to examine these exchanges can be painful. As well, admitting our mistakes in these exchanges can feel especially difficult if someone in the exchange has wronged us.
During this exercise in honesty and humility, a lot of us forget that WE have experienced a decent amount of pain and suffering from our mistakes. Think about it this way - during the time that you were using drugs and alcohol what were you doing to your own body? Did you drink to the brink of blacking out every night, drive intoxicated, suffer sleepless nights, or overdose on prescription drugs…? Looking back and examining ourselves in this context, we see that our mistakes are as hard on US as they are on those around us.
Forgiveness and treating ourselves with compassion for being the "imperfect but trying to be better human beings" we are is one of the things we can DO to be thoughtful and intentional in this work. Until we forgive ourselves for the harmful things we did before getting into recovery, we’ll never truly be able to start over. Simple but not easy.
Here’s a thought: The people that we are in the thick of addiction and the people we can become in recovery are the same and different. Learning from our mistakes helps us leverage the past and move closer to our true, better selves. Holding on to resentment in any form - even towards ourselves – can derail our transformation. Understanding this, we can make a humble beginning. We can choose to start over. We can decide that people and our relationships with them are worth it. And, we can decide that we’re worth it too. If we don’t believe it fully, we can practice forgiveness and compassion everyday by “acting as if” we did. Everyday is another day to start over. Why not today?
Remember. You’re not alone. We’re here to help.
Our mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals, families and communities affected by alcohol and drug dependency by providing affordable, effective educational services grounded in the Twelve Step principles of Alcoholics Anonymous.