I think feelings of shame and guilt are common among individuals struggling with addiction. The shame refers to feeling bad about myself. I feel weak, defective, and I feel like a failure, I feel like I have let everyone down; not once but many, many times. When I feel ashamed, I feel that something is wrong with me, that I am less than others. And I’m sure this is the case for a lot of people in recovery, I know it will take time and effort to work through the shame and guilt.
I still carry extreme guilt, I feel bad about my past behviours. About things I’ve done, and thing’s I haven’t done. I’ve used people, I’ve stolen from loved ones, I’ve hurt, I’ve lied, I’ve conned; broken laws to get money to pay for drugs, I’ve been violent. I also feel guilty for not fulfilling my responsibilities and obligations to my family, especially when they may have needed me most. But the drugs were always more important.
I know I cannot go back and change the past, and even if I could I don’t think I would. Without my past I wouldn’t be who I am today, like I’ve said before; I may not know who I am, where I’m going or where I am going to be, but I am learning everyday, taking advantage of every moment. I am finding myself, and making amends in the process. I can start by recognizing my shame and guilt, I can be honest with myself about what I did or failed to do as a result of my addictions. I’m allowed to give myself time to feel better, without self-pity. But realistically and accept the reality that it may take a good deal of time to feel less ashamed and guilty. I can talk about my feelings, I can be there for those who wish to talk about their feelings. I can accept my flaws and limitations. I can try to make amends and hope for forgiveness. I can believe in the person I want to become.