16 April 2011

Accepting the past

The third promise of AA says, "We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it."

The most painful part of my early recovery was dealing with my past. I wanted so much to forget it and to move on. But I couldn't. I couldn't accept the evils I brought upon others. It was the hardest part early on. I learned to accept what I did but I couldn't accept forgiveness. I believed that I was the devil reincarnated.

As my sobriety lengthened and I began to feel like I was part of the human race, I still struggled with my past. I just wished it would go away. To magically disappear from my memory.

For a long time these past memories hindered my growth. But then I began to understand, like it or not, my past is part of who I am. And the sooner I could accept that the better I would be.

How did that happen? I made amends to myself. I forgave myself. To do that for the first time in my life I was able to separate the alcoholic from the person. The way I got to this point was by the length of my sobriety.

The promises, for me, would not come quickly. I struggled with my past and now looking back on it, I realize I needed it to be that way.

The only way to truly live was through forgiveness. I honestly believed that my Higher Power had forgiven me, but I was still unable to forgive myself. What made me turn the corner was the relief that the things I did when I was drunk... was not part of my sober life. The person I was drunk was not the person God created.

Today, I do not regret the past nor do I wish to shut the door on it. Why? Because I still have very vivid memories of my last drunk. And I'm thankful for that. Why would I be thankful for such a painful memory? Because that memory leaves no doubt in my mind that I am an alcoholic.

And I don't want to forget. That door will be forever open because I can thank God that the past is indeed the past. The past is not who I am and for that I will be forever a grateful alcoholic.

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