While I labored intently in my single-minded zeal to stay intoxicated, lost in my disease, so many important individuals were left in the dust picking up the pieces I’d so recklessly broken along my path. Lately, I’ve noticed myself reflecting on this more than usual – this trail of misery that followed me wherever I went, and with whomever I interacted with in those dreary days.

These thoughts of the past can carry with them a sharp tinge of regret and shame. I’ve had to learn over the years to live with the fact that for a long time my abhorrent behavior and actions directly resulted in a great deal of emotional pain, stress, financial loss and general crisis in the lives of friends and family who cared for me.

It’s easy to get lost in those thoughts at times. But, in doing so, we risk falling into shame spirals or self-defeating behavior that completely diminishes our usefulness to others in the here and now. I found myself in one of these situations the other day. Through a casual conversation with a neighbor, I was inadvertently reminded of a situation from my past that I winced at (some shame is obviously still associated with the situation).

I dwelled on it for a moment and recognized myself sliding backwards into a self-defeating thought process but was quickly reminded of the beauty of recovery. I have been freely given a spiritual toolkit which allows me to address these issues. I was reminded of what I had endeavored early on in recovery to do everything I could to make a situation right – to make amends. I had not only trod the path of forgiveness but had put actionable works behind it in an effort to rectify the damage I’d done.

That, in and of itself, is all I could do. I cannot change the past or turn back time. I cannot reach back into those vestiges of memory and extinguish every ounce of negativity that may associate itself with those thoughts. Maybe a modicum of that will always exist within me and today I realize that that is acceptable. Today I take pains to live in recovery, healing and spirituality in an effort to better myself so that no one else will bear the brunt of my negative actions.

I take solace in this. I find peace in it. I find that God has a way of working in our lives to assuage that guilt and shame when we take steps on our own accord to make things right. He provided me with so much strength in those moments. Of course, I’m not perfect. Of course, it’s a journey. Of course, it’s a path to tread, to learn and to grow. To be better versions of ourselves, the best we can, at any given time.

We’ve all done things we aren’t proud of; of this I am certain. It is a fact of life we all must bear. The degree in which we allow that to control our minds is ultimately determined by the amount of effort and willingness we put into healing, so that those behaviors and actions don’t resurface in our present moment. I am 100% confident that to better ourselves, we make ourselves of service and be of true usefulness to our brothers and sisters in this walk of life.

In the dwelling, in the ruminating and in the regret, we completely lose that ability to tangibly hold space with another individual. To thwart that, I urge you to practice peace, compassion, presence and kindness in all your interactions with others (and yourself) regardless of the circumstance. That is where grace and forgiveness has always found me.

As that moment passed, the regret and anxiety I felt withered. God gave me the ability to recall the efforts I made, even though they were humanly imperfect, they were enough. Enough to move on, to do the things I can and to accept life and my past on life’s terms.

Healing and recovery are possible for anyone. I love you.

Sean – In recovery

You can read, comment and ask questions for Sean to address in his blog on the PAL website, home page – www.Palgroup.org