We come to associate our addictions with the many things we regret. These regrets might include the ways in which we’ve hurt the people we care about, the wrongdoings we can’t seem to forget, or the mistakes we can’t forgive ourselves for. While our journeys through addiction can rack up countless regrets, there are some that stay with us. These lasting regrets cause us considerable pain. We feel ashamed of ourselves for years on end. We struggle to forgive ourselves and we might have recurring visions, flashbacks, persistent memories, and nightmares. We might have intense anxiety, deep depressions, debilitating panic attacks, and terrifying suicidal thoughts related to our regrets. We might have people in our lives who won’t let us live them down, who are constantly bringing up the past and guilt-tripping us. We might have loved ones who trigger painful memories for us simply because they remind us of the incident or traumatic experience in question. We might cling to our regrets because we’re self-hating and need a reason to feel worse about ourselves and feed our deep insecurities.
Oftentimes, we cling to our regret from a place of subconscious self-destructiveness. We believe we don’t deserve forgiveness and that we can’t detach from the pain of our regrets, so we hold onto them, stay attached to them, and inundate ourselves with negative self-talk. We judge ourselves harshly and beat ourselves up and our addictions can become an escape from the pain of our inner demons, which tell us that we’re worthless and inadequate. It’s difficult to escape the painful memories that seem to haunt us with shame and remorse. However, it is absolutely possible.
We can’t recover from our addictions and mental health issues if we’re still caught in never-ending cycles of self-abuse. When we’re mentally and emotionally self-harming, self-neglecting, self-abandoning, we’re going to be constantly triggered. There are many ways to work through these painful memories and put an end to the torment.
One powerful way of working through regret is to start talking about it. Very often we keep our painful regrets a secret and suppress them, afraid to talk to anyone about them for fear they will judge, reject, condemn or abandon us. Talking with our therapist, our recovery coach or sponsor, or with other recovering addicts in our support groups is a way to transform our feelings around our regrets and to start forgiving ourselves. We begin to see that we aren’t as shameful as we thought we were. We feel affirmed and validated with the solidarity we receive and we start to shed our feelings of inadequacy. We learn that regret is a part of life, a reality of human nature, and commonality amongst so many of us. We can learn and grow from our regrets. They don’t have to haunt us.
Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.