What happened to me?
How did I get so hooked?
Why did it get so hard, or so bad?
These are questions that could feel haunting during the struggle with addiction and can continue to pester us during early recovery. But once stability and sobriety have been reached, it may be time to reflect and address these questions. While there can be tremendous benefits and healing through exploring our past, and by processing the situations and decisions that led us to where we were, it is so important to do so safely and slowly.
Working with a mental health professional, seeking out recovery support, pursuing other therapeutic activities, and committing to forgiveness can encourage healthy engagement with the past.
Mental health– A mental health professional will have the skillset to help process the past in a safe, structured, and thoughtful way. Services are available through local community health and mental health agencies and through telehealth/online support.
Recovery Support– With a sponsor, you can also work through your history to uncover answers to the questions you have. Having a sponsor is a wonderful opportunity to connect with someone who has lived experience and can most likely relate in some capacity to what you have gone through. In recovery meetings, you can also find acceptance, comradery, companionship, and support. Different types of recovery meetings exist, and you can explore traditional 12-Step, spirituality, or specific groups such as co-occurring, art, grief, and loss.
Therapeutic activities– These are activities you can do by yourself to promote your health, wellness, and happiness while you reflect on your story and your life. Examples could be painting, drawing, writing, meditating, stretching or yoga, or any other therapeutic activity.
Looking back can be triggering, so make a plan to connect with a loved one, friend, ally, sponsor, or counselor after you take time to process.
Forgiveness work– If resentment, anger, or bitterness are interfering with you truly enjoying life, try to commit to forgiveness work, even if you feel the person doesn’t deserve it. With some of the support systems mentioned above, work through past hurts and relationships. Consider making amends if it feels right and would support your highest good. If you are unable to do forgiveness work, try to let go of the painful emotions that aren’t serving you.
Which people impacted your life in a negative way?
Which people do you want to keep in your life?
Where do you need limits and boundaries?
What people in your life influenced you in a positive way?
Are there new people you want to include in your life, in your recovery, in your circle?
Commit to Forgiving Yourself– Explore the ways you can work on forgiving yourself.
Utilize affirmations: “I forgive myself, and I love myself.”
“I have learned, and I will live differently.”
“I have looked at my past, and I let go of these things.”
Try to recognize and remember that the coping techniques, substance use, or destructive behaviors were responses to trauma, hurt, and pain. It was your body, mind, and heart’s way of protecting yourself, and now you can do differently.
What are new coping techniques and strategies you can use?
What have you learned?
Please know, it is okay if it is too hard or you aren’t able to look at, process, or work through some parts of your life. You will know if and when there is a right time for it. And if that time never comes, it is okay to close the door on it.
There may also be a lot that is unknown, or unable to be fully understood, and that is okay.
Some parts of our life might not be solved or resolved, so strive to release the confusion or painful curiosity. Always reach out if you get or feel stuck or find yourself ruminating on the past to a point that it causes you harm.
Remember to Reframe– Your story isn’t fully written yet. For as much time you are reflecting on the past, be sure to come back to the present time, and be planning for your future.
What are you looking forward to? Create a vision board, or a list of 6-month, 1-year, or 5-year goals. Collect pictures, images, or cut-outs that keep you feeling empowered and motivated for the future.
What life do you want to lead? What do you want to see when you look back? Follow your heart, and give that to yourself.
If you are wanting to understand your past and address issues of substance use, in order to create the future that you want, contact us as Ashley Addiction Treatment. Our committed staff will design a specialized treatment plan, with the mental health professionals, recovery supports, and the therapeutic activities that benefit your mind, body, heart, and spirit. We will walk the path of recovery by your side and be with you every step of the way.
You deserve to live a life free of pain, anger, and resentment. You deserve to feel and be at peace with yourself and your past. A hopeful and beautiful future lies ahead, and we are here to help you have all of the healthy and wonderful things you want for yourself.
Our calm and serene campus is located on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, in Northern Maryland. For more information, or to take the next steps, contact us at 800-799-4673.