Forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you!
I was living what I thought to be the perfect marriage. Or was I just living in a dysfunctional marriage dreaming that it was perfect. Either way that is of little consequence now. The marriage ended, it left me angry and bitter. It was the jumping off point for my alcoholism. For the longest time I blamed my ex-wife, surely she was the reason why I needed to drink myself to death. Forgiveness was not even a thought. But she never forced a bottle to my mouth and my undoing I did all by myself.
At the end of the marriage things were completely out of control. We had an angel of a little girl and the way I had expected it to unfold all just fell apart. Although it does not matter at this point, I believe that we both began to point that finger of blame at each other so that we did not have to look our own faults in the eye. Forgiveness was not a word that would even enter the vocabulary of our conversations. For me, it created more and more baggage that would drag me further into my disease.
Forgiveness is something that does not come easy. I feel so many of us are confused as to why it is such a hard thing to do. We become hyper focused on everything that we perceive was done to us. Then we become blinded by anger and resentment. We are blind to the freedom that true forgiveness can give to us. But I believe the biggest roadblock becomes our own selfish need to run the show. Hate and anger has raged inside of us feeding that distorted sense of control. With it, we think we are in control of punishing the one who has done us wrong. When in reality we are only punishing ourselves and hurting others.
For real recovery forgiveness is necessary.
Even in my early recovery I could not come to grips with my need to hang on to anger and resentment. I needed to hold on to those dangerous feelings so that I could play the victim. That allowed me control. I could manipulate others into feeling sorry for me. Sure I had been hurt and even wronged but was I perfect. Could I cast the first stone since I myself was full of sin. What I finally realized was that for me to truly recover and find the life I knew was waiting on me I had to learn forgiveness. It would be vital if I was to be successful in my sobriety.
It was easy for me to push all the blame to my ex-wife for losing custody of my daughter. My second nature was to resent and even hate her. But in reality I was the one who had set this entire sequence in motion. If not for my drinking I would never have had to battle any custody issues with Kamdyn. It did not matter who had done what since the beginning of my recovery. There was no need for a scorecard. What mattered was my actions and reactions, my choices. It was time for me to accept ownership of what I had done.
So I asked for forgiveness. Whether it was granted or not was not up to me. I then began to practice forgiving her. I let go of all the animosity and resentment inside of me. It was the most freeing feeling I think I have ever felt. What she did was completely out of my control and up to her, but what I did was my key to unlock the door to love in my life. Love for myself, love for family, love for another, and love for my ex-wife. Forgiveness unlocked a love and compassion in my heart for even the ones that months before I hated. It forced me to grow from the person I was to the person I could become.
Forgiveness will elevate you out of your past.
So you see forgiveness is not for the other person. It does not get them off the hook for their misgivings, it gets you off the hook. It frees you of the burdens of the “how could they’s” and the “why are they doing this to me’s”. In essence it really frees you from your own self. The traps of self pity and depression that our old self wants to keep us in. Our old self needs that. It was our excuse to use and drink, it was our weapon of manipulation.
Forgiveness is a must in recovery. We cannot recover without it. It unlocks a door of love into our life. Forgiveness carries with it humility that we thrive upon in our quest to help others. It rids our mind of that self suffocating behavior that kept us drinking and using in our past. I think about all the horrible things in my life I have done and realize that no matter what I do, God always forgives me. If I have been forgiven, a drunk like me, then the least I can do is forgive others. It removes the power from the past, from addiction, and gives the power of love. That is the power we were in search of all along.