As I look back over 20 years of heavy drinking it’s easy to see that my behaviour all that time was self-destructive. Easy to see, but not that easy to accept. We all want what is best for ourselves, for our lives, right? Of course we do, but we know that that’s often not what happens. Life is what happens to us in spite of ourselves.
Now that I’m on the road to recovery, one of the hardest things to do is to accept the fact that 20 + years of my life has been irreplaceably lost, wasted “getting wasted”! How can I forgive and accept myself for that? Accepting something doesn’t mean that we agree with it. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean we have accepted their behaviour. It means that we choose to let go and choose to put behind us the harm or damage they have done to us. We accept them in spite of their past behaviour and move on. And so we must do the same with ourselves.
For my “wasted” 22 years of active alcoholism, I certainly don’t agree that my behaviour was somehow OK. It absolutely wasn’t. But, I need to simply accept that it was what it was. For reasons still not at all clear to me now I just drank and drank and drank. Yes, it was a waste of a huge chunk of my life. I have to accept that fact and let it go. Why? Because, and here’s the rub —if I don’t I’ll most assuredly keep on drinking. That’s why self-acceptance is so important for the recovering alcoholic. It doesn’t mean that we agree with having wasted many precious years of our life. It means we choose to let it go and move on. That’s the essence of forgiveness, and it has to start with ourselves.