A dad wrote: I have worked so hard on forgiveness. I have prayed for His Spirit to grant me the gift of forgiveness. I must somehow still be resistant. I sometimes, in prayer, feel I have forgiven, then the past comes back to haunt me and the anger and remembrance of betrayal returns and I am back where I do not want to be. Share with me, how do you forgive and stay in forgiveness?
My reflection: The Big Book tells us that resentments are toxic in the lives of recovering addicts. I think that’s also true for those of us who loved them. Was I resentful and unforgiving when my son was in active addiction? Yes. Did I try to blame others for the pain addiction caused? Yes. Did my resentments help my son? No. Did it help my family? No. Did it help me? No.
Before my mother died, she said, “Forgiveness comes in waves.”
Today’s Promise to consider: I don’t have a personal process for forgiving, but I do know that the release of resentment is central to my wellbeing. It’s easy to ruminate on past hurts, but when I consider the pain and suffering of the other person, it’s sometimes easier to let go of my discomfort. As one mom wrote, “It’s anger that keeps us hostage.” If you have a successful process to forgive, please let us know. We can help each other.4608
I think anger and lack of forgiveness toward our loved one comes from not really believing that addiction is a disease but a choice. Feeling that they did “this” to hurt us. If our loved one had cancer, we would be sad, wonder why, yet try to be helpful and supportive. Anger is not usually an emotion we experience with illness, except perhaps at God sometimes, but not at the person suffering. Perhaps we need to understand the medical disease of addiction and how it changes the brain and behavior.
Susan that was indeed the situation in my case. Anger toward my son for all the money I’d spent with rehabs, apartment leases and cash loans for who knows what. I’m embarrased to say I wasn’t always kind, angry that he’d been given all the tools to get his life in order and still not see any real success. Only through understanding the disease of addiction through meetings, books and counseling did I come to the realization that relapses were not a sign of failure. Learning to “Let Go, Let God” with the support of many wonderful people in our “addiction community” replaced that anger with understanding and hope. As Libby states, resentment helps no-one.
Today the layers of addiction have peeled away from the years of abuse and I have come to know the remarkable man inside. Thank you Libby for this forum and your years of support.
Dear Douglas, “Let Go, Let God,” was my mantra, too. As with you, Al-Anon and the people in the addiction community helped to sustain and educate me. I love your statement about your son …”I have come to know the remarkable man inside.” God bless you and your son. We’ll stay close.
Libby, your book, “Stay Close” has comforted us through many difficult years.
Years ago we attended a talk where you and Jeff were keynote speakers.. Afterwords while signing our copy of “Stay Close”my wife teared up in despair. You immediately gave her a hug. That hug sustained her and comforted us at such a low point in our lives. God bless you and all you do for those of us who need guidance, understanding and compassion.
My dear Doug, Thank you for writing. Your message touched both Jeff and me deeply. Addiction causes so much pain, so much trauma. I’m deeply grateful that our paths crossed and that Jeff’s story provided some comfort. Addictions rails against comfort and compassion, so all we can do is hold hands and try to make a difference. My love to you and your wife. I’ll stay close in prayer.
Dear Susan, Your point is at the base of all addiction. When I had breast cancer, people surrounded me with love and compassion, but when my son was in active addiction, there were very few people who understood or tried to understand. My thanks to you for making this point. Once we understand the disease of addiction, the view shifts. xo
Well said Susan! It took me way too long to accept this truth but one I did my peace and serenity was restored.
I just finished your book Stay Close. My son is 24 and has been using since he was 15. We just brought him home from a second rehab facility two weeks ago. I need to find a place of forgiveness, but lately, I’m just feeling resentment towards him. I just keep repeating-God’s Will Will be Done.
My dearest Sheila, I understand, and I’ve been there. The important part for me was to be compassionate with myself. It’s normal to feel anger, resentment, and betrayal with addiction. Addiction WANTS to suffocate us. I repeated the mantra, “Let God and Let God,” and today I’ll join you in repeating “God’s Will Will be Done.” I’ll stay close in love and prayer.