Guilt and Shame Dangerous feelings undermining happiness and success.
How do we free ourselves from the emotional bondage that guilt, and shame?
When I was on the streets using 5 bundles of dope a day, I did what I had to do to make my body feel normal and function in the morning. The horror I felt when I woke up in the morning strung out and no money or a fix to wake up is hard to describe. I sit here now and can feel the nervousness and anxiety welling up in my solar-plexus. This is how I will illustrate waking in the morning sick with heroin withdrawal. I first would compare the anxiety to butterflies in my stomach. This anxiety mixed with the worse symptoms of the flu. Every muscle aches and there is not any position to relax. Sometimes relief can be found by kicking your legs hard, sort of leg snapping from the knee. (this is where the phrase for heroin withdrawal ‘kicking’ was coined.
Having to steal first thing in the morning to get straight and act like the rest of the world is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Shoplifting and turning tricks to support a drug habit is an existence I would never wish on anyone. Shoplifting with the pangs of drug-sickness beating on my door is hell I wouldn’t even wish on an enemy.
People have asked many times why didn’t I just get into a detox center and rehab and quit. I will answer this question first. Then I will look at the guilt and shame that I kept beating myself up with so I could stay messed up and finally the forgiveness it took to silence the demons Guilt and Shame.
The demons drew strength from me one syringe full of dope at a time…
Seriously! JUST SAY NO!!!
Oh, I hope and pray that it will someday be so easy for other addicts in the world to “Just say NO”, Nancy, but we all know that this is not an option.
The wheel starts spinning. I have told myself so many times that I would just do it one day and stop, and then the days and nights would grow longer and the visions of getting a fix would never cease to entertain my thoughts. The ever growing cravings for dope would fill me until I overflowed with want and desire. Every cell in my body would thirst for that familiar taste of heroin. I would beat myself up over these cravings and desires. Couldn’t I just use once in a while? Why was I so worthless? Why was I such a big loser, dope-fiend, junkie?
This is where it would start. The thoughts that would destroy any self-esteem left inside of me:
The perpetual cycle of worthlessness.
I would begin wondering why I couldn’t stop and I would always answer the questions same way. What reason do I have to stop?
- I haven’t any money to rely on once I am sober. I cannot steal if I am not strung out.
- I hadn’t any family or old friends to turn to for help in the process of sobering up.
- I was homeless and had nowhere to go. Why get clean to live in the shelter.
- Lastly, methadone? I used methadone as a means to not be sick in the morning. Previously, I never tried to get sober with medicated assisted treatment such and Methadone or Suboxone.
Under these circumstances, I couldn’t find a reason to sober up. I’d be sobering up to wake each morning to a reality of the world I created. A reality that was so dismal and bleak any man would turn to shooting heroin to avoid having to drink from that cup.
Before discussing how I dealt with guilt and shame, I’d like to say that many of us in this world have allowed ourselves to do something we regret. One time or another we have let our guard down. Unfortunately, we allowed ourselves to violate our own personal moral code of ethics.
I am not saying this to make myself feel better by any means. I am saying this to let you, the reader, understand that a person does not have to be seeking recovery or relief from active addiction to benefit from my blog want to help ya’ll find a way to push the demons of guilt and shame from your life. All you’ve to do is want to create the most ethical incarnation of yourself. No one is a judge within the abstract walls of HAHC. We’re all equals here.
Guilt is a way of telling ourselves that we are about to do something that goes against our moral code or ethical principles. We feel this little pang in our heart or chest when we decide to wrong another or break a promise.
Guilt is our conscience directly speaking to us. It is in the guilt of yesterday that we use as an excuse for trying to achieve sobriety today. In this guilt, we stay pinned under and the pain it causes in our hearts.
Therefore guilt provides the perfect excuse to feel sorry for ourselves and wallows in the misery of our lives. It’s the excuse we use to keep us feeling guilty beating ourselves up today tomorrow and the next day.
Once we’ve chosen to ignore our moral code completely no matter how much guilt we have felt, shame comes along and makes it worse. At this moment we’re beginning to believe the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. It’s shame that tells you you’re not worthy, you’re a bad people, you can’t be trusted to do the right thing, you’re sinister, conniving, drug-addicts and you’ll never change. This is how shame reveals itself within our thoughts and actions.
Our shame also drives us to do the right things; to correct our mistakes, fix the hurt and the wrong decisions we have made. There are many times when we cannot fix these mistakes, or we’d not know where to begin, so we pretend we do not see these shameful acts. We hide them away deep in our conscience and try to forget the demons are there.
As our closets overload and the doors are about to burst, causing more guilt and shame, we learn to lie, cheat, and hide that guilt deep inside.
The cycle becomes vicious. Your world feels broken and devastated. The only way to fix it is to not FIX UP. The only way to deal with it is to feel.
Make it better for everyone involved and crack on.
How do you deal with guilt and shame?
4 ways you ca begin to fix guilt and shame (without a syringe!)
We must admit when we are wrong.
Own up to it. Become accountable for our actions and our words. Admit to all of our mistakes when we make them. Own up to the pain and problems we might have caused others in the past. Accountability goes a long way and shows maturity and growth. Become accountable, by facing the consequences of past actions.
- Once we have become accountable it is time to correct the wrong doings we have suffered upon others. We have to correct our wrongs whenever it is possible.
Unfortunately, sometimes it is not possible to correct all the wrongs you have done to others. Sometimes it is best to leave a person you wronged alone. Bringing up the old feelings and pain can be worse, so let it be.
You might feel obligated to correct a wrong doing from your past. You know you cannot approach the person you hurt, instead, get creative. Do something nice for the family of that person, do something for the person or family anonymously, or do something for his/her community.
- When it is possible you can always ask others for forgiveness, publicly, privately, or in your prayers or meditations. Remember that sometimes your actions have hurt others beyond their forgiveness. Do not let this stop you from asking for forgiveness. If this is the case do not open old wounds. Let the person be and ask forgiveness silently or in writing. Never hurt another more or reopen the wounds in order satisfy your need for forgiveness.
The most important item on this list is forgiving ourselves.
I feel that you cannot truly do any of the above if you do not first forgive yourself. You must begin the healing process with yourself. Healing the heart and soul. Accept what has happened and get on with life. After we have embraced the self we can then move on to start correcting the errors of our misguided and desperate ways.
Forgiveness is the surest way to beat guilt and shame at their cyclical game. We have to be accountable to ourselves and others. Practice accountability, correcting wrongs, and stop hiding in the shadow of guilt and shame.
Live life and correct the mistakes you have made.
How do you defeat the demons guilt and shame?