When I first embarked on my sober journey, I was excited to do the 12 steps. One of the parts of this is taking inventory of your life. It sounds scary but it’s a great opportunity to purge. However, I didn’t expect that I would find myself on my list of resentments. When I really took a look at the wreckage I caused in my own life I felt a lot of shame. It would be much easier to live in denial that I was an innocent bystander as my life came crashing down around me. Unfortunately, I am the driver of my own vehicle. Of course, like most people, we are our worst critic. It’s fairly straightforward to make amends to another human, but how do you find redemption with yourself?
Not only did I need to own up to my mess, I had to forgive myself too. I find myself thinking about a person holding on to a rope really tightly, the rope is cutting their hand and they hold tighter, unwilling and unable to let go. By letting go the pain would not continue to get worse, sure there would be some residual pain and healing, but it wouldn’t get worse. The more I looked at the mistakes I had made, the more I looked into the rearview mirror of life the harder it became to look forward. If I didn’t already hate myself enough, now I had to face this too!
The first realization I had was that I did the best I could with the skills, knowledge, and resources that I had. Just like our parents did the best they could, like every other person around us is doing the best they can. I too was doing my best. My best wasn’t perfect, but then again neither is anything in this world. When I really look back and see not only the bad stuff but the good too, I am able to get perspective on how much I was able to overcome despite everything as well. I had achieved a remarkable amount, even though I didn’t get everything I had ever wanted.
Perhaps realizing that living the dream doesn’t always mean it was the dream you thought you were going to be living.
The second realization I had around my own redemption was that I could make a living amends to myself. Where I had betrayed myself so many times I now had the opportunity to honor who and where I am. When I think about the standards I want for myself, I now have the courage to stick with them. I could see how I allowed myself to be taken advantage off, used, abused, and abandoned. I had a part in every bad relationship, I had a part in my family dysfunction, and I had a part in the ups and downs of my career.
The third realization was that taking care to build myself up was far more important than breaking myself down for the mistakes I made. As I began to have more self-esteem from doing esteemable acts, it became easier and easier to talk nicely to myself. Not only was it transformation to my peace of mind, but the kinder I was to me the more my body started to respond and become healthier. My entire workout and physical results changed when I stopped telling myself that I was too disgusting for clients to book. Yes, that’s really the kind of things that went through my head as I ran myself into the ground on the treadmill, or sweated myself half to death in hot yoga.
The best thing about finding my own redemption was that my interactions with the people around me began to change. When I felt happier about myself it was far easier for me to see the beauty in other people. I found compassion for other models. I truly let go of some of my grief. Lastly, I started to sleep properly for the first time in 6 years. Perhaps it was true what my mother had always said to me, “when you go to bed at night it's just you and your conscience.”