This is a huge part of our story.
For some of us, our past is not pretty.
Maybe we have caused a lot of pain.
Maybe we have experienced trauma, and hurt.
Many of us have made a lot of mistakes and we have hurt people in the process.
Although our past might be a dark place, it is a place that we have learned to appreciate.
I really don’t like the saying that our past is ‘just a story’. It is a very, very, real place.
Not only does it play a role in who we are now, our experiences allow us to develop wisdom; our past tells a story, and it can teach us important lessons.
But sometimes it will be used as a weapon.
Here are a two examples:
We can use it to beat ourselves up.
Sometimes we use our past as an excuse.
Maybe we will start to remind ourselves why we should quit by using our past choices as an example of why we don’t deserve to live a healthy life.
So often we vow to never allow ourselves to forget the mistakes that we have made.
We punish ourselves. We beat ourselves up.
Other people might try to use it to beat us up.
Oh’ this. It angers me just typing about it. Definitively one of the biggest frustrations of my own Recovery. I know that all people who have struggled with addiction who are living a sober life have experienced this to some extent. It can feel like people keep a list handy of every single thing that we have ever done to them or anyone else. Our mistakes have been inventoried and are readily available to use at the disposal of people who don’t mind using this as a weapon.
Here are a few things that I try to remind myself of if my past is being used to torture me:
1.) Hurt people hurt people. Hurt people need time to heal, and just like we are healing, the people in our lives are healing too.
2.) The only thing that really matters is what you believe about yourself. Keep reminding yourself of this truth.
3.) Don’t let this anger you into slipping up. It was a huge trigger for me and had the power to send my mind spiraling out of control. It is not the end of the world if someone still thinks you are a piece of sh*t.
4.) If you are having a disagreement with someone try to leave the room if things get too emotional. Nothing good happens when it turns into a fight and anger is involved. People say things that they don’t necessarily mean, and recovery is not the place for drama.
If you are a loved one of someone in recovery, who is tempted to use the past as a weapon:
1.) Remind yourself that life is complicated and people mess up. They are trying their best to make changes in their life. Throwing these things in their face really only makes them feel terrible, and in turn, makes them want to use or not feel because it hurts so badly to hear how badly they hurt you.
2.) If you are on board, be on board. If you are not willing to learn how to communicate in a healthy way, you should respectfully excuse yourself from their life. Recovery is hard. Don’t make it harder on purpose.
3.) Learn things.
There are meetings for family members. You can talk and vent and learn with other people who know exactly how you feel and you can share your frustrations freely there with them. You are not alone in feeling hurt, or manipulated, or taken advantage of. Your feelings matter too and you deserve to heal and grow just as much as they do.
4.) Don’t fight dirty. If you are in a disagreement or a heated argument with your loved one, leave the room. Take some time to simmer down and regroup. Progress won’t if you talk when you are angry anyway. This way you can try to avoid saying all of the things that you are thinking. 🙂
Remember, healing takes time for everyone involved.
Each person will have their own timeline when it comes to mending emotionally.
Take your time, and play nice.