May 07: Forgiveness


I am honored to be chairing this meeting, especially because May 7 is my anniversary – 17 years of continuous sobriety. I have each of you to thank for the many ways you’ve helped me get through each day at a time without picking up a drink. Now I get to live in, not just get through, another day. Chairing this meeting is a small way to give back.

I’d like to follow up Cheryl’s great topic of self-acceptance with the topic of forgiveness, which many of you mentioned as an essential part of coming to self-acceptance. There are so many things I’ve come to understand in completely different ways through the program, forgiveness being a major one.

For the longest time, I held onto blaming my dad for my drinking. Actually, I blamed my husband, my job, myself, you name it, but I really believed it all began because of my dad. Alcohol kept me imprisoned in the teenaged mindset of who I was when I started drinking – blaming anyone and everyone for everything, and underneath it all was blaming myself just for being who I am. Talk about lack of self-acceptance, or acceptance of anything!

With a lot of help from all of you who understand me (just because I’m an alcoholic!), I have come to see that, like almost everything else, forgiveness is a process that’s not as simple as I thought it was. I certainly don’t do this perfectly, but now I know when my heart has been relieved of that rock of blame and forgiveness becomes possible.

It goes something like this: For whatever reason (argument, acting badly, hungry, angry, lonely, tired, whatever) I find myself feeling all kinds of negative emotions. My natural instinct is to blame – if I can blame you, I don’t have to look inside me. That kind of thinking kept me drinking. If I do look inside me, it’s all my fault. That kind of thinking kept me drinking for sure! But the idea of how forgiveness can help me stay sober reminds me that blaming doesn’t work anymore for me. I have to go deeper than self-blame. The phrase, “every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us,” comes back to me, and I shift my focus deeper into myself. I can usually trace my disturbance back to some ancient FEAR (Forgetting Everything?s All Right), which leads me back to my higher power, and I can release my grip on blame. Suddenly I can breathe again, and I can honestly say, “Thank you for giving me this experience,” this opportunity to get all the way to true forgiveness. When I can feel gratitude for another chance to accept and forgive myself, I can make genuine amends. Quite a far cry from having to anesthetize all of this with booze!

Please feel free to share about forgiveness or anything else that would help you right now. Thank you all for this opportunity to be of service!