Scrolling through Instagram, as I now do every morning to start my day inspired by the recovery community, I come across a post that grabs my attention.
The subject of letting go, forgiving, apologising and making amends.
When I first read Russell Brand’s book – Recovery – I dove straight into the steps, wanting to get through to the last one and be ‘cured’ as quickly as possible.
I very quickly found out that it wasn’t going to work that way.
As you know (if you read my previous diary entry) I am an all or nothing personality type. I jump into things and give them my all, giving up when I realise it’s more difficult than I imagined.
I got to step 4, ‘We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves’, and it was here that I realised how taxing this was going to be.
Basically, in this step you have to write down any and every situation with someone that you hold resentment for and ultimately reveal that you, yourself, were to blame in some way, or at least acknowledge the part you played in it.
Having already read the book and restarted it to play out the steps, I knew what was coming.
Apologising and making amends to all those people (unless it would cause more harm than good).
There are two reasons why I couldn’t get through it at that time:
1- Re-living some of my worst moments in life was painful and I felt like I couldn’t do it without drinking.
And I did.
2- I knew that I was going to have to apologise but I couldn’t get over the prospect of them not acknowledging theirs.
The second point is something I have struggled with since I knew this was the path I needed to take.
Some people have hurt me and never acknowledged it, and if I say sorry to them now, it would seem like I am admitting total fault.
That they did nothing wrong and it was all me.
Some people have already received an apology from me and did exactly that.
I am well aware of how childish this sounds and it feels really cringey to talk about it, but I can’t help how I feel and I’m sure plenty of you feel the same way.
It’s hard to let go of pain.
But wouldn’t it feel good if you could?
The post I listened to this morning made me realise that I’m only hurting myself by holding on to resentment.
If someone else cannot let go of theirs, or cannot admit their own wrong-doings, that isn’t my issue to deal with.
That is a part of their own journey and nothing to do with me.
If I apologise, all I am doing is letting go and acknowledging my misdeeds.
I am not required to say ‘Hey, remember that time we fell out? Well it was all my fault, you did nothing wrong.’
Instead, I can say ‘Hey, remember that time we fell out? Well I want to say I am sorry for hurting you/for the things I said/for the things I did.’
I vividly remember standing sheepishly in front of my year 3 teacher in an empty classroom one break time, next to Sarah (name changed for anonymity).
We were being told off for a scuffle we had gotten ourselves into.
I had told her to ‘fuck off’ and she had kicked me in retaliation.
The why’s and how’s we got there aren’t important.
I felt incredibly angry because she was always the ‘top dog’, I had finally stood up for myself… and was being reprimanded for it.
There was a spinning ball of pencil-like scribbles growing bigger and bigger in my stomach, I remember my fists clenching, my jaw squeezing together and lips pursing as I was told to say sorry.
There was no way out of it.
It was ‘apologise or this will be taken further’.
Of course I didn’t want to, I wanted to kick her back and swear some more… but I said sorry.
I wasn’t sorry.
I’m sure she wasn’t either and lied to get out of the awkward situation we had found ourselves in.
“Of course I have been in relationships before, I become willing to apologise for the things I’ve done wrong… and things that I believe they’ve done wrong, I forgive them for and let go of because there ain’t no point in carrying misery around.”
‘There ain’t no point in carrying misery around.’
That part got me.
Really, what is the point?
Forcing someone else to tell you they were wrong is not going to make them believe they did wrong.
The words would be empty, it wouldn’t mean anything.
If they aren’t willing to apologise for their part then that isn’t something you can control.
They remain happy with your interaction and you walk away, still carrying the misery you have been holding onto ever since.
I now see that that is why it is important to forgive and let go.
Not for them, for me.
If I am to move on and repair myself then I need to let go and move forward with a clear conscience, and I can only do that if I apologise and make amends for my part and not expect anything back from them at all.
Though I still don’t feel ready to re-live the pain of my past just yet, I now know that when I do, step 9 (Now apologise. Unless that would make things worse) will be easier to deal with.
There are plenty of people I need to apologise to in order to move on and become the person I need to be, but there is a reason why step 4 and step 9 are spread apart the way they are.
I need to feel strong and work on myself first.
The rest will come.
“Apologising does not always mean that you are wrong and they are right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego.”
Side note: The problem with being an online blogger is that I cannot control who reads my posts and I can think of many people reading who may feel like I have written a post with them in mind.
Though there are many of people I probably owe an apology to or owe me one this isn’t written for anyone’s benefit but my own and for anyone, in recovery or otherwise, who may find this useful.
I have linked the video that led me to write this diary entry below so that you can see it was purely a case of inspiration this morning.