Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Guilt

I don’t think about any changes that I’d make to the text of Alcoholics Anonymous (aka The Big Book) very often, the basic text of the fellowship. However last night I was thinking about some stuff. At the bottom of page 83 within the passage widely known as the promises it says “…We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.”

Guilt. Guilt is a strong and very negative emotion, but it is one I feel a lot with respect to my past. The way I treated my family, especially my kids. I stole time from them. Money indirectly by wasting so much on booze. I never gave them love in the way I should have, largely because I couldn’t do love as I had no concept of it and it meant giving a part of me. Giving anything of me to anyone was a major issue as I didn’t get the quid pro quo that goes with that. I could go on. No doubt many ex-drinkers like me look back with similar horror, remorse and guilt. I don’t know if we are any different generally from the rest of the world but I know that I’m very sensitive to how I’m perceived to have treated others, I have a conscience and it will constantly remind me when I’m out of step. Probably the biggest critic of my behaviour is me.

However I was sick, it is an illness that I simply couldn’t treat at the time and then the continual bombardment of my brain with alcohol was stopping it being able to grow and learn how to cope with emotions, responsibility and frankly learning how to cope with life.

So as I say very very rarely do I consider something for me would be better worded in The Big Book, it has stood the test of time for over 70 years now, hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of alcoholics have find sobriety through its pages so it is not to be criticised lightly.

For me however I think when I now hear that phrase read out – as it is at many many meetings – I’ll think to myself. “…We will not regret nor feel guilty about the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” For me that is an aspirational goal since as I say 5 years out of 25 years of drinking I do still harbour guilt about my actions in those times and I can only do something about it by continuing to work on myself and my place in the world, what I take and more importantly what I give back.

7 comments:

  1. guilt is unavoidable.
    and i think in very very wee tiny doses it can be good ( preemptive guilt , not past guilt )
    I really think it's the dwelling on the guilt thats so harmful ..its as bad as the alcoholism ( or whatever shitty thing you did to hurt anyone else)
    people who wallow in guilt are being just as self obsessed and selfish as they ever were..
    they're just a martyr now .
    so my darling furtheron..
    you were a shitty parent ..
    and yet your children are fine ..
    My kids are fabulous ..
    I use to say despite me ..
    but if i had been a suzy homemaker with fresh cookies in both hands ..
    maybe they wouldnt have been so fabulous ?

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  2. True Cynnie and as I say I'm trying to move on from this to feel that is past - now just get on with today... with the learnings of yesterday.

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  3. We all experience guilt-addicts or not.
    I am a survivor of divorce and I ask the same questions of myself that you do; in a different way.
    Did my actions as a married woman harm my family- ie;anger, frustration.
    Did I not see the signs of his infidelity? Could I have prevented it? Did I cause it?

    The guilt is universal; the situation personal. I am human as are you and we change and grow thru life experiences. One can only pay restitution as one sees fit. We all have regrets and have made huge errors-how you choose to overcome shows the true measure of a person.

    I wish you strength and peace in your journey and for myself in mine.

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  4. I get your point. I don't really see why you wouldn't want to shut the door on it either.

    Guilt is inevitable and regret is pointless but wouldn't shutting the door on it help? Or does having the door ajar stop you going down the same road again?

    You are very brave, strong and are repairing the damage every day. Your children love you and your wife must love you heaps! So you must be an okay guy!

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  5. @liz - I need the door left open to learn from it, to remember it else I might become complacent and suddenly think I'm cured and can go back there.

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  6. Liz - actually no, he's a right knob! Lol

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  7. Thanks Col - as ever I will think long and hard over your insightful, considered and empathetic comment. You ever considered counselling or the Samaritan? Or they still not talking to you after “black Monday”? :-)

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