Michael R., Alumni
We’ve all heard that “we’re as sick as our secrets” and this seems all but certain, yet the entire notion of shame—for whatever reason—doesn’t usually seem to get quite as much attention as a topic of conversation in most of the 12 Step Meetings I attend. Still, when I look at the Program of Recovery with even a bit of objectivity it does seem largely geared toward the practice of confronting and removing those things in my life about which I have felt some degree of shame—and not always without reason.
Today I feel very grateful about my participation in a way of life that gives little or no support to the idea that shame is a good or life-giving idea and that there are things I can actively do to reduce its presence as a guiding motivator when it seems to want to re-establish its tyranny over me. Regret, even deep sorrow, is allowable when there remains the sincere willingness to amend my ways, thoughts and actions. Shame, not so much.
I did not get clean and sober to live under the cruel and crushing lash of shame—the idea, not that I’ve done wrong but that I am, in my essence, wrong.
What a gift it is—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly—to find myself believing in a Higher Power who wants me healthy and whole rather than living under the shadow of a pointless (and lifeless) sense of shame.
I think these topics have lately come to my mind because there has been a noticeable rash of relapse in the Meetings I regularly attend. I offer the above musings and thoughts to anyone out there who thinks that relapse (or thoughts thereof) are shameful. They’re not. They are just thoughts or actions that can be amended.
Trust me: I know.