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man-woman-talking-tableMany of us think that once we are leading a sober life, everything will be perfect. We will be happy, healthy, successful, even powerful. We may believe that once we take that first sober step leaving treatment, the stigma we once faced will be gone, and no one will judge us anymore. Unfortunately, that is simply not true. The work does not end just because we are no longer facing an active addiction.

Growing and working on yourself will continue for the rest of your life. You will not automatically feel great about yourself when you leave treatment. You should, however, feel incredibly proud that you took that step to focus on your mental health, trauma, and addiction. As you journey forward through recovery and living a sober lifestyle, you will come across different challenges. Having the tools and skills ready to face those situations will be the key to your success.

Shame and Guilt

Overcoming shame and guilt can be a lifelong process for some. We may feel guilty for all of our past choices when we had an active addiction. We probably hurt some of our loved ones by things we said and did. We broke promises, engaged in risky and dangerous behaviors, and thought little about those we were hurting with our behavior. We lost many relationships because of our addiction. Most of us were not thinking about long-term relationship repercussions at the time. We were only thinking about our active addiction.

Once you are no longer facing an active addiction, those feelings do not simply go away. We still feel shame that we had these struggles. We still feel guilty for what we did, even if it happened years ago. Learning to love yourself again is a process. Working to understand what the shame or guilt you are feeling represents can be one way to work through it. Your shame will mean different things than someone else’s shame. Take the time needed to dive deep into your thoughts and feelings. You put in a lot of terrific work healing from your addiction. You will probably be amazed, however, by how much more there is to discover about yourself.

Accepting Our Past

We cannot go back in time and change our past. Many of us would change the choices we made if we could. We may wish we had chosen different friendships, sought help earlier or took the time to learn more about our mental health issues. So many choices we made hinged on other choices, all resulting in severe consequences. We may be thankful for many decisions we made in our past and regretful of others. So much of our present could be different if our history changed.

The simple fact is we cannot go back and change our past; our only option is to work hard to accept it. When we accept our past, we can move forward in a healthy manner. Everyone has made choices they are not so proud of in life. Taking the time to understand why we did what we did is one way to start the healing process. When we accept our past, it can help us move beyond any shame that we may still be feeling. We also can work through guilt and resentment. You will be surprised how great you will feel with continued work on accepting your past.

Finding Support

The support we need to maintain our mental health and sobriety does not end when treatment for our addiction ends. Even as we journey through recovery and a life of sobriety, we will need support. For some, that support will look like groups or classes with those recovering from similar addictions. Having people around us who have gone through similar life experiences can be helpful and comforting. For others, that support may look like a network of family and friends. We all need someone to lean on. Having family and friends who support our journey is essential. Finally, for others, support will look like meeting with therapists or mental health professionals.

Finding the proper support for you as you live a life of health and sobriety is important. We are all different and need different help. Try to be open and honest with those around you. Others will not know your boundaries or the support you need if you are not open and honest about it. Sometimes telling others about our triggers and boundaries can make us feel weak. Fight those feelings. You are doing a fantastic job, and those around you want to help and support you.

Shame is a powerful emotion. Shame can make us feel like we are unworthy of good things. It may cause us not to pursue goals or make new friendships, or feel like we can rise above our past. Even after we have worked through active addiction, we still have work to do on ourselves. Working to accept our past is one area that takes many years for a lot of people. Learning to accept that you are not perfect and have not always made the best choices is powerful. Once we can accept who we are and what we have done, we can grow and become the person we have always wanted to be. Here at The Guest House, we know that continued work can be stressful and tiring. It is a big step to admit that you still need help. We are ready to give you the support you need regardless of where you are in the recovery process. Call us today to learn more about our different treatment options at (855) 483-7800.