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Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.” Making way for forgiveness is considered to be a hallmark of recovery. Search for the word “forgiveness” in the “Big Book”, Alcoholics Anonymous and you will find little to no mention of it. Those who adhere to 12-step programs will be familiar with the word “resentment” as that appears more often in the text. “Resentment is the ‘number one’ offender,” write the authors Bill W. and Dr. Bob Smith. “It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick.” The word ‘alcoholic’ can be quickly replaced to fit the specifics of your situation.

Spirituality is a key component in recovery from all conditions, whether it be trauma, alcoholism, addiction, eating disorders, or depression. The spiritual sickness the authors refer to is the dampened spirit developed out of emotions which are unresolved. Forgiveness can be seen as resolved resentment because forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past. Resentment, in this regard, can be seen as holding onto that hope, with a grudge.

Spirituality is defined as “the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things”. Neither resentment nor forgiveness are material. They can, however, be physical. When we hold onto a resentment, we feel it in our body. The bitterness that comes from withholding forgiveness sits in our bones, aches in our muscles, and weighs heavily on our hearts in our chest. We “hold it on” “hold onto it” and “keep it inside”. Forgiveness, on the other hand, feels light. Forgiveness is “letting go” “freeing” ourselves “letting it out” and “lifting the weight” off of our shoulders. These physical descriptions and their sensations are not coincidental. As spiritual as these principles are, they are remarkably physical and human.

Forgiveness is a way to free yourself moving into the new year. Work with your therapist or your twelve step sponsor to list all of your resentments and make a plan to find ways to forgive. Forgiveness is never condoning what has happened in your life, but recognizing you cannot control what has happened in the past any longer. In letting go of the control of the past, you take control of the present, and the future.

Your future is waiting for you on the other side of recovery. If you are struggling to cope with trauma and have found yourself in addiction or other related mental health issues, you are not alone. Your future is bright. Call The Guest House Ocala today for information on our residential treatment programs and concierge style care for the ultimate customized experience of healing. 1-855-483-7800