The Haunted House of the Past—When Mine Ceased to Haunt Me
I think everyone is haunted by their past at some point in their lives. Part of living is growing, learning, and evolving as a person. Part of that process is not only making mistakes and suffering failure but learning how to deal with it and handle it without living in a constant loop of regret. This becomes more difficult for addicts because when we are living in a way that continues to be destructive to our lives, we continue to live in regret, constantly questioning our whole reason for being. Being stuck in an ugly past while we keep living an ugly life is quite miserable, and it can affect an addict’s drive and willingness to get clean.
I thought about this when one of my favorite songs that came out when I was in high school played on the radio while I was driving recently. High school was before addiction took over my life, and I have always remembered it fondly. Being a part of the high school basketball team was something I cherished. When I was living in addiction, when something happened that would remind me of a time before addiction such as high school, I would feel sadness. I would feel lonely. It wouldn’t bring a smile to my face or a feeling of appreciation, it simply caused me to yearn for better days gone by, another constant reminder of how disappointing my life turned out to be.
That was the trap I always found myself in when it came to my past while living with addiction. My history as an addict didn’t bring about good feelings. I lived in constant regret and remorse for the things I did to continue feeding my addiction. The lies, the deceit, the manipulation, the stealing, the intoxicated behaviors. None of it felt good to think about, but I could never get it out of my head. When even the good memories caused me to feel the power of my addiction wrapped around me, squeezing the life out of me, I can safely say my past felt like my own haunted house of horrors, one in which I could never escape. But while I felt like I couldn’t escape, that wasn’t true. Escape is exactly what I did.
When I heard that song on the radio recently and thought about my days in high school, the first thing I did was smile. I was able to remember that time in my life and appreciate the good times I had. It didn’t make me yearn to go back or make me feel full of regret. I simply smiled as I fondly recalled some good times. When I think about my past as an addict today, it doesn’t make me cringe. While it does makes me appreciate the life I have today, I don’t have to sit in it and fill my head with regret or thoughts of what could have been. Today I appreciate my path for what it is, the perspective I’ve gained through my struggles and what it allows me to do as I strive to help others find their paths toward redemption.
My past no longer haunts me for one very simple reason, and that reason is because of the way I live my life today. It’s a perspective I was only able to gain after I got the help that was needed, cleaned up my life, and made some lasting changes. I’m genuinely proud of the life I have built for myself today through a dedication to do whatever was necessary to overcome my addiction, and with it, I have become not only comfortable with my past, but also at peace with it. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s no longer a haunted house of which I wish I could escape, it’s simply my life. If you or anyone you know is seeking help, please reach out.