Accepting Forgiveness


notperfectDrinking took me to places that a woman like me — white, middle-class, college-educated — never thought she’d be. Renter’s court. Criminal court. You know, THOSE kinds of places. At the time I thought that the world was against me. And so, to combat the world, I drank more. It’s what alcoholics do.

I almost lost everything. EVERYTHING. I am still, over four years later, putting many of the pieces of my shattered life back together. A few of them I just swept up and tossed in the trash, like the “friends” I used to drink with and the bars I used to frequent. Those pieces, the ones that don’t matter, the ones that never should have mattered, were easily discarded.

The relationships that do matter, that should have mattered more, those fractures are not so easily fixed. Cobbling them back together may take a lifetime. Regaining the trust that the people closest to me lost while I was lost in whatever bottle I could get my hands on, that’s the trickier part of recovery.

I had no idea that the actual act of giving up alcohol would be the easier part of the healing process. That the hard part would be the aftermath is not something they focus on in rehab. In rehab they tell you to put yourself first. I found this advice to be counterproductive. Because, really, that’s what addicts do, have always done — put themselves first. In order to get healthy, I needed to start putting other people first.

I needed, first and foremost, to stop feeling resentful. Instead, I needed to be grateful — to actually FEEL grateful. Grateful to the people who stood by me. Grateful for having done no irreparable physical harm to anyone other than myself. Grateful for being given the second chance that many addicts never are. Grateful just to be.

There is still not a day that goes by that I am not smacked in the face with the realization that I can NEVER have another drink. Not one single day. I don’t know if this ever ends. I don’t know that it should. I know that I must acknowledge this feeling and then I must move on from it before it incapacitates me. It’s really all I can do. There’s no magic to it. It’s just what my life is.

That’s the bad. Forgiveness is the good. Whether through words or deeds, I have managed to receive forgiveness from the people who my drinking affected most adversely. My husband. My child. They are truly special people.

And friends. The good ones. The kind ones. The generous ones. The funny ones. They persevered. They saw me through. They, too, have forgiven me.

My life is far better and infinitely richer because I am able, every day, to accept their gifts of forgiveness. And, because they have, every last one of them, given this gift so freely, I do my part by making every attempt to be a humble and grateful recipient.

photo credits:
Not perfect…

65 thoughts on “Accepting Forgiveness

  1. Jackie – thank God for your sobriety and the insight to realize that the healing that comes is a huge process and well worth the journey. You’ve articulated this so well and I’m forwarding this post to my recovery group. Rock on with the process!

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  2. […] see, last week I read a wonderfully brave post by Ambling and Rambling, about how she has fought her way through the tangled mists of alcoholism and is now living a […]

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  3. […] Other posts that I’d like to see get more attention: Why I Get Out of Bed in the Morning The Sounds of the Season A Few of the Reasons That I Am Who I Am Accepting Forgiveness […]

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  4. 2daystheday says:

    Congratulations on your sobriety and for posting this blog of inspiration and hope for others. Take care!

    Like

  5. […] see, last week I read a wonderfully brave post by Ambling and Rambling, about how she has fought her way through the tangled mists of alcoholism and is now living a […]

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  6. priancaj says:

    Felt wonderful reading this. Everything that ends on a positive note is fantastic. 🙂
    Congratulations!

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  7. javaj240 says:

    Thank you, Haralee!

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  8. haralee says:

    Congratulations on your sobriety.

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  9. Jackie, this takes courage. and I agree with you on all points. As the child of two alcoholics who could never escape and eventually died of it, I can tell you that you really have done something heroic.
    Karen

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  10. There isn’t anyone who can’t take something from this post. I hope when you are lonely in your battle, you’ll come back and read these words. I guarantee, others will. You have my complete respect for what you’ve done and for writing about it.Onward.

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  11. There is nothing more beautiful than honestly. I am going to share this with a friend going through a very similar time. And, each of us has some rabbit hole into which we fall — because of bad choices. I love that you battled your way back, and I salute your strength. Thank you!

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  12. Ellen Dolgen says:

    So wonderful that you can put your experiences into writing – and use your craft of writing in a way that can be therapeutic, and also relay your courageous story to others. Thank you for sharing!

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  13. This I such a brave post. My older sister is at about the same stage as you right now. Yes, the never having a drink again saddens her. But she’s plugging along, repairing what she can and accepting her mistakes for those she can’t. True and sincere wishes for the very best for you as you move forward.

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    • javaj240 says:

      Thank you.

      Accepting my mistakes, being grateful, allowing myself to accept the forgiveness of others —- all part and parcel of learning to forgive myself. And these things definitely outweigh the never having a drink again thing. Definitely!

      Like

  14. wedelmom says:

    What a wonderful and honest piece of writing. Thank you for sharing part of yourself with us. I’ve always admired your honesty and your ability to be who you are with no pretense. I think the world would be a far better place would we all practice this quality.
    Accept my congratulations on traveling this far in your journey. It takes true bravery to confront an addiction and change who we were becoming. You are one amazing lady!

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    • javaj240 says:

      Thank you so much. This post was scary to publish. I really wrestled with whether or not I should share it or not — mainly because it’s such a departure from what I normally write. I knew that I could count on the usual cast of characters to be supportive ( of which you are one!), but I was afraid it might bring a few naysayers over here. I still fear being judged — even by strangers. So stupid, really.

      Thank you for being always having something nice to say!

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      • wedelmom says:

        I can imagine how hard it was to publish. I have to constantly remind myself that life is not an event which is scored so those who have set themselves up to judge really don’t matter. You be who you are…and wack anyone who wants to judge you with their scoring paddle! 😉

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  15. Amanda Fox says:

    Also, I’m discovering that this IS what writing is all about. People want to read about truth, honesty, etc. They want to see what’s in people’s souls. Because then they don’t feel so alone.

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    • javaj240 says:

      Agreed. This is much harder than writing about raccoons, laundry, and hair dye, though — I’ll tell you that! Also, I don’t know that I could write this type of thing ALL the time. I’ll mix t up a bit, though.

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  16. Amanda Fox says:

    I meant to read this yesterday. Just didn’t have time. So glad I got to read it today. It is a wonderful piece.

    What struck me the most was when you said that what you thought would be the hard part actually wasn’t the hardest. But isn’t that the way of life? You think things will be a certain way, and then wham, you get totally sideswiped by something else.

    Strong woman, you are.

    This writing thing can be very liberating. Glad you did it. 🙂

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    • javaj240 says:

      You are correct, as usual, Fern! We very often underestimate the “easy” stuff and overestimate the “hard” stuff. Because we think we know stuff — as if.

      As to writing being “liberating”? I definitely underestimated how life-altering the writing would be for me. I love it. I don’t know how I lived all those years without doing it. Maybe I wasn’t really living?

      Thanks, as always, for being oe of the first people who believed in me. I will be forever grateful to you for that!

      Like

  17. Cathy says:

    Ah, my friend, I knew the first time I met you what a deep, courageous and honest soul you were. But I didn’t know anything about the difficulties you endured before I met you. Now I know I was right with my first instincts.

    Jackie, I applaud you for wearing your heart on your sleeve via this post. As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, there’s more right with you than wrong. I see your light and I know your journey, from here on in, will be a golden one surrounded by the love and comfort of loyal family and good friends. I hope you count me among them.

    Kudos to you. As I said in one of my pieces, baby steps forward…

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    • javaj240 says:

      Thank you, Cathy. Of course I consider you a friend. I have so enjoyed your company on both occasions that we were together. I am really enjoying getting to know you better.

      Your encouragement and acceptance mean a great deal to me, especially considering that you are someone who I knew immediately was in touch with her spiritual side!

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  18. ohlidia says:

    It takes a lot to open yourself up and put yourself out there with your most personal life story. You are truly remarkable and may your journey remain a happy and peaceful one!

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    • javaj240 says:

      Thank you so much. Happy and peaceful — that’s what I’m aiming for. Sad and miserable would just be a colossal waste of time.

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      • ohlidia says:

        It would be a major waste of time, but sometimes we forget and it’s easy to fall into that dark pit. I keep telling myself that we can’t be happy all of the time, that would be impossible. We just need to take a moment and find that one small thing that makes us happy throughout our day. A ray of sunshine warming up my face, my daughters laughter, a crocus taking its first peek through the snow. Little things.

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        • javaj240 says:

          Happiness is a choice. No doubt about that. I could totally use a crocus sighting about now. I’ll tell you that. This winter has been a bitch-and-a-half!

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  19. Weeping Oak says:

    So many things that you wrote resonated for me. My marriage was a “casualty of addiction.” My ex-husband clung to the idea of “putting himself first,” and so, when he wanted a drink, he had one. He rarely thought of the effect his drinking had on our family. And he never got the humility he needed to get sober and stay sober. Not sure if you’ve seen my blog, but it’s mostly about the effect it has had on me and the children. I enjoyed your writing and will keep reading!

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    • javaj240 says:

      I’m sorry that your ex-husband never got nor stayed sober.

      I’ve not seen your blog, but will definitely hop on over! Perhaps not today, as I am on my out to work a 12-hour shift in a few minutes, but I will get to it — I promise! (And the non-drinking me is a woman of her word!)

      Thank so much for stopping by and for commenting. I am always happy to hear that something I have written has resonated with someone. Of course, most of the time I write about laundry, raccoons, and the trials and tribulations of raising an adolescent daughter — this is the first time that I have ever published anything so serious (or so personal). So, if you are into the former, you should enjoy wandering around my blog; if you are more in the market for the latter, there is no shortage of recovery blogs out there. This just isn’t one of them (not normally, anyway)! LOL!

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  20. Jackie, (I knew that was your name from that “Progressive Lenses” piece you did that got published on a different site but wasn’t sure if you wanted me throwing it around here. Now I see everyone is calling you that!) Anyway, another great writing piece! We all have our battles and inner demons and how we deal with them or hopefully overcome them truly shapes who we are as people. Sometimes it’s for the better and sometimes for the worse…From what I can tell by your writing you have truly benefited by this experience both as a good, honest person and creatively. Good for you!

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    • javaj240 says:

      You can throw my name around anytime, Melissa! LOL! It’s funny, in the beginning when I was writing (mostly) fluff and dreck, I so carefully guarded my identity. Now? Not so much — even though I am writing things that are far more personal. I suppose part of it is that I have a certain comfort level, particularly with the regular cast of characters with whom I interact; another part is that as I write more, find my voice, I find that I don’t want to hide. I’ve become comfortable with the honesty. That’s a good thing.

      Once in a while, at least for me, I need to throw in a more serious piece. How many posts can I do about laundry? Or raccoons? Or crappy customers. I’ll never run out of that material, that’s for sure, but there are days when I’m not “feeling” that kind of post. Even though those posts are (mostly) honest, as well.

      For me, it’s about striking a balance. I don’t want, never wanted, this to be a recovery blog. Because then I will just spend even more time thinking about drinking. That’s not the healthiest thing, at least not for me. And, really, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to wallow in self-pity with me day after stinking day! I’m sure they have their own wallowing to do!

      As always, I thank you for your kind words and your generosity of spirit!
      They mean the world to me.

      Like

  21. Lois says:

    Beautiful, brave, inspiring post. I send out lots of love, admiration and good thoughts to you, and know a lot of readers will be grateful to you for sharing your story so honestly.

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  22. javaj240 says:

    “Creative, passionate, intense, and edgy”. Wow. You nailed it! Years of practice, I gather. LOL!

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  23. peachyteachy says:

    My marriage was a casualty of addiction, but it also brought me to Al-Anon, which was probably the most significant event in my spiritual development. It’s no wonder I love you so much!

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    • javaj240 says:

      Because I did not want my marriage to become as you so beautifully put it, “a casualty of addiction” and because I wanted my kid to have a more functional mother (I was pretty functional early in her life… there were a couple of bad years, but I usually reserved my major drinking for once she was asleep) I HAD to get my shit together. For myself, too, but mostly for them.

      AA will tell you that you can’t (or worse, that you “shouldn’t”) stop drinking for other people. I wholeheartedly disagree. Ultimately it has to “work” for you, too, but there is no question in my mind that I’d probably still be drinking if the threat of losing them if I continued wasn’t a consequence.

      You are a very interesting woman. I would think, given what you went through, that you would respect me less. But, then again, I’m fucked up and have a lot to learn (and I know it!). So, it’s good that I am surrounded, both in real world and in the “virtual world, by generous, forgiving, and loving folks, such as yourself.

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      • peachyteachy says:

        That which made me ripe for Al-Anon is the fact that I happen to be one of the human beings who loves addictive people. Almost exclusively, especially if you’re talking romance. What’s not to love (until things get ugly)? Creative, passionate, intense, with an edgy sense of humor. I can pick em out of a crowd by my reaction to their sarcastic remark–love it!
        I agree with what you said about doing it for someone else, too. Definitely possible, because there’s so much overlap in other and self with our loved ones.

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  24. Wow, this is raw. Well done for having the nerve to post this. And for having the insight. I’m glad you have friebnds like you have. I know how important they can be for me, and I have a bit of insight now into how important they are for you

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    • javaj240 says:

      Thank you very much. Your feedback is always welcome! Family and friends (even internet ones!) are important to us all.

      Like

      • I used to be very VERY sceptical about internet ‘friendships.’ No longer. If for no other reason than that net ‘friends’ tend not to judge, they just do what they do, read you, read me, because they like what we write. I think that’s way cool now, and I never expected it to happen to me.

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        • javaj240 says:

          Well, I think that bloggers who support each other and, in so doing, develop “friendships” is different than people who meet in chat rooms. I hope that we, as a community, already have more in common than a couple of folks in some chat room that discover a mutual love of peanut butter.

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          • I couldn’t agree more. At the end of january I had a very very public meltdown on my blog. Next day i was bloody mortified, almost decided to never go online again.Know what? Nothing but support and understanding from all my fellow bloggers. They made me feel better about myself with their unswerving support and loyalty.A humbling experience. Very life affirming

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  25. What a powerful, honest post Jackie. And although I don’t know if you actually said it- I think you are tremendously brave. It takes courage to accept where you are and just be grateful for that. My best hopes are with you, as you are an inspiration to me.

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    • javaj240 says:

      Thank you. I never called myself “brave”. Mostly because I honestly don’t feel brave. I feel peaceful. I feel grateful. I sometimes, still, feel resentful. Never brave, though. Thank you for your kind words and your “hopes”. I will try to live up to them!

      Like

  26. rossmurray1 says:

    Brave and strong. Good for you. We’re here if you ever need us.

    Like

  27. Beautiful post. I really connect with what you write – I feel as though I went through (and continue to go through) a very similar journey during my recovery from my eating disorders. I am right here with you. ❤

    Like

    • javaj240 says:

      All addiction journeys are similar. It’s in those commonalities that we find the strength (in our sheer numbers) to continue with the journey that is recovery. Thanks for always being “right there with me”. I always know you’re there! I can feel it.

      Like

  28. Rick says:

    Congratulations on the success of your journey. My best friend just celebrated his 22nd year of sobriety. You will reach that point, too.

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  29. Emily says:

    What a lovely and honest post. Your attitude on being grateful is inspiring and can be such a wonderful lesson for anyone struggling with an addiction.

    Like

    • javaj240 says:

      I had a particularly “bad” couple of days recently… it happens.(I didn’t drink, just allowed myself a bit of wallowing!) I wrote this post to remind myself that remaining humble, that accepting forgiveness, that living up to my own expectations, as well as that of others, is the most important thing that I can do for myself and for the people that love me. Thanks for your kind words.

      Like

  30. mindy says:

    Congratulations, Jackie for making that difficult trip back to sobriety. What an amazingly honest depiction of your journey and self-discovery. Good luck to you in all your future successes.

    Like

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