I wish I could go back in time and change every single mistake that I have ever made.
Don’t we all?
Unfortunately, we don’t get a redo on life.
If you could go back in time and start over, would you still have used drugs?
Would you try to do something differently so you could successfully use?
This way you wouldn’t have gone to prison, or lost jobs, lost your friends, your loved ones, your child.
Or would you not use at all?
The fact is we can’t change the past. We faced addiction and are now recovering addicts. That’s a great start but, what about all the damage we have done? The debt, the legal issues, the destroyed relationships, health issues, and so on? The wreckage of the past will still be there. If you do not try to rectify the damage you have caused during active addiction it will bite you in the ass. Hard. The wreckage of the past does not disappear. If you try to ignore it then you aren’t changing anything. In fact, there are 3 things that every addict demolished in addiction that we can amend in recovery. The first 3 things that every recovering addict wants to fix and needs to fix.
If you are in early recovery, you want to try to fix everything that you have messed up. First things first, take the time to concentrate on yourself and your own needs. Do not overwhelm yourself or the potential for relapse will be nipping at your feet. Once you feel secure in your recovery, not complacent but, secure. You can then start working on trying to amend the gigantic pile of wreckage that you accumulated over the years of active drug addiction. The wreckage of the past encompassed a wide range of things in your life. Start at the beginning with these three things (in no specific order, whatever is most important to you).
1. Financial Issues
3. Legal Issues
No one said recovery is easy. In most treatments, you will hear the phrase. Put as much effort and time into your recovery as you did to your addiction. I hate that saying but, it’s true. Most of us ran hard. Getting heroin or other drugs was an all day all night job. It was a mission that we took part in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We never took a break. We would not slow down, we would not stop. That being said, it won’t kill you to work on repairing these past issues. That is if you can.
As a recovering addict, you are working on building a life for yourself. A life that you only dreamed of. Let me tell you that it is possible. Even for those of us with financial problems, no family or friends, and a criminal record. Yes, that was me in early recovery. I’m living proof that people can change. Life does get better even when you think it won’t.
“WORK ON REPAIRING THE DAMAGE. THEN, THE WRECKAGE OF THE PAST WILL BE EXACTLY THAT – THE PAST!”
Wreckage of the Past – Financial Issues
Speaking from personal experience, if you are like any other heroin addict, the money was gone as soon as it was in your hand. It burnt a hole in your pocket while you were on your way to score. Sadly, that’s just the beginning of your money troubles.
You don’t have a checking account, definitely not a savings account. Credit, what’s that? You maxed out every credit card you had and have no chance of getting another one. Bad credit, no credit, it doesn’t matter. Your credit is long gone. Financial advisors are in disbelief at how low your credit score is.
Repairing Your Financial Situation
Your financial problems will not disappear. You can push them aside, only to let the bills, fines, and collections stack up. Although that isn’t fixing the problem. That’s only hiding it.
Take it slowly. In early recovery, most of us are broke. Dead broke. That being said, get a job. It may not be your dream job. I’m sure you haven’t worked in quite some time. On top of the fact that you may have a criminal record and most companies do background checks these days means it may not be an easy task either.
You have to prove your worth, your credibility. Start at a minion job if need be. I was a waitress in addiction and in early recovery. It’s not bad money. Plus, you can save quite a lot of money quickly. Once you start seeing that money pile up, you will love it. That’s when you can begin to repair your financial situation.
- open a checking account/savings account
- put aside money every month for basic needs (bills, utilities, rent, gas, food, etc.)
- check your credit score out – Here’s an awesome post on a simple way to repair your super bad credit
- pay all bills and financial obligations on time
- start paying off your credit debt little by little
- pay all fines for obvious reason
- set aside money for an emergency fund
Wreckage of the Past – Legal Issues
If you are one of the few recovering addicts fortunate enough to never have any legal issues then congratulations. I applaud you on that. Unfortunately, the majority of us have been to jail, are on probation or parole, or spend years in prison.Enough of that, let me explain. At the end of my first year of sobriety. I was off of both parole and probation. Luckily, when you are sober, you have nothing to hide. Now you can report to parole without failing drug tests. It is legal to take methadone with a prescription. Plus, you have money to pay your fines. That’s it. The end. It’s really that simple. It was us as addicts that made it difficult. Don’t commit any more crimes and you won’t go back to jail. Easy to do, right? Right.
It’s heartbreaking and unnerving to think about the things that we have done for money. Anything from shoplifting, home invasions, to prostitution. Addiction drives people to commit crimes. Nobody wants to go to prison or be on house arrest or parole for all eternity. Sadly, it’s another aspect of addiction.
I was on parole and probation in multiple counties. At the end of my first year of sobriety. I was off of both parole and probation after being on paper for over a decade. I never reported to my parole officer so I almost always had a warrant out for my arrest.
Luckily, when you are sober, you have nothing to hide. Now you can report to parole without failing drug tests. All you have to do is stay up to date on your court costs, restitution, and fines. Set up a payment plan. That’s it. The end.
It’s really that simple. It was us the addiction that made it seem difficult. Don’t commit any more crimes and you won’t go back to jail. Easy to do, right? Right.
Wreckage of the Past – Relationships
The relationships we destroyed in our addiction are something that we need to amend. I can’t speak for anybody but myself. Personally, I still cry when I think about some of the things that I have done. The people who we hurt due to drugs is unbelievable. From our family to complete and total strangers. All to get that next hit.
Being in recovery, do you ever ask yourself if all the hurt that you have caused was really worth it? Do you ever wonder if destroying someone else’s life or violating their security was worth getting a bundle of dope?
Addicts hurt many people, friends, relatives, kids, elders, and so on. An addict may not physically hurt another person but, emotional damage can leave a much deeper scar. So, how do we fix this? How do we make amends to all the people that we have hurt over the course of our addiction?
The first relationships you should work on mending are those with your family. My parents were in and out of my life for years due to my addiction. Towards the end, they finally gave up. There was nothing more they could do. It was up to me.
I hurt my parents, my siblings, and my grandparents more than I would like to admit. Your family may forgive you rather quickly. Then again, they may not. It depends on quite a few factors.
- Whether or not you live with them.
- How long you have been in active addiction.
- How many time they have bailed you out of jail and other legal situations.
- The amount of money you owe them.
- What items you have stolen off of them.
- The amount of damage you have caused them personally.
- Any financial consequences they have suffered due to your addiction.
- And the list goes on.
When it comes to your family, they just might be giving you tough love. It’s understandable. How many times have you said you were clean only to relapse again? What is different about this time?
You have to earn their forgiveness, their respect, and their trust. They need physical proof. They need to see the difference, know that you are for real this time.
If you stay in recovery, continue progressing, your family will come around. Meanwhile, remember they always will love you. It might just take a lot more to finally forgive you.
Do you ever think about those people who you used to be friends with? Those people who turned around and went the opposite way once they discovered you were a drug addict.
I am not friends with a single person that I was before my addiction. Those girls that I thought would be my besties forever. When they found out I was a heroin addict, they turned their heads and never looked back. They didn’t want to be involved in it. I messed up my one friend’s checking account (which I fixed the following week when I got paid). I used to think that it was their fault, real friends would always be there.
The more I grow up, the more I have learned that friends come and go. It’s the sad truth. I don’t know many people at all that are still friends with the people they grew up with. People change. People move on. They start careers, they start their own families. They grow up.
It’s really as simple as that.
As for the acquaintances you had in your addiction. They are not your friends. Plain and simple. Now that you are clean, they want nothing to do with you. Forget about it.
People in recovery support one another. Not just in the rooms and in meetings. If you meet a person and you find out they are also a recovering addict, you instantly have a connection. You will build friendships that last a lifetime.
Friends of the past, addicts, and non-addicts are exactly that, in the past. You can smile and say hi whenever you cross paths but honestly, it won’t be much more than that.
Work on building new relationships with people in similar situations, like-minded individuals in long-term recovery. I have met some amazing women in recovery from this blog. Strong women that I am grateful to be able to call my friend. Work on building new relationships, with new people.
The Innocent Bystander
Besides the harm I caused to my family, these are the people I cry about. The people who I hurt and didn’t even know. That I still do not know.
If you fell deep enough into addiction, chances are you became a criminal. Think about the things you have stolen. A purse out of a parked car. A little kids piggy bank. An elder woman’s handbag. You saw a woman putting her wallet in her child’s diaper bag and took it when she was putting the baby in the car seat. What were you thinking? Truthfully, only that it was a way and means to get dope.
Clean and sober, think about the consequences for those people. How some of those items had money while other’s didn’t. Yet, the person could have lost an item with an emotional attachment and you took it. Chances are that you took any money and then tossed the rest out as garbage.
These are the things that I think about. The stuff that tortures me after being sober for years. Now, that I have my family back and have children of my own. The sentimental side of things gets to me. I still ask my grandparents if they forgive me for the things I did. They have told me that they forgive me over and over again.
I believe the problem is that I don’t forgive myself. A part of me probably never will. Yet, I have to move on.
How do I make amends to these innocent people who I never met? The answer is simple. I pray about it. I keep these people in my prayers by asking my higher power to tell them how sorry I am. To explain why I justified the situation at the time and I know it was wrong. I ask them and God for forgiveness over and over again, in my prayers. That’s all you can do.
Repairing The Wreckage
The easiest part of recovery is getting clean. Unfortunately, recovering addicts deal with the aftermath of their addiction for years after they have they have become sober. The wreckage of the past doesn’t disappear. Thankfully, recovering addicts know that they must make amends with the people they hurt and try to repair the destruction they have done.
In addiction, we ran from these problems. Even looked at our wreckage as more of a reason to use. In recovery, we now know that there are other ways to deal with our problems. We work on repairing the wreckage of the past and it makes us a better person, a stronger person. Recovering addicts are able to admit their mistakes and make amends with those we can. The more you work on repairing the wreckage of the past, the easier it gets. Then one day, the wreckage of the past is no more. Finally, it is nothing more than the past.
Leave a comment and let me know how you deal with the wreckage of your past. Or drop me a line if you need help dealing with your own personal wreckage. If you don’t want to publicly post a message, then send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always here to help.