Look back with hope…

photo albums

A member here once wrote a powerful update about the crap day she'd had the day before. She'd managed her way through without drinking with the help of various strategies (chocolate, online shopping, ice-cream). She recounted the day, wrote honestly and proudly about the fact she hadn't had a drink, and finished with the brilliant line; "today is a new day and I will not carry the broken pieces of yesterday around with me." I thought this such a beautiful sentence and such a gorgeous sentiment.

I will not carry the broken pieces of yesterday around with me.

There's such a temptation for us to drag ourselves down feeling bad about things that have happened and things that we've done - yesterday or in years gone by. Shitty decisions, bad choices, awful arguments, dumb reactions. And in the case of us alcoholics - sooooooo much boozing and over-indulging and numbing and stumbling and slurring and avoiding.

I look back over my life sometimes and feel quite sad at all the boozing I've done. Almost every memory from every big event is clouded by booze (either I can't remember it that well or I remember only too well how wasted I got). My photo albums are full of images of me smiling and looking happy but I look at them now and often just recall how hammered I was, and think how sad it was that I was numbing myself constantly. Why did I have to accompany every moment, every life event with alcohol? Why was wine my best friend?

I know I shouldn't beat myself up too much. I know I should be grateful (and believe me, I am) that I have discovered the joy of living  raw and fully in touch with my emotions. I know I should feel proud of myself for turning my life around and getting myself sober. And I do. But I have in the past sometimes felt sad when I look back at my drinking years. What the hell was I doing?

But lately I've been turning that around. Lately I've decided not to look back with sadness and regret, but rather with kindness and hope. I can't change who I was. But I can regard her with sympathy, understanding and a huge measure of hope and awe.

In some ways this is radical self-acceptance. Reframing how I look back at my life and all the boozing I did. I want to feel kindly toward my past boozy self. I don't want to carry the broken pieces of yesterday around with me.

So now I feel warmly towards the old, boozy, me. She didn't know how to process tough emotions. She didn't know how to embrace all of life's ups and downs. She didn't know that it was important to let sadness, anger and other gritty emotions have their place.

I admire the stamina that the old me had, and her desire to make life fun. I sympathise that she was unaware of the impact her heavy, steady boozing was having on her whole experience of life.

But most of all I look back at the old me and feel hopeful and proud. Because I know that she's going to turn things around.

What about you? How can you re-frame how you look back at your past drinking self, so that you feel kindly - not judgmental - about the 'you' that you once were?

  1. Sansa 4 years ago

    It was meant for me to read this tonight. I was just thinking last night, I wish I had made my FIRM decision to be sober so much earlier in my life. I had a wonderful childhood and I often thought why can’t I get back to who I was then, happy, AF. Then I read this tonight and said I am so ashamed of the broken pieces that I think nothing good happened since then. But good things did happen and will happen if I sift thru the past and take those jagged sharp pieces of glass and carefully wrap them and know where I put them so they can’t cut me again. Now I can walk among my memories and know that I am worth it and can live again in peace, joy and be totally present. Thank you, Mrs. D!

  2. MāoriGirlSober 4 years ago

    Love this so much . After I read this I ran my fingers through my old photos albums and forgave myself for who I used to be and I who I am becoming.

  3. kitten 4 years ago

    Thank you for the fabulous post, @mrs-d, I have struggled so much with what a mess I have made of my past, even when I was drinking, the world was so finite, why bothering quitting, death was around the corner anyway. I thought about dying daily. I was sick. I look at my life and realize that even with all that, I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I am blooming right where I am at. This is my new season.

  4. Sober4real 4 years ago

    Absolutely love this @mrs-d. I needed to hear this today, thank you. Reframing our past and having compassion for ourselves is so critically important to move forward with grace. We are now examples to others and we learn so much about ourselves, our emotions and lessons learned through this process. We beat ourselves up while drinking enough as it was – no need for that to continue on. Learning from our mistakes and embracing our past selves with compassion is a critical success factor in moving forward on a positive path. xoxoxoxoxo

  5. Erica 4 years ago

    Thank you for this. I am new in my sobriety and recognizing that I did have many of those memories you spoke of. And am working on creating a “new normal”. Thank you for these posts it has assisted me in acceptance…moving forward n owning…n starting anew.

  6. JM 4 years ago

    I like this post a lot @mrs-d! The past brought us to here, obvious, but I don’t have to soak it w shame and regret. I definitely have some. But there was a time when drinking opened up horizons and fuelled good conversations and did inspire fun back when I lived in Hong Kong. But upon returning home, I relied so heavily on it, it narrowed my existence, and I was trapped in the drunk, thinking about getting drunk, being horribly hungover, being mad at myself for months about something stupid done or said. It started and ended a lot of relationships. With the right guy, my husband, it played a part in the start of our relationship, but I knew if I wanted my marriage to work, and for me to have any kind of life, the booze had to go. Thanks for a great, thoughtful post. Xoxo to all

  7. Tom4500 4 years ago

    Loved this, and the responses it inspired. Powerful stuff.

  8. connilynn 4 years ago

    So much help right now. How many precious moments have I lost because I wasn’t present for them?

  9. Noodle71 4 years ago

    God I do needed to read this. Everyday I think about a stupid act I did when I was 17 years old, blitzed out of my brains, for money to buy more alcohol. Nobody got hurt but it was stupid horrible act that was so totally out of character, everyday 31 years later every single day I think of it, how it’s totally shadowed who I am all my life. I’ve never ever been able to feel proud of myself at any time no matter what I do or achieve. Reading this has brought some comfort, I do look back at myself and recognise a screwed up young person, already in the grips of drink and drugs, and reeling from an abusive family situation, with no self respect or self worth, I can’t blame others for my actions but a bad crowd and a ton of encouragement led me down a path otherwise I would never once stepped one foot on. I look back and my heart goes out to her, and it breaks knowing what the next 30 years have in store for her. However here she is, out of the fire and looking forward. But anyway enough of my ramblings, awesome perspective, it puts a lot to bed for me, thanks xx

  10. Winner 4 years ago

    Awesome and inspiring as always @mrs-d❤️❤️

  11. R51 4 years ago

    This is a huge struggle of mine. My guilt and shame paralyze me some times. It’s when I look back at alllll the pain I caused my husband and 4 kids. Me – I’m ok. It’s my loved ones that I lose sleep over. I just have to keep forging ahead sober and all I can do is pray that my new sober memories that I’m creating will outweigh the nasty old ones for them. It’s hard tho not to beat myself up. Thank you @MrsD for helping us with your thoughts and words of encouragement.

  12. JR 4 years ago

    I love this post. Shame and regret is the power of the enemy and we need to let it go and LIVE forward. Hard to do with all that shame/regret weight. I needed this today.

  13. Poppy88 4 years ago

    Good question! Even just tonight I was recollecting (not fondly unfortunately) a particular scene in my past with booze as the lead role. The further I get into my sobriety the more I can accept the past and say goodbye and thanks, to the memories, and move on. There is the odd cringe moment still, but most importantly I am forging ahead without the anxiety, guilt and sorrow I felt almost daily and have started to make brand new memories and surviving the hard times in a sober world. I’ll take that any day and I bless every day with the fact that alcohol does not rule my life anymore. So a very good question mrs D. Nice to reflect and reframe when needed. Thanks 🙂

  14. Saoirse 4 years ago

    Hi @MrsD love this because it is at times something I struggle with. I bought a fridge magnet at a market a couple of months ago because it covered this in part anyway. It says “Don’t stumble over something behind you”, I liked it because no matter how much I regret my past actions I can’t turn back the past, I can only not repeat it and continue forward learning and trying to be my best self.
    I am enjoying the self discovery process mostly and am happy with my warts and all me!! Some lessons are very hard to learn but once learned they tend to stick with us and make us stronger, better people.
    Much love❤️

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