Do I Deserve Forgiveness After Years of Addiction?

woman in recovery from addiction thinking if she can be forgiven

Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.” – Desmond Tutu

The topic of forgiveness in recovery tends to be a tense and apprehensive subject matter. Many of us begin sobriety with sordid pasts full of mistakes, hurt, betrayal and a history of wrongdoing. This is not just limited in our actions to others but to ourselves as well. Being in active addiction often comes with a reputation of compromised behaviors; this may not be applicable to all, but it certainly is for many.

Whatever the story is that you come into recovery with, you may ask yourself “Do I deserve forgiveness after years of addiction”?

I believe the key word in this statement is “DESERVE”. The definition of deserve is ‘to have earned or to be given something because of the way you have behaved or the qualities you have.’ With this understanding, I would like to reframe the initial question from ‘do I deserve forgiveness after years of addiction?’ to the question ‘what am I doing today to earn forgiveness in the future?’. This instead creates accountability and responsibility in the here and now. Sometimes loved ones will forgive us without our having earned it, but more often than not forgiveness takes conscious effort on our parts.

The hurts we have caused others typically require a formula of time and consistent action to begin the healing process. Time is something that we cannot rush or manipulate but we can put our best efforts towards taking consistent action. The best ways to show consistency are to remain sober and active in recovery, to continue no longer causing the same harms as were being caused in active addiction and to work on steadily being present and acknowledging one’s part in things. These things do not guarantee deserving of forgiveness, but they do go a long way in terms of possibly earning it from others.

a woman looking at herself in the mirror, critical of oneself concept

And deserving forgiveness from oneself? I know that as an addict I tend to be a harsher critic to myself than others are. I know the depths of the hurt that I have caused as well as being able to hurt myself more than anyone else can. Can I forgive myself for the things I have done? I believe I can. The greatest way I can forgive myself is by taking measure of the growth I have made in recovery and notice all the ways in which I am actively making amends to myself. Have I shown care for myself today? Have I acted in esteemable ways? Can I acknowledge growth in myself? Am I noticing that I’m no longer making the same mistakes as I used to make? When I can confidently say yes to these things then I recognize that I am worthy of grace from myself.

So, do you deserve forgiveness after years of addiction? This is entirely up to you! What are you willing to do in your recovery to become a person that acts and lives in dramatically different ways from those which you acted and lived in before? Are you willing to work for forgiveness or do you just expect it? How far are you willing to go to be the best version of yourself? Forgiveness is a valuable gift that I have received in my life that I honestly never anticipated. I cherish it and work towards making sure the people who have given me that gift of forgiveness never regret it. I hope you are on your journey to receiving forgiveness from others and from yourself as well!

Stairway Recovery Homes has multiple sober living homes located in Los Angeles, CA. We provide community-based recovery homes for both men’s sober living and women’s sober living. Recovery IS possible!

About Heidi Marcz

Director of Alumni and Case Management Heidi has been working in the field of addiction for the past 4 years, has a RADT and moonlights as a blogger and Brainpaint Neurofeedback Technician. If asked, there is nothing in the recovery field that Heidi won’t do to learn more or to be of service to the newcomers. As alumni and outreach coordinator, Heidi feels she has the unique opportunity to keep continuity in the community- even after people have finished their initial SUD programming. Events range from seasonal activities, fundraisers, service events and special interest activities. Heidi is excited to perpetually generate more community cohesiveness, fun & gratitude for others and herself.