**This story was inspired by the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
Recently I traveled back home to Virginia to celebrate the life of my step-mom, 97 years of life.
Before going home, I would have stated the above travel as “to bury my step-mom” or “to mourn her passing.”
Before traveling, I read my daily meditation booklet for my birthday 9/12 (I would attend the funeral on 9/13/16), and this is what it said to some degree:
Handle the old tapes with care, releasing the past, come to terms with the abuse and abandonment of childhood days, not reliving the past in a resentful, self-pity mood. This is destructive and self-centered behavior. We neither can, nor completely, erase the past but we can turn it over to our higher power, discuss it with a friend, transform the experience, practice forgiveness, and seek the knowledge received from our experience in order to share and grow.
Before reading this, I did not wish to travel back home. I was full of guilt, shame, remorse, remembering the things I did, the behavior, incarceration, over 13 years of imprisonment, and another three to four years of rehab (alcohol, heroin, and crack addict, over 25 years of addiction).
Even in recovery, for quite some time, avoidance was my answer to feeling the shame, the guilt, and remorse. I didn’t even realize how I was still regretting the past and wishing to shut the door on it, because earlier in recovery I had traveled home to make my amends. So now I’ll call on holidays, birthdays, and if something happened, I’d give excuses why I could not come to visit, or why I am unable to travel, and send cards or money.
Regretting the past had led me to have a family by name only. Going home was an awakening. I realized that my self-centeredness had separated me from my family. I remember coming in and my sponsor asked me when was the last time I contacted my father. I said, “Not in about three or four years.” He said, “Don’t you think parents worry about their kids, regardless of what they have done? Let’s write a letter to just let him know that you are safe and living well.” This was the start of a new beginning and an amends to my father that would reunite us until his passing three years ago.
I am not the person of my past. The shame and guilt I have are battle scars and part of my experience, strength and hope today to share. I have the opportunity to make living amends by repenting from the old behaviors and developing new behaviors that will include staying in contact with family, being responsible, living life on life’s terms to its fullest.
Embracing the love and being willing to give and receive it, I was able to make amends while visiting during my travel, renew old bonds and start new bonds.
Facing the past and embracing today, one step and one day at a time, is key for moving forward, and it is never too late to make amends and learn about self.