Diary of a recovering addict: Pride and shame, the two sides of the same coin.

In the back of the Big Book used by various addiction recovery groups, there are stories from addicts in recovery to encourage others. To offer hope and to share the personal realities faced by people struggling addictions. Our hope is that these posts will encourage anyone struggling an addiction or supporting a loved one in recovery.

Shame and Pride, the two sides of the same coin.

One of my biggest struggles as an addict is the double- sided coin of pride and shame.

Pride was lost the moment I admitted that I was an addict. The shame of the addiction, the sense of failure, the conflict between personal beliefs and values that had been compromised and at times abandoned for the sake of soothing inner pain. The betrayal of trust. The pain inflicted on others through my brokenness. The moment I recognised that I have a problem that I can’t control. On one side this admission was the start of healing. The truth sets free after all.

There is a degree of self-respect and pride that returns, not arrogance, but sense of accomplishment that happens with clean time and seemingly being in a better space, relating well to others and feeling like getting back to a healthier life. And then the relapse. And the shame.

My last few relapses have been months apart. There has been no outward evidence supporting why they happen. That is because the cause of relapse is nobody else’s fault. It is mine to own. In active addiction, I looked to blame others, circumstances and avoid recognising what I had become. It is my pain and my struggle. But I can’t overcome it alone.

Trying to do it alone is when I don’t engage my support network. My family, my close friends, my recovery support-group, or my counsellor. Yes, there are that many people involved that I could reach out to. Without them my relapse chances are much greater. With them I am stronger. But then my shame kicks in and my pride with it. My shame is what fuels the relapse and my pride traps me in the cycle of shame. But it does not have to be this way.

When I have relapsed or acted out, my pride fights for some level of worth. Pride does anything to create the perception that I am not as bad as my failure makes out. Shame, the feeling of worthlessness and failure fuels pride and that manifests through deception. Lying. Lying to myself and to others.

The solution, be real, be honest, be truthful, reach out. There is no shame in honesty.

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