Accepting Missed Opportunities And Lost Time Are Part Of Addiction Recovery
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve felt awful about my missed opportunities and lost time. When I was in active addiction, I missed a magical semester abroad, friends’ weddings, and so many family and friend events. I quit jobs I couldn’t handle, left relationships I wasn’t ready for. There were windfalls of money squandered, and so many things I was just too scared to try. Who knows what missed opportunities I had because I didn’t even show up that day? The point is, I have a lot to feel bad about. I know many of us feel this way too and often play the compare and despair game. But, that is not useful. Here’s the truth. I have a lot to feel good about, too. My lost opportunities turned out to be opportunities for growth. So when I think about my missed opportunities, I have to remember my taken opportunities.
But I want to add here, that it’s not always addiction that causes you to miss opportunities and lose time. Whatever caused your regret for what could have been, you can get over feeling bad about the past. It’s a matter of refocusing from grief to gratitude. Here’s how.
In Buddhism, We Learn All Experiences Teach Us Something
My mother also often said that no experience or missed opportunity is ever wasted. You can turn it all into art, imagine how much I hated hearing that. But then, of course, I did it. Taking action is better than brooding. In Buddhism, which I now practice, we also learn that one thing affects another. Someone who is stuck in active addiction, for example, is not the same as someone who is healthy. It’s just fact. Unhealthy behaviors of all kinds affect your brain function. You’re not your true self. Sometimes it’s a matter of circumstance, like being sick from Covid, or losing your job, or having a bad relationship that causes you to lose yourself. In any case, you’re going to miss out and feel grief for what you have lost.
Grieving For Missed Opportunities and Lost Time Is Normal
When we are battling addiction, mental health issues or even codependency, we are sick in many ways. Very sick people are rarely high functioning and successful. So, right there is a reality check. Don’t beat yourself up for things that were out of your control or were lost when you weren’t ready to be okay. Take that in for a minute: That people and opportunities were lost because you weren’t in the right place to benefit from them. For me, getting healthy was my primary job for a while, and now I see getting healthy and using my experience for good as my greatest accomplishments. Getting healthy emotionally and physically is something we can all do with encouragement and support.
Truth is, I’m glad my entertainment career didn’t take off when I was 27. How many people do you know who have died because they couldn’t manage their career and their physical and emotional lives? Too many. And I could have been one of those statistics. I certainly wouldn’t have had the experiences that have shaped who I am today.
Playing The Missed Opportunities and Lost Time Forward
The lost jobs and relationships definitely give me a sad pause from time to time but even with those, I always come back to for whatever reason, it wasn’t the right plan for me. Someone once told me you can’t have fear and faith at the same time. God, Spirit, the Universe, whatever you believe in had a different plan. I might have wanted something but it wasn’t for me, for whatever reason.
Another thought that gives me comfort is how my compassion has grown due to my struggles. They’ve made me a better, deeper person. Sure, I get distracted by ideas that I could have made more money doing something else, or have been a wife and mother. But again, that wasn’t the plan for me. I don’t have my own children, but I’m able to help so many more because of Reach Out Recovery, my writing (thanks mom), and our work launching our new nonprofit ROR Empowerment.
Reframing the failures
Back to Buddhism. There are no failures, only lessons, and experiences. I like to think of it this way, my relationships have gotten better and better. This is because I’ve learned a lot along the way. I could never behave the way I do now in the past because I didn’t have the self-esteem or knowledge that nothing in life is set in stone and you can always move forward.
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