Forgiveness – By Andrew Ahmad-Cooke

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In recovery you are told to forgive yourself. To be kind to yourself.  To praise yourself for every day of your recovery.  I found this hard at the beginning and I still find it hard. Nearly every addict in recovery I have met started their journey filled with the same shame and self-loathing. Through their submission to the craving for a mind-altering substance they have taken their families and the people they love to the darkest of places. Trust, loyalty, dignity, health, compassion, honour, hope and truth have been destroyed and abandoned. It is beyond my understanding how forgiveness can be possible.

People in love stay with addicted partners, and families continue to support addicted family members until pushed beyond endurance. Many relationships end in divorce, families disown. Lie after lie after lie causes people to lose their sense of reason and doubt their own sanity. Every time one more chance is given and thrown away another part of the soul dies. Love is corrupted. Betrayal, pain, loneliness and tears. How can a person put a substance before anything or anyone? And through all of this their families are told they do not understand addiction. They more than understand the fall-out and impact but the difficult truth is that they can’t understand what it is to be an addict.

It sounds incredibly glib to say that only an addict can truly understand addiction. It takes a matter of weeks to clear your system of a drug if you stop using it. A few short weeks. A very close friend, a fellow heroin user at the time, once told me that cold turkey was no worse than a bad case of flu. The trouble is that psychological dependence can take a lifetime to conquer. The psychological damage inflicted on all concerned can sometimes be irreparable.  An addict contemplating recovery is filled with shame, paranoia, anger, fear and feelings of low or no self worth. Depression. All of these are also experienced by the people around them. I believe there are selfish addicts out there who do not care about anyone but themselves but I have yet to meet one. The substance is in control. Nothing else matters but to feed the craving. Addicts can love their partners and families but are left powerless and hopeless in the wreckage they have created. The pain they cause the people they love pushes the knife of despair deeper every day.

Despite verifiable links with the many health-related consequences and its fundamental part in Alcoholics Anonymous, the scientific study of forgiveness in addiction and recovery has only recently begun. It is certainly time to expand research into the positive outcomes of the link between forgiveness and recovery. Understanding the subtle effect of forgiveness among people with alcohol and other drug problems, though not a magic bullet, will inform the development of more efficient treatment for individuals struggling with addiction.

One day every addict reaches the lowest they can go. For many this is death. For many it is the beginning of recovery. At this point it is very difficult to be told to forgive yourself. You hate yourself. You are worthless. The idea of liking yourself is a foreign country. This, it would seem, is a very good place to start. I am working towards rebuilding the trust and earning the forgiveness of my family. Through that I may find respect and forgiveness for myself.

“Because forgiveness is like this: a room can be dank because you have closed the windows, you’ve closed the curtains. But the sun is shining outside, and the air is fresh outside. In order to get that fresh air, you have to get up and open the window and draw the curtains apart.” (Desmond Tutu)

Catch more of Andrews work on his blog addict2016

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About Andrew Ahmad-Cooke

Andrew Ahmad-Cooke has spent most of his life as a musician and composer. Consequently he has also had many different occupations from laundry worker and record shop manager to spoken word producer, working with artists including Michael Palin, Terence Stamp and Dirk Bogarde. His most prolific time as a composer was the late nineties when he co-wrote and produced albums including One True Parker – “Will I Dream” and “The Howard Marks Project” with Nice and Idle. With his band Juttajaw, he ran the notorious ‘Dirty Cow’ parties and remixed artists including The Orb, Test Department, PIg and Ian Astbury. In 1997 he co-founded independent label Big Clever Records. After his retirement from the music industry in 2003, he ran a school for teenagers with challenging behaviour. He now works for a mental health charity and plays keyboards in local band The Warning Shadows. Andrew is currently sober and lives with his family in Cambridge. He has recently started writing a blog about his experiences of addiction: www.addict2016.wordpress.com
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11 Comments

  1. Thanks for your comment Jessica. I am so glad is has brought understanding. If you want to read more of my blog, the address is http://www.addict2016.wordpress. com

  2. I recently joined In The Room and this is the first post I have read. That was great. You’ve made it capable for a close friend of mine whom has never struggled with an addiction before to better understand one of the many ordeals we addicts must face. I could of never said it like that. Thank you for this. You really do have a gift with words!

  3. This was a wonderful read thank you for sharing about forgiveness. I can feel your pain & remorse through your writing and can definitely relate. forgiving myself for the things I did while in active addiction/alcoholism is like taking responsibility for another person, I cant even believe it was ME that said/did those things. but as all things ive learned it is a slow process of learning to love myself and these new choices I make all over again. one day at a time 🙂 <3

  4. Really enjoyed this story and I too believe their is a big link between forgiveness and recovery and I can’t imagine if recovery could be obtained without the forgiving process, which is surely ongoing. I’m glad the “scientific study” has begun! Thank you for your story! Kathy

  5. Beautifully written Andy…and you are indeed loved…and by the sounds of it are leading the way to showing that you deserve to have some love for self too…it’s well-earned! Delighted you have a new band, too btw! Sx

  6. Awesome post! Thx for sharing TRUTH! If this is your style, and it seems to me it is, I look forward to your input on the cafe.

    Thx for sharing!

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