How to overcome shameful memories
Updated: Jul 30
Are you considering the path of sobriety, but suddenly you are flooded with memories from your shameful drinking past? So part of you sort of thinks, I may as well keep on drinking - I can never face what I have done. For a long time, I used to think it was easier to ignore those awful memories of the things I did while drinking by continuing to pour my glass of wine at night. That was how I forgot about how I made a fool of myself in front of my friends the weekend before, by continuing to drink. I often drank just to blur the feelings of embarrassment and anger at myself. Until I got to the point where I couldn't look at myself anymore.
Are you suddenly paralyzed by the memories of your past? Do you get those full body, gut wrenching moments of shame that make you want to crawl into a hole and never come out?
This was one of the hardest parts for me early on when I stopped drinking. The shame, the guilt and the regret. Sitting with these feelings and not ignoring them is the best thing you can do, because for so long you did the opposite while drinking. We numbed ourselves and tried not to feel those feelings by using alcohol. We drank to forget the embarrassing things and hid from the shame, hoping it would go away. But it didn't. Now, we must face it. Think about it. Write about it. Draw. Color. Bake. Walk. Run and just think. Process it. It sucks but that is all you can do, and then once you move through a memory or moment that made you feel awful, the next time you think about it, it won't feel so bad. It's incredible how feeling your feelings for the first time, instead of running from them, is actually quite empowering. It is truly freeing.
Maybe you made a fool of yourself in front of your cousins at Thanksgiving last year and you can't stop thinking about that evening. Did you fall asleep early on the couch and all the kids tried to wake you up but couldn't because you were too drunk? It makes you full on cringe with shame. Sit with it. Literally feel all the cringey, awful, stupid embarrassing feelings from that day. And then let it go. Because that isn't you. You are on a new path now, and you are making better, healthier decisions for yourself. Forgive yourself. Show some grace and compassion to that version of you. She was lost and struggling. You will not be that person anymore.
Did the tooth fairy forget to come? Did Santa forget to fill the stockings? Did the Easter Bunny forget to deliver the chocolate eggs in secret spots around the house for the kids to collect? ALL of these things happened in our house over the years, because I was too drunk the night before. I felt HORRIBLE guilt for months and months afterwards, until I finally got sober. And then I sat down, worked through those moments (and it took a little while) but I eventually forgave myself. I showed some love and compassion for that woman. But you know what - that is not me anymore. That person is a part of my past and I work everyday to be a better mother for my children now.