Saturday, April 12, 2008


Dear Lynn,

My name is Anthony. I recently got kicked out of my house, am couch hopping, and have lost myself in a world of drugs and lies. I have now quit everything cold turkey. I wish I had never used drugs and I hope things will eventually get better. It has only been a few weeks since I quit. I want to be a better person and try harder to achieve something but I am having a hard time. Do you have any pointers as to how to look past the past? That is my biggest problem right now. I look back at all I have done and hate myself for it. I don't know how to get past it. I know it's pretty lame that I can admit that but I can't get past my past. Help.


Dear Anthony,

You are not lame, in fact far from it. I think you are brilliant for understanding and acknowledging what is holding you back. I truly believe you speak for so many of us…addicted or not…so many of us stay stuck because we are constantly looking backwards, focusing on our history, on the past, on the ghosts that are no longer there. We carry this history with us, chewing on our memories over and over again, replaying them in our minds, thinking, hoping that we can somehow reform the past. THIS CAN NEVER BE DONE. The past is no more and there is no possibility of undoing it, NEVER.

My first year of sobriety was pure hell. I was filled with so much pain and misery. I just wanted to make it all go away. I just wanted to feel normal, whatever the hell that was. Like you I was so angry at myself for what I had done, past experiences replayed in my mind like a bloody horror film, torturing me, over and over again. I was blaming myself, blaming my past, putting all of my focus on what was. If my Dad wasn’t an alcoholic, if I never used drugs, if I didn’t move to New York City, and on and on. I was exhausted and going nowhere; a dog chasing its own tail. It finally hit me, I could either keep getting sucked backwards, continuing to spiral in a vicious cycle, escaping into the never ending past, feeling miserable and paralyzed or I could try a new way.

Through many dark nights and a hell of a lot of soul searching, I came to understand that focusing on my past was a sheer waste of precious time. Trying to undo what my father, society, or the drugs had done was getting me NOWHERE. If in fact my Dad, society, and the drugs, destroyed many years of my life, why was I letting them destroy even more??? Maybe it was being raised Catholic but I know a lot of my guilt and self hatred came from constantly being told I was a dirty little sinner who needed to repent.

In Hebrew the word sin, actually means to miss. Over the years I have come to understand the only real sin in this world is to miss life, to waste the present time, to throw away the here and now. For many, many years, I allowed my past to destroy my present, but not any more Mister.

Tony, I think it’s time to make peace, not only with your past but also with yourself. You had to go through all of this, all of the pain and trauma, to get you to this point. You had to hit the bottom in order for you to look up to that higher place, where you are now going. Where you are today is just the result of your past actions, it is who you WERE not who you ARE.

This wise chap named Jesus Christ once said, “Let the dead bury the dead.” The past is dead, it’s no more, why let your history enslave you any longer. So Anthony, you can say Gracias and Adios to your past or you can keep your eyes fixated behind you, on those rotting corpses that have died long ago. The choice is all yours.

Adios my amigo,


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