The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.
-Theodore Roosevelt

Recovering from our addictions is an imperfect process. If it were easy to transcend our addictions, then we would simply do so. There would be little need for intervention, rehabilitation and detoxification centers, or even for regularly reading passages such as this. But addictive patterns are deeply imbedded and often represent protective reactions to old emotional wounds. So any process of healing from serious addictions will have many twists and turns as we navigate new and necessarily uncomfortable emotional territory, carving new experiences, relationships, along the way. In the current manifestation of our recovery model there is often great emphasis on physical abstinence—counting days we have spent away from our addiction of choice—for example. And while this can serve a purpose, it can also set us up for deep feelings of shame if/when we do make certain mistakes, periodically returning to our addictions or creating new ones in their stead. It is very important to be gentle with ourselves through this difficult process, even if we must simultaneously be rigorous in our attempts to learn from it. Mistakes are an important part of life, and if we are to grow, we must move into uncharted and unexplored emotional territory—so mistakes are inevitable. For our recovery to be meaningful, then, we must become adept at forgiving ourselves as we forge our way along the imperfect path of recovery.

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