Good People do Bad Things: Breaking the Cycle of Shame

When I first tried to get clean, my biggest struggle was shame.

I was stuck in a spiral of shame and guilt and self-loathing that seemed endless and felt hopeless.

During a group therapy session, the counselor asked me to say one positive thing about myself. Out loud. And, I couldn’t do it. I was stuck. I actually had a panic attack right then and there just trying to think of something positive to say.

A short time after, an online friend I’d made a couple years before gave me possibly the single greatest piece of wisdom that I believe has helped me more than anything else.

She said “good people do bad things.”

It’s simple. And it’s true. Everyone makes mistakes. Even the best of us makes poor choices and sometimes hurts others.

In that respect, I’m no different than anyone else.

I’ve caused great pain to the people I love the most. To the people who love me the most. I’ve hurt my mom, my husband, my sister, even my children. I’ve certainly hurt myself. But that doesn’t make me a bad person.

After months of repeating this mantra to myself, i was finally able to begin healing. I was finally able to begin to forgive myself.

The cycle of shame was broken. And finally I found true recovery.

It’s a simple and obvious truth. But it’s a truth that I needed to be reminded of. Good people do bad things. Doing bad things does not make me a bad person. As long as I’m working on righting those wrongs and making better, good, honest choices, I’m on my way.

True recovery and healing can’t begin until we learn to forgive ourselves, and love ourselves the way we all deserve to be loved.

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