Recovery Words: Self-Castigation

Self-castigation: attacking oneself with severe criticism, reproof and punishment.

Before recovery, this can be a way of life. The shame of letting your family down again. The regret of losing a job by acting out at work. Everything is your fault and you can’t get out of it.

It seems that the people around you are not as hard on you as you are to myself. You see all the lies and secrets and know how badly you’ve really been doing. The family is ready to forgive you and your friends just hope you’ll get better. You’re out on your own in your own head and that makes it all worse.

After a while, the self-castigation can become as bad as the effects of the substances or not having them when you need them. If you’re so bad that you can’t even control it when you want to, your shame and guilt don’t have an answer. One conclusion is that punishment and criticism are the responses that make sense.

Once this attitude has taken hold, it takes a long time for it to go away. When you make a small mistake, it reminds you of past big ones. You get support from your friends and you’re glad they’re in your corner. It’s almost as if you have a resentment against yourself and can’t let it go.

It was a big relief when this attitude isn’t your first way to respond to your own mistakes. You talk to people who understand you and believe them when they say you’re doing well and that they are glad to see you or hear from you.

When you’re alone, it’s hard to find a balance, but with friends and people who care giving you support, you can get closer to self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance: To be contented with, appreciate and respect oneself.

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