Living with No Regrets

One of the coping mechanisms that we alcoholics quite often use when dealing with the past is living with “no regrets” about it. Page 83 of AA’s “Big Book” has as one of the “Twelve Promises”: “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.”

We do not let the past and our emotional connections to it govern us, but we do not ignore it or disconnect from it either. In our “not regretting the past” we also remember it so as to learn from it and not repeat its mistakes.

Mary Beth Bonacci, a wonderful Catholic writer and speaker, has written an article that speaks very much to this.

She makes two points among many that I want to bring to your attention. The first one in which she says that wallowing around in the past is “self-defeating and, in the spiritual realm, I believe it’s a real temptation of the devil that holds us down and keeps us from accomplishing great things.”

This is something I have been mulling over recently, especially when reading other bloggers or Facebook friends talk about negative situations going on in their lives and how it is a struggle to overcome them. The temptation is there to just give up. In my own struggles I have arrived at the belief that Satan is keenly intent on preventing us from realizing our full potential, and that by encouraging doubt and obsession with the past he is hindering us from growing into the people we can be.

The second point is:

But the “no regrets” philosophy often goes one step further. It says “If I had it to do over again, I’d do exactly the same thing, because that’s what made me the person I am today.”

Now this point struck home because in AA meetings I have heard it said by a member that if they had to choose a disease, alcoholism would have been it, due to the changes that recovery has wrought in their life. I have also felt this way, that my addiction and recovery have made me the person I am today, and in doing so they have enabled me to see the flaws in my life and correct them. There is still work to be done, but the willingness is there. I was dealt certain cards, I turned them back in and I played a new hand after a fair amount of re-shuffling. I think I would have preferred to have been dealt the hand that lacked the cards for “I want what I want, and I want it NOW!” and the lack of drive and determination to struggle and sacrifice to obtain what I wanted.

Mary Beth however points out that there was a whole lot of pain and suffering involved in many people’s pasts and that those who would chose to do it all over again the same way are being selfish and defiant of God’s will.

The questions that arose in my mind as I read her thesis are:

Do we then mean that we are willing to subject others to the pain we caused them in order for us to be the people we are today?

Are others willing to be subjected to it?

What right do we have to sacrifice their serenity and sanity for us to become the fabulously wonderful people we are today?

My conscience had difficulty with the notion that who I am today is because of alcoholism and my recovery from it. Granted this is true but it touches upon why certain people are addicts and what God’s plan is in all of that.

Why are some people addicts and others are not? It is beyond the scope of this post to debate this, but I may tackle it in the future after more research. One can always rely on the Catholic belief, going back to either St. Francis DeSales or St. Ignatius Loyola, that things like “alcoholism” or “addiction” are “inordinate attractions.”

For whatever the reason or cause, be it genetic, environmental, upbringing or inability to cope with things that can be habitual, some people have a difficult time with alcohol, drugs and other things. Successfully overcoming them and relegating them to their proper place in life is important, but we must also be humbly aware that perhaps we may or may not have been “meant to be” alcoholics and addicts, and that we have only been given a second chance.

Mary Beth makes numerous other points about God’s place in our lives and our relationship with Him, all hinging upon our wills and how humble we are in submitting them to God.

Read the entire article here:

See: No Regrets

All links are via Real Love.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"


  1. Nice article. Thanks for posting it. I guess I have never really thought about the "No Regrets" philosophy to which you speak. I remember the bad things that happened and I feel the bad feelings sometimes. You cannot remove the things in the past. I choose to do better because I know what "not" to do. So yes. I have regrets, but I have grown and continue to do so. Pax.

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