“I am no longer that person”: An autistic addicts journey to self-forgiveness

Many people praise me for my kindness, and ability to engage in open and honest communication in the name of helping people. These days i do my best to be good at these things, but there was once a time when I was not a good person.

Let me be completely honest with you. I was one of those autistics that many considered gifted and intelligent (under those particularly problematic IQ tests at least, anyway). So when I found myself in the world of addiction, it created a perfect storm for me to be a terrible person.

As an autistic addict, I lied, manipulated, and abused my way through life. Nothing could come between me and the drugs, and if something did, I bulldozed it out of my path. There were no limits to the pain I would cause in the name of my own survival.

Survival.

It’s a strange word to me, for me it is reminiscent of a world in which I do not fit. I scraped by while surviving, absent-mindedly damaging the world in doing so.

When I first achieved sobriety, I started becoming very aware of the harm I had done. So aware in fact, that I could barely cope with the guilt. For a good year or two after finding sobriety I was consumed by the horror of my own behaviour. Even now, at over 4 years of sobriety, I feel my insides twist up when I think of the things i have done.

I was not authentic to my autistic self. For so many years I felt as though I had betrayed the ones I loved.

However, in the last year, I have come to a new realisation. The David who did those terrible things in the name of survival, is not the David who exists now. When I achieved sobriety, the old David died, I was reborn into a new life, and like any newborn, I had to experience growing pains.

If you are new to sobriety, it is likely that you are experiencing something similar. I want you to know that these growing pains will subside, and you will mature into your new life. Create a life where it is easier to be the new you. The old you is gone, make reparations for your old ways, and move forwards.

I am committed to using this new life to fix what I helped break in my past. I want the world to feel a little less broken.

“Don’t look back, you’re not going that way” as the old saying goes.

Published by David Gray-Hammond

David Gray-Hammond is an autistic mental health and addiction advocate living in the South East of England. He is in recovery from addiction and psychosis, as well as other complex mental health conditions. He was diagnosed as autistic seven months after achieving sobriety, and is resolved to share his experiences with the world in the hopes of being the person that he needed when he was younger.

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