If there is one thing, I’ve perfected it would have to be my ability to single handily destroy every holiday memory with my alcoholism and drug addiction. My kids didn’t deserve that or my parents or anyone I ever loved… but to say I’m sorry seems so inadequate… so dismissive of someone else’s life.

John McMahon is a man in recovery who posted his apology to the people he’s harmed as a sort of amends and by doing so, put actions to two meaningless words… “I’m sorry”.

I want to do the same using his wisdom as a guide…. So to my kids, parents, friends, lovers and casual acquaintances.

I’m sorry to those I’ve hurt the most

… for the things I did, for the hurt I caused, for the love I killed and for the hope I crushed.

It would be easy to say that I didn’t mean to hurt anyone—I didn’t. It would be easy to say that I wasn’t a bad man, or a violent man or a wicked man or so many other things. The problem is that I did all of this stuff when I was drunk or when I needed a drink.

Maybe I wasn’t a violent man, but that didn’t stop me from shouting, threatening and terrifying my family. For that, I am deeply ashamed, and I make no excuses. Maybe I wasn’t an unfaithful man, but that didn’t stop me from choosing drugs and alcohol over anyone or anything else. Again I have to say that I am deeply ashamed.

 I’m sorry to those I’ve betrayed, every day…

There are the big betrayals that damage a relationship to its core, but the things that crush the life out of the relationship are the smaller things, the everyday deceptions; the continual lies that destroy any sense of trust — that essential commodity for a successful relationship. Looking back now I lied, often, very often. I considered myself an honest man but I lied to protect my drinking, I lied to avoid arguments, I lied to get out the house to go for a drink, I lied about whether I had been drinking, about how much I had been drinking.

And I lied to protect my lies. I didn’t lie about everything, but I did lie about drinking, and I’m ashamed.

I would promise to be home at a particular time, but I wouldn’t arrive till much later, sometimes days later. I pledged to clean up the house, that I had messed up in my drunkenness, but I found some money in my pocket and went off drinking.

I promised to go to the store and come straight back but didn’t return until the following day. I promised to get home without drinking and staggered in drunk.

And during all these betrayals I would ask my wife, “Don’t you trust me?” Looking back on these incidents now, I find it hard to believe that I was the one who did all these things — but I was, and I did.

I’m sorry to those I burdened financially…

I stole money from our household budget. In my need for alcohol, I used the checkbook as a license to print money. I bounced checks all over town and in many bars to get booze.

In the middle of a bender I had no regard for anyone but myself and how I felt at that moment. The inevitable result was that we were always short of money and ultimately deeply in debt. I wish that I could return to that time and change it all but obviously, I can’t. However, I do offer my unreserved apologies to everyone who was hurt by my drinking and for all that I did during that time.

I’m sorry on behalf of all alcoholics …

… to all the people out there who are being and have been hurt by the behavior of an alcoholic. I am so sorry that we hurt you — no buts, no excuses!

I hope that some part of this helps to heal some of the hurts that we have caused, or contributes to repair some of the trust and love that we have destroyed.

It would be easy for you to dismiss this article as “just words.” After all, who could blame you, you have probably heard all the promises and apologies that I indeed made, plenty of times.

However, it doesn’t just end with words. This is part of me trying to make amends. Another part of my amends is helping alcoholics to change, and they can and do. There is hope.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

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