Gary’s Story: Finding Freedom in Self-Compassion

Gary MGary is no stranger to recovery. He has attended Renascent’s intensive inpatient addiction treatment program six times; each time motivated by different reasons.

“The last time I attended treatment in 2020, I knew I was done with drugs and alcohol. I knew if I didn’t stop drinking and using, that I would die,” says Gary who started using drugs when he was 28 years old. “I was hooked on cocaine right from the very beginning. I had a love affair with it for about four years before the consequences to using started to become really severe. And still, I kept on using.”

Over his last year in recovery, Gary learned some very valuable lessons and one of his biggest was about the importance of self-compassion.

“I didn’t have much self-compassion until recently. I was always upset at myself for my past transgressions and multiple relapses,” explains Gary. “When I relapsed in the beginning of 2020, I was so upset at myself. I understood that addiction is a disease and that I have no power over it, but I was still upset.”

Ready for a fresh start, Gary approached his last round of treatment with apprehension initially. He was concerned that the counsellors would be disappointed in his return to treatment until he got a pleasant surprise.

“I was welcomed back to treatment with open arms. Everyone expressed how happy they were that I came back to get the help I needed,” said Gary. “For the first week in treatment I was really beating myself up for finding myself back in this situation again, but one of the counsellors sat with me and encouraged me to adopt self-compassion, work the program, and have faith.”

Slowly, Gary began to take the counsellor’s advice and in working the steps, something almost magical happened.

“By the time I was done my Step Four I had more self-compassion. I was aware of the fear that was driving me. I decided to give myself a break. I did the work – I did my step 8 made my amends. And as time went on, I started to grow even more in self-compassion.”

Today, Gary’s life is very different. On November 4, 2021 he received celebrated his one-year recovery milestone. While he still reflects on the past, what Gary has learned about self-compassion in treatment and through the 12 Steps has shaped his views.

“Self-compassion allows me not to let go of many aspects of my past. I fully acknowledge that I made bad decisions and many mistakes. However, I am in a new place now and I know exactly what I am offering those around me,” said Gary, who is now studying to become an addictions counsellor.

 Gary’s advice to new clients and fellow alumni who are struggling is simple.

  • Keep coming back. If you fall down, don’t feel this is failure. Renascent is still here.
  • Just do it. Do the program. Don’t argue every situation and don’t try to figure it out yourself.
  • Listen to the counsellors. They know what they are talking about.

About the Authors

Renascent Staff
The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery – with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.