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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Dear Kiantha: In recovery, forgiveness comes from yourself first

Kiantha Duncan For The Spokesman-Review

Dear Kiantha,

I am in recovery for the first time after using drugs for more than 10 years. I feel like crap for some of the things people are telling me I did while I was using. I am so ashamed of my actions.

Dear Friend,

I am so proud of you. I am proud because you chose to go on the long and winding road that is recovery. Don’t ever let your guilt overshadow this accomplishment.

Recovery is complicated. A major tenant of recovery is acknowledging that you have an addiction. Once you have acknowledged the addiction, you must then do the deeper work of understanding your addiction.

Part of understanding your addiction lies in the reconciliation of how addiction affected you and those who were in contact with you during some of your worst times.

The image that comes to my mind when I think of you and your recovery is of a person swimming through dirty swamp water to get to a freshwater pond. A body of water that is clean and clear, free of debris and muck. The way through it is dirty and dark, but the reward of your travel is abundant life.

As you hold yourself accountable, be sure to give yourself grace. The way in which you showed up during your addiction is not the whole of who you are.

Think about a person who is physically sick from a medical illness. For the sake of conversation, let’s assume the person is sick from a stomach bug since there seems to be a lot of that going around. If that person were to vomit because of the illness, our society understands that that is a consequence of being sick. There is no judgment, no lifelong cloud of guilt towering over their head because it is understood that in our time of sickness, we do things that we may not normally do.

My hope is that someday society will look at drug addiction through the same lens. as an illness that causes those who are sick to do things they would not normally do if they were well.

Apologize and make amends where you can, then demonstrate the forgiveness you seek by first forgiving yourself.

You can do it. I believe in you, and I know I’m not the only one.

Soul to soul,


Dear Kiantha can be read Fridays in The Spokesman-Review. To submit a question, email