From the ancient oldtimer perspective (which is mine), I think some things have got to be let go.
I started thinking about this, thinking that because of my youth, I didn’t have tons of wreckage when I finally got sober, but upon a little more thought I decided I had enough. Most glaringly, I carried on a relationship with someone who was married while I was drinking, and once sober, I couldn’t make direct amends. I’ve heard of some ways people make indirect amends, but those didn’t come up in my life at that time. Now, many years later I truly hope that living well (at least not blatantly doing the wrong thing like that) has been an amend, but the fact remains that I was guilty, I can’t directly apologize, and nothing can change that now.
Unless I purposefully set out to think about it, or unless something jars a memory, I don’t often think of that or other wreckages of my past. It’s vitally important that I not forget because those are the things that I did while I was drinking, and if I drink again I will do much worse things. That I believe. So by letting go I don’t mean forgetting. I don’t forgive myself and I don’t really punish myself. I don’t remember often but I don’t forget completely.
I have not personally done an indirect amend, but I’ve heard it gives some people peace. They make a charitable donation or volunteer time of in some other way try to pay back the harm they caused by doing much more good than harm in a way that’s as related as possible to the harm. So someone who was rotten to their grandmother and cannot now be nice and helpful to her helps other old ladies in memory of her.
Wreckage of the more recent past is not so dramatic. For me, I can mostly think of things I would have done differently with my kids, if I had a chance to do it over again, but they are still here and thankfully we’re not done yet. But with the way my parenting goes, by the time I figure out what to do, we’re on to another phase. I am really very lucky.