When I was at the peak of my alcoholism, I hit a point where I genuinely didn’t care if I lived or died. I would engage in dangerous, high-risk behaviors without any desire for self-preservation. I would get behind the wheel of a car mid-blackout, go home with strangers, mix alcohol with any other substance I could get my hands on. I would do crazy things while intoxicated, and wake up the next morning with (what felt like) a life-ending hangover and a giant pit in my stomach. I drank to numb the sharp and incessant ache of self-loathing that emanated from my brain, to drown out the voice in my head that screamed, “You’re not worth anything. You don’t deserve to be here. You’re better off dead.” I didn’t choose to get sober. Why would I? People who choose to get sober typically do so because they want better for themselves; they want a shot at a healthy and happy life. Not me. I didn’t deserve a better life. I didn’t deserve fulfillment — I didn’t deserve contentment. I deserved to stay stuck in the vicious cycle of binge drinking and blackouts, booty calls and bruises, lost jobs and ruined relationships. I didn’t choose sobriety, but at a certain point in time it chose me. I was shipped off to sunny Southern Florida where I would be separated from my best friend for the first time since I picked it up. I would be left sober and alone, hating myself, forced into years of intensive therapeutic healing. Learning to love myself was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. But in retrospect, I wouldn’t change the trials and tribulations I went through for the world, because they brought me to where I am today. If you or someone you love has been struggling with addiction, beginning the journey of recovery is as easy as picking up the phone and making a call. We look forward to speaking with you soon and helping you begin healing today.
What Is Self-Love & Why Does It Matter?
Self-love and self-esteem have a lot in common. Both have to do with cultivating a stable sense of self. According to an article published by the National Library of Medicine, “Self-esteem is a simplistic term for varied and complex mental states pertaining to how one views oneself.” Oxford Academic states, “Self-evaluation is crucial to mental and social well-being. It influences aspirations, personal goals and interaction with others. Evidence is presented illustrating that self-esteem can lead to better health and social behavior, and that poor self-esteem is associated with a broad range of mental disorders and social problems, both internalizing problems (e.g. depression, suicidal tendencies, eating disorders and anxiety) and externalizing problems (e.g. violence and substance abuse).” Before working on loving yourself, it is a good idea to first develop a stable sense of your own worth and value. You might hear the advice, “The best way to build self-esteem is through esteemable acts.” Self-esteem isn’t something that will just show up someday — in order to cultivate it, you must continuously do things that make you feel good about yourself. There are many ways to build self-esteem and foster a deep, genuine love for yourself in the process. It is important that you are gentle with yourself as you make personal progress — the journey of recovery is certainly not easy!
How to Develop a Stable Sense of Self
Developing a stable sense of self might look like:
- Spend your time doing things you enjoy. Prioritize yourself and your own happiness. Rather than bend over backwards to make others happy and consistently deny your own wants and needs, start clearing your schedule one or two days out of the week and spend quality time with yourself.
- Develop a strong self-care routine. This might look like waking up in the morning, putting on a record, and journaling for 30 minutes before you “officially” start your day. This might look like turning your phone off every Sunday until 4pm and going on a solo hike, hitting a 12 Step meeting, and making yourself a healthy and delicious lunch. Self-care looks different for everyone. Spend some time developing a strategy that works for you.
- Making yourself available to help others. Could be as simple as picking up the phone when a friend calls you, or helping an elderly neighbor take the trash to the curb every Sunday. You might choose to pick up a service commitment at a 12 Step meeting you regularly attend, or volunteer at a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Prove to yourself that you are, in fact, a good person — someone who cares about and shows up for others.
Learning to love yourself takes time, patience, and a lot of hard work. Even those with decades of sobriety under their belts struggle with self-love on occasion. It is important to first find compassion for yourself, and a great way to do this is by acknowledging that you are not your disease. Unquestionably, when you were active in addiction, you behaved in ways you were not proud of. You were sick and suffering. Your behaviors while active in addiction are not a representation of who you are at your core.
At Recovery Centers we believe that everyone who is struggling with a substance use disorder should have access to top-quality clinical care. We have developed an integrated and highly individualized addiction recovery program based on a range of evidence-based modalities and facilitated by a team of experienced industry professionals. If you or someone close to you has been suffering from addiction, we are available to help. As soon as you make the decision to reach out for help you will be connected with someone who can guide you through our admissions process, which always begins with a no obligation health insurance benefit check (for those who are currently insured through a major regional or national provider). If you are currently uninsured or insured through a Medicaid or Medicare program, we will help you determine the best course of action. Once we have determined whether or not the addiction treatment services we provide are going to be covered partially or in full, we ask a series of questions designed to help us determine the best level of care for you. For most individuals struggling with addiction and any co-occurring issues, entering into a medical detox program is an important first step. Once you or your loved one has been physically stabilized they will transition into a higher level of care, which might be an inpatient rehabilitation center, a partial hospitalization program, or an outpatient program. To learn more about the best treatment options for you or to begin your personal recovery journey, contact Recovery Centers today.