How I Learned to Love Myself
Six years following rehab, I finally put the drink down and started facing life sober. It was terrifying meeting the person that I had become. Allowing others to see me as I was and not who I wanted them to see. My insecurities were paralyzing. The popular saying, you need to love yourself before you can love another, is true. But they left out the most important part, how do you love yourself?
The answer is simple. Applying it to my life was difficult. It’s doing the next right thing, consistently and persistently. We all instinctively know the difference between right and wrong. The line, for me, gets blurred when I want something. That’s when I’m tempted to skew the truth or manipulate circumstances in order to get what I want.
The problem is that the deception never ends there, the die is cast and I can’t go back. Telling one lie to cover up for another until there is a part of me that has to be kept hidden from others. A large part of my life was spent compartmentalizing my feelings and experiences. When talking with someone, I had to determine which group they belonged to and which stories I could tell them. Doing this kept others at a distance and I never felt close to anyone.
Feeling ashamed of my past and running from it gave those negative feelings power over me, making me feel worse about myself, never better. My past lost its power over me when I began to face the mistakes that I had made and attempted to right my wrongs. Being humbled restored my faith helping me to see that I can’t do this on my own. Asking for strength and the willingness to do the next right thing made it possible for me to shed the person I was and shape me into the person I am today. No longer lost or broken but healing and capable of helping others.
My confidence began to soar when I consciously chose to do what’s right, no matter the consequences. Volunteering the truth when no one knew I lied and being accountable to myself and others. Every time I was honest and responsible a portion of my self-esteem was restored.
How do you learn to love yourself again? By doing the next right thing. Every day, every moment.
How do you maintain a content lifestyle full of humility and gratitude? By helping others.
It sounds simple yet was difficult for me to apply in my life. How will helping others make me feel less insecure, jealous and uncomfortable in my own skin, I wondered. Yet my life began to change when I stopped asking how and began being helpful to others. Sharing my experience, strength and hope with other women who struggle with addiction reminds me of how far I’ve come in my own life. Changing my focus from the things I don’t have to the gifts in my life. Making me feel grateful and content rather than bitter and resentful.
Helping other parents whose child has been diagnosed with autism makes me feel less alone in this land of special needs. Seeing how far my family has come makes me grateful for my husband and children exactly as they are and not how I wanted them to be. Being transparent, sharing from the heart and letting the world in on my secrets has been empowering. My secrets kept me from forming meaningful relationships and loving myself. Once I shared those secrets, they lost their power over me and freed up space in my head and heart for others.
That’s it. That’s the secret to overcoming debilitating insecurities, low self-esteem and finding happiness. Doing the next right thing no matter what and helping others.
My honesty barometer for living life today is simple. If I feel like I can’t tell my husband, my sponsor or my mother then I probably shouldn’t do it.