I always have a hard time saying “I got my life back.” I started abusing drugs and alcohol when I was 14 and the person I am now is far different. I will never be the thirteen year old unscathed by the brutality of addiction. I can’t even say I would want that ignorance back. There was a lot of pain, like a blister waiting to be popped, in that time period.
Instead, I like to say that I have been given a whole new life in recovery. There are fundamentals about myself that will never change and have simply had the opportunity to finally flourish–such as my creative spirit, or desire to help others in need. There are things on the other hand that I never thought would be a part of my personality or lifestyle that make up who I am now that I could have never foreseen; and I imagine that will continue to change.
I’m a boundary setter
This has been a fundamental shift that I had to stick to once and for all to actually stick to my sobriety. I often scoffed when I would be in group therapy sessions about boundaries or when I would consider what my own boundaries looked like, but when I took a real inventory of my life I realized it was one of the key reasons I kept ending up in my cycle of self-destruction.
I have cut so many people out of my life completely—including family. My interactions with these people hurt too much and they drag me down. My sobriety and wellbeing is more important than pleasing anyone or meeting anyone’s expectations of me. I have chosen to work through my bitterness and forgive from a distance, and it has done wonders for my recovery.
Just the same, with the small circle I do have, I make my boundaries very clear. If they are crossed, I do not tolerate it. This doesn’t necessarily mean ending a relationship but it can mean taking a break or setting stricter parameters with a person to protect myself.
I make self care something I enjoy and that contributes to my growth
I think that the entire term of “self care” has been sorely demeaned and I fell into the toxic mindset that buying myself hundreds of dollars of clothes or treating myself to expensive dinners out when I got a paycheck was self care, only to end up stressed out and broke.
Self care is investing in your personal growth. It shouldn’t be frivolous, it shouldn’t be overwhelming, and it shouldn’t be mindless.
I chose one or two things at a time to focus on that I want to improve that are not related to work when it comes to self care now and it has had such a positive impact on my life.
Right now I am working on finances and skincare. Those things may sound totally opposite and they are, but they allow me to focus on different areas of my health (my financial and my physical health) in ways that benefit my overall life and contribute to my recovery.
Let me explain:
Like almost every addict/alcoholic I have met I threw every penny I had at getting another fix. As a result I got myself into horrible debt(I was taking out payday loans just to drink). I also had significant medical bills. So when I found myself sober and making good money, I knew a good portion of it was going to have to go to paying off my debts. This is still something I am working on, but I am actually a person with a strict budget now. I pay towards my debt(which is close to paid off), stack a significant amount in my savings every month, and have even started investing(which has become a hobby all on its own).
As for my physical health, that in itself is an entire post. I put my body through hell and I’m thankful it has recovered how it has. I eat fairly healthy(though I’m a sucker for a good taco truck), I drink tons of water, and I walk my 10,000 steps daily–but as someone with a history of eating disorders I know that obsessing over fitness and calorie counting is not in my best interest.
I started seeing a dermatologist earlier this year for hormonal acne and some allergies I was having and the entire process got me very interested in the science of skincare. I actually used to work in aesthetics but never took care of my skin. If you didn’t know, alcohol is one of the WORST things you can do to your skin and getting blackout drunk led to me constantly falling asleep in makeup. Wearing sunscreen and washing my face were the absolute last things I cared about.
So, with having to stay inside due to COVID-19, I decided it was the perfect time to ditch the makeup and experiment with my skin. I learned about my skin, skin care formulations, and overall skin health. Between this and continued sobriety–surprise: my skin got healthy, glowing, and clear. I think it is a subject I am going to start writing about more just because of how much it has helped me find peace in my own natural beauty.
I’m a lot kinder
Life is really hard. You never know what someone has been through and why they are in the position that they are.
In my addiction I cared about others, but only as long as it didn’t get in the way of my needs. I didn’t consider others’ circumstances or pain and I lived life on the surface.
Living where I do now, I see every kind of person. I see the obscenely wealthy and I have a group of impoverished homeless right near my apartment complex. I make it a goal to treat everyone the same, meet everyone with a smile, and offer help if someone asks for it.
I think of how I felt at my worst and how the kindess that was offered to me changed my life. I want to be able to be ready to offer that to someone else if they need it.
I’m excited to see what else I grow into and what other passions evolve in my life. Maybe I’ll become an enthusiastic plant parent next, though I’ve failed every succulent I’ve ever had.