For me, recovery has been a process of reclamation of my true self. It's been about growth & evolution & healing, but it's also been about unlearning what I once believed as true. There are so many times I bulldozed through life not listening to my own intuition. I didn't identify the truths that guided me, but instead listened to the truths that guided our society & culture, as well as my own addictive behaviors. I had to unlearn so many of the toxic habits I had developed and I had to create an unshakable faith in my own abilities to heal and recover. The following is a list of seven truths I learned in my own recovery from love addiction and drug addiction.
1. Being busy is not a badge of honor:Recovery taught me that it does not matter how slow you go: forward is forward. I used to believe that life was a race. I had to get ahead and so I did everything in my power to stay busy. I even got the word ambition tattooed on my ass at 16, because ambition used to be my guiding word. I didn't slow down enough to enjoy the present moment. I always had to go, go, go. My thoughts revolved around the future and I never lived in the now. Today, I slow down. I take care of myself. I tell my body & my soul I love her & I show her this not just in words, but in action. And that action, usually revolves around slowing down & taking breaks.
2. Self-love is the greatest middle finger of all time: If I was in a relationship and someone broke my heart; I didn't take the time to love myself. Instead, I found another person who could love me. I escaped the idea of self-love, believing that another person could love me enough to take over the responsibility of loving myself. Being a serial monogamist & never being alone did not give me the chance to properly grow. It didn't allow me to feel real loneliness. My pain was deep, but it was also artificial because I never got in touch with my core wounds. When I hurt today, and I allow myself to feel & uncover the core reasons for this pain, I learn to love all of me, even the parts that no one claps for. In loving my light and my dark; I practice self-love in a way I never had before. I accept my entire authentic self, regardless of how you feel about me.
3. You can't make another human your home:Remember that line in the movie Jerry Maguire when Jerry mouthed to Dorothy "You complete me?" At the time, I melted into the couch cushion in a puddle of tears waiting for a love like that. I believed that I was two parts of a whole & I had to find my other half to be complete. While the idea of completing another person can be seen as beautifully romantic, it was also a way for me to overplay my power. I used men to feel my own power. I didn't choose men who were healthy & whole on their own. I found men who were jealous & insecure. I found men who wanted to control me - and whom I could in turn, control. I didn't understand the idea of picking a heathy romantic partner and I certainly didn't know anything about boundaries. I didn't realize that I didn't need a man by my side to complete me. I used to melt into my partner & now I stand tall on my own.
4. You are allowed to say ‘No:’I used to wonder why I was not valued as much as others. I worked hard. I was smart. I stayed late & I would always take on your task if you did not complete it. People loved working with me, but they did not love me. If they asked me to do something, I always said yes. I didn't understand how to say no. I didn't know the value in saying no, in having standards, in setting boundaries. I thought I had to be a "yes" woman. I believed I was just a girl, playing in a man’s world. Recovery has taught me how to reclaim my voice. I stopped saying yes to shit I hate & I learned to say no. I learned that I do not have to be everything to everyone.
5. "How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you" - Rupi Kapur: If I do not take the time to be quiet & listen to my intuition or my soul-voice, I don't hear what I need. I hear what others need of me, but I don't listen to what is right for my own life. If I don't respect myself, then how would I expect someone else to? Respecting myself involves discovering what is true for me, uncovering the truths that guide me, and following the path of what brings me the most joy. I have learned how to take care of my mind, my body, and my spirit. I don't neglect one for the other - all are equally important. I used to take care of my mind above all else - believing that my intelligence & drive were the priority. In doing this, I neglected my body with lack of sleep, unhealthy eating, and forgetting the importance of moving my body. My spirit was dull – I was disconnected. In recovery, I love myself by attending to all parts of me & in doing so, I teach others how to love me
6. Self-care is not selfish:The importance of service is not taken lightly in recovery. I believe that my service to others is the rent I pay for my place on earth. However, I also remember that if I am not taken care of & filled up with my own love, then I cannot be of service to others. Service becomes a chore and an obligation as opposed to what it should truly be: an honor. As I have moved through my recovery, I have had to step away from the idea that I am selfish if I take care of myself. I have learned, overtime, that I must take care of me, if I can take care of others.
7. If you have to chase someone, they are not yours to hold: There's this saying that says "everything I left has claw marks in it." This used to be true for me as well. I could not let go lovingly. I clung to what was comfortable and avoided change. Change was scary. However, in re-building my self-esteem and truly knowing the wonders of me; I know that if I have to chase someone, then they aren't meant for me. I let go of those who aren't ready to love me & I make room and space in my life for those who are.