I’ve missed writing and sharing my life with all of you people I feel a profound connection with. Life, as is turns out, doesn’t always go according to plan. It’s surprising sometimes to think back over whom you have been, where you thought you were going, and who you’ve hoped to become. When I think back to where I was a year and a half ago, I don’t recognize that person. She’s the same woman looking back at me when I’m staring at myself in the mirror, but her mind, my mind is so different.
I realize now, that everything I wanted to accomplish centered around me. It was more than an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, it was an unhealthy relationship with myself. I didn’t value, love, or respect myself, so instead I avoided myself, and my life at all cost. The greatest cost was me. It felt as though I had lost myself forever, and there was never going to be a time in which I was going to find myself again. The truth is, I had never found myself. I didn’t know who I was, or where I was going. I was a young girl navigating a life that had been handed to me, instead of cultivating my own.
You read those motivational quotes people post on the internet. The articles about 25 things some woman deemed to be the keys that opened the door to her success and happiness. They say things like, live your life for you. Don’t have regrets. Find what brings you happiness and follow it relentlessly. I think we all know the concepts people are attempting to portray, but applying these techniques to your own life can seem so impossible. How do I change my life, and find happiness? Behavior is learned over a lifetime, and changing your behavior takes time. You have to condition yourself.
I look back at what feels like monumental accomplishments I’ve made in life. Here’s my list of 5 things I’ve learned through the last year and a half.
1.) You can change anything about yourself. Anything. You just have to take the first step. Even if you have no idea where it’s going to lead.
Being open about sobriety wasn’t as much about sobriety, as it was about accountability. I’m a pretty prideful person, and my fear of failure has driven me in a positive and negative directions. Deciding to be open and vulnerable about something I considered to be a flaw or failure was not easy. It may have been the most difficult decision I had made at that point in my life. It did teach me that being open and honest is usually always well received. Accepting love and guidance from friends, family, and strangers is a very powerful feeling. It allowed me to finally push myself in all the areas I knew I needed to change. Knowing that I had support allowed me the confidence I needed to charge full steam ahead at changing my life. That my failure didn’t change who I was, that it only molded aspects of who I am. With each baby step in a direction guided solely by my OWN intention and motivation, I became the person I wanted to be. I came into my own.
2.) Feeling like shit is ok, as long as you don’t allow yourself to wallow in self pity for you too long.
When I initially attempted to get sober, I was at an emotional rock bottom. I had backed myself into a corner that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get out of. It felt like my support group was gone, because I had done all that I could to push them away. I felt like choices and decisions I had made left me a terrible person. There was a part of me that rejected the idea that I had anything to offer my friends, family or the world around me. I didn’t feel worthy or deserving of love. Then I got up off the couch, and marched forward. I decided that my past was just that – my past. I can’t change who I was, or the choices I made. I can’t undo all of the shitty things I’ve done. All I can do is move forward in a life guided by my conscience. I CAN control my future actions and behaviors. I can create the life I’ve always wanted. In order to do that though, I had to believe it. With each step I took I realized I was capable. My friends helped me see that despite the actions of my not so glamorous past, I was deserving of love. Not only that, but that I positively contributed to the lives of those around me. I learned that kicking yourself when you’re down, is no different than doing the same to someone else. Nothing changes until you pick yourself up off the floor and start moving.
3.) You can’t say you love yourself, you have to actually love yourself.
Self love is a struggle for some people. It was for me. It may be the hardest aspect of my personal journey. To know that I am capable of love, and that I am deserving of it’s receipt, is hard. When I falter from my desired path, or make a mistake, or do something I’m not proud of, I am my own worst enemy. I hate myself – I beat myself up. I am a perfectionist. When you read about people who suffer from addiction, you find, more often than not, that they share a common thread – perfection. This desire to live up to an unrealistic expectation of themselves. An unattainable status of perfection, that when not reached is answered with sharp criticism and self destructive behavior. I’m still learning to love myself. To allow myself to feel proud of all that I have accomplished in life. To allow myself to love myself despite my faults. To console my own soul when I’ve “failed”. To not be my own worst critic is difficult at times, but learning to love myself is alway going to be my ultimate goal.
4.) Cutting the negative relationships in your life is hard, and sometimes not the clearest decision, but so worth it.
Everyone enters your life for a reason. I believe that. Maybe that reason is to hand you a sandwich from a drive through window and smile or compliment your nails, but hey, there they are. I tend to hold on to relationships far longer than necessary once I’ve formed a bond or attachment to people. I personally attribute this to issues of abandonment I have from my childhood, as I feel it’s encouraged me to accept any relationship or a negative relationship, over the idea of not having any at all. I think it’s important to recognize the people in your life who contribute to the betterment of who you are. The ones who understand that it’s not about a million memories together, but the few that leave your heart so full that you can’t imagine love to leave you more fulfilled. There are those friends who you’ve struggled with. The ones who have cared and loved you enough to work through issues you’ve had over the years. Those are the ones that stick by your side through the thick of it. There are also those friends or lovers you need to let go of. Sometimes a relationship has run it’s course. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to let go, before you’re forced to. Those big, explosive ends to a relationship are often because we have chosen to hold on to them for too long. Bottling up emotions, and neglecting that part of your heart that has been pained one too many times. Letting go doesn’t mean you can’t talk here and there, or want nothing but the best for that person, it just means that you’re ready to move them down on that totem pole of priorities I love to talk about. My life has come full circle in a lot of ways. Many of the relationships I let go of are the strongest I have now. I attribute that to not holding on for too long when life’s journey was pulling us in seperate directions.
5.) Only you know what is best for you, and only you can change your life. Don’t sit around waiting for something to happen, make it happen.
You have to be happy. Living your life favoring everyone else’s emotions over your own will only leave you disappointed. I don’t ever want to be the cause or reason for anyone else’s pain or disappointment, but I am not responsible for their expectations of me. I’m free to live my life, because I know that who I am is a good person, with good intentions. I know that along the way I’m going to ruffle a feather. I’m going to be inconsiderate. I’m going to make a decision that leaves someone else feeling something I didn’t intend. That’s true for me too. That said, only I know what I want, and I’m going to die knowing that I did everything in life the way I felt was best for me.
I knew my life needed to change. I wanted to be successful in my own eyes. For a long time I lived my life comparing it to other people’s. There was a point when I felt like life dealt me a bad hand, and that was all she wrote. I was never going to win. Then I decided to say fuck it, and stopped caring about the odds, or the cards, or the game. I just wanted to play. I wanted to be an active participant. It’s like that saying “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Now, if you say that to me when I’m playing a competitive sport, I’m going to tell you you’re stupid. I’m here to win. In life, I am here to win, but my idea of winning is playing the game well. I don’t need to be the best at anything, my name settles that, but I do want to know that I gave life my damn best shot. That I poured every ounce of energy into it. I want to be tired, sweaty, and worn out when I die. Right now I can tell you I am. I am trying my damnedest to give myself the life I know I deserve, because I love myself, and I would do anything for me. I know that as long as I keep following that moral compass on my journey, everything is going to be just fine. I am going to be just fine.
I’ve missed writing. 🙂