Why Self-Love is the Foundation of All Sobriety
About eight months into my sobriety I started a blog called the Adventures of a Sober Señorita. I had no idea how long or in what capacity I was going to be sober, but putting “sober,” in the name of my blog held me accountable in a sense. I believe everyone who gets sober has a different, defining moment of clarity, a feeling and moment they won’t ever forget. This was true for me and my sobriety had a lot to do with my deep-seeded feelings of self-hatred. I felt defined by my drinking habits, the dark places they took me to, and the things I did and situations I put myself in while drinking. At my core, I hated myself for not being able to drink like a “normal,” person, for letting my life get out of control, and for engaging in behavior that only fueled these beliefs. I felt disgusting, used, ugly, and bad.
When the fog of early sobriety lifted, I began to finally look at myself in the mirror again. Knowing that I was waking up every day choosing not to drink or use drugs made it slightly easier. Self-love is defined as regard for one’s own well-being and happiness, a concern for self, a feeling of wanting the best for yourself. In sobriety I’ve learned that self-love is a concept critical to anyone hoping to sustain long-term recovery. I’ve also learned it’s necessary for any human being who wants to heal, work through the traumas of their past, or just live a life based on love instead of fear. “Sobriety is self-love,” quickly became the tagline for my blog. To me, sobriety has been and is, the ultimate form of self-love, as I believe it is for many others. What do I mean by this? I believe that self-love is the foundation of all sobriety.
I think drinking and doing drugs for me started out as it does for most people, a fun pastime. But it quickly turned into a burden I kept quiet about carrying for years. Drinking allowed me to avoid my feelings, it gave me permission to engage in destructive relationships and behaviors, and finally, it was the doorway to the shame, guilt, and humiliation that in the end, became the reason why I drank. When I learned about self-love, I realized this is what I was lacking. I realized I could not love myself AND put harmful substances in my body at the same time.
I think for most people who are stuck in the cycle of addiction, they don’t even believe they are worth of recovery. They don’t think they deserve help. They don’t believe they deserve to live a life free from addiction. They can’t fathom a life of peace, happiness, and tranquility. That’s how I felt. I didn’t think it was possible and I didn’t believe I deserved that. How could I? I believed I was getting all I deserved. I believed I put myself in that position. I believed I was weak for not being able to drink moderately. It took me years of sobriety and a lot of work to understand that some of life’s cards were stacked against me and that when I picked up alcohol I never planned to become addicted.
It was in learning to love myself that sobriety stuck. It was in the learning and the knowing that I deserve better that sobriety become a form of self-love for me. I love myself too much today to give up my sobriety. I know that I deserve recovery. I don’t drink because I love myself. My love for self now outweighs my former desire to self-destruct. Learning to love myself hasn’t been easy. I have to love all of me, even the messy parts, or the things I’ve done I’m not proud of, and the mistakes that I’ve made.
If you’re stuck in self-loathing and don’t believe that you’re inherently worthy of sobriety, it might not be working for you. But you need to know we are all worthy. We all have the power to cultivate a relationship with ourselves that is healthy and positive. This is necessary for sobriety to blossom. It’s necessary if you want to live a life you’re proud of, one that you don’t have to escape from. Today I know that I am a good person who is doing the best I can. I feel beautiful, I feel loved, and I feel renewed. For me this is sobriety. This is self-love.
About the Author
Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterPartyMagazine. She is currently writing a memoir.