Defining yourself when you are first substance free can be a challenge. Your self esteem is at a particularly low point, you might feel guilty, full of shame or resistant to the idea of living without a drink or a substance of your choice for the rest of your life. You could describe yourself as a loser, a drunk, a good-for-nothing, an angry, unhappy, lonely person. These are not words to ascribe yourself to, nor are they helpful for your recovery.
One of the first bits of information you learn when getting educated about substance abuse is alcoholism, for one, is a progressive disease. Because of what effects it has on your brain, it is termed a disease of denial. It’s almost as if alcohol is a loudspeaker with the volume turned all the way up, and is broadcasting, drink more, never let the coffers run dry, drink whenever you possibly can, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong.
When you learn about alcoholism, you may change your opinion of yourself. Not only that, but in recovery you will have the opportunity to get to know yourself better. You’ll be able to look into why you were attracted to the effects of alcohol in the first place. One of the most rewarding results of lasting recovery can be made up of three words: I like myself.
Once a week, it might be a worthwhile exercise to write down a few words to describe yourself. As you work your way through your first month in AA, for example, or at a 28-day rehab, your view of yourself can change. Reading back over your notes will be a good barometer to witness and reflect upon the progress you’ve made in recovery. Recovery isn’t going to be a same day service kind of thing, nor does it resemble the fast-paced culture in which we live. Recovery can be a painfully slow journey full of ups and downs.
You probably didn’t graduate from high school in two years, rather, it took four hard, frustrating and often fun years of sticking to your studies in order to graduate. During your freshman year, you might have described yourself as fearful, but when you became a sophomore you had more of a foundation—you knew the lay of the land. You then described yourself as doing alright. Switch this scenario to recovery and you might declare, I’m doing the best that I can. So you see, how you describe yourself in recovery can and most likely will change for the better. You deserve to recognize yourself for the courageous person you are today, and all the days of your lasting recovery.
“We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.”—Mary Dunbar
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