I can’t remember when I started being hard on myself, but it is safe to say it was long ago. I had high expectations. I was often successful, but never seemed to quite measure up to my insane personal ideals.
And so I was always disappointed in myself.
This negative internal dialogue was difficult. It caused me extreme anxiety. Along the way I found that a few drinks would shut that damn voice up. And it did, for a while.
Eventually it just got louder. And some time in the last few years I knew that the drinking was causing the voice, but I just didn’t know how to stop it. And I could not handle listening to the voice. So I drank more, spiraling deeper and deeper into self-loathing and depression.
So I kept trying to fix myself. To prove things were ok. Maybe a thinner me would be happy. Maybe if I filled my spare time with exercise I wouldn’t need to drink to turn off the internal dialogue. I shopped. Look – I can afford expensive things. I MUST BE FINE.
I only ate meat and vegetables. I swore off all sugar, including fruit. For years. I even switched to vodka and water to avoid drinking calories. I alternated between worrying about money and spending too much. But any little slip, a cookie here, and I beat myself up. Nothing I did was right. None of these things fixed the unhappiness inside. And I began to believe that happiness was a lie. That life was to be endured. That monotony was my lot in life. I became more and more brittle.
Last year, in one of my last attempts to fix myself, I joined an online nutrition program. In fact, it was really a life coaching program that used habits to encourage change. It is called Precision Nutrition and it is AMAZING. I was introduced to the concept of self-compassion. It sounded good. Be kind to myself. I tried, but deep down I knew that alcohol and self-compassion weren’t compatible for me. Maybe I didn’t deserve self-compassion. Maybe I was just a bad person. I was always so disappointed in myself.
I also read Brene Brown’s book the Gifts of Imperfection.
Here was acknowledgement that trying to be perfect was killing my soul. That maybe I would be ok if I just stopped worrying so much about how others thought about me and only focused on how I thought about myself. That I needed to love myself to heal.
As the year went by I made may plans to moderate that I never stuck to. And finally, on Dec 1, I put down the wine bottle for good.
I fell into a deep depression in early sobriety. To get through those days I wrote myself a note. It said – You are enough. Just as you are.
When faced with decisions I consciously did what felt good for me. I was kind to myself. I took some time off work. I started going to yoga, where I felt supported and nourished and could cry. I stopped going to the gym, which suddenly felt like punishment. I ate cake and ice cream if I wanted to and I didn’t feel guilty.
And every day I started to believe those words more and more.
Those words kept me going. They helped me remember that I am a person worthy of love and happiness and kindness. And the only place I can get those things from is from me. They were always there, inside. I had just forgotten.

18 thoughts on “Kindness

  1. this made me cry. how is it that I can value kindness in others to me, and kindness in me to others, so highly – but set so little store by kindness by me to myself? just starting to learn, I hope…thank you for the ray of light.

    1. Read that book. It is very powerful.
      I can say I love myself wholeheartedly today. 9 months later.
      It’s amazing just how quickly that can happen.
      I hope I never forget just how special I am again.

      1. I have actually read that book – even posted about it back in April –

        and have been thinking I was due a re-read, with another five months of sobriety under my belt and the perspective I have gained from that, so thank you for the nudge!

        your post just really completed a mental circle for me. reading it made something click in a new way in my head. I am not so much a worrier of what others think of me, as someone who, in the past, focused on my (percieved) failings rather than my strengths. on what was left undone rather than what I had achieved. writing daily gratitude lists has been tremendous for me in achieving an all too necessary shift in perspective. in enabling me to see myself as someone worthy of my own affection. and of course chucking the booze out has been a huge help, too!

  2. Reblogged this on club east: indianapolis and commented:
    Sometimes I think we forget to breathe in and breathe out in recovery. I love this passage from ainsobriety: I fell into a deep depression in early sobriety. To get through those days I wrote myself a note. It said – You are enough. Just as you are.

  3. Alcohol and self-compassion aren’t compatible…I think I’m just starting realise this myself. And I don’t think I even knew _how_ to be kind to myself before. Maybe I still don’t know. This is the second time in a few days that I’ve heard that book mentioned, I will read it!

  4. You seem to have amazing strength and self discipline in so many areas of your life and your positivity radiates from this post – it gives me hope to read that you travelled through the early depression and seem to be at a stage in your life where you have regained control & self respect xx

    1. Thank you. I truly feel positive about life now. And most of that has come about through surrendering. I stopped trying to make everything the way I thought it should be. It was such a huge burden that I didn’t even realize I carried.
      I am a much kinder, softer person now. Especially with myself, but with my family too. It has made our lives much richer and enjoyable.

  5. Wow – reading my story in this post. We have sooooo much in common and that is cool. For me running, running, running despite my body screaming at me to stop and just walk the dog is what drove me… Now me and my dog just walk and listen to the Bubble Hour and we love that… Way to go!

    1. Isn’t is so relieving to just do what feels good?
      To actually honour your body for the gift it is?
      To not be fighting with yourself all the time.

      Some days I can’t believe how much my mind has changed.

  6. I really needed to read this today. I’m having another lovely wave of extreme PAWS fatigue and consequently beating myself up pretty good for not getting things crossed off my “to-do” list. Literally, I am forcing myself to get just some of the things done because I just lack the energy. My mind, which isn’t feeling fatigued at all, doesn’t like this one bit. I need to be patient through these episodes. Thank you for posting this today. I have to remind myself that no one’s epitaph says, “Here Lies So-and-So. She Always Completed Her To-Do List.”

  7. A!!! You sound just like me– crazy exercising. Restrict diet. Self hatred and anxiety. Since I stopped drinking (18 days ago), so much anxiety has lifted! keep writing!

    1. Stick with it. I can’t even begin to tell you how relieving it is for that inner dialogue to stop.
      To be able to look in the mirror and smile, not to criticize and hate.

      I even eat cheesecake. Shocking!

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