Substance use can damage us in ways we never anticipated. On the surface, there are behaviors we exhibit and the mistakes we make cost us our finances, jobs, and relationships. We feel the changes in our bodies and our minds. The most significant damage, however, is that we lose the ability to love ourselves. Even if we enter treatment, how can we ever love ourselves again?
Falling in Love
Just like meeting someone else and falling in love, we need to give ourselves the opportunity to love ourselves again. This begins when we make the decision to seek treatment for our substance abuse. It is scary, maybe even terrifying, to think of the process it may take to love oneself again. It is also a process full of excitement. Getting into treatment can be the beginning of a beautiful and wonderful relationship with ourselves.
By making the choice to begin our recovery journey, we are showing ourselves that we have the capacity to love ourselves, although it may not seem quite that romantic. Even if we were strongly advised to seek treatment, agreeing and committing to begin our recovery shows that we love ourselves enough to be brave and open our hearts once again.
Opening Our Hearts
When we are open to accepting who we are, we truly open our hearts to love and feel again. Society and others may judge us for our behavior and experience while we are in our use. We tend to do that, too, and often judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else. However, as we begin the journey of recovery and learn to love ourselves again, we gain acceptance: being willing to take ourselves as-is, no judgments about our past or behaviors. We simply look in the mirror and see who we are. We learn to just be.
Acceptance does not give us permission to continue doing harmful things to ourselves or others. We can be responsible for our actions without assigning more guilt or shame to ourselves. Acceptance simply allows us to be okay with what we have done in order for us to move past our past transgressions. We open our hearts to growth and love, as well as the ability to love and be loved by others, too.
When we feel damaged and broken, it is hard to rid ourselves of the guilt and shame of what we did when we used substances. There is freedom in forgiveness, though. When we have looked into our hearts and have seen that we are actually wonderful, then we can choose to forgive ourselves for the things in our past.
We don’t need to justify or rationalize our behaviors, just be willing to look at ourselves, accept our circumstance, then desire to heal from our past. One of the best parts of this process is the possibility of changing our behaviors going forward. We can acknowledge what we have done, make peace with it, then show true forgiveness by choosing a new path going forward. Forgiving ourselves and living in recovery shows a deep love for ourselves.
Waking up every day and re-committing to our recovery is the way to show up in our own lives. As we show up and do the work, our hearts grow and we can realize that showing up each day is love. The gift of recovery is one of the greatest acts of self-love that we can give ourselves.
Showing up in our lives and in our recovery demonstrates a belief in ourselves that exhibits an even more intense for ourselves. We are living our love for ourselves each day, by actually embodying the love that we have, growing within us and shaping our future.
Love Is in the Air
One of the most significant by-products of the recovery process is a massive increase in love we have for ourselves. Without doing anything drastic, we have learned a new way of life. Just by giving ourselves the best, most authentic effort to heal from substance abuse, we have regained self-love. By focusing on our healing, our hearts heal and we can learn to love the person that looks back at us in the mirror.
We don’t always get a partner, or friends, or our family back. We may not get the job back, or the rest of the stuff that we may have lost during our substance use. That is the nature of substance use and the long term impacts that it can have on our lives. However, we can gain acceptance, forgiveness and self-love. Those gifts to ourselves will allow us to heal from our pain and empower us to create new happiness in our lives. When we love ourselves, we have more room than ever before for love in our hearts. Whether that is love for other people, for what we do, or the world around us, we can achieve more happiness than we could have ever imagined.
Wherever we are, no matter how much pain, no matter how broken we are, there is always the decision to open our hearts and love ourselves again. When we forgive ourselves and others, accept who we are, and show up for recovery, we create the opportunity for a loving new relationship with ourselves. We can allow others to love us again, too. The opportunities for love and healing in recovery are endless. Begin your journey today. You deserve to be loved and to love yourself.
You can love yourself again. Give yourself the gift of self-love in recovery. Call AToN Center at (888) 535-1516 today.