By Tammie K, Renascent Alumni
February is the month for love! Learning to love myself through recovery has been the biggest change and the most beautiful gift I have received since getting sober over a year ago.
I always felt that I was missing something, missing a connection deep within. I realized a long time ago that much of what I was missing was feeling a lack of love from my mother.
My mother had her own hands full dealing with people in her life who were alcoholics, and she and my father did the very best for my brothers and me. In recovery I have been able to not only understand and have empathy for my mom, who did the very best that she could under circumstances we did not even understand. I now have respect and admiration for her which used to be disguised in my drinking as resentments.
In accepting this part of my childhood, I was also able to truly heal the little girl who only ever wanted to be loved and who always felt like she had to prove herself in some way to earn that love.
Through my adolescence, I had come to rely on attention I received from achievements, yet on the inside I felt far from the best. Through my university years, I drank and partied way too much, trying to fit in, but never feeling that I measured up or that I was good enough. All of the other girls were prettier, more popular, skinnier, more experienced, smarter, more confident…all of the things! I just felt less than in every way.
Drinking took that all away, or at least let me pretend for a little while that I was good enough. All the while though, I still just wanted to feel love on the inside. Love regardless of what I did, who I was with, how popular I was. But I hated myself.
The theme stayed with me even through the years of having my children and raising them. It stayed with me in my first marriage, and through friendships. It stayed with me in activities I did, exercising, entertaining, everything. I always tried to be the best. For so long I believed my competitive nature was the reason I wanted to be the best. I know now it is because I kept seeking acceptance and love. I was still the little girl so desperate for love.
So many counsellors at Renascent’s Graham Munro Centre helped me understand new ways of thinking. Along with practical tools, and distraction tools, I learned about mindfulness and meditation, and I learned to be more connected and grateful for my body through yoga. I even learned that I had a dual-addiction with sugar, and learned I could be abstinent and recover from sugar too.
There was still so much “work” to be done, however. I was learning that emotionally I was still a very young child, something I had not realized. I can still hear Martha, one of the wonderful counsellors at Munro, drilling it into me that I am loveable!!! The very best part? I don’t have to do anything to be loveable! I don’t have to compete, I don’t have to be the best, I don’t have to win. I can just be. I can now look at my life and understand that I was always loveable, and always loved. That feeling of missing something has disappeared. I am so grateful for such life-changing opportunities to learn.
In sobriety I have learned that love truly does come from within. I knew that it was going to take lots of learning to understand the deeper reasons why I drank. That work could only begin after I stopped drinking, and once I realized that I was powerless over my drinking, it cleared the way for so much self-realization, healing and growth.
Once I began accepting myself and loving myself I was able to show myself grace and love I was never able to show before. I can feel my emotions and not run away from them. I am of service to others, and I am competition with no one. I am thankful for my body too – it’s the only one I’ve got! Self-acceptance and self-love are possible, and once that love is found, it can only spread. When you give love away it comes right back.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!