To: Tamara Evans
Cc: Love, relationships, God
Subject: Where you been
Hey again, it’s your old, old friend self-worth. I know we’re not very familiar with one another because it’s been a long time since we’ve been acquainted. It’s almost like we’ve just met, that’s how long it’s been. Somewhere around high school we started losing touch, and while you were in college I seemed to lose you completely. We haven’t had much contact since. I’m really glad to find that I’m seeing you more and more lately.
I know it’s a struggle to hang on to me. It can be hard to notice that you actually carry me with you every day. I am quickly forgotten, easily concealed, and difficult to recognize. Most days there’s a temptation to look for me externally, in other people or things. Please understand that I don’t reside there- I’m your SELF-worth, and so I can be found only within yourSELF, where I have been all along. All you ever needed to do was seek me by seeking yourself, but that is much easier said than done.
Finding me again is work. The world around you will try to fool you into believing that buying things, looking a certain way, or becoming who other people want you to be will bring me back to you. Please don’t be seduced by their lies. No man or woman can provide me in a package, pill or potion, either. Once you clear away the wreckage of your past and form a relationship with yourself, you’ll come to see that I am a gift. I am delivered to you as you grow to become the woman you were always meant to be and never knew it.
This blog has taken me a long time to write because I have struggled heavily with self-worth as of late, and I am under no false illusion that I will easily conquer this ongoing battle any time soon. As a recovering addict, and especially as a woman in recovery, finding love for myself, finding self-esteem, and reclaiming my dignity is hard enough. Learning to unearth these things while maintaining a balance between the humility necessary to keep me grounded and the pride I allow myself to feel when recognizing my accomplishments only further complicates matters. This balancing act is a prime example of why it is so strongly suggested that we, as addicts and alcoholics, should use the steps, a sponsor and sober supports to guide us in our recovery. The waters are murky. The navigation is complicated. It is far too easy to be pulled off course.
The temptation to get validation from outside of myself is strong. A person I admire or am attracted to is giving me attention? Let. Me. Tell. You. A. Thing. It feels lovely, that’s without question.
I’m here to tell you that in my experience, external validation is transient. Fleeting.
This doesn’t mean there is no place for appreciating others’ approval or genuine care, but it is a thin line to tread when it comes to early recovery and how we build our foundations.
I have both experienced (meaning I, myself, have relapsed off of a rehab romance breakup) and watched as people get in and out of relationships and flings in early recovery, believing no harm is being done. I have seen people live through the usually inevitable end of these relationships.
I have seen both parties relapse.
I have seen one of them relapse.
I have seen one of them die.
I have seen both of them die.
I say I had to learn the hard way, and maybe most people do, but maybe someone reading this doesn’t. Please understand I’m not saying that everyone who ‘hooks up’ or dates in early recovery is destined to have it blow up in their face; I certainly thought I was an exception, until I wasn’t. What I *am* saying is that the root issue, the searching for external validation- and especially from a romantic partner who is also in early recovery- is not treated with enough seriousness or addressed often enough in my opinion.
For me, staying out of a relationship has been key in learning to love myself, learning how to be alone with myself and my thoughts, and finding my ‘long-lost’ self-worth. My self-worth never actually went away, I’ve come to find. It is a fixed thing- regardless of how people perceive me or how I see myself, I am worthy and valuable. People and their opinions of me will change over time. I am worthy and irreplaceable because I am a human being with a soul and a unique set of contributions I can make to this world and to the people in it.
Here’s the awesome news: So are you.
You matter. Waking up every day and internalizing that is an ongoing process, but it is so vital.
We sell ourselves short in recovery when we choose to place someone else’s opinion of us over our opinion of ourselves. I fortify my self-worth when I work to contribute the community around me, both within and outside of recovery. I remind myself I’m worthy of love when I show love to others, when I lend an ear to a friend in need, when I lift up other women like me. I demonstrate my capabilities to grow when I study hard before a test, practice guitar, or even do drudging chores like cleaning my room or taking care of my car.
Today I know that my self-worth is not rooted in what one person thinks of me. It is intrinsic, unchanging, and based upon my relationship with myself and with my higher power. For that, today, I’m grateful.
So go be awesome, because you’re awesome.