One of the most important things I’ve learned in recovery thus far:
Throughout my life I have always been reaching for things outside of myself – hoping I would find something that would make me happy. If I could just get that job, the husband, the house, the cars, be prettier, be thinner…THEN I would finally know true happiness.
The thing is, I always got those things and I still wasn’t happy. I had a loving husband, a beautiful daughter, a great job, the house and the cars, but those things never seemed to fill the deep void within my soul. I was still aching for more.
It was the same with alcohol. I was never satisfied. The thing I loved so much about it, was that it altered the way I felt about myself. It gave me confidence, and it made me forget (temporarily) how unhappy I was with myself. So…if I could just find a way to drink normally, like everyone else, my life would finally come together. I would be happy.
I didn’t know I was sick. All that trying was in vain. It made things worse. You can’t make a normal drinker out of an alcoholic – it doesn’t work that way.
I didn’t realize that happiness doesn’t come from anything external, it truly comes from within.
I used to HATE that expression. I thought it was just a bunch of bullshit adults fed us to make us feel better about the fact that we we didn’t fit in. When I finally stumbled into recovery, I found my misfit tribe – and I finally started to understand that happiness was an inside job. It wasn’t bullshit after all.
I am now in the process of learning to love myself, and that means learning to accept all the things I don’t like about myself too.
When I look at myself in the mirror today, I still see the same woman I despised for all of those years. I could be thinner, prettier, taller. I could have a smaller nose and straighter, whiter teeth. But I don’t, and I might never have those things.
I can also see the woman who acted inappropriately, neglected her family, said hurtful things to friends and family and, quite frankly, scared people with her erratic behavior.
I was that person, but I am not today…
I am blessed to have people in my life who were willing to forgive me for the mistakes I made. I have also begun the important process of forgiving myself.
The biggest difference when I look in the mirror today, is that I recognize my positive qualities too, and those qualities far outweigh anything physical, or any job title or salary I might possess. Today, I am honest, humble, loyal, and compassionate. I am a good mother, sibling, daughter and friend. And, depending on who you ask, I am pretty funny too – friggin’ hilarious, if you ask me!
I don’t need anyone to remind me of these things today, because I know them to be true. I may not have everything I want in my life right now, but getting what I wanted never brought me happiness anyway.
Things are not perfect, I still make mistakes, but I am proud of the woman I have become.