Learning about the importance of self-care in addiction recovery has been an unexpected surprise in life.
Self-care can be as simple as meeting our basic needs in life–eating, bathing, brushing our teeth, working to meet our financial needs. In my addiction, some of these basic needs were often neglected.
In the downward spiral of addiction, what was important to me was the next drink and the next drug. Life became so blurred that a state of tunnel vision is putting it mildly. Through recovery in a 12-step program, I began to see that my dependence on drugs and alcohol were a direct reflection of how I viewed myself. The disease made me feel completely worthless and hopeless. Once I stopped using, I discovered that all of the secrets and nightmares of my past put me in bondage to that past. I am no longer in bondage to alcohol or my past.
I began to realize that I am worthy and that I have intrinsic value as part of God’s creation.
This was a paradigm shift in the importance of self-care in addiction recovery for me. Once I began doing worthy things, I began to have self-esteem. This was a domino effect.
Today, I know that spending each morning in prayer time is self-care; helping others in recovery is self-care; being the son and brother my family deserves is self-care. It is a crazy dynamic. When I look outwardly, I am healed inwardly. My desire to be well and move forward just happens. This is self-care for me.
The importance of self-care in addiction recovery also means that I am not too hard on myself any longer.
I used to beat and bruise myself with self-loathing over the smallest of things. Now, I accept that I am a human being. I will never be anything other than that. I will make mistakes; I will display shortcomings to those around me. Knowing and understanding this allows me to accept myself for who I am, the good and the not so good. Righting any wrongs as life unfolds is self-care. I do not have to be bound by anything that once led me to destructive behavior.
Self-care is also understanding that there are boundaries in life. It is okay to have boundaries and, more importantly, to respect the boundaries of those around me. I am only responsible for me and the choices I make. I have had to make some tough choices in recovery about the influences I allow in my life. I care enough about myself to protect myself.
By God’s grace, the desire and compulsion to drink and do drugs is long gone. As long as I firmly plant myself every day in His care, I am free. The importance of self-care in addiction recovery is quite honestly the best part of recovery for me. Today, I care enough about myself to do something for someone else.