Written By: Summer Cress
Lately, I’ve been healing from a lot, a lot of low self esteem, lost relationships, changes in work and an uncertain home environment. I have realized that healing is a lot like riding a wave. There are many ups and downs. Some days you’re able to function normally, maintain positive attitude and demeanor, and you may actually feel like you’re making progress with grief, with your physical appearance, improving your self worth, creating positive thoughts, and creating good behaviors. Then, the very next day, you’re reminded of your loss, your poor self image, or whatever it is you’re going through and it feels like you won’t ever recover again.
This is okay. Yes, I said it. You’re still making progress whether you feel 100%, or 50% and even at 1%. You’re actively working on yourself, and some days may be better or worse than others. On the days that you feel badly, remind yourself of how far you’ve come. I’ve found it helpful in my personal recovery to journal or write little notes of my daily accomplishments and setbacks. That way I can go through and physically see my growth, rather than trying to remember when I’m feeling anxious or upset. It’s sometimes crippling when you’re experiencing negative emotions. Being prepared for how you feel when you’re low and having a plan for coping is so important. Without that, if you’re like me, you could act impulsively or make poor decisions to cope with your problems and with your pain. What coping skills work for you? Perhaps make a list and keep it close, on your wall or mirror, a place you pass often, so you can constantly be reminded of how to calm yourself down.
Now back to healing..
The first step in healing is self awareness. Becoming aware of your feelings, triggers, coping methods (both good and bad, and hopefully becoming aware that you need to lose the bad), your warning signs that you’re not okay or things are getting unmanageable for you. All these things will be different for everyone. What triggers me, may not trigger you. A bad day or bad decision may not look the same for me or you. What calms me down, may not calm you down. Spend some time with yourself, your thoughts, be brutally honest with yourself and what each of these areas look like for you. When you take the time to do this, you will find it easier to come out of negative emotions (anger, heartache, sadness, disappointment, etc.), and you will find it easier to spot your negative behaviors and coping skills.
Then, you can make a conscious decision to do something different.
Story time: I ended a relationship that was very important to me recently, and if you know me you know I tend to be slightly codependent, which makes losing relationships extremely difficult for me. At first, I became obsessed with trying to work things out. I was trying to force conversations and feelings that my partner did not want to have, and in turn I just caused the relationship to ultimately end when things could have been repaired. I am the queen of self sabotage. Then, I went on to my poor coping skills in my grief. I kissed a boy I didn’t know. I went back to hanging out with an ex because it was easy and the attention felt good. I went out to a bar, which is NOT okay because I am in recovery. I lapsed. It was poor decision after poor decision. I didn’t want to deal with my pain. Finally, I couldn’t ignore my feelings, as they became extremely overwhelming and crippling. I was heartbroken. The fact that I was delaying my healing caused me to ruin other relationships in my life and kept me in a vicious cycle of unhealthy behavior. I decided it was time to work on the things that caused my relationship to end, such as controlling behaviors, my low self esteem and self worth. I began starting old hobbies and finding new ones to stay busy and to create that sense of personal accomplishment. I downloaded an app called “I am” that reminded me hourly of different positive affirmation and posted them to my phone screen several times a day. I genuinely tried to work on that piece of myself. I noticed my small accomplishments, like going a day or 5 days without texting my ex-partner. I wasn’t relying on his communication to validate me or make me happy. I worked on my coping skills and anxiety. Some days, I’d have to go through 5 or 10 things to calm down. As I said, some days are better than others. I did all of this stuff and ultimately it granted me some peace and carried me to a place of contentment. Until I was reminded of that relationship in a harsh way. They had moved on, and I was completely devastated. I reverted back to that old behavior. I got angry, I said things I didn’t mean to my ex-partner because I was acting on impulse. I didn’t stop and think about what I could do instead of that, I just reacted in anger. It was disappointing, I’d had a setback. It created a feeling of shame because I had let myself down. I wasn’t holding true to my morals, values and personal growth. It’s okay though because I am once again aware of my triggers and I evaluated myself and identified what I could do differently next time.
We all experience loss and setbacks. We all go through grief and healing at some point or other in life.
Take care of yourself. Know yourself. Do what you need to stay happy, healthy and whole.
You can change your future. You can create the life and the love that you want, but it all starts with looking within yourself and healing from those losses and past traumas. Loving yourself. Being honest and true to yourself.
Walk with grace and dignity. Be proud of your progress and strive to be better every single day.
You are worth it. You are a walking miracle. You have everything you need inside yourself. You don’t need another person to validate your worth or your feelings. Becoming your own best friend, your own lover and forming a life you’re proud of, will make all your future relationships more meaningful and successful. It will be a love free of codependence, anxiety and anger.
I hope in sharing my struggles and being honest that someone else will be able to use this as a guide to healing.