For me, recovery has been a process of reclamation of my true self. It's been about growth, evolution, and healing, but it's also been about unlearning what I once believed as true. There are so many times I bulldozed through life not listening to my own intuition. I didn't identify the truths that guided me, but instead listened to the truths that guided our society and culture, as well as my own addictive behaviors.
I had to unlearn so many of the toxic habits I had developed and I had to create an unshakable faith in my own abilities to heal and recover. The following is a list of seven truths I learned in my own recovery from love addiction and drug addiction.
1. Being busy is not a badge of honor.
Recovery taught me that it does not matter how slow you go: forward is forward. I used to believe that life was a race. I had to get ahead and so I did everything in my power to stay busy. I even got the word ambition tattooed on my ass at 16, because ambition used to be my guiding word. I didn't slow down enough to enjoy the present moment. I always had to go, go, go. My thoughts revolved around the future and I never lived in the now. Today, I slow down. I take care of myself. I tell my body and my soul I love her. I show her this not just in words, but in action. And that action, usually revolves around slowing down and taking much needed breaks.
2. Self-love is the greatest middle finger of all time.
If I was in a relationship and someone broke my heart; I didn't take the time to love myself. Instead, I found another person who could love me. I escaped the idea of self-love, believing that another person could love me enough to take over the responsibility of loving myself. Being a serial monogamist and never being alone didn’t give me the chance to properly grow. It didn't allow me to feel real loneliness. My pain was deep, but it was also artificial because I never got in touch with my core wounds. When I hurt today, and I allow myself to feel and uncover the core reasons for this pain, I learn to love all of me, even the parts that no one claps for. In loving my light and my dark; I practice self-love in a way I never had before. I accept my entire authentic self, regardless of how you feel about me.
3. You can't make another human your home.
Remember that line in the movie Jerry Maguire when Jerry mouthed to Dorothy "You complete me?" At the time, I melted into the couch cushion in a puddle of tears waiting for a love like that. I believed that I was two parts of a whole and I had to find my other half to be complete. While the idea of completing another person can be seen as beautifully romantic, it was also a way for me to overplay my power. I used men to feel my own power. I didn't choose men who were healthy and whole on their own. I found men who were jealous and insecure. I found men who wanted to control me - and whom I could in turn, control. I didn't understand the idea of picking a healthy romantic partner and I certainly didn't know anything about boundaries. I didn't realize that I didn't need a man by my side to complete me. I used to melt into my partner and now I stand tall on my own.
4. You are allowed to say "No."
I used to wonder why I was not valued as much as others. I worked hard. I was smart. I stayed late and I would always take on your task if you did not complete it. People loved working with me, but they did not love me. If they asked me to do something, I always said yes. I didn't understand how to say no. I didn't know the value in saying no, in having standards, in setting boundaries. I thought I had to be a "yes" woman. I believed I was just a girl, playing in a man’s world. Recovery has taught me how to reclaim my voice. I stopped saying yes to shit I hate and I learned to say no. I learned that I do not have to be everything to everyone.
5. "How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you." - Rupi Kapur
If I don’t take the time to be quiet and listen to my intuition or my soul-voice, I don't hear what I need. I hear what others need of me, but I don't listen to what is right for my own life. If I don't respect myself, then how would I expect someone else to? Respecting myself involves discovering what is true for me, uncovering the truths that guide me, and following the path of what brings me the most joy. I’ve learned how to take care of my mind, my body, and my spirit. I don't neglect one for the other - all are equally important. I used to take care of my mind above all else - believing that my intelligence and drive were the priority. In doing this, I neglected my body with lack of sleep, unhealthy eating, and forgetting the importance of moving my body. My spirit was dull – I was disconnected. In recovery, I love myself by attending to all parts of me, and in doing so, I teach others how to love me.
6. Self-care is not selfish.
The importance of service is not taken lightly in recovery. I believe that my service to others is the rent I pay for my place on earth. However, I also remember that if I am not taken care of and filled up with my own love, then I cannot be of service to others. Service becomes a chore and an obligation as opposed to what it should truly be: an honor. As I have moved through my recovery, I’ve had to step away from the idea that I am selfish if I take care of myself. I have learned, over time, that I must take care of me, if I can take care of others.
7. If you have to chase someone, they are not yours to hold.
There's this saying that goes "everything I left has claw marks in it." This used to be true for me as well. I could not let go lovingly. I clung to what was comfortable and avoided change. Change was scary. However, in re-building my self-esteem and truly knowing the wonders of me; I know that if I have to chase someone, then they aren't meant for me. I let go of those who aren't ready to love me and I make room and space in my life for those who are.
Lara Frazier is an advocate, a truth-teller, a poet, and a sobriety warrior. She is a fierce believer in the power of owning our stories and is a strong advocate for addiction recovery. Lara shares stories of healing: in sobriety, through addiction, in life and love, and in all the other big huge moments of fear and magic that we rarely talk about, but we should. Find more on her blog www.larafrazier.com or follow her on Instagram: @sillylara.