Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.
When I first got sober I didn’t really know what this journey would be like. In the beginning I was just interested in no longer being held captive by my addiction and I wanted to get to a place where I no longer felt such an overwhelming obsession to use that it ruined everything in my life. I didn’t know that recovery would be a lifelong journey of self-discovery. I didn’t know that recovery would result in great upheavals within myself, and I didn’t know that through it all, it would be a journey towards learning to love myself again.
The truth of the matter is I can’t necessarily say that I ever really loved myself. Maybe when I was a very young girl this may have been the case, before life and the traumas that were inflicted upon me at an early age scarred my psyche, I may have loved myself, but as far back as I can remember, and looking at it objectively now, I cannot recall a time that I was accepting of who I was.
At first I would escape into books, hoping beyond hope that I could be one of the characters in the novels I would read. I wanted so badly to be anyone but myself, because I had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t enough or that I was innately bad. I always felt that I wasn’t pretty enough, or smart enough, or funny enough and I would look at other people and think that they just had something that I didn’t. That they were better off then me and I wasn’t enough.
I then turned to an eating disorder and substance abuse as a means to blot out the self-hatred I experienced and silence the demons that screamed in my head. I would control my eating or binge and purge as a means to inflict damage on myself. It was more than that, as both of these things also helped give me a reprieve from the constant negative self talk that rattled around in my mind day and night, but really if I look at it now, engaging in my eating disorder and using drugs was just a manifestation of my lack of self-love.
While addiction is a multi-faceted disease, I do believe that a person with a firm grounding in self and a general love for themselves would not have done the things that I did in my past. They would not have a need to use drugs to the point of oblivion and they would not need to restrict their eating so that they could match some unattainable image of beauty conjured up by their distorted mind. They would understand that they were not perfect and they would know how to accept themselves for who they were. I, however, did not have these qualities and so I used drugs and participated in my eating disorder in an attempt to become something that I wasn’t— to become someone that I wasn’t.
Then once I got sober I began the journey towards self-love. The magnitude of this undertaking didn’t hit me all at once and I remember that once I made it through my Steps the first time, I had a sort of feeling that I had arrived. I had a feeling of elation that I had never felt before and for a fleeting moment I thought that I was free from everything that had ailed me. I was able to hold my head up high and I was able to look the world in the eye and say “I am Rose and I am enough,” but the longer that I have stayed sober, the more I realized just how many layers of self-rejection I have within me.
I have to be honest here and say that sometimes self-discovery can be discouraging. It sometimes feels like once I make a breakthrough, I am shown just how much further I have to go. A friend once referred to this as peaks and troughs, meaning, when we are going through a period of learning more about ourselves we are in the trough, or the downswing. All we can see is what is in front of us, and once we make it through this, we reach the top of the mountain, or the peak, and we are given a peek at just how much further we have to go.
This has been my experience thus far, and I have had my fair share of peaks and troughs. In fact just recently I had an experience that really could have derailed my recovery. It felt like it was going to be my undoing, but now that I am working through it, I have come to realize that this whole experience was simply a lesson in learning to love myself more. The amount of pain that it caused me was tremendous, but it appears that the pain was necessary in order to burn off more of the untruths that I have believed about who I am. As these untruths were ripped from me, I learned that I am not as fragile as I once believed and that the love I bestow on myself cannot be conditional. It cannot be based on my outside circumstances, because if it is, then I will inevitably be left lacking and inevitably be left without self-love.
I learned that in order to love myself, I must first accept who I am, for all my faults and failures. I must not love myself only when things are looking up, but I have to love myself when things are grim and dark as well. This is not always easy, but as each year passes I understand more and more and the process becomes a little easier. In the end the only person that I have to be with for the rest of my life, is me, so I need to learn to accept myself and love myself, because otherwise life will be rather difficult to deal with.