Valentine’s Day. For being a holiday all about love, it definitely brings out some of the strongest love/hate reactions from most of us.
Being in recovery myself, I’ve learned that Valentine’s Day can be either a day full or excitement or a day filled with wanting to escape. It seems to be marketed to remind those who are single that we are very, very single. On the other hand, if you’re in a relationship it’s a day full of panic planning the perfect day to prove to our partner that you’re worth loving.
Many of us seem to forget that the greatest love we can end up feeling is the love we have for ourselves. When was the last time you felt comfortable in your own skin? Or the last time you bought yourself flowers from the grocery store? Even better, when was the last time you applauded yourself for being sober?
Getting sober and staying sober is not only a major form of self-love but also a gift to those around us. We get to show up for people we love, rather than missing out on important moments because our addictions get in the way. We’re able to express our love in meaningful ways with thought behind it and a clear mind. We learn to be present in all aspects of life.
Of course, it’s not always easy to be present. Early into recovery, it can feel unbearable sometimes, and the desire to escape can feel stronger than any Valentines-y desires we might also have. Whether it’s your first Valentine’s Day sober or you recently went through a breakup, remind yourself that you are walking through the discomfort and that is strength. Leaning into the discomfort and not numbing ourselves with drugs or alcohol is a true miracle for those in recovery.
Whether you’re waking up today dreading being single, processing grief and loss, or planning the perfect day for your significant other, be proud of yourself for showing up sober.
I know this year will look very different for me, but I am learning to appreciate the difficult times by leaning on my sober network, my friends, my parents, and, yes, my cats. It may not look the way chocolate and jewelry companies say Valentine’s Day is supposed to look, but that doesn’t mean it has any less love in it.
Maybe today looks like buying yourself those flowers, as Miley Cyrus famously quoted in her new song, or it’s attending a recovery meeting and connecting with others. Or maybe it’s sitting down with yourself and reflecting on the growth you’ve made in your recovery journey so far and then snuggling up with your fur baby and watching your favorite movie. The biggest gift you have given yourself and others is not picking up a drink or substance.
I recently saw a quote that said, “How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” You are so worthy and deserving of love, so why not start the journey of self-love today?
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