February is the month of love. With Valentine’s Day smack in the middle of the month, we make a point to focus on our love for others. Maybe just for one day. Maybe for an entire weekend. Whatever the case, it is typically short lived.
In our family we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. We walk right past all the candy and trinkets and gimmicky garbage that’s been lining the store aisles since before Christmas. We don’t buy each other cards. My husband and I have been together for 24 years (today is actually the anniversary of our first date!), and we have never gotten all ooey gooey over Valentine’s Day.
Why? Because my husband, that very first year we were dating, having been smooching each other for a whopping 12 days, said “I don’t think there should be just one day every year when you tell someone how you feel about them, how much you love them. I think you should do that every single day.” That might be what hooked me. Not really, but it is definitely one a million little things that is part of who we are now and the love we feel for one another every single day.
And, that brings me to self-love. Because, you cannot be anything to anyone unless you love yourself. Every single day. Not just when it’s easy and convenient.
Making a commitment to live alcohol free is the first and biggest step toward loving yourself. It’s impossible to put down your drink if you are unwilling to put yourself first. Sure, in the beginning many of us say we’re doing it for someone else. But, we soon discover all the reasons we should be doing it for ourselves.
For me, it was my kids. I stopped drinking for them. Because they didn’t sign up for life with an addicted mom. When I was drinking, I checked out on my kids emotionally. And, if I hadn’t gotten sober when I did, there is a HUGE chance I would have physically removed myself from their world as well. They didn’t deserve that. I had to change for them. At first, I just wanted to give them a mom who wasn’t drunk all the darn time. I wanted to stop taking chances I’d be too intoxicated to drive and get behind the wheel anyway because the kids had to get somewhere.
Over time, I’ve been able to give them more than just my sobriety. Today, I give them me, my perfectly imperfect self. It turns out, my commitment to live alcohol free was for me, too. By removing booze and trying to be the person I believed my kids needed and deserved, I was able to begin my recovery, a process through which I have found myself. I discovered someone I had never taken the opportunity to get to know. And, I fell in love with her.
That said, I am notorious for doing very unloving things to myself. Not just from time to time, but habitually. This is part of the work I am still doing. Because, sometimes I forget. I don’t stop loving myself, but I forget to show myself that love. Things get busy, stressful, chaotic, and sometimes even reach crisis levels. Everyone else needs a piece of me. And, having felt unworthy for so very many years, I sometimes still forget to dispute that thinking when it creeps in.
A solid self-care practice can help. Because it’s your daily opportunity to love on yourself, to fill your tank, to take care of you so you can take care of those who need you.
Some of my favorite go to self care tools, ways I remind myself how much I love me, are:
- Listening to Sarah Blondin Live Awake meditations on the Insight Timer app
- Drinking hot tea or kombucha and reading a book
- Drinking 100 ounces of water every day (that’s just my number I choose for myself)
- Yoga with Taryn Strong (I truly feel like she’s right there in the room with me when I use these videos!)
- Breathing in the fresh air
- Taking a walk
- Listening to a podcast
- Choosing essential oils to diffuse or wear
- Getting 7 hours of sleep per night
I’ll be honest, at this moment in time, many of these are goals vs. standard practice for me. However, I know I deserve these things. I am worthy of the happiness, joy, and power they bring to my life, and I am at my best when I fill myself with this goodness. I am making an intentional shift back to including more of them in my life on a weekly basis.
Because I am worth it. I am worthy of all the love that comes my way, but most especially the love I show myself. And, I am the best version of myself when I treat myself with loving kindness.
In “Loving and Listening to Yourself,” Sarah Blondin says when we love ourselves first “we fill our own needs first. Others who so graciously give love to us only add to our already full store of love.”