I have given up everything. No alcohol, no toxic relationships, no negative self talk. These were my addictions. These addictions were predictable and safe. They had a definite pattern. The pattern started out with me feeling vaguely unworthy and out of sorts. When this feeling would start I would think that if I let it continue I would fall into a deep unrecoverable depression. So, I would quickly take a drink, get involved in a toxic drama, or berate myself for feeling that way. Soon I would be going down a path that would do more harm than good. But it would work temporarily to cover up my feelings. I was drunk, then I was hungover. This was a whole process. I would focus on getting to the appropriate stage of drunkenness. I would do this by just drinking 2 vodka martinis, but I would always have the 3rd and end up too drunk. The next day I would focus on the fact I had no self control and I felt like crap. I would go to the gym and work out hard to punish myself. Then I would spend the rest of my day recovering from my hangover. It was a very predictable and safe pattern. I would be preoccupied with my drinking and hangover instead of participating in life. It gave me a reason to feel unworthy, instead of just feeling unworthy for no reason. If that didn’t work, I would get involved with toxic people. Then I could blame them for my feelings of unworthiness. If that didn’t work, I would berate myself for not making more money, not being skinnier, or a number of other things on my list. I could spend hours, days, weeks thinking that if I just had certain things, or accomplished certain goals, then I would be worthy. All this energy and effort to avoid the feeling of not being good enough, or just not being enough period. I understand why people have addictions, because unworthiness is a horrible feeling and why not drink something, swallow something, or do something to get rid of it. And the addictions did work temporarily, but my addictions eventually led me to feel even worse about myself. They led me to feel like I was observing my life rather than living it. They led me to value other people’s opinion of me more than my own. I was trying to receive my self worth from drinking, other people, and outside accomplishments rather than looking to myself. So, I would get up in the morning and never know where the day was going to take me because I wasn’t the one in charge, all of these outside factors ruled my direction in life. It was exhausting. As I got older, I didn’t have the energy to keep it all going and started to become depressed and angry. I blamed the alcohol for not being strong enough. I blamed the people around me for not adequately taking care of me. I blamed myself for being weak and not working hard enough. Because I was looking outside for my self worth, when these outside factors let me down it was their fault. I would be a better person if someone saw me as a better person. It was their fault I felt so bad. These patterns worked for me for a long time because they allowed me to shift my bad feelings on to other things and people rather than claim them as my own. It was very hard for me to look at myself and own those feelings as mine. I felt like if I looked too deep that I would discover that I really was unworthy and then what would I do? Where could I go from there? The patterns were easier because they were circular and completely predictable. Following my feelings was scary and completely unpredictable. To stop holding on to drinking, toxic relationships, or my negative self talk was like letting go of a security blanket. I felt raw and naked. Being present and listening and letting life just happen was hard because I felt like I was on pins and needles just waiting for everyone to discover my unworthiness. Finally stepping out of the shadows and claiming my space, claiming my voice, and stating my truth was like a rebirth. I was a child again learning my way. I was seeing things for the first time for what they were, not as a reflection of my own self worth. I had been so wrapped up in myself, I was missing out on seeing the goodness in the people around me. My defenses were like a wall that wasn’t allowing me to see that other people felt unworthy too. That they were also struggling and they weren’t just thinking about me. All of the patterns I had created to hide myself were only working to hide other people from me, not the other way around. I couldn’t see them for who they were because I was too worried about what they thought of me. I have learned that struggling and feeling unworthy is part of being human. And the feeling of unworthiness still exists in me. It used to like to show up unannounced and exercise its control over me by making me stop everything to give it my full attention. And I used to do just that. I would feed it and fuel it and then wonder why I would feel even worse. But now when it shows up I just acknowledge it and I say ‘Even though you tried to destroy me, I still love you, and you are worthy.’ And it slowly smiles and transforms into love.
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I feel like when I write I use one side of me, and when I create art I use the other. They are in many ways opposing sides. When I am drawing I could be in the middle of a construction site and the noise wouldn’t bother me. When I am writing I need complete […]