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Reparenting yourself in sobriety

*This was written a few weeks back, for reference when I talk about quarantine. I wanted to save this for the perfect time…and the perfect time seems to be now.*

Hey, everyone.

I am coming to you from my couch under a cozy blanket, candles lit and tea on the coffee table on the first Saturday night of coronavirus quarantine madness.

I knew I wanted to write to you all, especially in the middle of the chaos, but I wasn’t sure *exactly* what to say.

But this is what came to me, naturally. And I’ve realized this message has been in me to share for a while. So here we go:

Today, I took care of myself.

I went to THREE more grocery stores (yes, three, and I went to two others yesterday) to finish up a hefty haul for the potential shut down of the country *(update: obviously, we are shut down now.)*

I also heavily cleaned our bathroom from top to bottom (every nook and cranny.) I’ve been wanting to start spring cleaning anyway, but the circumstances made it seem like an even more ideal time.

Ronnie and I then went and took a gorgeous walk through the woods and also through the cemetery (the one by our house is MASSIVE! And has super-duper old tombstones–super cool, and peaceful!)

We came home, I did more cleaning and cooked us a healthy and yummy dinner.

As I went about doing the things I needed to do to keep myself safe, secure, healthy, happy and taken care of during this tumultuous time, my inspiration for this blog post came to me:

I want to talk to you about the concept of learning to take care of ourselves again (or, as I phrase it in the title, “reparenting,”) in sobriety.

Because the truth is, in the past when I was still drinking, my day probably wouldn’t have looked like this at all.

When I was drinking, I was incapable of taking good care of myself. And therefore, I never felt safe or secure.

The concept of reparenting can even apply if you are not a sober person, but I think this is super applicable to sober people because typically when people are using drugs/alcohol or are struggling with other addictions like eating disorders, they are not taking proper care of ourselves.

I have always understood the idea of reparenting oneself as actively doing things to teach yourself to live in a way that was not taught to you, or is not something that is natural for you.

I think this concept is very real in addiction recovery, because my experience is that a lot of why people use is because they don’t really know the best ways to take care of themselves. And so once our coping mechanism is taking from us, we have to figure out what proper self care looks like (or else, we won’t make it!)

Now, I want to be clear that this is not a blog post about bashing parents.

In fact, I would say most people, regardless of their upbringing, could benefit from the concept of reparenting.

Our world is just now starting to “wake up” to the idea that self care is of the upmost importance, and so a lot of us are lacking basic concepts of the best ways to take care of ourselves because we were simply never taught to do so.

When I became sober, I slowly started to realize that I had a lot of things to learn if I wanted to feel more happy, healthy and fulfilled in my everyday life.

This is where the idea of reparenting comes in.

It is not just your parents and what they purposefully or not purposefully did or didn’t do that can affect how you operate in the world now.

In fact, every interaction we have had in our entire lives has been teaching us how to think and feel about the world.

This is where we may get ideas like “Being happy is rare,” or “I will never be financially stable,” or “I don’t deserve a healthy relationship.”

Throughout our lives, we have seen and heard things that have made us construct our beliefs about the world, and a lot of times, those beliefs really don’t serve us!

When we drink/use drugs or engage in other unhealthy addictive behaviors, it is easy to ignore how unfulfilled we really are in our lives.

However, when we put the drink/drug/vice down and have no where to hide, we are essentially forced to start figuring out what we need to feel taken care of (or at least I highly recommend that you figure this out, because otherwise, it’s a tough road!)

I want to present to you some areas of my life that I have been actively working to “reparent” since I have been sober in hopes that you may be inspired to do similar work in these areas and ultimately, have a better experience in life!

#1 Finances

Money management is something I was never taught, and my relationship with money has always been a major struggle.

I have held a ton of shame around money, and actually have recently had experiences where I felt extremely embarrassed about my relationship with money (even though my business is well-over the 6-figure mark.)

I have always wanted to see myself as someone who is responsible with money and is able to take care of herself no matter what, so when I have financial issues, I feel like I’ve failed myself.

I have always had a vision for myself to be financially secure and stable, but I was simply never taught the skills–so realistically, how can I expect myself to be financially responsible?

The minute that I admitted to myself that I simply didn’t know how to manage my money because I had never been taught was the moment I was able to take my power back and get the help I needed.

I personally hired a financial coach and she has helped me TREMENDOUSLY to create systems to make myself truly financially secure.

I also had to change some of my habits and the way I handled my money.

This has been the hardest work I have done on myself, but by-far the most rewarding.

I can see things shifting and my confidence in this area grows more and more everyday.

I simply had to admit that I didn’t know what I was doing, and then get the support I needed.

You can read more about my debt-free/financial journey here.

#2 My personal happiness

So…

Where I came from and the people I grew up around, being genuinely happy is not a very common thing.

I’m not even sure how to explain this, but I am sure that many of you understand.

I came from a place where there was always an issue, drama or trauma, and it was very rare that life was “good.”

This was all I knew. I only knew life to be chaotic, stressful and hard.

As I got older, alcohol was the remedy to the stresses of everyday life.

But ultimately, alcohol never eased the pain (or fixed the problem,) and so I continued to feel defeated, stressed and just generally unhappy.

When I stopped drinking, I had this glimmer of hope that things could be different.

I’m not sure if it’s because the massive amounts of a depressive substance were out of my body, or it was divine intervention, but I started to think that things could get better.

And they could. But I had to work at it.

Still to this day, I struggle constantly with my mindset.

Years and years and years of negativity don’t go away with a few mantras and a few sits on the meditation pillow.

Actively choosing a new way to see life has been a constant practice, and I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer to it, either.

I think the best things you can do to find more joy in your life are:

  1. actively practice gratitude
  2. meditate
  3. get outside
  4. move your body
  5. eat well
  6. sleep
  7. moderate substances (this is different for everyone)
  8. connect with others
  9. find out what you really love to do
  10. seek therapy (for real, best thing ever)

That’s just a short list, but when I feel myself going on my downward spiral (as I do frequently,) this is where I do have to step in as my own “parent” and redirect myself to a more healthy choice.

#3 Practice Self Love

The most important thing that I have learned in my sober journey is that I AM STILL ON MY JOURNEY AND I AM STILL LEARNING–AND THAT IS OK!

I have had to actively practice allowing myself to be ok with whatever I need at whatever given moment.

Healing is a process, and when we are doing the work to truly better ourselves, it can feel like a rollercoaster.

I attribute this up-and-down rollercoaster feeling to the fact that a lot of our subconscious negative thought patterns want to drag us back in when we are starting to feel better.

There is an amazing book about this very concept, The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks.

Hendricks talks about the concept that we essentially have a “limit” of how good we think our lives can get, and so when we start to go “above” this limit (aka life starts getting freaking GREAT!,) we want to “recalibrate” and bring ourselves back to our “normal” level.

I have seen this true time and time again in my growth journey.

As I start to learn more about myself, improve myself and overall get happier, I will sometimes start to question myself.

I can feel myself getting anxious, insecure, unsettled or finding reasons why things “aren’t ok.”

This is where I have to again, be like a parent to myself and remind myself that this is part of the process, and it’s ok to feel wobbly.

This is also where I have really leaned into the idea of listening to what I need, which brings me to my next point…

#4 Figuring out what does and doesn’t work for me

This is the last piece I’ll leave you with.

For the longest time, I didn’t know what “I needed” to be happy, fulfilled, and to generally feel ok!

Again, I think MOST people on the planet don’t know what they need to feel “ok,” because we are taught that you are being selfish if you prioritize your own needs.

Since getting sober, I have gone into full-blown exploration mode as to what makes me feel healthier and happier mentally, physically and emotionally and have massively prioritized the things that do.

A great example is this:

I was recently getting together with a girlfriend for Zumba and then we were going to go to a coffee shop after to work.

The thing was, I KNEW I would be STARVING after Zumba, because I am always ready to eat the minute I am done working out, but my friend really just wanted to get to the coffee shop and start working ASAP.

In the past, I would have gone along and then been MISERABLE, cranky and unproductive, probably then leaving early.

But this time, I simply shared with her that I really needed to eat in order to be productive during our time together, so I asked her if she would be ok if we took 45 minutes in between for me to go eat and then we could meet up again.

When I later met her at the coffee shop, she told me how much she loved that I just told her what I needed so that she didn’t have to “guess” if I was ok!

Guys!

How often are we “wondering” if other people are ok?

Or, how many times are we totally NOT ok, but acting like we are because we don’t want to be “selfish” and ask for what we need!

IT’S SO SILLY!

And we don’t show up powerfully AT ALL when our needs aren’t being met!

Would a good, responsible parent let their child go without the things they need to be their best–aka, food, rest, alone time, etc?!?!

NOOOO!!

So why do we do this to ourselves?

And this is another place where I get to step in as my “parent” and make sure I am doing what is best for me.

Be open to learning about yourself again

I’ll leave you with this.

So many of us have forgotten who we are.

Addiction issue or not, we our all susceptible to the pressures of society, our families and our communities to do things a certain way, or have a certain life path.

But a lot of times, we find ourselves not fulfilled by following the paths that we think we should.

Then, we are so far down a path that we don’t even remember who we truly are anymore.

This is the work.

This is your new job.

To go reverse down the path, shed the layers that you put up to hide the fact that you weren’t living in true alignment.

It’s ok…we are all guilty of this.

But in order to do the work to finding your truest self again, you must be extremely kind to yourself.

And you’re probably gonna have to teach yourself a lot of lessons that you’ve never learned before.

And all of this work will be tiring, so make sure you feed yourself well, rest and hydrate.

Love you.

xoxo

Sarah

  1. Alli says:

    While I dont deal with substance issues, I definitely have a long history of food & body issues (ie multiple eating disorders) and can 100% see how this blog is applicable to me. Thanks for sharing this!! So helpful!

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