It’s crucial to keep ourselves safe when it comes to matters of the heart, especially when you’re in recovery. Loving relationships have the capacity to bring unimaginable joy to our lives. For me, it can add an element to my life that colors everything else happy. Love is magical, it’s better than any drug. The idea of someone loving me, especially as a person in recovery who struggles with self-esteem and self-love, when I believe someone loves me and shows it, I feel a sense of self that has no comparison. It’s just that meaningful to me.
Love fills a very unique place for some of us in recovery because it involves the very thing that some of us didn’t get, or didn’t feel, or struggle to see in ourselves. I love love. I have a lot of love to give and in recovery, I try to show it as much as I can. Unfortunately, sometimes, it doesn’t work out the way you want. Sometimes people hurt you, intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes you let someone into your life who seems right in every way and you make a mistake.
I’m a person who doesn’t always feel comfortable letting people get too close to me. I don’t want to be hurt. I don’t want to feel that kind of pain that makes it hard to see the light, to feel OK about the human race, and on and on. So, when I let someone in it’s a big deal. Yet, sometimes, despite my best efforts, even when I’ve taken it slow, when I’ve done my best to get to know someone, sometimes I still get it wrong.
I recently had a bad experience and I want to write about it because more than anything, I want to teach people in recovery how to keep themselves safe. Safe from drugs, alcohol, abuse, and sometimes heartbreak. Sadly, it’s going to happen sometimes. It’s part of life. So, having fallen off the beam, let’s talk about what to do when someone you trusted, someone you opened your heart to – doesn’t treat it with the love and respect it deserves.
Here’s what I do and the best advice I’ve been given:
1. Write out everything you feel and send it to a friend, sponsor or other trusted person. Don’t hold it in, but don’t send it to the ex-romantic partner either!
2. Cry it out, stay in bed all day, do whatever you need to do to get it out and then move on. Eat one pint of ice cream, not three… It’s OK and GOOD to feel your feelings, just don’t let them hold you hostage.
3. When you feel up to it, go outside and do all the things you know how to do to get those endorphins up. Walk in nature, exercise, play with your pets, do yoga, whatever. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was if you want to get out of your head – get into your body. It works. By the end of that spin class all I can think about is breathing!!
4. These are the moments funny movies and TV shows are made for. Laughter is magical medicine that doesn’t cost anything.
5. Try and get some perspective and not let this close your heart. Sometimes rejection is God’s protection. The person who hurt me has more issues than I would even know what do to with. No offense to him but he had so much drama on his plate there was no room for much else. Perspective is crucial at these times, and not all relationships are meant to last.
6. Lean on friends and family if they are safe.
7. Take a little break if you need to, but I like to get right back to it and not let myself get jaded. Someone famously said, men are like tissues, there’s always another one.
Now, my ways may not work for everyone, but I know some of these tactics have served me well. We did not get sober, emotionally available and learn to be good partners for people who aren’t worthy of us. Hang in there, this too shall pass, and when the right one comes, you’ll be super grateful.
When we’re hurting, we need to put the focus back on ourselves. Why not treat yourself to a good book, some quiet time, and appropriately named aromatherapy candle, Grateful.