I'm going to tell a little story about self-abuse and why it has no place in a healthy, long-term recovery. For one, if you’re a person in recovery, there are going to be tough days, tough months, sometimes even tough years. If you’re a person in recovery from addiction and trauma, it helps to get mentally healthy and find ways to cope that are productive and safe. Particularly so old habits don’t turn into self-abuse during trying times.
Back Up. What Is Self-Abuse?
Self-abuse is behavior which causes harm to the self. It does not have to be self-harm of the cutting variety to qualify as unhealthy, self-destructive behavior. Personally, I eat my feelings, isolate, and probably the most destructive—engage in negative self-talk. It also usually goes in that order. I’m disappointed or upset about something so I eat heavier than normal or eat too much sugar. This lends itself beautifully to isolation. Then, the more isolated I become, the worse the self-talk gets, and I lose perspective.
Break Down How The Brain Reacts To Self-Abuse Please
For this recovering alcoholic, to keep perspective (ie., stay mentally sane) I need to be talking to other healthy adults in recovery. The longer I go engaging in unhealthy behavior and not discussing it with anyone, the darker and more irrational my thinking gets. I also need to be exercising and eating healthy to feel physically well and confident. When that stops, so do the endorphins and the massive amounts of sugar and carbs create mood swings and make me feel fat. This all contributes to the destabilization of my thinking and can leave me quite twisted.
So, What Happened?
I had a few very small disappointments and it led me down a rabbit hole of despair. I shame spiraled, I suffered, and I beat myself up so badly, it sent me into a professional’s office where I was reminded, I have a character defect of self-abuse. The good part about this tough moment in time was I had a moment of enlightenment around it, which has led me into new forms of recovery. Remember, emotional breakdowns often lead to breakthroughs.
Childhood Trauma Can Have Lifelong Repercussions
Even though no one in my life today is abusive to me, I'm still capable of creating chaos and drama for myself that will keep me feeling small, helpless and hopeless. The tragic part about this self-abuse is that it is in no way reflective of my life today. I’m doing well at work, I’m self-supporting, I’m a great dog mom, and when in a relationship I’m a supportive, healthy partner.
How do I reframe my thinking from being self-destructive to being healthy and part of the solution?
Meditations And Affirmations
I’m doing a 13 minute, 21-day meditation specifically designed for helping create a positive headspace. I start every single day with it. It prevents me from going into my habitual stinking thinking and forces me to start the day with a positive mind. I was advised to do it at night as well but haven’t gotten that far. I will say with 100% confidence that it helps and is working. Also, even ten minutes a day will do if you’re a beginner like me.
Talking To A Healthy Human Being
Currently, I have a therapist, a sponsor, and several action buddies. Only one I have to pay. Action buddies are other people in recovery who I speak to once a day to stay accountable to my recovery programs and recovery actions. My actions range from traditional 12-step work all the way to making sure I’m doing my taxes and buying groceries. It takes a village to stay healthy, positive, accountable and right-sized so I have a village of people who will help me.
Small Actions Forward
One of my disappointments was professional. A deal I was trying to put together fell through and there was a fair amount of money on the table, so I felt awful. To combat that loss, for the next month I’m sending out three emails a day to try and drum up new business. It doesn’t matter if people I write to get back to me, it’s the actions toward forward motion that make me feel better. As I’ve heard many times, “Get out of your head and into action.”
Take Care Of Myself
If I can’t control business, other people, or the world, what can I control?? Getting to my appointments, getting out of bed and onto the hiking trail, walking the dogs, eating healthy, getting sponsored and sponsoring others. Doing any combination of these things make me feel productive and better
Easier said than done but these are the moments I search for my Higher Power. What does HP want for me? What can I do to help another person? How can I find meaning in what’s happening? Or, at very least, how can I add prayer and faith into my life to feel better? Faith is different for everyone. Some people like traditional religion and God and I think that’s great. For me, spirituality is a little different, but I believe it can be anything. Anything bigger than you that you can believe in.