Valentine’s day is right around the corner.
Some of you might feel a lot of anxiety and others might feel the anticipation. Well, one thing is for sure it’s a day that’s associated with a lot of emotions.
Valentine’s day is known for love, a day of celebration. Everyone can partake in Valentine’s Day, even if you are single. You might be wondering; now how do I do that?
This day is a universal symbol of love. Similarly, think of it as an opportunity to practice self-love. It can be especially tough when you are recovering from an addiction. This can be alcoholism, substance addiction, porn addiction, gambling, sex addiction, social media addiction or others.
Addiction and its harmful effects:
Addiction is repeatedly involving in a specific behaviour when it has taken up a lot of time, disrupted daily activities (work and private life) and caused harmed to you and to others around you.
Addiction must have cost you a lot of your precious time and usually a lot money. But more importantly it could have affected your relationships with your family and friends. A lot of pain and resentment might be linked with your addiction.
So, as you move into recovery and tackle your first Valentine’s Day in sobriety, remember that recovery is a process. Be patient with yourself.
Here are some tips to get you through Valentine’s Day without going back to old habits:
- Get busy- Just like Sean Paul’s song. Well, not exactly. Get busy as in keep yourself occupied and distracted from all the things that might cause distress on the big day. Plan out your day ahead of time. Do something that you like. Go on a walk or watch your favourite movies, whatever it is make sure you are engaged and happy doing it.
- Self-love- I know it might sound like a cliché but self-love is the best kind of love! You have been through a lot of pain and your loved ones would have experienced it too. For a good recovery, learn to accept your past and work on yourself. Your investments in yourself will always pay off.
Practice control and restraint and remember what addiction has stolen from you, this may even be your peace of mind or your relationships. The progress you’ve made is huge.
- Avoid social media- I think it’s safe to say that social media will definitely be flooded with a lot of posts for Valentine’s Day. You might feel like going back to your addiction to avoid any uneasy feelings. But keep strong, take this day to reset and focus on yourself.
Sometimes, social media can feel very exhausting due to endless scrolling and posts about everyone’s perfect life. They only show you the good times, so don’t focus too much on others.
- Cope in healthy ways- If you are on a treatment plan provided by a professional, make sure to adhere to it. Therapy is definitely a very useful outlet for you to understand things that trigger your behaviour. Therapy also provides ways in which you can manage the urge and overcome it.
Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Steps of Addiction Recovery
The ‘12 steps of recovery’ was created in the 1930s by the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Bill Wilson. This 12 steps process was created originally for alcoholics but it has been used for all kinds of addiction and is still in practice.
Alcoholics Anonymous has gained wide spread acceptance due to its core tradition of anonymity and self-sufficiency. People in the group are only known by a first-name basis. The group operates on funding received from the members of the AA group, hence remaining independent.
The support system built on the common interest of quitting alcohol and a sense of community really helps addicts with recovery. Therefore, if you are addicted to any kind of substance or behaviour, it is important to have a good support system to overcome addiction.
The steps have been adapted over the years; try to find value in each of these steps along the process. Personalize it to suit you. Use as a guide to help you along your recovery stages.
These are the 12 steps of recovery from addiction:
- Acknowledge or admit that you are powerless over the behaviour- Admit that you have an addiction. This realization is already a good start.
- Belief in a higher power- Believe that there exists a higher power greater than you and willing to help you with your addiction.
- Decide to get better and submit yourself to God- Take an active decision to get better with strong faith in God.
- Look inwards- Recognize all the harm addiction brought into your life. See patterns of your own behaviour that hurt you and your loved ones.
- Admitting to the mistakes you have made- Admit your mistakes to a higher power and another person.
- Acceptance- Accept who you are and everything you have done in the past. You cannot change it but you can learn from it. There is no shame in growth. We have all made mistakes.
- Humility- Realize that you cannot overcome this alone and ask God to help you remove your burdens.
- Accountability- List out all the people you have harmed. Take charge in making amends. Do not stop there, try to do things that would make the person you have hurt feel more comfortable; be considerate.
- Repair relationships- Ask for forgiveness. This will help you and the person you hurt come to terms with the past.
- Persistence- Continue on your journey. For many, it will not be a straight and easy path, with this realization keep moving forward even when you falter. Admit where you went wrong and continue on with previous steps.
- Prayer and meditation- It is important to keep up with your faith and maintain a relationship with God. Prayer and meditation can help you clear your thoughts and urges. These are helpful practices in general.
- Help other addicts- This is one of the core traditions or goals of AA. Pass on what you have learnt and experienced to another addict. Your story might be important for them to connect with and even begin their own journey in recovery. Helping others will create this positive chain of quitting addiction. Carry this message so you can spread it to others who might need it.
Rebuild your relationships
Addiction would have brought the worst out in you; you might have hurt your loved ones and you really want to fix your relationships. During your recovery you are left thinking about how many people you have hurt. First, come to terms with what happened and promise yourself that you will never repeat it.
Partner or spouse
Your actions might have broken the trust in your relationships. If this has happened with a spouse or partner. Talk to them, be transparent about everything.
Tell them how you felt during your addiction, this may be isolation or sadness or guilt. Tell them about all the lies you have said, every act you did that could have hurt them. Be vulnerable. Now ask for forgiveness and promise them that you are working on yourself through recovery.
Do not force any relationship. The pain they must have felt is valid. So, rebuilding relationships take a lot of time and patience. You must work up to regaining their trust. It will not happen over time. But knowing that you love them will make worth while.
Now to rebuild any relationship affected by addiction, show visible signs of recovery. Remove all reminders from your past and all things that were related to your addiction. Remove old bottles if it was alcohol addiction, throw out any remaining substances or restrict your phone from adult content using a blocking app like BlockerX.
Whatever it is get rid of it from your life.
Family or parents
Mostly, they would have stuck through the bad times and the good. Thank them for everything that they’ve done to help you and for supporting you through the recovery process.
Ask for forgiveness. As their child, it would have hurt them deeply to see you struggle. So, ask forgiveness for all your actions that would have hurt them.
Communicate- Have an open and intimate talk with your parents. Let them know about your situation, treatment plans and recovery. This will help them come along with you through recovery.
This might be tough to do, but let go of all the unhealthy friendships. These people might have even encouraged your addiction and worsened it.
Revaluate your friendships and see who really stuck by you through the tough times and work on the friendships that do matter. Let them know you are working on yourself and you are ready to work on your friendship.
Your first Valentine’s Day in recovery is not so bad if you have people to support you through it.