No Pain, No Gain

It’s important to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s often a long, difficult process. But, in the case of sobriety, fully worth it in the end. When we’re working to live life without a substance that we had become dependent upon, much of what we’re doing can feel unnatural and uncomfortable. I chose this as the safe coping strategy for the week:

Expect growth to feel uncomfortable. If it feels awkward or difficult, you’re doing it right.

Remember when you first became sober, and how the idea of going an entire day without using seemed impossible and unbearable? But, you did it, and then you did it again and again until you achieved several weeks or months without using.

At first, it felt strange and forced, and you may even have felt a little odd and out of place in your everyday life. But, that didn’t mean the change was a bad thing. You knew in your heart it was a very good change, so you stuck it out.

And even after having a few months under your belt, it will still feel a little difficult. The difficulty of living with a substance addiction is that there is no real cure for it. It will always be hard for us to resist using and to live a sober life. Though, over time, it will become easier and easier.

In life, it’s often the things that are most worth it that are the hardest to achieve. Getting good grades in school. Working hard to have a successful and fulfilling career. Having children, and raising those children to be good, productive citizens. Sobriety is no different. It’s something we need to achieve to be happy, successful, and to keep our lives intact.

Yes, the path to sobriety is rough and filled with obstacles. But, if you push yourself just a little bit each day to get over the feelings of doubt and fear, and forge through on your path. If it feels difficult, that’s a good thing. Because it’s supposed to be difficult. And that means you’re doing it right.

 

Serenity Prayer

I love the Serenity Prayer. It was a prayer I loved even long before I became an alcoholic, long before I joined AA and attended rehab. It’s just good for the soul. Three simple lines that help us remember that we’re not perfect, our lives are not perfect, and that’s ok. But we can do things to change ourselves and our lives for the better, with the right approach.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference. 

You don’t have to believe in God to use this prayer as a daily meditation. I spoke at length in a previous post about how God is not my higher power, but I still love to say this prayer. If you need, simply omit “God” at the beginning when you say it to yourself.

Each line has meaning to me in its own way.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. This was a huge issue for me as I struggled with sobriety and recovery. As an overly sensitive and anxious person, I longed to be in charge of everything. I wanted to be able to control so many aspects of my life that were simply impossible to control. My miscarriage was out of my control. My ability to conceive again was mostly out of my control. My child’s SPD diagnosis was out of my control. My melanoma diagnosis. My older cat’s death. Having to leave our beloved home of four years. Having a difficult teacher for our child’s 1st grade year. Problems in my extended family.

These were all things that brought me pain and caused a flare in my anxiety, and I let it get the better of me. I didn’t realize at the time that  I had no control, and all I could do was accept these life events and respond to them more positively. I allowed myself to fall into any abyss of depression and fear and self-loathing that eventually I used alcohol to self-medicate for.

These days, I find myself more easily accepting things I don’t control and can’t change, and recognizing them for what they are. I focus my attention instead on shaping my life around them, learning how to move past them, and trying to stay positive through difficult situations.

The courage to change the things I can. There are those things, however, that we do have control over, and can change. Those things that we own, but don’t want to admit we’re in control of them, because that would mean taking responsibility for them, and being held accountable for them. My drinking, albeit difficult in the end, was in my control. I had the power to stop, to change the course my life was taking. But for so long, I refused to admit I had a problem, and I refused to accept help. That takes courage. And courage is hard to come by in a person with a dual diagnosis. (A dual diagnosis is addiction paired with depression/anxiety issues.) Courage is often the last thing that comes to us, but the most important ingredient for success.

Change is also uncomfortable. Even when the change is desired and positive, it can still cause stress and discomfort. Moving from one reality into another is hard work and you need strength and a good support system to be successful. In the safe coping strategies, change and growth are described as “uncomfortable.” We should expect change to feel awkward and maybe even a little painful. That just means it’s really happening. And we should allow it, if it promises to improve our lives.

And the wisdom to know the difference. This is the trickiest one for a lot of us. Knowing what problems you own, and what problems you can let go of is not always such a black and white decision. For instance, when something tragic happens to a loved one. While you want to be there for them and comfort them in any way you can, you also need to realize that the situation is out of your control, and that while you can lend a helping hand, you cannot solve their problem for them. Knowing when to step back from the situation to protect yourself from getting too stressed and anxious about it is key. It takes time, but you can learn when and how you can step in and change things, and when you simply need to sit back and accept things for what they are.

Reciting this prayer daily is a great way to keep this in the forefront of our minds. Taking on the pain of others in situations I could not change was a huge problem for me. I thought I had to carry the burdens of the world on my shoulders. But through counseling and rehab I learned that not only can I not shoulder all of those burdens without hurting myself, but that it is also not my responsibility to do that.

Knowing which external life forces can be changed, knowing which ones need to be changed, knowing which ones cannot be changed and can only be accepted, and knowing how to decipher everything as it happens to us is an important part of recovery. Keep the Serenity Prayer in the back of your mind the next time you face a life challenge. Is it something you can change, or something you should work toward accepting? This will make the whole thing go a lot more smoothly, and will aid in your recovery.

 

Examining Excuses

I was recently reminded of an exercise I have done in SMART meetings about excuses for using. The stuff we tell ourselves when we use that makes it feel ok or acceptable. I thought this safe coping strategy related a bit, so I have chosen it for this week:

Identify the belief. Shoulds, deprivation reasoning, etc.

The exercise is called Refutations. In the exercise, we choose one excuse we used to make, and we examine it. These excuses are usually pretty common to all addicts. Stuff like, “no one will know.” “It’ll just be one drink this time.” “This will be the last time.” “No one really cares.” “I’ve had a bad day and I deserve a reward.” “It will help me feel better.”

You take one of your own many excuses, and you examine it. You think about what you are really saying, and you then use logic and everything you’ve learned in your recovery to refute it.

One of my all-time favorites used to be “no one will know.” But the truth is, a lot of people knew. They just didn’t say anything. And I knew. A SMART group leader once told us, don’t forget that even if you really were fooling everyone around you, you know. And you count as someone. This is also a lesson in self-esteem. Not to mention having to carry around a dark secret all the time. It’s exhausting.

A fellow SMART meeting attendee also pointed out that the longer you do something like that, the more likely someone’s bound to notice. You may think you’ve become an expert at hiding your habit from those around you, but sooner or later you’ll slip up. You’ll get caught. And that’s a feeling even worse than the guilt and shame you already carry around.

I also used to love “I’ve had a bad day and I deserve a reward.” The thing is, in my mind, every day was a “bad” day or a “hard” day. Being a stay-at-home mother, being any kind of parent at all, is difficult. It keeps you insanely busy and it tries your patience and it can be overwhelming. I’d gotten myself caught up in a cycle of having a “bad” day and then “rewarding” myself with alcohol. As if abusing my body in that way and making myself useless physically and mentally was any kind of reward that anyone would want. It only made me feel worse, and furthered my addiction. And my days truthfully were really not that bad, obviously.

The point is, you need to find and isolate those excuses that you’re making, and really think them through before you give in to them. What are you telling yourself to make using seem acceptable, even useful or beneficial? Because you know in your right mind that it is not.

Also, think about the “shoulds” in your life, as it says. I should be staying sober. I should be getting my life together. I should find a hobby or a job. I should I should I should. You and I both know sitting at home and telling yourself you should do something doesn’t get it done. And though it may feel good to think these things and feel like you are being a good, positive force in your life, unless you go out and do all those shoulds, you don’t benefit from it at all. If you never get out there and change your life, you stay stagnant. You sit in the same spot, and risk falling into old patterns. If you’ve got something you keep telling yourself you should do, just get up and go do it.

I made this mistake the first time I left rehab. I had a list of things I was going to accomplish when I got back home. I was going to find work. I was going to get back to hobbies I had let slide because of my addiction. I was going to seek extra counseling. And I never did any of it. I had every intention of changing my life to further my new sober lifestyle, but I didn’t do it. I was stuck. And as predicted, I fell back into old patterns and eventually started drinking again.

When I came back the second time, I put my plans into action. I have a job now. And I have picked a few hobbies back up. I’m trying to be more useful to the people in my life. I’m reaching out for help when I need it. I’m using medication to manage my depression and anxiety. And I am having far more success than I ever thought I could.

The main idea here is to examine your thoughts and beliefs. Determine if they are positive or negative, and react accordingly. If you feel a strong craving or urge to use, and start making those old excuses, take a moment to stop and think about it. And if you’re not making changes to your new life in recovery, start making them as soon as possible. It makes the road much smoother, and boosts your confidence and self-esteem.

Change

I was tasked this week with writing something  about the word “change.”

Change is essential for recovering addicts. Without change, no progress can ever be made.

Change just means one reality is becoming another reality. And change can be good or it can be bad, but it is always scary and stressful. You have to work to make it happen, and nothing that’s worth anything in life comes to us without a little work. It’s difficult, I’m still working on making changes myself. But, it’s necessary, and worth it in the end.

Even small changes are hard. So the big ones are a bit earth shattering. But, often they need to happen so we can move along on our path and get to where we’re meant to be.

In recovery, you are making so many changes. You are changing your daily routine, changing the people you interact with, changing the way you interact with the world. You are giving up a substance you’ve come to depend upon. You are learning to reconnect with loved ones. You are learning to reach out for help when you need it. And the hardest of all, you’re learning how to feel your feelings again.

One of the famous one-liners from AA is “easy does it.” And I like to keep this one in mind when all the changes feel overwhelming. The changes are going to happen, whether I want them to or not, so sometimes it’s best to just lie down and let the change wash over you. Take it as it comes, adjust your life to fit around it. If you fight it, it makes it that much harder in the end. Rather than delay the inevitable, embrace it. Especially the changes that are guaranteed to improve your life and help you stay sober.

Change is stressful, difficult, disorganizing, irritating, and challenging, but changes are also inevitable. For an addict, change is among the most difficult things to get through, but we have no choice. The only choice we can make to ease the burden is to choose to get through the change sober and clearheaded. It will go much smoother that way, and we can come out the other side a better person.

Even if you’ve got a positive change headed your way, a new job, a new baby, getting married, these kinds of changes are still stressful. You need to remember to take care of yourself through these changes and make sure to ask for help if you need it.

We can’t avoid change, but we can control how we respond to it. I’m trying to roll with it, stay positive and figure it out one day at a time, sometimes five minutes at a time. And I am trying so hard to release my anxiety and find the silver lining in everything. There always is one. Sometimes it can take us years to see it, but eventually we can find it.

Danger Lurks

For today, I have chosen to talk about the safe coping strategy:

Watch for danger signs. Face a problem before it becomes huge, notice red flags.

In recovery, it’s important to be very aware of all of your emotions and thoughts, as well as external forces you face. Everything from having a fleeting craving to a life problem that crops up and threatens to be a trigger.

It’s important to be fully self-aware and know when we are putting ourselves and our sobriety in danger. Or, to listen to loved ones when they express concern. If you ignore the signs, they get bigger and worse, and can result in real damage.

In AA, alcoholism is described as the “cunning and baffling” disease. That is, it creeps up on you and takes hold of you before you’ve realized what has happened. Part of this is being unaware of the danger signs and red flags in your life.

My relapse is proof that ignoring danger signs can have a detrimental effect on your sobriety. I was completely depressed, overly anxious, having some big life events happening and I was craving alcohol like crazy.

I held out for a while, but I never sought help or discussed what was happening with anyone. Talking it out with my husband, counselor or psychiatrist could have prevented my relapse. Recognizing what was happening in my life and in my mind could have helped me regain control.

It’s also important not to insert yourself into dangerous situations. A party with friends where alcohol or drugs will be present is a good example. You want to be with your friends, but you might not be ready to be in a setting where you will need to resist the urge to use. It is especially important to be careful with friends who do not support your sobriety, or friends you actively used with in the past. You may feel strong and confident, but being in this setting can be a giant trigger. If you decide to attend, be sure to leave if you start to feel unsafe.

In the earliest stages of recovery, it’s very important to stay away from dangerous situations. You are in a critical time where you are changing the way you live and think, and falling back into old patterns are the very first steps toward relapse. I am a living example of that.

The concept of facing a problem before it becomes huge is a good way to view this safe coping strategy. We will all be put into emotionally vulnerable places, and problems will come up. We can’t stop life from happening to us. So, it’s important to recognize dangerous situations and life problems as they happen, and not let ourselves get so caught up in them that it’s too late to fix.

I left rehab with long list of “warning signs” for relapse. But, I ignored them all, and allowed myself to falter down that path. The key is to be aware, pay attention, get help when you need it and do not allow yourself to slip into denial. If you feel on edge, uneasy, there’s a problem. If you’re taking part in activities you suspect you should not, there’s a problem. If you’re isolating yourself from loved ones, if you’re feeling out of sorts, if you’re losing the desire to do the positive things in your life, there’s a problem.

Stop, take a moment to dissect the feelings and get to the bottom of what’s bothering you. Then, separate yourself from it or fix it. If you allow it to creep in, it will get the better of you. You may be able to push it off for a while, but eventually it will get you.

Keep your future goals in mind, and ask yourself, will putting myself in this situation give me a good chance at reaching those goals, or will it hinder my progress? If you suspect it will hold you back, or completely set you back, it’s time to cut it out of your life. Remove yourself from the dangerous situation. This is how you move onward and upward.

Surrender

My counselor asked me to take some time this week to write about the word “surrender.” In the context of surrendering to your addiction in order to overcome it.

The dictionary defines “surrender” as: cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.

In my Hazelden app with daily meditations, it describes surrender as an acceptance. We go through a tumultuous amount of emotions to get at the core of what we are feeling, and then we finally accept ourselves as we are. Then, we are able to let go of our anxiety about the past and future.

While I don’t believe my addiction had authority over me, I know for sure that it had power. And you could consider submitting to authority as asking for help. Taking advice and following measures requested by counselors, psychiatrists, loved ones and experts in the field. I resisted a lot of that advice for a long time.

As for ceasing resistance, I ceased to resist my own willpower. I stopped giving in to my addiction and its power over me.

After my first stay in rehab, I didn’t know it at the time, but I had not yet surrendered at all. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was resistant to finding a higher power. And I was resistant to using medications to help my depression and anxiety. I was pretty sure I could handle this simple thing called sobriety all on my own.

Just prior to my first small relapse, I resisted the idea that I couldn’t ever drink again ever. I thought somewhere down the line it would be safe again. That I could learn to moderate again. I just didn’t take stock in the idea that that was it for me, for real.

Even after my first relapse, when I was asked by my husband and counselors to return to rehab, I resisted. It was just one small bump in the road, I thought, I’ve got this.

But, after my second, and very grand, relapse, it became clear to me that I had to give in. I returned to rehab. I started taking all suggested medications. I took every step anyone told me to move toward a real and true sobriety.

I had at that point really and truly surrendered. I recognized the bottom I had reached, and that I needed all the help I could get to pick myself up again. I feel like in that moment, I got to the core of my emotions and was ready to accept myself as I am. And I do feel a great deal of relief and peace.

Surrendering is difficult, but once you’re there, your life will improve greatly. Accept the fact that your actions are the only things in this world you can control, and by getting sober and making good choices you can improve your life and your world. Here you will find the peace you’ve been searching for all along.

Costs and Benefits

In rehab and at SMART meetings, we often did a Cost/Benefit Analysis worksheet. It is designed to make you really stop and think about the costs and benefits associated with substance abuse and with sobriety.

You are allowed to list benefits of using, such as “makes me feel good”, “helps me socialize”, or “reduces my anxiety”. As part of the exercise, you learn which benefits are short term, and which are long term. And these are most certainly short term. Very short term in some cases.

Long term benefits often fall on the side of sobriety. “Better health”, “improved relationships”, “clearer thinking”, “saving money”, “meeting career goals.” The exercise helps you realize that you stand to benefit from sobriety much more than continuing down the path of using.

For this week, I chose the safe coping strategy:

Notice the cost. What is the price of substance abuse in your life?

This safe coping strategy doesn’t mean the literal monetary cost and price of substance abuse, although that is not to be forgotten. For many addicts, money that you don’t really have to spend is being spent to maintain your habit. And some drugs of choice are very expensive. I met a man in one of my SMART groups who was young, bright, talented, was making 6 figures a year, and blew it all on heroin and illegal prescription drugs. I mean all. He ended up living in his parents’ basement and blew all his credibility at his high-powered job. His habit caused him to lose all of his monetary wealth, as well as many other things.

But the other costs need to be focused on as well. The man in my description lost his career. He lost possessions, such as an expensive car that he treasured. He lost his apartment. He sold many of his prized possessions to pay for drugs, like stereo equipment, guitars, televisions, bicycles, and much more.

But, it even stems further than the physical items in our lives. We also lose relationships. We lose trust in our loved ones and acquaintances. We lose our self-esteem. We lose happiness and peace of mind.

Some people lose their freedom. After a DUI, their driving is restricted. I’ve heard stories from people who have gotten more than one DUI and have had to spend time in jail, and have no vehicle as a result. And some people lose the unimaginable. In a drunk or high driving incident, they may end up killing a friend, a family member, or even themselves.

There are real costs when it comes to dealing with an addiction. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you can come to your senses and achieve sobriety before you lose too much. We all lose something in the end, but the earlier you choose to embrace sobriety, the less you stand to lose.

The next time you feel an urge or craving, no matter how small, really stop and consider your consequences. What would a stumble like that cost you? Even if you think no one will ever know. Maybe you’re right. Chances are you’re not. Your loved ones care enough about you to notice. But, let’s say no one will ever know. The truth is, you will know. There is cost associated with that. Not only are you saying your opinion doesn’t count and doesn’t matter, but after you’ve used, you will feel terribly about yourself. Wouldn’t you rather go on being proud of yourself and your sobriety? Wouldn’t that feel so much better?

Try to remember how it used to feel when you used. When you knew you shouldn’t, but you did anyway. And someone would find out and you’d feel terrible for letting them down. You carried such heavy amounts of guilt and shame around with you as a result. Or you walked on eggshells and were terribly paranoid all the time, trying to hide your habit. Those feelings take huge tolls on your emotional health. And that is a cost.

Doesn’t it feel so much better to have nothing to hide? To show that you can be trusted again? To know you’re doing right by your body? There is no cost to doing the right thing, only benefits. Sobriety gives you a second chance to earn back all those things you lost while using. To live a full life, peaceful and serene.

Higher Power

It’s no secret that AA has a deep basis in Christianity, and that Bill W. began his road to sobriety after a life-changing moment in the hospital where he was moved by the spirit. The literature has been changed to read “God as we understand him” but there’s still a deep undertone that you need to believe in God for the program to work for you.

Spiritually, I’m in a strange place in my life. I don’t think I believe in God, but it’s really hard to give up on the idea. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home. And my extended family, to this very moment, is 99% made up of devoutly religious people. And I admire them for it, I really do. Their unwavering faith and hope in life after death is inspirational. There are times when I wish deeply that I had their faith. Which might sound a little condescending, but I swear, it’s not.

I wish I had a higher power that I believed was watching over me, had my best intentions in mind, and I could turn to in any crisis. But the truth is I just don’t believe in that. Truth be told, I’m not sure I ever did. I went to church with my family every Sunday, and while I loved the messages of the sermons, I don’t think I was ever a true believer, not like my family. And most of them still think I’m a believer, and going to church. They think I am raising my children as Christians. Coming out to them as a non-believer is just too hard. I don’t want them to resent me for it, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings or insult their beliefs.

In college, it wasn’t long before I stopped going to church. Not because I was lazy or thought I was too sinful (those first years of college were pretty debaucherous) but because it didn’t feel right. It didn’t fit. I realized I enjoyed church more at home because of the fellowship. Going each week to visit with people who’d known me for years, watched me grow. In a new church, everything felt out of place. And I wasn’t getting the same spiritual fulfillment with a new congregation and new pastor.

Over the years, I have only moved further and further from Christianity. I straddled the agnostic fence for years. Confident that there wasn’t a Christian God, yet still having that itching feeling in the back of my head that there just might be. The ideas of heaven and hell were deeply ingrained in me, and as someone who’s afraid of death, it’s hard to think about the afterlife without falling back on whatever ideas were told to you as a child.

For a time, I gave up on a higher power completely. In April 2011, I had a miscarriage. The pregnancy was very much planned and very much wanted, and I was so happy and excited about it. I had already had a successful and uncomplicated pregnancy, so the thought of miscarriage never entered my mind. And when it happened, I was devastated.

I told myself there was no way there was a God that would give me the baby I so deeply desired and then take it away from me. I fell into a deep depression that I am only now beginning to climb out of.

I have since had another child, which I thought would make all the bad feelings go away. But, it doesn’t work like that. I still think of that baby daily, and I still cry when I talk about the miscarriage in therapy.

When I began to tackle my sobriety, I got onto the AA website and instantly said, no this won’t work for me. The program is religiously based and the steps involve trusting in your higher power to set you free. I had no higher power and didn’t understand how a program that relied upon the idea could do anything for me.

My husband found a series of agnostic and “freethinking” AA meetings for me to attend. But even at those meetings, the idea of a higher power permeated. For most, it was just the universe. Or nature. But, I didn’t understand how I could put my faith in those kinds of things, let alone use them to get sober.

I learned in rehab that this is common. Most addicts struggle with the whole higher power concept. But I was urged to give it some thought, and dig really deep, and find something, anything, that gave me purpose and helped me maintain sobriety.

I struggled with this so much. But I thought about it a lot. What was it that kept me going? What was it that I believed in? I had given up on everything, so what could there be? What was still there for me?

I dug and dug and thought and thought, and nothing came to me. I returned home from my first stay still not having nailed down a higher power. I thought I didn’t need it at that point. All that talk about it had just been one of many techniques they used to help me get sober. I could use the other stuff and forget about it.

I relapsed and returned to rehab, and opened my mind to anything and everything that could help me. Including reopening the chapter on a higher power. There must be something to this, I thought. Or, why would they keep bringing it up?

And one night, lying in bed, I figured it out. I had my Bill W. moment, though it was much less dramatic, and the idea still took me a few days to process and bring together.

The thing that keeps me going, that makes me think it’s all still worth it, is my interconnectedness to everything else. I suppose it’s the universe that’s my higher power. But I needed that to be more concrete. And I started to think about my place in the universe. And how we are all connected. All of us as humans, but also we are connected with the animals and plants and forces of nature.

When the tides shift, that happens to all of us, wherever we are. When something happens in the solar system, it happens to all of us. We are all a part of one big thing. I’m still not sure what that thing is, but I know it exists. I don’t know what happens when we die, but I do know that things will go on living and being born and existing after we are gone. And those things are still a part of us, and we are still a part of them.

Relying on the higher power is the hardest thing to do. But I’ve learned to remember everyday that I’m connected to everything, and it gives me strength and hope. I feel a warmth, a belonging. I’m here for a reason, that will become clear later. I’m here because I was supposed to be here. I’m a part of a much larger web of things, and without me, it doesn’t work.  I needed to get sober and stay sober to keep my place in all of this.

This might not be what works for you, but I urge you to find something to fill that higher power void. It has changed everything for me. There’s something bigger than you and me out there. No one is really sure what it is, but we all need some kind of idea of what it could be. Only then does the human experience make any sense.

Compassion

It’s hard to believe this is already my tenth Safe Coping Strategy post. These began as a challenge from my counselor, as I expressed some difficulty getting this blog off the ground. She suggested I do a regular post, each week, on the same day, on the same theme. The Safe Coping Strategies have been a great topic, and choosing one each week to write about forces me to review the whole list each week. It’s been good for me.

This week, I chose:

Compassion. Listen to yourself with respect and care.

In recovery, there’s a lot of making up for lost time to do. There’s a lot of apologizing for past behaviors to do. And there’s a lot of stuff to regret.

This is all normal and natural, but you have to stop once in a while and give yourself a break. Reward yourself for positive choices and steps in the right direction, no matter how big or small. Do something compassionate for yourself, even if that’s just buying a sweet treat at the bakery.

Recovery is all about healing. But more than just the physical healing you’re doing. It also involves emotional and mental healing. You’ve been through the ringer. Your emotions have been so high and so low, sometimes in the same five minutes. Not to mention, you’re actually learning how to deal with feelings all over again. While you used, you were able to ignore and deflect feelings, put them off for another day. But now, you have to feel it all. And sometimes that’s hard.

So listen to yourself, recognize your emotional needs. Talk to someone when you need to, take some alone time when you’d rather do that. Do something that elevates your mood. More importantly, do something that makes you feel good about yourself.

Healthy self-esteem is key to a successful recovery. The belief not only that you’re capable of being sober, but that you deserve to be sober. You deserve that kind of life, and all the amazing things that go along with it.

So, while you’re working on making your amends and earning back trust, don’t forget to stop once in a while and pat yourself on the back. Do something nice for yourself. Have compassion for yourself; you’re going through something very difficult, and you should be treated compassionately.