Addiction Recovery and Valentine’s Day – Repairing, Reconnecting, Loving Others And Yourself
Valentine’s Day, like many holidays, can be a challenging time for people struggling with addiction. The holiday can be a painful reminder of the difficulties being faced in current relationships, as well as bitter memories of relationships past.
But in spite of the challenges, the holiday can also serve as an opportunity to face up to substance abuse issues, and communicate and/or reconnect with your spouse, significant others, or family and friends in general. Moreover, observing Valentine’s Day offers an opportunity to focus on relationships, and to reiterate your appreciation for those around you whom you love – including yourself.
Connecting and Reconnecting
Instead of worrying about gifts, it may be easier (and often just as effective) to use cards and verbal sentiments to let the people who care about you how much you love and appreciate them – particularly if they are helping you through recovery or other important life hurdles.
Personal interaction is always the ideal, but effectively reaching out to someone can be accomplished in many ways. A lunch date, a phone call, or even a text or personal message sent via social media may serve as a start to reestablish communication or reaffirm feelings.
And of course, the greatest gift you can give anyone who loves you is to remain sober if you are in recovery, or seek professional treatment for addiction if you have not already.
Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to take a look at current relationships and work toward repairing the damage done from substance abuse. Addiction, by nature, is a very selfish disease, and therefore, most addicts tend to focus primarily on their own needs, while neglecting the needs of others.
You can start by becoming aware of the needs and feelings of others who love and support you, acknowledging your problem and/or wrongdoings, and apologizing for past behaviors.
Owning up to, and offering reparation for the devastation your addiction has caused is a staple of any effective recovery approach.
Indeed, in order to repair any given relationship, you have to focus on rebuilding love and respect. Keep in mind, however, that moves made in this direction do not necessarily mean that things will instantly improve. It can take a considerable about of time to repair relationships, but the only way to make that happen is to begin – now.
If you haven’t already, consider making an appointment to talk to a counselor or therapist. Professionals who deal with substance abuse and relationships can offer considerable insight into the mending of broken relationships, and how to make time spent with loved ones more rewarding.
Dealing With Loneliness
It’s easy to feel left out of holidays when you are dealing with addiction and other issues surrounding relationships. In addition, people dealing with substance abuse often feel lonely and isolated, even if they are not technically “alone.”
This is because along with addiction comes feelings of not being good enough for someone else, as well as the fear of intimacy and non-acceptance from others.
Although it may feel like it at the time, please remember that you are not alone in your feelings and suffering.
If you have the opportunity to spend time with friends and family, even for a short time, this is a good way to reduce feelings of loneliness – keeping in mind that the people you let into your circle should be those who support your recovery and are of positive influence. This is especially important if you are suffering from the loss of a relationship.
And remember, activities do not have to centered around traditional Valentine’s Day themes. Any type of gathering, as long as it is enjoyable and positive, may be preferable to time spent entirely alone.
If social interaction with loved ones isn’t in the cards, consider attending a 12-step meeting or support group, even if you don’t attend one regularly. Then, at least you can engage with peers and those who will empathize with your current experiences. It’s also a perfect time to share thoughts and feelings and take in the insights of others.
Remember To Love Yourself
Most important of all on this day is to practice self-love. Keeping in mind that there is a fine line between reflection and wallowing in self-pity, time spent alone can be used to really get to know yourself again.
Addiction alters a person’s priorities, and ultimately masks their identity. When you begin to recover, you will slowly remember things about yourself – things you used to enjoy – that have gotten lost under the weight of your substance abuse.
Moreover, this can be the perfect time to reengage in old passions and interests, such as hobbies, sports, exercise, or reading.
Basically, any activity that used to make you happy before your substance of choice hijacked the pleasure center of your brain.
You can also use time on Valentine’s Day to pamper yourself by getting a new haircut, going to spa, getting a massage, or simply soaking in the bathtub for as long as you please. Do something for yourself, and you will begin to remember how much you are worth the effort.
Whatever you choose, remember to keep it positive, and about the love you have for yourself and others. You are embarking on a remarkable new journey for yourself, and you owe it to yourself to keep cool and deal with the holiday in the best way you possibly can.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology