Kindness

Day 2. I am tired. In fact, I am exhausted. And it’s not as though I work down a mine, or have a labour-intensive job: I feel embarrassed that I’m so tired, because I know I am responsible for feeling like this. This is where I need to focus, as I know I’ll feel like this for many more days to come, and sometimes in the early days, I give up because I just think I’ll never feel better, so I might as well drink and give myself a reason to feel rough. That’s the psychology of addiction, I guess, right there.

People on sober blogs often say ‘be kind to yourself’, and I don’t really know what this means. No one ever says this to me in real life. What does it mean? Because I think it is somehow crucial, and something which I’m missing in the 1000 piece recovery jigsaw puzzle which I’m taking a very long time to make.

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20 thoughts on “Kindness”

  1. Annie, sweetie – being kind to yourself means that if you feel tired, you sleep. Your exhaustion may be from lack of sugar in your system if you were drinking wine or something else high in sugar. Being kind to yourself means giving yourself permission to take a bath, take a walk, listen to music you love, and eat what makes you happy and gives you energy, especially sugar. Do nothing that doesn’t bring you joy. You will feel better, I promise. Janna – 229 days sober.

  2. Remember when your son was little, and he would whine and scream for cookies or ice cream, or not to take a nap, or a bath, or whatever? Chances are you said No to the cookies and Yes to the nap, even if it wasn’t what he wanted.

    Being kind to yourself means that you make yourself the “grownup” in your own life, and you do those things that are good and right for you, even if it’s not what your screaming toddler voice claims to want.

    1. I apologize for hijacking your blog for a moment but I’m wondering if SC writes a blog? I’m always so impressed by the advice she gives!

      1. Hey, thanks. I used to have one. I was the guy behind ParkingLotPushups. I deleted it because I had sufficiently repaired my relationship with alcohol to the point that the blog no longer served me. But I’m loathe to walk away from the community completely, which is why you’ll still find me commenting here and there.

      2. Oops…gender mistake! Sorry! Keep commenting! I’m sure Annie must appreciate the straightforwardness. I know I do!

  3. I am learning how to be kind to myself too. I never learned that, so it’s great that you are asking, because it reminds me to do the same and reminds me of the meaning.
    For me, the best way to explain it is to take care of yourself the same wonderful and nurturing ways that you take care of your growing children. Nourish your body with good foods, and tell yourself this as you do it…spend time preparing and putting healthy things into your body just as you would feed your children veggies and fruits and make sure they are healthy. Then, do things that nourish your soul. If you can think of things that make you happy, even if just one or two things- allow yourself time to do them. For me, I take walks when I want to and place my face in the sun when I can.
    Take care of you as if you deserve to be cared for. Because YOU DO DESERVE IT. Say kind things to yourself. Let yourself rest when you need to and accept it.
    🙂 xo

  4. I can relate to your 2 most recent posts very well. I know the frustration, the feeling of failure and the exhaustion. I keep telling myself (and you need to hear this too) you only fail when you quit trying. and believe me, there have been many, many times after a relapse where I just wanted to give up. I can also related to feeling embarassed by my failures at sobriety to the point where I dont want to tell anyone I’m quitting so they wont know when I fail. I keep thinking I’ll wait until I have 30 days and then tell them. For my most recent relapse, not telling my hubby was a big mistake. I was doing great, not considering drinking when he offered me wine at dinner. that was it. I drank that night and every night since. If I’d told him I was quitting, he wouldnt have offered. So, that’s the lesson I learned this time. Personally, the best part of early sobriety for me is the sleep along with the lack of hangover-induced exhaustion. I think “be kind to yourself” is doing what makes you feel better mentally & physically as well as avoiding stressful situations. Good luck.

  5. I took that saying as avoiding things and situations that would stress me out because stress always led to drinking for me. I also made time for a massage, especially at the beginning. I started asking for help at home so I didn’t feel overwhelmed with twin boys and a house to clean. My husband and I worked out a system that would give us both a morning off on the weekends. I would catch up on sleep while he watched the boys then I would do the next day for him. Being kind to yourself takes work, at least it does for me. It’s so easy to let negative thoughts and behaviors take charge. It’s not always easy to find the time but a couple of hours to myself makes all the difference in the world!

  6. To me, being kind to yourself means talking to yourself as though you were speaking to someone you love unconditionally. This sounds uber corny, but I find it’s something that I rarely do… and I’m assuming it has a lot to do with addiction.

    You say you’re embarrassed that you feel so tired? What would you say to one of your kids if they told you that? My guess is something like, “Sweetie… no one ever said that only people who work in mines are ever allowed to feel tired. You are fighting a psychological battle right now and that is EXHAUSTING. You have every right to be tired… and you know what? I’m proud of you for getting up and fighting this EVERY day.”

    Whenever I catch myself saying mean things in my head, I try to do what I did above. It sounds stupid, but it works, I swear!

  7. The most powerful exercise that I have done for this was to find a picture of myself as a child. I found one of a very young Anne at her first communion. I don’t remember that day, but I look very happy and innocent.

    Whenever I start criticizing myself, etc I think of that little girl, who is me, and ask if I would treat her that way. And by doing that I was able to remember the love and tenderness I have for myself. I need gentle kindness, not rules, anger, self hatred or booze.

    It works thinking of your children too, but there is. Power in remember in you, too were a child and you deserve everything you hope for your own kids.

    Anne

  8. This is hard! Sleep if you’re tired. Cry if you’re sad. You don’t have to punish yourself for having this problem. It’s ok to make this easier on yourself.

    So you ask what it means to be kind to yourself. Since you wrote about being tired, I’ll use that as an example.

    You: I’m so tired.

    What you’re saying to yourself:
    You’d think you were toiling away in a mine all day. You should not be this tired, and anyway, it’s your own fault. Suck it up and keep moving.

    That’s pretty mean and judgmental, isn’t it?

    Now imagine you have a friend who is in the same boat you’re in. She’s been trying to quit drinking for a long time and is struggling. You know this is her Day 2 and she has come to you to talk and she tells you how tired she is. Would you say the same thing to her that you’re saying to yourself? No, of course not!

    What you might tell your friend:
    You are tired because you’re quitting drinking, and that’s hard on the body. Go take a nap, and then go to bed early tonight. You will probably feel tired for the next few days as your body adjusts to not having the alcohol. It’s ok to be tired, and it won’t last forever.

    Being kind to yourself means talking to yourself like you would talk to your friend.

  9. I have to check myself constantly. I’ll beat myself up about the things I perceive to be failings. To me, be kind to yourself, means stopping the negative self talk. Working on recognizing the negative mantra and telling myself to stop and then replacing it with something positive. I’m getting better at it but I still need to do it multiple times a day.

  10. Annie, there’s so much good advice here. One of the hardest things in the early days for me has been allowing myself to feel things without judgement. Feeling tired, sad, irritable, etc., without trying to fix it, change it, or make it go away. You are a wonderful human being that is allowed to have all these feelings. Feelings change and the hard ones pass. I had a hard time believing I wouldn’t feel bad forever, but it’s true that those feelings will pass.

  11. What wonderful advice and ideas. I think that being kind to yourself is all of the above. You spoke earlier about learning to respect yourself and it’s all tied together. Once you love yourself and want the best for yourself, everything starts to fall into place. It’s hard though. We use alcohol to abuse our bodies, even though we know how it makes us feel. Why do we do this? Why can’t we love ourselves enough to treat ourselves well? Small steps Annie, but you can do this xxx

  12. Hi Annie, I can so relate to what you’re saying. I feel tired all the time too but then feel guilty if I do take a nap, like it’s such a decadent thing to do. I know I needed sleep when I was drinking because I was hungover and needed to to function! Now, it’s lovely restorative sleep and I think it’s good for us as our bodies heal. I struggle with the kindness thing too. Everyone above has given such wonderful advice. I need to take some of it on board too. Well done on day 2 Annie. Please don’t be so hard on yourself. You deserve kindness and love. A xx

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