A Fairytale Story of Sobriety & Self-Love.
by Angela Carstens.
“Practice self-love.”Everyone. Everywhere.
“Sure, I hear you, but to be honest I don’t really know how to love myself… I don’t really know what I like, and I’m not really sure I can feel anything anyway. But thanks for the advice.” Me before sobriety.
I am sure I am not alone in these thoughts about self-love and self-care. I can honestly say that I spent many years not understanding what it meant to love myself. Don’t get me wrong – I love life, I love nature, I love music, I love others… but when it came to Me, I stopped loving somewhere along the line.
It was a slow realisation. Something that happened over a few years, where I had a sense something was not quite right. At first it was easy to ignore these mini alarm bells and push the snooze button. However, just like alarms, they kept on going off. I was losing connection to who I was, but I kept trying to tell myself that it wasn’t important.
There were moments when I was really connected, and I cared for myself, but I struggled to show myself acts of love – something I could do very easily for friends and family. Deep inside I knew that there had to be something more that I could feel for myself and a deeper connection I could establish. Something I keenly felt when I was younger but perhaps my drinking had blocked. The younger me knew who I was, what my potential could be, and what I could offer. I could feel my depth. I had boundaries. I believed in myself. As I grew older, and my alcohol consumption increased, my connection to that wisdom inside of me faded, and with it my inner sense of knowing. I was struggling to hear and feel my intuition! I was struggling to see, feel and experience true joy. Things that had once inspired me no longer had the same effect. I was speaking to myself with disrespect, and it was really a question of whether I was willing to continue settling for less.
“What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.”
Oh dear Robin, I’m having flashbacks of myself dancing on the bar. I spent a lot of energy focused on having a good time. I focused on trying to be liked. I focused on what felt good in the moment. Along with that, came drinking. I let go of the rootedness within myself as I became more and more numb. Queue the shame cycle.
When my daughter was born I had a loud internal wake up call. Firstly, I was so blown away by what my body had just done, and secondly, I felt intense love and the weight of responsibility to bloody well stand up and deliver! (Literally.) There was so much more that I could be and I had so much more to offer. This time, instead of ignoring the intuitive nudge I was getting to stop drinking, I listened. It was not because I felt I was out of control or because I needed to be healthier – it was because the way that I was living was not aligned with my values. I felt like I was living in discord, and as anyone who loves music will know, this is a jarring experience. Focus needed to shift. I needed to start taking care of myself. I needed to walk my talk, and care for and love myself the way I was being called to love and care for my daughter. So I stopped drinking – because I now know that I am worth more.
I joined Thrivalist and completed their incredible Signature Sobriety Course – filled with excuses and coming purely from a place of curiosity. It has been almost two years since my last drink, and I look back on my decision to quit with pride.
My first few months of sobriety were interesting to say the least. I had a lot of free time, and my mind was rather alert to the sudden ‘freeing up’ I was experiencing (even with a three month old!). In the beginning I didn’t really ‘get’ what self-care was, and quite frankly it would ‘grind my gears’ to hear people talk about self-care and how necessary it was, particularly because it brought up nauseating feelings like shame that I struggled to process. Despite this I discovered that self-care was a vital and cushioning tool in my sobriety. It was what I leant on to navigate the uncertainty, newness and rawness I was experiencing.
Since then I have come to focus on three main pillars: Mindset, Investment and Compassion. Or Mic. (Turn it up if you will). It is these three vital areas that I focus on as a life coach with my clients, with the result of leading happier, healthier and more vibrant lives that are rooted in self-care.
The first pillar is Mindset. This was the biggest thing tripping me up when it came to living the life I could see but not obtain. An important moment was when I asked myself these pertinent questions and answered them honestly: ‘What is the one thing that you really want to change in your life? What keeps getting in the way of you living the life that you dream of?’ Drinking drew my energy, changed my priorities and shaped me into a person I did not want to be. Addressing my mindset opened windows to let light into my life, and opened the doors to the new possibilities that had remained inaccessible when I could not and would not believe in myself – when my focus was elsewhere and not on what I dreamed of for myself.
The next pillar is Investment. From my perspective I spent a lot of time investing in ‘having a good time’. Even in the smallest capacity, my energy, thoughts and money went towards drinking. When I stopped altogether, as mentioned, I had a lot more free time (and energy!). I found that I could invest in other areas. I chose to invest in the things that mattered to me such as my own vitality, nutrition, health, mind, learning and body. My family, friends and my baby. By assessing what our true values are and becoming clear on our deep-rooted priorities, we can make more informed decisions based on where we wish to invest.
The last pillar is Compassion. There is no perfection in anything that we do, and we will stumble. Compassion is a practice and way of life that requires daily awareness. With sobriety there is no numbing out, and real, raw and overwhelming emotions can surface. By staying present and connecting deeply we develop compassion for ourselves, our story, our past and our shame. Compassion allows us to remain open to what comes up as we move through new terrain. Compassion allows us to do so with gentleness, grace and the permission for everything to be as it is.
I am currently working as a Health and Worthiness Life Coach where I support the new mother and woman to live a life that they are passionate about. These three pillars form the cornerstone of my coaching, giving my clients the tools to align their life with their true values, build their confidence and compassion, and craft a life grounded in self-love and self care. This results in women who feel more calm, confident, grounded, energised, nurtured and held than ever before. Now couldn’t we all do with a bit more of that?!
Sobriety may not be for everyone, but it has shaped my journey and of this I am certain: When our mindset and our investments are aligned with our values and who we are, we are in the best position to make decisions that serve us and those around us. We will have the clarity, vitality and compassion to walk our journey with grace and gentleness, and we will start to mitigate the overriding shame. Also, let’s be honest, we start to have tons of bloody fun – confident and happy in who we are!
So go forth and dwell on this: You are worth more than you think. You deserve to be happy with who you are. You deserve true self-love.