Self-Esteem: A Restoration Project

It ate away at my insides like a worm, burrowing around my soul, destroying my belief in myself. It made me afraid to leave the house. It prevented me from looking people in the eye when I spoke to them. It stamped on my ability to move my life forward, to better myself, to grow, to change. It caused pain when I looked in the mirror. It propelled me into making bad decisions and put me in situations that made me hate myself more. It made me ache inside and cry and cut myself. It made me starve myself and put my fingers down my throat. It made me poison myself with toxic substances that blotted out my emotions. It made me believe that everyone else was better than me. It held off pride for my achievements, handing over the credit to forces external to me. It made me bitter. It made me cry myself to sleep. It made me want to die.

I had no idea how to restore my broken self-esteem. I was so shattered, so lost that I didn’t even acknowledge my life was the way it was because of low self-esteem. I believed everything was down to free will, that I was choosing my mistakes. I thought that I was in control of my path of self-destruction, actively making it all go wrong.

But somewhere, beneath all the darkness, was the voice of who I once was as a child. That person never wanted to hurt herself. She had courage and self-belief. She had dreams and she was damn well going to get out there and grab them, turning them into reality. When I stopped drinking, that little person was allowed to breathe again, and she came to the fore. Over time, she stopped allowing other people to hurt her. Pride came back, as did dignity. She started looking in the mirror again and liking what was reflected back. She acquired the strength to allow only positive influences into her world. The dead wood was cleared out. A fresh breeze blasted through the cobwebs of her life and she stopped being afraid of all that she was.

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The metamorphosis from a young girl with gumption to a shell of a teenager, who hated herself so much that she often went days without food, is one that happened gradually, like dusk creeping up and casting shadows one by one. Just as joy had been standard as a child, so bleakness and an emotional black hole became the way things were as an adult.

Saying goodbye to alcohol meant turning my back on all that was wrong with my world. The poison that I subjected my body and mind to every day for twenty years held such a grip on me that I had failed to realise how it controlled my every move.

Self-esteem does not get lost forever. You can grab hold of its threads and, if you hang on tightly enough to weave them back together, you will find that everything you thought had disappeared will return, tenfold. Your perspective changes when you start to like yourself. And as it does, so will your life.

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7 thoughts on “Self-Esteem: A Restoration Project

  1. My mother quit drinking a few months ago. She is 50, and had been drinking since she was 25. I never knew my mother as a sober person–only buzzed, drunk or hungover. Many Congratulations to you.

  2. SC says:

    You’re right – everything changes when you start to like yourself. But at least for me, I couldn’t like myself in a vacuum, so to speak. I had to do things that were likeable because self-esteem, at least to me, came from making choices that were esteem-worthy. This meant that I had to identify my deepest core values and then choose actions that would help me live by those values. It meant living with integrity – the word “integrity” comes from the same word as “integer” – a whole number, or “wholeness.”

  3. I feel like you have looked into my soul and told me story. I have been sober for five months and slowly, I am starting to love myself once more. It is the most magical thing and I never believed it could happen. Faith and hope in yourself are beautiful things. Thank you for sharing these words.

  4. rosesforourselves says:

    I love the last few lines you said – “Self-esteem does not get lost forever. You can grab hold of its threads and, if you hang on tightly enough to weave them back together, you will find that everything you thought had disappeared will return, tenfold. Your perspective changes when you start to like yourself. And as it does, so will your life.”

    It’s put so beautifully, and you are so right! Deep down we never really lose anything.. it just takes some time to realize that its still there.

    Reblogged it – https://rosesforourselves.wordpress.com/

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