I’ve made progress in my recovery from codependency, but lately, I’ve also witnessed the regression, the moving backwards, the self-defeat and the self-sabotage that is erasing the progress of my recovery. I am writing this piece to address the ways in which I sabotage my recovery, and address the low self-esteem that makes self-sabotage a bad habit in my life.
I’m at a point in my recovery where self-sabotage is my greatest obstacle from progressing further. I am tempted to take a big step backward, back to my comfort zone of painful codependency and drug addiction – back to where I was comfortable. I’ve been thinking about what triggers my desire to bring myself backwards, and why I want to halt my own progress.
Will Williams writes, “Lack of belief in ourselves — the feeling that we are unworthy, or destined to fail — often goes hand in hand with self-sabotage, and this link can be hard to break. ”
I find that it is my own lack of self esteem that makes it very difficult for me to progress farther along in my recovery. I find it is easier to shrink back into self-defeating lifestyle choices because I am used to it.
I feel sad to realize this about myself, but I am determined to have compassion for myself and my struggle. I am able to become aware and to accept the fact that I have low self-esteem. Improving myself is really hard, partly because I have trouble believing that I am even worth the effort it takes to improve.
Self-sabotage is basically a cycle of bullshit. But, on the bright side, regressing in my recovery has me asking thought-provoking questions, questions that are leading to tough and complex answers. Do I really want to recover? Do I really want to be happy? Why do I act actively block myself from getting to my goals?
Answering these questions has shown me that I am person who has low self esteem. Good things, like recovery, trigger my deep sense of worthlessness. I self- sabotage to avoid feeling good things at all. It’s sad to admit, but I have a comfort zone of feeling shitty. I can accept that low self-esteem and worthlessness has been my state of normalcy, and changing to a more positive, active mindset is something I have to accept as something that I *do* deserve. There is a part of me that believes I am unworthy, dear reader.
For a person with low self-esteem, moving forward in recovery is triggering. “This feeling of confidence isn’t meant for me!” I tell myself, feeling around for that familiar pit of sadness and loneliness that has been my safety blanket for the past fifteen years. I spent my childhood becoming tolerant to a certain level of terror, and now as I recover, I miss the familiarity of being in a state of high emotional tension. And as I recover, I begin to realize that the sadness and despair are nowhere to be found. Where is my safety blanket of anxiety? Where is my comfort zone of emotional pain?
I logically know I am worthy of a good life, but unfortunately I have a body and a brain that are programmed against self-actualization and self-fulfillment. I have a system that is more comfortable running on high anxiety and low self-esteem, versus high self-confidence and low, manageable anxiety.
And this is when the self-sabotage begins. This is when I reach for drugs again. This is when I bring myself lower, bring myself back to the comfortable shit-hole feeling that feels so much more familiar than the feeling of confidence.
Healing my low self-esteem feels unsafe and scary. If I climb up the mountain of confidence, there’s a chance I may fall, that I may get hurt and maybe even die. If I stay at the bottom, although I may be sad and lonely, at least I can control the fact that I am already low as can be.
The fact is I’m at the point where I am doing well, and there is a chance that I can succeed and even win my goal! This is the point where I self-sabotage.
There are three main reasons that I self-sabotage:
1. I self-sabotage now because my family of origin devalued my own happiness, so I internalized that I am not worthy of happiness. When I become aware that I am successfully recovering, doing good things for myself, and feeling happy and confident in my capabilities- something can’t be right! Time to self sabotage. I self-sabotage because I am programmed to believe that my happiness is incompatible with my life. I self-sabotage because I internalized the belief that my own needs and wants are “worth less.”
2. I self-sabotage because I hold a false belief that my happiness is only valid if I have external validation. Sure, I am doing great for myself, making decisions and choosing positively – but what does it matter if no one is there to see it, to confirm it? If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it even make a sound? Time to self-sabotage: time to find a romantic partner to witness my success, and give me permission to be happy! Getting into a relationship so that someone else can validate my growth is a form of self-sabotage, because once in a codependent relationship, all my attention goes to finding meaning in the other person’s approval.
3. I self-sabotage because achieving my goal means that I have a responsibility to maintain a level of success, and even to reach a newer goal. I feel afraid of the future, which is out of my control, so as I find myself making progress toward a specific goal, I self-sabotage in order to avoid ever reaching it. If I stop myself from achieving my goal, I never have to bear the responsibility of maintaining a level of success, and I never have to set newer goals.
Writing this out, I see that I am my own worst enemy. And I feel slightly hopeless that I can ever overcome my childhood programming. It feels like a very uphill battle. And it is, dear reader, it is an uphill battle. And not you, nor a partner nor a friend, can do this work for me. Recovery is something that I have to face alone, terrifyingly alone. I am solely responsible for addressing my self-sabotaging tendencies.
The great thing is that I know I am worth it; I truly believe I am worth it. I do deserve recovery. I do deserve to feel fulfilled and happy. I deserve to be free and to work toward my dreams. I deserve to go to sleep sober and wake up and stay sober all day, and go to sleep sober again.
I hope to get through this day sober. I hope to build my confidence and release my desire to self-sabotage throughout this Gemini Moon cycle. I know that if I take it one day at a time, one moment at a time, I can reach the full Moon stronger and freer and more full of self-love than I am at this moment. I am worth it.