Vanity, or self respect ?

The picture at the top of this post is my ‘sobriety pendant’. I had it made for me after about 2 months sober, seemed a little premature and maybe a bit self-indulgent, but it was also a statement of intent – after all, you can’t wear a sobriety pendant with the wrong sobriety date! So it has my sober birthday, March 12th 2016, ‘one day at a time’ and ‘love, serenity courage’ embossed on the three discs. I wear it a lot, particularly when I’m struggling – I think of it as a talisman and a solid tangible reminder of my commitment to staying alcohol free.

Yesterday I had a chat with my partner about drinking, or not. he did the month of June alcohol free and has had a couple of drinks in the last week. We talked about the benefits of being dry – that we had both felt and he asked me if I intended never to drink again – I said that this was indeed my intention. That’s the first time I have said it out loud. It felt good, to be talking properly and communicating my feelings to the man I adore (even though he drives me nuts sometime! ) and good to be able to share my intentions. He said he was proud of me – he’s said that before – and it surprised me again, in a nice way… I hadn’t really thought I had much of an option about being dry really!

He also told me I looked much better since I stopped drinking. This is true, for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is that I’m no longer drinking 70 + units of alcohol (which is a toxin) every week – my skin looks brighter, my eyes are not red rimmed and my face is not puffy any longer. But more than this, I am taking care of myself in a way that I haven’t for many years.I am wearing makeup – not a lot, but a little light foundation, eye liner, mascara and lipstick. It makes a big difference. I have now lost 5lbs (whoop whoop) without trying;  took a while to start, but I think the ‘promised’ weight loss is at last starting… I’m short, so 5lbs is noticeable.. This makes me feel better, my clothes fit better, I take more trouble with how I dress…so I look groomed and smart. Then I WANT to look better – so I have had my hair cut and highlighted, my eyebrows threaded and tinted, my eyelashes tinted… I have had a facial and a pedicure. I’m doing yoga regularly – I think my posture has improved , certainly my balance has – so I’m walking taller, with my butt under me. I’ve bought some new clothes that are more fitted, new and smart .. Now I am really feeling the difference. So then, after a lot of thought (and a personal recommendation) I had some Botox… and this, subtle (my partner hasn’t noticed and neither has my mother) elimination of the deepest frown lines and wrinkles, has boosted my self-esteem hugely.

I’ve been thinking about this. I have invested money in ME. Just for vanity, just because I want to look better – because it makes me FEEL better, proud of my appearance, not ashamed and scruffy. I have never loved my body, I had eating disorders in my teens and twenties – in fact right up to when I had children. I have cursed my short stumpy legs and pear shape. I’ve abused myself with starvation and purging, and latterly covered myself up to hide the lumps. I’ve not worn make up mostly – except on special occasions – I haven’t been bothered, subconsciously thinking I’m not attractive anyway so why bother.

Is it vanity ? (because vanity is a sin) or is it self-respect? Is making the best out of your face and body narcissistic and egocentric, or is it actually a reflection of an important self-love, about dignity, self-confidence and valuing yourself?

One of the character traits associated with an addictive personality is low self-esteem;  those who do not value themselves very highly are going to be more willing to engage in high risk behaviour, self-destructive behaviour, and are less concerned about the damage they are doing to themselves

People who have low self-esteem don’t expect much from life, and often become willing to settle for a mediocre existence & poor relationships, Low self-esteem prevents individuals from achieving success in life because they just do not feel like they deserve to be successful. This type of person not only lacks motivation to succeed, but they will often sabotage their own efforts to improve their life, as well. Ring any bells with anyone ?

My thoughts about this are not well developed yet – and I will reflect on it some more; but for now I think that removing alcohol from my life has removed a significant source of guilt and shame… and that once I am not feeling guilty or ashamed of myself, I have been able to start treating myself with care and love… And this is definitely a positive thing 


12 comments

  1. Wow. Good for you. Indeed it’s about valuing yourself – and celebrating when you do helps to reinforce your value. So encouraging…thanks for sharing!

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  2. This make my heart full.
    It’s so true. Somehow it is easy to get lost in life and forget that taking care of ourselves is a necessity, not an indulgence.
    All though things you have done are well deserved.
    It’s not vanity. It self care.

    I have always struggled with the word pride, as it immediately seems like a sin too, but self respect and self love are the side of pride we need. They are truly gifts of sobriety.

    Thank you so much for sharing.
    The best thing I did in early sobriety was throw away my scale. Who cares what it says. What matters is that I feel comfortable in my body.

    💗 anne

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  3. I’m so happy for you! Taking care of yourself and wanting to look good which makes you feel good is not vanity! It’s a symbol of caring for yourself. As for the Botox , I just look at that as the new periodic facial or highlights! You keep on going! And your husband sounds great! It’s always so nice to get both support and recognition from the ones we love the most!

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  4. 5lbs! – go Lily!! What do you think has finally started the long awaited weight loss ? I am at 98 days and still the same- scales went down 3lbs for a few days last week but then back up. Perhaps I need to be more patient and keep spinning, swimming and watching my cake intake ! Xx

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    • Honestly I have not consciously done anything different; however I would say that if I had kept any kind of food diary, I think my eating pattern has ‘settled’ down. I am still eating what I want, when I want, but on balance, I seem to want less chocolate / cake / sweeties … It may be that! About time too (117 days! )

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  5. Oh Lily this is wonderful to hear, You are taking care of yourself and treating your body with the respect it deserves. It isn’t vanity, it is self care. For so many years I have neglected myself, only seen myself as a wife and mother here to serve others. It led to my breakdown and subsequent alcohol abuse. I adore your pendant, I would love something like that.

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    • I bought the pendent from a shop on Etsy. It wasn’t very expensive. For my experience, a little self care improves self esteem, and leads to a little more self care, and it become a virtuous cycle … You are NOT JUST a ‘wife and mother’ although there are very important roles – you are a person , and deserve love and attention x Lily

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  6. Honestly I have not consciously done anything different; however I would say that if I had kept any kind of food diary, I think my eating pattern has ‘settled’ down. I am still eating what I want, when I want, but on balance, I seem to want less chocolate / cake / sweeties … It may be that! About time too (117 days! )

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  7. Lily, this is a wonderful post and I definately agree with others that it is self care and self respect. All of which we lose when we are drinking. As I near my 100 days i was just thinkng about a necklace or somthing to mark my sober date. I too think I’d use it as a tailasman. So sound so positive, thank you for sharing

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