I haven't been self confident, like, at all, for most of my life. Hunched shoulders, quiet voice, self-critical, never thinking that I had much to offer on pretty much any level, and I had the outward appearance to match that.
And I mean sure, that’s how it is for a lot of teenagers and young adults, but for me, it almost seemed a little too much. As I mentioned before, this also meant no boyfriends, which also added to my feelings of inadequacy, which then kept that cycle going.
When I met my husband, I wasn’t really looking for a relationship, but in my friendship with him, I finally felt comfortable. I felt like we really clicked, and oddly enough, this is how my self-confidence actually started to take root. I felt like I could start to be myself, have a safe place to learn how to be more “normal”, and discover parts of myself I had all but shut out from the world.
Though the years of addiction were rough, as I’m sure you can relate to, I have noticed that through them, I was able to see a lot of different perspectives and gain a lot of insight I wouldn’t have had the ability to the way my life was going before I met him. And with this topic, it was no different.
As each downswing in the cycle of addiction took place, I had difficulties in figuring out how to live through it, what choices I had to make, what my options were, and what the best plan of action was for me to continue to be successful while still supporting him. This came with a lot of questions, a lot of research, and a lot of advice that was both asked for and unwanted.
With each upswing, I had moments where I could see tiny examples of the work I had done, and glimpses of how things could be, but it never really stuck. Soon after, one (or both) of us would eventually slip back into old, bad habits, and the cycle would continue.
Nothing really changed for a few years, and his addiction and my own characteristics that needed work continued their patterns of ups and downs.
Once we finally reached the end of the most recent episode though, things really clicked for me.
As I have said before in the past, I realized I had come to the end of my options, and nothing I was doing was working. I had tried everything, from being in charge of his meds (both detox and maintenance), to shutting him out, and everything in between. The only thing I had not done by that point was work on myself and stick to it.
And oddly enough, confidence had a lot to do with this.
And, as such, this is why self confidence is a game changer for me.
Because you see, you hear from everyone and every source out there that you need to make boundaries when you have an addicted loved one. That I understood, in theory. But after I understood that I needed to have them, I was then confused on how to make them, and keep going from there.
Sure others would give me ideas of what they would do or I would read some examples somewhere, but they were never actually ones I came up with on my own, and so they never really felt like something I could actually stand behind. I always ended up adjusting them or dropping them completely when I was scared of the outcome or felt they weren’t helping.
But once I reached that point where I was then option-less, I had hit a point where I was then more aware of what I actually wanted on the topic of his addiction and how it related to me, our relationship, and in life in general, and so then further grew the confidence to give that a chance to bloom.
While at this point of complete turn-around, I gained the clarity that I needed and wanted, and so began the work of improving myself from the inside out: I began working on myself and growing out of the ways of doing things in my life that didn’t work for me, I found mindsets and beliefs that were hurting me more than helping me, I realized the strength I had and remembered how independent I could actually be, and I took charge of the direction I wanted my life to go.
And as all this was happening and I stopped forgetting or pushing away the qualities about myself that I liked and found good, my self-confidence started to grow again, too. I actually could get through this no matter what was happening around me, and I actually could take control of my own life and be the gatekeeper of what I allowed in (boundaries!). This helped with a slew of other things as well, and also instilled a sense of hope in me that things would get better, and allowed me to discover that I did indeed want to continue to support my partner as he found his way to recovery.
A lot of us tend to experience tough things in life that cause us to view them as the cause for the way we are. I could have easily done the same, and continued my own destructive path brought on by the ways I reacted to things, but I found out that I didn’t want to live like that anymore.
It’s not my partner’s fault, it’s not his addiction, it’s not any other outside or environmental circumstance that caused my lack of self-confidence or any other quality of mine that I didn’t like or what was negative to me. It’s all in how I react to these outside situations that determines my success or setbacks, and once I also realized that, it lessened my resentments and improved my confidence and independence even more.
I really do believe that after I discovered all of these things about how I was living my life after this last episode, I really changed the direction of how my life was going.
Since then, I've improved on so many things, and I’m happy to say that my partner is still doing just as good as I am, if not better. But deciding to stay in your relationship isn’t always the end goal, even though it was for me. The end goal is always continuing to improve, and doing what’s best for you always, no matter how it looks to anyone else and no matter what anyone else wants you to do.
And what better way to achieve that than with a little self-confidence?