Love your Recovery: Navigating Valentine’s Day while Sober
Valentine’s Day can be an emotional time for a lot of people, and for a lot of different reasons. None more so than those in recovery. Drug and alcohol abuse strains relationships, and so Valentine’s Day can bring up a lot of painful memories.
In addition, Valentine’s Day can feel impossible to escape – piling on top of us with red hearts and candy from the over-stuffed shelves at the grocery store, or showing up in cardboard cut-out-happy-couples in TV ads.
It doesn’t have to be this way, however.
Valentine’s Day can instead be a time for self-love, or just a time to check in all sorts of people that have touched your life: from friends, to family, or even your sponsor.
So whether or not you’re in a relationship this Valentine’s day, here are a few ways for those in recovery to spend the holiday.
Connect with loved ones
Reaching out to loved ones can be as simple as a phone call or hug (some of those people, feeling lonely or missing you themselves, might appreciate the gesture!).
Or check in with family and friends, particularly those who have helped you in your recovery. And never forget, your sobriety is in itself a gift to all the loved ones in your life.
Rebuild your relationships
That fact substance abuse can put a real strain on both romantic and platonic relationships goes without saying. Use Valentine’s Day as a time to circle back to those who you are close to, especially those who’ve stood by you on your path to sobriety.
Being in recovery can focus you on your needs, and your needs alone. Use Valentine’s Day to ask, “How’ve you been?” instead. All this might be easily said than done, depending on how much damage has been done to a relationship, but take the first step and don’t be discouraged.
Cope with loneliness
While in recovery, it’s important to spend time alone in reflection, but on Valentine’s Day make the effort to get together with friends or family, especially if you find yourself missing those with whom a relationship has been permanently lost due to substance abuse. When you celebrate Valentine’s Day while in recovery, it can be a reminder of those relationships that were lost or damaged due to alcohol and drug abuse, so it’s important to avoid feelings of loneliness and be around those who support you.
Loving yourself isn’t easy sometimes. So instead of taking someone else out on a date, use Valentine’s Day as a chance to reintroduce yourself to yourself by refocusing on your own passions and goals.
Here are some other fun ideas for Valentine’s Day:
Make Old-School Valentine’s Day Cards
Express how much someone means to you with a classic, because Valentine’s Day cards (and candy hearts!) aren’t just for grade-schoolers.
Write a Love Letter to Your Recovery
Use the day as a chance to list out all the qualities you love and appreciate about yourself, or your higher power (in whatever form that might take).
Practice Gratitude: simply look in the mirror, and say thank you
Here’s a fun little advantage those in recovery have over some other people on Valentine’s Day: the AA book, Living Sober, actually recommends keeping some sweets handy in early sobriety. So go nuts!
But no matter how you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day in recovery, be sure to use the day to celebrate how far you’ve come!