- Joshua Sherman Productions
- Benjamin Lerner
During the worst part of my active addiction, I was constantly overwhelmed by potent surges of self-hatred and shame. I felt like a subhuman monster whenever I looked at my bony chest and oily skin. I detested the way that my sternum poked out at an asymmetrical angle, and I abhorred my facial blemishes even more vehemently. In the years that followed my decision to get sober and clean, my emaciated frame had filled out and my skin had started to clear. Although my physical transformation had allowed me to reach new levels of confidence, I still felt like I was ugly and flawed.
In a tragic twist of fate, I was beginning to use my fitness and hygiene practices in a compulsive and ritualistic manner. I didn’t want to admit it, but the behavioral pattern closely mirrored my past addiction to harmful substances. As I slathered high-strength acne medicine across my face, I began to feel restless, irritable and discontent. I dropped to the ground and began doing push-ups until I could barely breathe. My ego and insecurities were engaged in an all-out battle, and I was caught up in the crossfire with no way out.
Suddenly, I felt my eyes begin to burn with the intensity of an exploding star. The sweat that had been generated by my vainglorious exercises had dripped down from my forehead, carrying an excessive amount of chemical ointment onto my eyelashes and eyelids. I rose to my feet and screamed out in agony as I attempted to wash the skin cream off of my face. In a matter of seconds, I had literally become blinded by my impatient pursuit of superficial perfection. I felt lost and disillusioned as I submerged my face in my bathroom sink. I didn’t know what to do.
It was then that I remembered the wise words of a friend from my recovery fellowship:
“One of the best things about sobriety is that it allows us to regain control of our lives. Sadly, that newfound sense of control can sometimes lead to the development of unhealthy and obsessive behaviors. If we are dealing with unresolved feelings of inadequacy, we may go to extensive lengths to groom ourselves and reshape ourselves in a way that makes us feel more desirable. Though self-care is certainly important, that search for external validation can rob us of our sanity if we’re not careful. I’ve found that when I can detach from my reflexive need to prove myself to others, I’m able to return to one of the core truths that I’ve learned in recovery: I’m good enough just the way I am — and I don’t need anyone else’s approval to feel worthy of inner peace and happiness.”
After resurfacing and taking a deep breath, I understood that I didn’t need to look perfect or impress my date. I just needed to be honest, open, humble and willing to accept my flaws. Recovery had given me the ability to move past my self-centered tendencies — and the clarity to understand that true strength comes from vulnerability.
Keep moving forward.
Run towards the truth.
Don’t quit before the miracle happens.