"I love myself" - you, all day, everyday, circa ASAP

I started using drugs & alcohol at 13, took a few years off between 15-17 & then started back with the binge drinking in grade 12, ecstasy on my 21st birthday & cocaine shortly after. From 21 onwards hard drugs & booze were a constant in my life.

My twenties went by in a flash & this remained the norm. I started my career, remained active & athletic, maintained healthy & loving relationships with friends, family & partners alike & traveled & lived all over the world. My life felt & appeared happy & healthy but underneath it all, unbeknownst to me, I was a mess.

While some part of me always knew that my drug use & binge drinking were out of alignment with my values & the life I was put on this earth to lead, it wasn't until my thirties that this awareness came to light in an alarming way. After a night out I would wake up & the first thought that would come to mind was, "I hate myself". I'm sure this thought had been swirling around my brain for some time & was likely the main driver in my decision making around substances but I'd never heard it before & all of a sudden it was ringing loud & clear. It felt like a punch to the gut every single time so I did my best to ignore & as much as I said, "no thank you, busy right now", it was forcing me to take a look at my life & was asking me to make critical changes.

At the same I was introduced to 'The Secret' a flawed but popular book & movement that a lot of people around me started to pay attention to. The phrase "thoughts become things" entered my consciousness & the next time I woke up to that punishing self-hatred I decided to change one word in that phrase. I changed 'hate' to 'love'. Sweet relief. Even now, as I type that, I feel lighter & more connected to myself. If thoughts become things then changing my thought to "I love myself" was the first step towards loving myself & I decided to say it all day, everyday.

Slowly but surely it became my mantra. Today, in times of stress, self doubt & heartache those 3 words pop into my head automatically & I smile every single time. It took me 6 years from that first morning to quit using drugs completely & to curtail my drinking to social but was the first step towards changing my life.

Take these words as your own. You are loved. You ARE love. 

Courtney Miller