Integrity: The Building Block of Recovery

Updated: Jun 29

Welcome back, readers. It's been a while!

Technically speaking, I should be welcoming myself back, since I'm the one that disappeared. Apologies on my end... I've had a crazy last couple of weeks.

Nonetheless, I'm still learning new things everyday in my sobriety. Even though I haven't been posting much, this season of my sobriety is overflowing with new lessons. One common theme that keeps emerging is integrity.

Before I dive into the way of integrity, let me explain what's been going on these past few weeks.

For one, I graduated from my masters degree. While this seems like something to be giddy and elevated about, the weekend was actually exhausting. My whole family came to visit, which meant multiple restaurant outings with my divorced parents and their new marriages and families.

I'm extremely grateful to have the copious amount of support that I have. Not many people can say that their whole family came to watch their graduation. However, my energy was simultaneously being pulled in multiple different directions, and it was difficult for me to switch between the different roles I play in each relationship.

I felt like a zombie for the majority of the weekend. This is partially due to the fact that my emotional needs were not met as a child, and partially due to the fact that I was extremely sleep deprived. I was numbing myself as a method for emotional protection, yet I yearned for connection.

On top of all of that, everyone kept asking me how I was feeling. I felt like it was wrong to lie and say that I felt amazing, but that I shouldn't burden them by explaining how numb I felt.

Truth be told, I didn't inherently feel proud of myself for getting my masters degree. During the ceremony, there was a split second of pride, but it faded quickly.

Reality hit even harder when I found out my new virtual assistant job wasn't what I thought it was. I was working for a business and dating coach, and my everyday tasks required the bare minimum. The work culture was also horrendous. The men that my boss coached were sexist, misogynistic, and totally entitled. The things they'd write about women in the group chats made my skin crawl.

I soon found myself mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted after every underwhelming eight hour day.

Despite consistently getting eight hours of sleep, I would doze off for two hours during the work days. After work, the only energy I could muster up was spent binge watching The Flight Attendant and Ozark on Netflix.

I was so confused. Life was supposed to be better than this. Hell, I had more energy working as a bartender standing on my feet for eights hours. What the hell was I missing?

Deep down, I knew that it was time to quit. I was not right for this job. I had only been employed at this company for two weeks, but I could feel it in my bones. I started to reach out to people about my decision, mostly looking for affirmations that it was the right decision.

Then I realized...

My whole life was a series of repetitive, external seeking behaviors. I looked outside myself for validation that the decisions I was making were the right ones. I made most of my decisions based on what I thought was expected of me, or what made me feel worthy on societies scale.

I was always so worried about what other people would think, I completely ignored what I felt in my heart.

I already knew that the job was not the right fit for me. Hell, I just graduated with my masters degree and picked up the first assistant job I saw. Who does that? A people-pleaser, that's who.

The more I relied on other peoples input, the farther away I diverted from my true self.

I didn't need anybody to tell me it was okay to quit that job. My body was already telling me that I needed to through physical fatigue and exhaustion. It didn't matter if my family was proud of me for earning my masters because I didn't feel proud of myself. I didn't need to fake being happy the weekend of graduation, because I wasn't feeling happy, and that is perfectly okay.

To wake up one morning and realize you've been living for everyone but yourself is a painful realization to have.

But, this isn't a sob story. Truthfully, not all of my decisions have been for the sake of other people. Getting sober wasn't for anybody except myself. In fact, getting sober was the exact opposite of pleasing others, because I pushed against societal norms and people questioned me about it constantly.

I also didn't get my education on behalf of other people. Even though I didn't necessarily feel proud of myself for getting my masters doesn't mean it was pointless. In actuality, I wasn't proud because I wasn't going to school for the "end product."

Getting my education was influenced by many things, but finding better jobs or earning a diploma wasn't one of them. My decision to continue school revolved around the fact that deep down I have a love for learning.

There is only one reason that I felt shame when I wasn't proud at graduation, felt stuck at an entry-level job, and felt emotionally numb around my family members. I was not behaving out of integrity.

I've been so buried under all of this cultural conditioning, it's been excruciatingly difficult to find my way back to myself. But the more that I listen to myself and my body, the more I realize it's an intuition that's been there all along.

Your body and soul know what is integral to you. You'll find peace in your truth, and you'll feel unsettled otherwise. I wasn't meant to be an assistant - my body showed me that through fatigue. I wasn't meant to be a bartender - my body showed me that through insomnia.

Contrary, my body knows that my purpose is to write. When I write, the words flow seamlessly and my soul feels at peace. I can get lost in a flow state for hours on end. The same goes for a hike in the woods, a deep conversation with a friend, finding a scrumptious new recipe, or reading a really good book.

This summer, I've decided to take two months off of work before I move across the country. My decision to do this is so that I can strengthen my integrity. I'll be spending this summer listening to what feels right, and acting according.

I know that I love to write, so I want to spend this summer starting my new book. I feel alive when I explore, so I will be planning some new hiking trips. I'm sure along the way I'll find other things that make my soul happy.

Today is the first weekday that I have absolutely nothing to do, and it's been a challenge to say the least. I feel overwhelmed by having nothing to do. Ironic, isn't it? But to me, it's a sign that I am uncomfortable with slowing down.

However, sometimes we need to slow down to see the bigger picture.

If you're interested in learning more about integrity and what that looks like for you, the book "The Way of Integrity" by Martha Beck is brilliant. Crazily enough, I picked up the book only a few days after deciding to quit my assistant job. It's only strengthened my belief that it was the right decision to make.

In a world full of cultural influence, choose to look within. You already know your answer.

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