I never made the conscientious decision to live as a prisoner in my own skin, it just happened. My journey started long before I ever realized it, and I fueled embers burning inside of me and turned them into flames without any awareness.
It began when I was 12, and I went down the dark path of an eating disorder that consumed my life. I learned to live a double life, and I was good at only showing what people wanted to see. It’s no wonder I picked my head up in my mid-30s and found myself as an alcoholic living a stark double-life, it’s what I grew up knowing.
On the outside, my life looked picturesque: house, physically fit, pretty face, nice truck, beautiful cat. On the inside and behind closed doors was another story, it was much darker and deadly than what appeared on the outside. From jails and hospitals, I was going straight into the office, I never knew where my blackouts would take me, and I woke up every morning in a panic trying to piece the pieces back together. I had completely lost control of my life, and I was losing the battle: I wanted out.
My self-hate had dominated my soul, and I was tired of living in a body that I couldn’t control. I didn’t want to drink. I didn’t want to isolate and be alone so I could fuel my addiction. I didn’t want to hide my life from friends and family, but I did, and I died a little more every day.
For over a decade I tried to get sober, but I couldn’t. I’d get a few days, at best, and then my world would come crashing down and I honestly thought I was going to be stuck in a living hell. That is until it changed.
I finally tried dating, and I thought if I was only happy then I would be fixed. I couldn’t have approached that more incorrectly. After a few months we sat down and he told me the 7 words that finally made the stars align in my head. He said, “Jen, you need to learn to love yourself”. He didn’t know everything that was happening with me, but he saw enough to know that I truly did not love myself. I sat there, frozen, unable to find words. Visions of my life came through my mind, I was that 5-year-old child that was excited about life and she was looking at her older self with sadness. I was never going to have the life I envisioned for myself if I didn’t get my life back on track.
For years, I had gone after the symptom: drinking, eating, addictions, but it wasn’t the problem. The problem was I didn’t love myself, and this man handed me the key to start down the road of self-love and recovery. I committed to myself that day that I was going to make it my new purpose to get to know myself and fall in love with myself.
It was facing feelings, fears, emotions, and a past that I had kept buried. I had to face myself in the mirror, completely naked, and do a full inventory of myself. I made this my new addiction. I was going to become passionate about myself, even if I had to fake it until I made it.
I had to address my anger, my negativity, let go of the past, and had to let myself free. The best thing I did was date myself. I still date myself even after almost 2 years of being in recovery!
How does one date themselves?
Simple. Think about how you would date someone new. How would you get to know this person and show how you care?
You’d get to know what they like, what they dislike. You’d cook a special meal, buy them a little something that lets them know you’re thinking of them. You’d tell them they look beautiful, you’d encourage them and give them a hug when they need one. You’d go to the movies or on a walk and spend time together. Whatever you would do with someone else, this is what I would do! Candidly, it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
Dating yourself isn’t only if your single, it’s a standard of how you should treat yourself. When I finally discovered who I was and fell in love with the person within, my world changed. The man that told me I needed to learn to love myself was right, I was the problem all along.
There were many areas I needed to address (my book “Reset” walks readers through the steps I took to not only reclaim my life, but to also maintain my lifestyle), but learning to love myself was at the crux of the problem.
I was suicidal. I hated who I was. I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror. I wanted the madness to end, and I didn’t really care about what was happening in my life- it was all bleak.
Now, I fly higher every day. I am untouchable, I have strengthened my mind to work for me, not against me. I look at myself with confidence and love. I keep treating myself the way I should be treated. I’ve put myself as a priority and a standard in my life. I wear rose-colored glasses, my negative mind has been morphed to seeing beauty, in both the world and myself.
I get excited about the future, and I live in today. I find gratitude in the little things, and it helps me stay present. I’m grateful for what I have and don’t have. When you keep this positive mindset and give thanks for what is in your life, then you will find your life elevated into another state of mind.
Recovery is not only possible, but it can strengthen you to become indestructible. You know what it was like to be close to hell, and now you can use that to fuel the life you want to have. You are not defined by your past, your scars gave you wings. Fly, my friends, and make sure you loving yourself as your soar- it propels your wings!
From rock bottom to rockin’, Jen Sugermeyer has beaten the odds with an addiction that almost took her life. A corporate businesswoman, struggling with an addiction, silenced for fear of losing her job and the stigma associated with poor mental health. Jen faced the scariest roller coaster of her double life while she tried to keep her head above water in the office. Jen is now an advocate and life coach for those who have lost themselves along the way and want to recognize the person in the mirror again. She has also recently authored the book, “RESET”.