When I was drinking I avoided mirrors for years, unless I was looking into them giving myself a pep talk on how to walk downstairs and act like I wasn’t blacked out at my grandmother’s 90t birthday.
I felt very disconnected from what I looked like, and hated my appearance intensely. Alcohol did take a toll on my appearance, as I slept less, didn’t take care of myself, and always had a variety of drunken injuries. Once I woke up from a blackout with scabs down my face from a loving embrace with a pebbledash wall.
I don’t necessarily subscribe to beauty standards but it does feel better to not have scabs on my face, not be as puffy, and be able to open my eyes fully in the light of day. Some early mornings that might still be the case, but it isn’t my baseline for the whole day and it doesn’t eat away at me. My self-esteem rose to the point that I could actually look myself in the eye and accept myself inwardly as well as outwardly. I didn’t know I had freckles because I was so disgusted to look at myself for a while. Always wanting to be someone different meant I didn’t want to see myself for who I was, and I didn’t want to feel connected to something I felt so negatively about. Drinking escalated my self-hatred and when I ran out of things to hate about my personality, an attack on my appearance was always an easy swipe at myself. Brighter eyes, no emergency dental surgery, and getting a good night’s sleep has been a bonus that has helped me put my best face forward and heal some of those toxic thoughts about myself. It might seem shallow, but it has actually been a profound change to sometimes think, hey, sobriety looks good on me.
It crept up on me slowly, but I can now say I’m very peaceful with my appearance. I would have a running joke of getting drunk enough to not hate the way my body looked in a dress, both actions that I don’t have to participate anymore. I don’t have to overcompensate as much with hyper-femininity/presentability to portray how I think “someone who has their shit together and totally isn’t wearing yesterday’s underwear” would look like. I can find peace in my expression of myself, as I am simply being myself.
How has your relationship with your appearance changed since sobriety?
Three tiny things:
- Sing in the shower.
- Dress yourself in a way that makes you feel magnificent (even if it’s your favourite pyjamas)
- Participate in an alternate rebellion