I was on a call today with a group of peer specialists. One mentioned how great it was to be employed and how in the early years of his recovery, he felt unable to work. He said there were times when he felt ashamed about being unemployed because he wasn't making a positive contribution.
I shared that I too was not able to hold employment in the early years of my recovery. I remember feeling bad about that too. I even avoided meeting new people because they would always ask - "So, what do you do?".
My self-esteem was pretty fragile in those days so eventually I began to tell myself a new, more empowering story. I began to say to myself:
I AM working. I am working on getting back in the driver's seat of my life. That's really hard work and it's the most important work at this time in my life.
This story helped to build me up and have confidence that in time, and with much hard work, I could get employed. Eventually I was able to hold a job. But even to this day, I still experience challenges sometimes. That's when I remind myself to take time away from employment. Sometimes we need all our energy to do the hard work of recovery.