I remember being 9 and finding out my cousin had a part in the movie “Annie”. I was so excited for her, we were like sisters! I memorized the soundtrack to the movie, and could be found wandering around at school and daycare with my Walkman on, singing at the top of my lungs. The reaction of many kids I knew was that I was “too weird, too different, too everything”. I stopped singing out loud.
“Our real value is in being ourselves.”
Basic Text, p.101
Over and over, we have tried to live up to the expectations of those around us. We may have been raised believing that we were okay if we earned good grades in school, cleaned our rooms, or dressed a certain way. Always wanting to belong and be loved, many of us spent a lot of time trying to fit in – yet we never quite seemed to measure up.
Now, in recovery, we are accepted as we are. Our real value to others is in being ourselves. As we work the steps, we learn to accept ourselves just as we are. Once this happens, we gain the freedom to become who we want to be.
We each have many good qualities we can share with others. Our experiences, honestly shared, help others find the level of identification they need to begin their recovery. We discover that we all have special gifts to offer those around us.
Just for today: My experience in recovery is the greatest gift I can give another addict. I will share myself honestly with others
When you learn from an early age that who you are inside, secrets and all, is not pleasing to other people, you learn to hide that person from others. There was no one standing behind me as a child telling me that I could be anything I wanted to be and that who I was inside, the very essence of me, was awesome and amazing. Instead, the messages I got loud and clear were more like “I saw you lying in the ditch pretending to shoot cars with a stick. That’s SO weird.” “Why are you always getting in trouble? What’s WRONG with you?” “Why are you darker than other people, but you’re not black?” “Don’t be such a baby!” “Don’t tell these secrets, no one will believe you because you lie.” Well, you get the picture.
You learn early on to try to emulate other people, mold yourself to who you think they want you to be, all in a search for the one thing everyone really wants: to be loved. That need to be accepted and loved is a strong one in people who don’t feel it freely given in their life. It can lead to some scary places in life, some heartbreaking places. In many cases, it can and does lead to addiction and mental health issues. Which only compounds the guilt and shame and belief that you will never be good enough for anyone. As a rational adult, I can see that this “hole” in my heart was caused by emotional hunger. Even in the worst of my addiction, I was able to recognize this and have worked hard not to let this cycle repeat with my daughter. But I couldn’t put my finger on how to fix this. Some say fill that hole with God, others attempt to fill it with many other things. Nothing I tried over the years ever worked. I see now, why that is. All of these experiences I had taught me to dislike myself, eventually taught me not to love myself, which in turn left me believing that I was unlovable. When you feel unlovable, there isn’t a person on earth who can make you feel loved.
“It’s much easier to love yourself when you are being yourself.” When you have spent a lifetime trying desperately not to BE yourself, one day you wake up, sober up, and realize you don’t know WHO you are anymore. You lose that essence of you. That can be an overwhelming realization, paralyzing even. When the only voices in your head telling you about yourself are completely negative, it is time for a clean sweep.
I have learned some things about myself over the past few years. Not about the things that have happened to me in life, or about the things I have done in my life, or even about the people who have been in my life… about ME.
- I am still here, so apparently I am pretty resilient and strong. I work every day to believe this, because it is true.
- I have a kind heart and I care and feel deeply. This is not ALWAYS a good thing, because it can lead to more hurt. But what I have learned about myself if that I would rather feel even the pain of life than to not feel at all, because the joy and love of life is so worth it.
- I have a wicked sense of humor at times.
- I am a good person. I don’t need other people to tell me this, or to tell me the reasons they don’t think it’s true.
- I am a good parent. Now, don’t ask my 12-year-old about this, because I promise you will get a snarly 12-year-old response. But I know the truth. I know that my child is kind, smart, brave, and loved. I see the results of my parenting every day, coupled with the essence of who she is, and I know that I am a good parent.
This is only a sampling of the things I am learning about myself. The fun part of trying to get to know yourself again is the experiences along the way. I have people in my life who love me and accept me for exactly who I am. I am not the lost person anymore. I am not the sum of my experiences. I am so much more than my past or than opinions of other people. The most important thing I’ve learned is this: I am not unlovable. I am deeply loved, flaws and all, by the person who matters the most and can fill that hole: ME.
- The not so gentle art of self sabotage (kailijade.wordpress.com)
- Why I’m Open About My Recovery (afterpartychat.com)
- Accepting Who You Are And Learning To Love Being Alone Are Essential To A Happy Life (elitedaily.com)