Self-Love

“I woke up this morning and I had a hard time for a while,” said one recovering man. “Then I realized it was because I wasn’t liking myself very much.” Recovering people often say: “I just don’t like myself. When will I start liking myself?”
The answer is: start now. We can learn to be gentle, loving, and nurturing with ourselves. Of all the recovery behaviors we’re striving to attain, loving ourselves may be the most difficult, and the most important. If we are habitually harsh and critical toward ourselves, learning to be gentle with ourselves may require dedicated effort.
But what a valuable venture!
By not liking ourselves, we may be perpetuating the discounting, neglect, or abuse we received in childhood from the important people in our life. We didn’t like what happened then, but find ourselves copying those who mistreated us by treating ourselves poorly.
We can stop the pattern. We can begin giving ourselves the loving, respectful treatment we deserve.
Instead of criticizing ourselves, we can tell ourselves we performed well enough.
We can wake up in the morning and tell ourselves we deserve a good day.
We can make a commitment to take good care of ourselves throughout the day.
We can recognize that we’re deserving of love.
We can do loving things for ourselves.
We can love other people and let them love us.
People who truly love themselves do not become destructively self-centered. They do not abuse others. They do not stop growing and changing. People who love themselves well, learn to love others well too. They continually grow into healthier people, learning that their love was appropriately placed.
Today, I will love myself. If I get caught in the old pattern of not liking myself, I will find a way to get out.

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Intimacy

We can let ourselves be close to people.
Many of us have deeply ingrained patterns for sabotaging relationships. Some of us may instinctively terminate a relationship once it moves to a certain level of closeness and intimacy.
When we start to feel close to someone, we may zero in on one of the person’s character defects, then make it so big it’s all we can see. We may withdraw, or push the person away to create distance. We may start criticizing the other person, a behavior sure to create distance.
We may start trying to control the person, a behavior that prevents intimacy.
We may tell ourselves we don’t want or need another person or smother the person with our needs.
Sometimes, we defeat ourselves by trying to be close to people who aren’t available for intimacy—people with active addictions, or people who don’t choose to be close to us. Sometimes, we choose people with particular faults so that when it comes time to be close, we have an escape hatch.
We’re afraid, and we fear losing ourselves. We’re afraid that closeness means we won’t be able to own our power to take care of ourselves.
In recovery, we’re learning that it’s okay to let ourselves be close to people. We’re choosing to relate to safe, healthy people, so closeness is a possibility. Closeness doesn’t mean we have to lose ourselves, or our life. As one man said, we’re learning that we can own our power with people, even when we’re close, even when the other person has something we need.
Today, I will be available for closeness and intimacy with people, when that’s appropriate. Whenever possible, I will let myself be who I am, let others be who they are, and enjoy the bond and good feelings between us.

Communication

Sophie Strachan

Part of owning our power is learning to communicate clearly, directly, and assertively. We don’t have to beat around the bush in our conversations to control the reactions of others. Guilt-producing comments only produce guilt. We don’t have to fix or take care of people with our words; we can’t expect others to take care of us with words either. We can settle for being heard and accepted. And we can respectfully listen to what others have to say.
Hinting at what we need doesn’t work. Others can’t read our mind, and they’re likely to resent our indirectness. The best way to take responsibility for what we want is to ask for it directly. And, we can insist on directness from others. If we need to say no to a particular request, we can. If someone is trying to control us through a conversation, we can refuse to participate.
Acknowledging feelings such as disappointment or anger directly, instead of making others guess at our feelings or having our feelings come out in other ways, is part of responsible communication. If we don’t know what we want to say, we can say that too.
We can ask for information and use words to forge a closer connection, but we don’t have to take people around the block with our conversations. We don’t have to listen to, or participate in, nonsense. We can say what we want and stop when we’re done.
Today, I will communicate clearly and directly in my conversations with others. I will strive to avoid manipulative, indirect, or guilt-producing statements. I can be tactful and gentle whenever possible. And I can be assertive if necessary.

The Thin Line between Love and Hate

Contributor -Aliyah Phillips

She’d huddled to the corner, alone and afraid
Tears brimmed her eyes as she silently prayed
He’d hurt her again
He’d messed with her brain
He looked at her with nothing but disdain

He had her thinking that she had no self-worth
Treating her like nothing but dirt
It seemed to me that her pain brought him some kind of mirth
Useless, stupid and inferior
He saw himself as her superior
Another kick, another insult, another set of slaps
It became more painful each time he snapped

He cursed at her each day
But yet still she decided to stay
Couldn’t she see that I was scared for her?
It all seemed to happen in a rushed blur
A child I am but I knew the pain
Like getting a scrape after slipping and falling in the rain

I remember one day asking her why
She said, “for love my child, you’d die”
Were the gashes on her skin that of affection?
To me, it seemed like an allergic reaction

I saw the smiles that she faked to everyone outside
For in none of them could she confide
She told me to keep silent
But how could I ignore him being violent?
She knew what he did was bad
But yet she made me call him my dad?
He’d never hurt me before
But maybe that’s because she always hid me behind the closet door

I remember that at times she’d believe that he truly loved her
Maybe because of the faked smile and facades and the gifts he’d bought to make up for the hurt
And then suddenly, it seemed that she’d forgotten the insults he’d blurt
It seemed she’d forgotten, even if it was momentarily,
The things he’d degraded her to be
A slut, a whore, a waste of space
All those insults, she’d forgotten, with much haste

How did she stand to love someone who’d seemed to be the death of her?
Her life a mess and mine slowly following after
I’d begun to think that it was okay for him to hurt her
It was okay for him to pepper her skin with lashes, slashes, gashes
It was clearly passion, wasn’t it?
A passion that, at that time, my little mind knew not of
A passion that burned so deep within, he always allowed anger to win
A passion that I couldn’t fully comprehend
But I was to find out in the end

And then came the final day that I remember so clearly
It seemed that day she finally came to reality
It wasn’t loving but rather brutality
That day something in her changed
She realized that he was truly deranged
However, he wasn’t having any of it
He threw himself into an angry fit
Her white dress soon became tainted with red
The tears that flowed down her cheeks would be the last ones she ever shed

The last words that she’d whisper to me
Those words, forever embedded in my memory
She had smiled at me and whispered while holding my hand
“From the minute he hits you, he’s no longer a man.”

-Aliyah Phillips

Stopping Victimization

We need to let go, on a deep level, of our need to be victimized and to be victims. We need to let go of our need to be in dysfunctional relationships and systems at work, in love, in family relationships, in friendships. We deserve better. We deserve much better. It is our right. When we believe in our right to happiness, we will have happiness.
We will fight for that right, and the fight will emerge from our souls. Break free from oppression and victimization.
Today, I will liberate myself by letting go of my need to be a victim, and I’ll explore my freedom to take care of myself. That liberation will not take me further away from people I love. It will bring me closer to people and more in harmony with God’s plan for my life.

Healthy Sexuality

Sophie Strachan

Many areas of our life need healing.

One important part of our life is our sexuality. Our feelings and beliefs about our sexuality, our ability to nurture, cherish, and enjoy our sexuality, our ability to respect ourselves sexually, our ability to let go of sexual shame and confusion, may all be impaired or confused by our co-dependency.

Our sexual energy may be blocked. Or for some of us, sex may be the only way we learned to connect with people. Our sexuality may not be connected to the rest of us; sex may not be connected to love—for ourselves or others.

Some of us were sexually abused as children. Some of us may have gotten involved in sexually addictive behaviors—compulsive sexual behaviors that got out of control and produced shame.

Some of us may have gotten involved in sexual co-dependency: not paying attention to what we wanted, or didn’t want, sexually; allowing ourselves to get involved sexually because it was what the other person wanted; shutting off our sexuality along with our other feelings; denying ourselves healthy enjoyment of ourselves as sexual beings.

Our sexuality is a part of ourselves that deserves healing attention and energy. It is a part of us that we can allow to become connected to the whole of us; it is a part of us that we can stop being ashamed of.

It is okay and healthy to allow our sexual energy to open up and become healed. It is connected to our creativity and to our heart. We do not have to allow our sexual energy to control us or our relationships. We can establish and maintain healthy, appropriate boundaries around our sexuality. We can discover what that means in our life.

We can enjoy the gift of being human beings who have been given the gift of sexual energy, without abusing or discounting that gift.

Today, I will begin to integrate my sexuality into the rest of my personality. God, help me let go of my fears and shame around my sexuality. Show me the issues I need to face concerning my sexuality. Help me open myself to healing in that area of my life.