Like most addicts and honestly many others, I am my own harshest critic. The internal monologue that I engage in is abhorrent. The things I tell myself are awful. For the first 41 years of my life I have essentially hated myself.
It has been proven over and over again that there are many people that love me, like me, even dare I say admire me (the last one makes me cringe with discomfort). What do they see that I don't? Since embarking on recovery I have struggled to see myself through the eyes of these people. I am slowly, very slowly, beginning to see parts of myself that are good, admirable, desirable – even worthy.
When in rehab this last time, I met with the spiritual advisor for my unit. The first rehab I went to went through all the science of addiction and being a good student always, I had no trouble grasping the facts and being able to spout them back to anyone who would listen. This second rehab did the same, but added the layer of spirituality that I now see as essential to recovery of any kind. The chaplain sat me down in her office and had me write on her white board all the things I tell myself. The list was long and dripped with self-hatred and ugliness. She then took a picture of a little girl about four years of age and had me hold it. She made me tell this picture all the things I had written on the board. I wept as I spouted this tortuous list at this innocent child. I mean wept in a way that people generally don't and many of the words I had to force myself to choke out.
From that day to this I have begun to be kinder to myself. It does not mean that I let myself off the hook for all the things I have done in addiction and out that require admittance and redemption, but I have started to see myself as a human being stumbling through this life, doing the best I can. I have begun to realize that I am enough. Not remarkable, or spectacular, but simply enough. This also does not mean that I will not strive for greater things, but that today I am enough.
Living with an alcoholic or an addict is awful, confusing and scary to say the least. We do things in addiction that people shouldn't. We do things in addiction that people in their right mind do not. We do things in addiction that go against the core of our being. Very little gets between us and our next fix. I describe it as an out-of-body experience. I know that what I am about to do is wrong, is bad, should not be done, but the side of me that knows this is so much quieter than the addiction. The addiction sends me into auto-pilot and I am powerless in the face of its loudness and insistence.
I am realizing that in order to ask forgiveness from these people that I love, I must first forgive myself. If I don't forgive myself, then I won't be able to stand in the face of their justifiable anger and resentment. Somehow when I am alright with myself, the force of their feelings, while still felt, does not make my knees buckle. I can still be standing and still be enough. If I don't master this form of forgiveness then I am destined to repeat the insanity of my past.
So for today, I am working on loving Fiona in the way that I crave others will and do. For today I am enough.
More Voices of Recovery: