I Love Me, I Love Me Not, I Love Me, I Love Me Not

What has been the most important issue in my recovery? What comes to mind is the process of learning to love myself. I don’t mean the false bravado or fake ego we might come in with. I’m talking about the process that requires a long journey of emotional travel from diminished self-worth into acknowledgment of strength and resiliency as a woman and a survivor. Little did I know when I dragged myself into my first CMA meeting that my salvation was going to be determined by my action in developing a strong central core, one that can withstand the storms of life that whip through me and try to steal my sobriety.

I first had to acknowledge the feelings and thoughts within myself that I had never wanted to admit -- my fears, loneliness, thoughts of inadequacy, lovesickness and distorted mental scripts. I had to admit how awkward I felt fellowshipping, how I still thought of myself as a child, how embarrassment sometimes paralyzed me. I had to understand that these feelings were part of the real me and that I was not the rough-and-tough Superwoman who told herself that she was just fine. My denial had to go; otherwise, I would use again. My first awareness of these problems arose when my mother had major surgery in my first year of sobriety, triggering complicated feelings which, without drugs to kill them off, were new to me. Later in recovery, the same thing happened in my romantic relationships; pain and confusion led me to get help from other women in the Fellowship who had experience with codependency. I sought outside help and continued to work the Steps. My sponsor helped me tremendously, and the acceptance and support of the Fellowship demonstrated to me what love is supposed to be.

As time went by, I discovered that I still wasn’t completely free of my defects. But continuing to take inventory, working with my sponsor, learning positive self-talk and developing a relationship with God, I learned to appreciate myself for who I truly am -- a beautiful child of God. I learned to have compassion for myself. In my life today, I don’t have destructive relationships; situations don’t destroy my self-esteem. I have exciting career and educational opportunities, successful relationships in my love life and family, and wonderful experiences of personal transformation. I am strong in my femininity and autonomy. I barely resemble the creature that crawled into that first CMA meeting, thank God!

That is what recovery is about. If you’re new and this sounds foreign, just keep coming back. Work the Program: Go to meetings, get a sponsor, work the Steps, call several women a day, get a Higher Power and communicate with it, and -- no matter what – don’t use!

I did not believe any Step work or written assignments were going to keep me off crystal. Courts and jails, lost jobs, homelessness and abuse hadn’t stopped me from using; how was a silly little inventory going to accomplish that? Well, it did. The power in the Steps and the Fellowship was greater than all of the negative forces in my life, including my own self- destructive behaviors.

The message I want to convey to women trying to get clean is that recovery doesn’t happen in one single magic moment, but in a series of many magic moments. Each one builds on the last and, in times of trouble, you can cherish those moments and know you are growing. Just don’t give up, stay clean one more day and know that you are not alone. In time you will be happy, you won’t ever want to use again, and you will be free. I love you!