We will love you until you can love yourself
I didn’t know why I drank when I came into AA. I drank to feel, I drank not to feel, I drank because it seemed to be the answer but I didn’t even know what the question was. By the end of my drinking, all I knew was that I drank because I had to. I truly believed alcohol was my lifeblood. I thought it was keeping me alive.
I’ve often heard it said in the rooms that we stop when the next thing we have to lose is more important to us than alcohol. The next thing I had to lose was my life, and I was getting to the point where I didn’t think I was worth saving.
Numerous overdoses, where I took dangerous amounts of painkillers after a night of drinking, and didn’t know whether I’d wake up the next day, were a daily part of my life. I was constantly suicidal, in and out of emergency psychiatric units and didn’t really expect to make it past the age of 26.
I’ll never forget the love and kindness that was shown to me right from the moment I walked through the door of my first meeting, even though I would burst into tears whenever someone was nice to me. It felt so alien, so wrong. I just didn’t believe that I deserved to be treated so well after all the bad stuff I’d done through my drinking.
It was that kindness that kept me coming back – the glowing smiles from people who seemed so content, the people who gave me a hug when I was in the depths of despair, the people who encouraged me to share what was going on for me and the people who said ‘come back next week’. I felt safe, I felt like I was being held.
A woman in AA once described the ‘razors stabbing my soul’ and how I needed the spiritual equivalent of lavender balm to begin to heal the wounds of my past.
Even though I was sober, I was so full of self-hatred. And without the alcohol to cover it up, I had no escape from it. I felt so far from being happy, joyous and free, and so I needed a new solution that couldn’t be found in a bottle.
My experience of working the steps with a sponsor, talking to other alcoholics, attending regular meetings and committing to the program has been just the ‘lavender balm’ I’ve needed. I’ve been given the time, the understanding and the love I need to feel like a worthwhile person.
When I first heard someone in a meeting say ‘we will love you until you can love yourself’ I laughed. The concept was completely alien to me. But as I get further into recovery, I’m beginning to be able to accept myself exactly as I am, and even finding that I quite like some parts of myself.
I have learnt – I am enough.
I do my best to treat myself and others with the same loving kindness and compassion that was shown to me today. Even if it’s just a smile, a hug and a ‘welcome’ to a newcomer who is going through the same agonising self hatred and despair. Someone might just come back because of it.