December 21

LOVE MONTH: DAY 21: “Love is like the wind, you can’t see it, but you can feel it.” ― Nicholas Sparks

We all know what it feels like to be loved. And we know what it feels like when we are loved in toxic ways. There are lots of conditions on our appearance, our behavior, and so on.

Most of us feel love when we come into the rooms of recovery. We get that sense of acceptance for those things that others find most offensive about us.

That kind of unconditional love and acceptance was so foreign to me. I was hopeless and filled with shame and rage for who I was and what was happening to me. I did not know how to respond to the understanding and love of this thing.

We forget, too often, what that feels like. We get some recovery and move through life and get very busy and forget what being new was like and how it felt to hit that horrible bottom that seems to be such a powerful requirement.

Our egos begin to tell us stories about how great we are doing and how wonderful things are, but we have to hang on to that thread of what it was like, or we may have no opportunity to welcome the next person in to the rooms the way we were welcomed.

I don’t want to ever miss an opportunity to talk about this miraculous event. This change of attitude and behavior and the way I can see the world today that is a dramatic shift from the way I saw it before. I love talking with new people about recovery. They may not love it like I do, but I hope they always feel the love and acceptance I feel for them.

That is the only thing we are here to do. To carry this loving message of hope to other people who have not made it here yet. It has no path to follow, no road for us to direct. We just need to share that love and acceptance and let them have their path.

I do remember one thing very clearly. Throughout my life, I was on a spiritual quest. I went to communes, sweat lodges, retreats, EST, ashrams, a lot of different churches, temples, all over the place. I wanted to feel the thing I felt when I went to that first 12-step meeting. A sense of welcoming that did not judge my clothing, my lifestyle, my way of being in the world.

Sometimes I felt that for a bit, and then would find that I was not comfortable with who they needed me to be in order to stay in that place. To remain in their company, I had to do so many things that did not feel like me.

And I would leave and go to the next one. I was baptized, dunked, prayed over, saved, blessed, and many other things that seemed like they should help me feel right. They did not help me.

When I got here, it really did not occur to me that I needed to stop drugs and alcohol. That was not my motivation at all. But when I talked to that first woman who told me about this thing, I felt her love. I felt her sisterhood with me. And there was no money involved. There were no contracts to sign. There was nothing I had to do. There were meetings to attend, and I liked those.

Because I heard where you had come from and what it FELT like. I don’t like drinking stories or drugging stories. What I need to identify with are the feelings you had about that life you had been living. That fills me with a sense of kinship.

We focus on too many differences, so listening to your stories and exploits doesn’t help much. Listening to your feelings about those stories and the work you have done to recover from the ideas you had around that stuff is what hooks me every time. And I keep coming back to talk about that stuff too! I love this thing and I love the love that we get and take here. It is a process I never get tired of or too old to feel, or complacent about. Love is awesome, isn’t it?

Published by: Kelly

I am a therapist and counselor with long-term recovery from addictions and personal trauma. My writing reflects these experiences and the road I have traveled in 12-Step recovery settings, along with the work I have done for over 30 years in the field. My love of dolphins includes the stories of them being healers in places all over the world. I long to offer every broken spirit and body the experience of a healing hug. May my words and stories inform, uplift and delight your spirit and soothe your weary heart.

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