December 23

LOVE MONTH: DAY 23: “The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” ― Thomas Merton

This applies to those relationships we form in recovery, as well as all others. We must learn to practice the art of unconditional acceptance and love with family, friends, co-workers, people we run into in the grocery store, on the highway, and those with whom we work in this thing.

I must understand that not every new person coming into these rooms is going to remain to get clean and sober. And I work in treatment for over 30 years, so that is a tough one.

So, I do the work with whomever is put in front of me. They get to choose what they do with that. I don’t try to force my will on them. I just each them what I know about this thing. If they ask me to work with them, then there will be conditions on that work.

And if those conditions cannot be met, or they think it is too much, I am not the right person for them to work with. It ain’t personal, and I never believe it is. It is that there is more than one way to do this thing. I know what I have done, but I know very few who have done it that way.

Most importantly, in my work with families, I see that parents cripple their children by insisting that they are the containers of all wisdom and experience. They rob their children of autonomy and decision making by beating them over the head with their own opinions and views.

This is so damaging to others. We do not now, nor ever will we, have the key to someone’s journey. We are having a good day when we can remember that ALL the work we do is geared toward finding our own path. That is a full-time job. Once we have taught them how to eat and tie their own shoes, we must step back and allow the process of learning and development to take place for them.

Dysfunction ensues when we are “protecting” others from the consequences of their bad choices or behavior or attitudes. We are projecting, not protecting.

When we love without strings, others get to do stupid shit and we love them anyway. We are not there to hound them about making poor choices. My goodness, how the hell do we think we got here???? On a major string of successes?

What we all can do is stop the ego from judging everything as either good or bad. Then we let ourselves and everyone else off the hook. That is what love looks like. And there are none of us who can look in the mirror and claim great success at all their process to this point.

I love the broken places in all of us. It is our humanity, our humility, the times when the ego ran out of scotch tape to make us look good. We are only loving when we are authentic with who and what we truly are.

Don’t tell me about how important you are. Tell me about how human you are. What humbling experiences do you have to share with your loved ones? Share that, not your opinions or your judgments. Talk about healing and how you have learned to do that. These are the loving stories we hear in the rooms that heal our hearts. That is the shit I need to keep going. And with which I resonate. The rest is just crap!

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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