February 14

HOPE MONTH: DAY 14: “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” – Henry David Thoreau

Today, in our culture, is a day when we celebrate the concept of “love.” That concept can only be realized fully when love is the way we treat ourselves. It is not possible for us to give that concept full realization without self-love being the basis for its existence.

We become terribly toxic in many ways; culturally, spiritually, societally; in our families and the culture around us, in relationships that are toxic and abusive, in everything we do. How is that? Because we are toxic. There is no way we can be who we are, doing what we are doing, without becoming radically toxic.

Learning to love ourselves is thought by some to be a hedonistic practice of self-absorbed narcissism. This is not true. There is no greater act of love than to recover for no other purpose than because we are no longer able to tolerate the toxicity of our lives.

It takes so many years to get to the part of this where we are able to truly love who WE are. Without that, I am bringing serious amounts of toxic shame, blame, remorse, and expectations into every relationship I enter. The basis of that relationship is already toxic, just because I show up.

We DO, however, continue to work toward greater healing and love becomes possible. The MOST loving thing I can do for Kelly is to continue to practice spiritual principles. As I do this, I am brought into a healing space that is nothing like what I brought here at the beginning.

I can sit with myself in meditation or any other quiet pursuit for hours and never feel agitated, restless, or uncomfortable. This is the path toward that healing, for me.

We all get a path. It takes us through the lives of other people. We want to learn to love them. We believe their love will be the elixir that will heal our hearts and lives. That belief is the thing that will destroy our possibility to learn to love ourselves. I used to hear it said in meetings that “We will love you until you learn to love yourself.” This is great, but it leaves us believing that YOU are the source of my love.

Uh-oh! My hope is that we all learn to walk this path with the person who most desperately needs our love and recognition; US! And, this morning, this quote jumped out at me from a book I was enjoying. I had to use it, because there is more hope in this quote than many I have read for a while.

Conscious endeavor means: working these steps, doing the spiritual practices that bring us face to face with ourselves (every day!), writing and talking to those spiritual guides who take our hands and lead us to this sacred space (our hearts).

Then, and only then, are we on the road of healing. It ain’t (again!) about the drugs and alcohol. It’s all about ME making ME my best Valentine, in all the ways that matter. And my hope is that, with this practice, I learn to recover from the abuse I have heaped onto my own heart and life. Peace!

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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