December 8

LOVE MONTH: DAY 8: “About all you can do in life is be who you are. Some people will love you for you. Most will love you for what you can do for them, and some won’t like you at all.”― Rita Mae Brown

I remember the first time I knew someone did not like me. I was in about the 3rd or 4th grade. It was so terrible! I tried everything I knew and could not get past this girls’ dislike of me. So sad!

Years later, I can still remember how desperate I was to gain her liking and thinking well of me. It is a good example of how deeply engrained my “people pleasing” was even then. I was incapable of being honest and authentic for so long in my life because it might mean that you would not approve and like me.

Such horrible and destructive patterns of codependency in my life have been my biggest hurdles to relationship and love. It was impossible to feel love for myself as long as I needed your approval and acceptance first. It will never work!

So this quote is a deeply-felt and important one for me to hang onto. I must love me just the way I am, all my “stuff” notwithstanding, I must accept and honor myself first, then I can extend myself, in love, to others. It is not the other way around, as I always believed.

And others will only love me, as is stated in the quote, for what I mean to them or what I can do for them. I get that. I may represent something needed in a person’s life, and they will want me there for that. I only know a couple of people who are truly capable of unconditional acceptance and love. That is a rare thing in this world. It is the provenance of that Universal Power, as I see it, not people. We are not as good at this as we might be.

I am still guilty of feeling shame and adverse reactions to myself in certain situations. I am uncomfortable with some aspects of either my physical being or my emotional being in worlds where those things are judged. My early conditioning in a culture that appreciates certain types of youthful beauty has yet to be completely vanquished. And there is also a deep tendency to appreciate material wealth over spiritual prowess. Most of the time I am good with this stuff, but some of that old insecurity and inadequacy can rear its ugly head in the most interesting ways and places.

This process is beautiful and exciting on some days, dreary and brutal on others. The abuse with which I am familiar and conditioned is not going away completely, but it is less and less a force to be reckoned with. I am softening because I believe in this healing. It takes at least one lifetime, that I know for sure.

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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