I quit drinking, That was hard; it was imperative, it was time, I had hit bottom. It was still hard.
I quit taking drugs. Again, it was crucial; it was life saving, and it was hard. Working the steps: hard. Living life on life’s terms: hard. Learning to do things clean and sober for the first time: dating, dancing, sex, getting jobs, quitting jobs, applying to school quitting jobs, raising the kids: hard, hard, hard.
Further into recovery I was able to discern the source of some of my “defects” and “shortcomings”; rooted as they were in my primary issues of attachment to others and suppression of myself. I wanted so much to be approved of, to be part of, that I repressed some of my native characteristics. I had to investigate my addiction to what I call “otheration”(living through what I thought were the eyes of others), adapting myself to suit their standards. I turned my back on myself. Finding this out, investigating it and then learning to believe in myself was hard. Accepting the consequences was hard.
I got used to these challenges because after it was hard – it got easier, and then routine. I began to look forward to meetings, to talking with my sponsor, even to revisiting the steps when I needed to. I addressed these tough processes and with practice the solutions became easier.
So what is the hardest thing I have had to do? ACCEPT MYSELF. In order to fully heal I have had to see myself for who I am, how I am, what I look like, what I can and cannot do and affirm them. This process takes almost as much vigilance as my recovery did in the beginning.
Now, in the New Year, it is traditional and encouraged to take stock and decide what you are going to do to improve yourself. You evaluate your character, your appearance, your habits, your relationships and you decide that you are going to do a little more of this or a little less of that. You make a pledge to be better, do better, look better, act better.
The calendar switches over from one date to the next and that is supposed to make all the difference.
Well… my truth is NO, Not So Much! I do my Tenth Step and I take my Twelfth Step seriously: I practice these principles in all my affairs. I look at what I am doing on a daily basis. January 1st means no more to me than the sixth of May.
But this year it is different- I am going to do something extra hard. I learned it on my yoga mat and now I will practice it in “real” life. When I practice poses I do as well as I can for that moment, that practice. I don’t try to replicate the pose of yesterday or reach into the pose of tomorrow. So, this year I am going to do the same. I am going to accept myself as I am each day; in each conversation, each choice, each action, every glance in a mirror or reflection in a store window: accept myself as I am. It is hard. I have a critical mind, a criticising mind and I turn it on myself ALL THE TIME!
Today, this minute, I have begun to see myself as I am and accept myself as I am right now: judge-y, pot bellied, crepey skinned, impatient. And then this moment; pleased with my actions, kind hearted toward my spouse, compassionate thoughts for my sick friend. And this moment, breathe and accept.
Honestly it is really hard to embrace self acceptance. I feel as if I were not being humble, that I am missing something that needs changing, that I won’t do what needs to be done or in some way shirk my recovery duties. These are all sham messages.
This is an arduous, demanding and unrelenting practice; but I wish for you in this day, this year and this forever that you experience self acceptance and hope, for all of us, in time it will become easier.