I fondly remember my beginning years in recovery. First was God's love. It reached me through the goodness of recovering addicts, those strangers who understood me, accepted me and nurtured me back to sanity. My fellow addicts who needed me saying: "Keep coming back, we need you." That was a time in my life when no one needed me, wanted to be around me, and I certainly could not stand my own company. God's love and wisdom touched my heart. As I kept coming back, I started to love the recovering addicts. The joy and gratitude were contagious. They appreciated the second chance and the new life they had. They were expressing their gratitude openly and freely. That was a time in my life when I was filled with expectations, disappointments, regrets, shame, a lot of blame and self-pity. Their love expressed as humility, as selfless service, as generosity and courage to start over served as a new model for life.
God's gift of love through my fellow addicts was a new vision of life, of recovery and of behavior. LOVE = SERVICE and SERVICE = BEGINNING OF SELF-LOVE. From the self-absorbed view of life, I was learning to make space for others. At the beginning, in a traditionally codependent fashion, I replaced "life: with recovery and I immersed myself in recovery, wanting to transform my life.
God's love acting in the rooms of recovery taught me balance, discipline, and the ability to give and receive. Recovery became my graduate school of living where I acquire relational skills to live life on life's terms. It taught me to go practice these skills in my family and society, and as I learned and practiced these new skills, I started to repair the mistakes of the past. As I took responsibilities and became trustworthy and dependable, self-esteem and self-love emerged and they blended with my growing love of God and others.
Carl Young, who greatly influenced the recovery movement and process, worked with archetypes. He said that at the beginning we go through the phase of the athlete - we are pre- occupied with our bodies, our looks and appeal we have to others. He described the next phase of development as the archetype of the warrior; the time of running after accomplishments, success and power. Both of these phases are quite self-centered resulting in a self-centered and egotistical type of love. Young described the next developmental stage as the phase of the statesman - one who is capable of decentralization --capable of agape love, the love of others in an interdependent fashion. This means loving others, not as an escape from one's empty life, but as a free expression of one's true self.
Erich Fromm says: " Infantile love follows the principle I love you because I am loved
Mature love follows the principle: I am loved because I love
Immature love says: I love you because I need you
Mature love says: I need you because I love you
Motherhood and marriage have been my "practice ground", stretching, healing, validating, and rewarding. They have required a type of love based on principles of recovery: Honesty, Humility, Purity of intent, Forgiveness, Generosity and Trust, not with strangers, but with people who were part of the pain of the past and who on daily basis have helped me rewrite the script of dysfunctional family into recovering family. It takes a committed God-centered love to do this and I have enormous gratitude for my husband, my children and grandchildren for their generosity and willingness to continue to rewrite the script of our lives.
For the past 12 years I have been the primary caretaker of two elderly and ill parents. My Dad made his transition in 2003 but my Step Mom still lives with us. She's 92 years old. This has been a brand new exercise of love. I have learned more about powerlessness, surrender, trust and God's Will through this process than ever before. I have learned and I am still learning what it means to be a grown-up and mature person. The roles have been reversed. I have no parents I am the parent and the custodian. A new chapter of partnership has been added to my marriage. A new understanding of vulnerability of life and true values has been acquired. The entire chapter on intimacy has been rewritten. Mostly caring for my parents has given me the conviction that the only thing we can acquire in our lifetimes and the only thing that we take with us at the end of the journey called life is our consciousness and ability to love.
This phase of my life has taught me that my essence, my spiritual imprint and DNA is love, and that the purpose of my life is to be and manifest that love on a daily basis in ever-greater quantity and quality. This at one time was an intellectual concept, a spiritual belief and recovery words with a great sound! Now, witnessing my parent's final stages has brought this into my feeling nature and has given me a difeferent intuitive understanding of love and life. It is the unfavorable circumstances, the difficult people, and painful events that develop our spiritual muscles, such as resilience, endurance, courage, strength and compassion. The deposits we make into our emotional and spiritual bank accounts are the only investments with a true guaranteed return. Enron and a few other greedy corporations are the living proof of that.
As Gary Zukav said:"Eventually we come to understand that love heals everything and love is all there is."