It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air… for some of us anyway. For others, it’s an ugly reminder of those feelings of being less-than, being single, or worse – not feeling loved at all. So much pressure is put on Valentine’s Day and all that it has to offer, or not offer. It becomes less about love and more about the gifts, chocolates, and jewelry. Can love really be measured by the size of the teddy bear and chocolates you hope to receive from that special someone? If love isn’t measured by all of that, then what is it measured by? What is love?
We use this four letter word a lot; we say it about people, material things, and even non-material things such as recovery. We get into relationships and talk about how much we “love” this person. What they mean to us, how we care. We say the word “love” to describe how we “feel” even if our actions may not speak those words loudly. Many times in our addiction, as well as recovery, if we cannot love ourselves, we usually can’t love others. Love should not hurt when we are working a program of recovery. When we are practicing principles, we find our our care towards others comes naturally.
Love is an action word, just like gratitude. We cannot say it to someone and hold them back or put them down. “I love you, but…” should never leave our lips. There are two forms of “love” which tend to hurt others and many of us don’t even know we do it. One, the individual who will use, manipulate, lie, cheat, steal, abuse, and then follows their actions with words to excuse their behavior. The victim will usually fall for this because they may not fully love themselves. We see a lot of this in early recovery, or from those who are not fully working a program of recovery. Two, the individual who really does love another (could be a mother, father, brother, sister, friend, or lover); they care for them so much they cannot bear to see them fall. They want to fix them, protect them, care for them; enable them. They can and will literally love that person to death.
Building Healthy Relationships
How many people are out there right now not seeking help for their addiction to drugs or alcohol because their loved one (unknowingly sometimes) is blocking them from their bottom or even going to treatment? Pretty sure you could think of a few. If we love someone, really love them, we show them through our actions. We want the absolute best for them and show support without holding them up all the time. We must have balance when it comes to love, we must show it in our footwork. If our love comes with conditions, then it’s not real.
We find that in recovery, we are not alone. This includes companionship. We found that being fulfilled and feeling loved had nothing to do with making sure we had a Valentine all year round. Our experience tells us this because we saw how much our Higher Power loved us, fellowship, and support. We give our hearts freely, without expectations, and found we were receiving the entire time. We surrounded ourselves with people who cared more about the welfare of others rather than themselves; we found healthy relationships developing around us. This Valentine’s Day, do something bold: love yourself so you can truly give it to others, even if that means letting them go.
Written By: Watershed Ashling