It was good to see her and talk about everything that's been going on for the last two weeks. Even though she was on vacation, she was keeping up with my ceremony posts, which really made me feel good. It also made it so much easier for me because she knew all that I'd been through and what I was feeling up until the time I left the retreat.
I'm still processing and still gaining perspective. Several people have asked me, "How are you now, since you did the ceremony?"
I didn't want to answer right away. There is often that high that comes right after an experience like that... I wanted to wait until the high wore off and real life set in so I could give an accurate account.
Anyway, while I was at my session on Monday, she pulled out some things she had printed for me to look at as she does from time to time. I imagine she does this for all her clients.
One of the pages she handed me she said came from her files but she couldn't remember where it came from.
I remembered. It came from me!
Before I started this blog, before I had my current sponsor, in CoDA, I had another sponsor for a short time. The first time I was trying to do Step One, I was having a really hard time. Honestly, before she handed me this page, I'd forgotten what a tough time it had been. I believe I have told people that step one was not difficult because I always knew my life was out of control.
Although I was quite aware that my life was unmanageable,I did actually have a great deal of difficulty getting through the first step.
The page my therapist handed back to me that day was something I wrote as I was trying to find my way through that difficulty.
When I told my therapist that this was something I'd written and sent to her, (I later went back and found the document - I wrote it in February of 2009 - and the email I sent her with it attached, mostly to convince myself), she said, "It seems you've been on a quest for self-love and unconditional love for a long time."How to Begin to Love Yourself (aka step zero)
In step one of Codependents Anonymous, it states:
“We admitted we were powerless over others – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
I've read and reread this many times. Each time I thought to myself, yes, my life is obviously unmanageable. Then I would move on to thinking about all the ways my life was unmanageable and begin to beat myself up about it. The more I thought about it, the more fault I found in myself.
It’s taken me several months to realize that this is the problem I’ve had with this step from the beginning. Thinking about it made me feel bad because it inevitably brought on a long session of self-abuse as I blamed myself for every negative aspect of my life. Today, it occurred to me that this is not the purpose of this step.
So, I’ve decided on a step zero—a preliminary step that, for me, will be helpful to get me to step one. This step will be stated as follows:
Realize that you are perfect in your imperfection.
I've heard the expression "Perfectly Imperfect" in meetings. I suppose I didn't really understand it, until now.
Why do we kick ourselves when we’re down? Is it human nature or something we learned along the way?
It seems likely that if you judge yourself harshly, you may do the same to others.
If you always use your turn signal before a turn, and condemn yourself for the occasional time when you forget, you are likely to be very angry when someone turns in front of you without signaling.
If you work at being punctual, and beat yourself up when you are running late, it’s likely you will be annoyed when someone keeps you waiting.
However, while you are quick to jump on yourself for each little misstep, it’s likely that you don’t make a scene each time someone else commits a small personal foul. You may not say anything to others that behave in ways you find objectionable in yourself.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you are forgiving and generous with others. More likely, you are making marks on the infinite tally sheet in your mind, building resentment as you go. This puts an unnecessary strain on all of your relationships.
So how can you stop ruthlessly criticizing yourself, and alleviate the strain you put on others?
For me, I find it helps if I think of myself as one of my children. If my child did what I've done, how would I react? Would I call them stupid? Would I want them to feel awful about it? Would I punish them for every mix-up or blunder? No! I would give them a hug and encourage them to try again. When I look at my children, even their mistakes can make me smile because I accept them and love them exactly as they are in this moment.
This kind of unconditional love is precious. Whomever you deem worthy of it will reap great rewards, some of which they will carry with them throughout their lives. It’s a gift you’ve always had to give, but may have been too stingy with.
If you can learn to look at yourself the way you would a loved child, you may see yourself as someone who feels sorrow and joy; makes mistakes big and small; incurs little triumphs and great accomplishments; knows the burden of fear which is sometimes tempered by courage; and has a mind that is striving to understand the world and a heart that can give even you unconditional love.
She's right. When I was writing this, it was the beginning of a path that has brought me to a much better place. So often, we have these little glimpses of truth. It may seem, at times, that we work so hard and the continue to fall backwards, again and again.
I don't see this in that way, at all. I believe it took a long time for this message - that it was good and right to love myself unconditionally - to get from my brain to my heart and soul. It doesn't happen in an instant.
But it can happen.