"I will stand within my own sacred circle and love myself, with no expectations from others ---- only accepting of my own beauty - both inside and out." Anonymous
One of the things about recovery that been most difficult for me is to start acknowledging my feelings. I think that for so long I've discounted how I feel. I've either ignored, repressed or faked unnatural feelings since I was a child.
Somewhere in childhood I learned that it was wrong for me to express how I really felt. So I've denied anger as an emotion and stuffed it. I've also not wanted to feel sad when things really hurt a lot. These were things that I picked up from my parents: don't show your feelings, deal with things and move on. The problem is that I didn't deal with things very well and would beat myself up for feeling what I did.
It's been difficult to get rid of the idea that something is wrong with me when I am feeling angry or hurt. I still try to excuse the actions of others when they say hurtful things. Even when something cuts to the core, I will make an excuse for the other person. The problem is that I have always been understanding of others but not compassionate enough with myself.
I have come to know a better way. I understand that my sickness lead me to deny what I felt, but my recovery tells me that I need to accept what I'm feeling. That means that I don't deny myself at the expense of making someone else feel good.
I know that years of denying my feelings led to a lot of self-hatred. I've often felt not "good enough", undeserving, unhappy with myself. Somewhere along the way, I decided that I couldn't get what I needed from within myself so I would look to others to validate me. I didn't learn healthy things like appreciating who I am, trusting myself, having confidence in myself.
In Al-Anon, I've learned that I don't need to continually beat up on myself. But that I can feel compassion for myself and stop punishing myself. And in lots of ways, I've given myself permission to enjoy life. I do good things for myself. Buying the sail boat was probably the best example and one that has given me the most pleasure. I don't listen to the negative thoughts about myself when I'm doing something that I'm passionate about. There simply isn't any room for negativity when all seems right with me.
I've also learned that by having compassion for myself, I am much more free of guilt and feelings of self-hate. And that has opened me up to feeling loved and loving. I have read that "love cannot be felt when there is no space for it." Compassion has helped me to open up a space within for love of me.