Wednesday, June 3, 2009


"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.


  1. Awesome post. This is something I struggle to do. I willingly accept that I must have compassion for my husband and his disease. My problem lies in giving myself the same. Thank you for this post. It hit home.

  2. Thank you for this post. You put into words what I feel on a daily basis. I stuff my feelings. A lot. I am in alanon and am learning to say what I mean and mean what I say, and when I have nothing to say, I am quiet. I am learning to mind my own business, and by that I mean not just staynig out of other peoples business, but really tending to my own stuff. Feeling my feelings and crying when I feel like it, and being mad when someone is not nice and also being able to let it go. Such a balance. Such a beautiful thing. I love alanon and the whole new world it has opened up for me!

  3. Syd what this rings true for me is that I had to learn to treat myself as good as I treated others. I had to learn to listen to my own feelings and heart and be accepting of whatever it was in the same way I was ever so willing to do this for other people in my life... and its liberating... this embracing yourself thing...

  4. This is a really good example of how it works and also how we need to give time a chance to complete the healing work. Thanks for this post.

  5. This was a tender and heartfelt post dear friend. You deserve to be loved. I know how difficult it is, I've had the same problem all my life. I had no problem caring for someone else, yet constantly put myself and life in danger without a thought to my own well being. (Hugs)Indigo

  6. Oh yes this rings so true denying my feelings.
    I remember as a 10 year old shutting down too much was expected of me emotionally.
    So growing up distanced from me was depression.
    Today I have the program of Alanon which has guided me back to me learning to feel again.
    And in turn I can learn to love someone else without expectations of them taking care of me.

  7. Having compassion for yourself is one of the most important things you can do -- and the hardest. Thanks for this post.

  8. Ditto! Ditto! Ditto!

    I'm not sure what more I can add to these comments. I surely believe this is a common problem, a common thread that runs through most, if not all, of us.

    After 19 years in AA, Al-Anon is what finally made the greatest difference in this area. I have become gentler, less critical, more loving, less judgmental, and overall more compassionate with myself. Thank you God. Thank you Al-Anon. Thank you Syd for this post.


  9. Thank you for this post Syd- I was thinking about this yesterday because it's something I struggle with. I get confused between accepting feelings and "acting as if" which has also been helpful for me at times...

  10. I can relate to this so much. My parents taught me the same thing...or they would tell me how I felt "I'm cold", "No you aren't".

    I love the way you summed up what you have learned, I am working on this too, it affects everything in life:

    "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."

  11. I'm sure all the bloggers have seen the play "EVERYMAN" WAS the longest-running show in Europe ever. That was only 600 years ago.

    Your blog reminds me of the sameness of our feelings and fears, our hurts and our hearts, our likes and our loves, and our lives and our deaths.

    Your blogs, Syd, are SO important to me, and, I suspect, to whoever reads you. Your insights into living a good life, are the stuff "Best Seller" books are printed.

    Please don't EVER go away from these blogs. Thanks. Steve E

  12. wonderful, just wonderful. It's such a great feeling ( I am finding on this new path ) of liking myself., eveything seems happier.. So glad you feel the way you do about YO.

  13. Ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto and ditto. And, add to that, I'm 100% German (Amercian) and I'm a fourth generation person in this ethnicity(I know for a fact)that glorys in overwork and pain. We have a pain tolerance that might be unbelieveable to some. I have a great example. Today my Dad called me after his Dr. appt. in Omaha. He'd been having such pain in his arms that he couldn't sleep and couldn't work. He's 76 and works 40-60 hours a week normally. You have to believe me on this one, he has NEVER taken so much as an aspirin in his life! Since last Thursday he's taken Tylenol every day and since Saturday, ibuprofen on top of that. SO, after his Stress Test today he found something surprising out. He's most likely HAD a heart attack! And, there's a blockage. He goes in tomorrow for a procedure...a stint. We're all reeling! My sister, one brother and I are crushed. But, guess what we all came up with right away, "it's that High Pain tolerance and denial of reality/pain/feelings". Sigh.

  14. I constantly strive, but often fall short, in feeling and showing compassion to all, including myself. Great post and thank you for the reminder.

  15. Good post Syd. Compassion is a very important trait for some many things in life.

  16. I attended al-anon meetings when I was married to an alcoholic, but stopped when the marriage ended. I heard so many things there that were helpful, and gained some understandings about a parent that had not occurred to me.

    I think I stopped too soon. Because even now during arguments, say, I usually freeze. I can't articulate my feelings because I can't even identify during the heat of the moment what it is I am feeling. And that sounds so stupid I can't admit to this. All I want to do is flee. Then I feel bad for the person in the one-sided argument with me. Which may be what you are describing.

    Despite attending quite a few different al-anon meetings, I never found one where I felt comfortable. I felt a profound emotional disconnect at all of them. I'm wondering now whether that disconnect was me all along, not the meetings.

    I'll keep coming back. Thank you for writing.

  17. Thank you...

    As an alcoholic, my sense of my emotions and how I recover to include (deal with) them in my life are a little different. I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you share - perhaps, God willing, I'll share my experience soon and you can see if you see the experience as the same or different...

    Blessings and aloha...

  18. this post echoes very deep in my soul...

  19. The inability to express anger and not make excuses for others is oddly connected to the lack of self-love, the denial of one's own truths and perceptions, the belittling of self in favour of idealising others. Adrienne Rich wrote about 'anger and tenderness/my two polarities'

    Thanks Syd

    xxMary LA

  20. Fantastic and very truthful post, Syd. Also, I loved the photo!

    Best to you,



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