“Through our experience of God’s care and the love and care we find in the SAA fellowship, we learn the importance of being gentle with ourselves.”
Sex Addicts Anonymous, page 65
When I love my recovery friends and their imperfections, I am, sometimes uncomfortably, reminded that they may, in fact, love me and mine. Even after years with these people, I still cast my eyes away as I lay my failings and flaws bare before them. But always, when I return my gaze to their faces, I find in them what I still struggle to find in myself.
They are proud of me and of my honesty. They understand my pain. They do not forgive me for my weakness, my defects, or my deficiencies; they love me—unconditionally, and without reservation. And, purely because of who they are, I must accept this love as the truth. No longer can I insist that I am loved due to familial obligation or performance; no longer can I dismiss words of support and affection as being disingenuous. They are under no obligation to care for me, and have no reason to except that they do.
It is wonderful to be loved, but it is painful, too. Knowing that others love me more than I feel able to love myself is a bittersweet balm—another seeming defect that I cannot deny. But knowing I am loved, even as my weaknesses are exposed, gives me hope that I will one day love myself as much as I love my friends.
In loving others and letting myself be loved by them, I open the door to loving myself.