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by Dee Harris

when you love yourself

   I’m remembering kindergarten, playing with confidence, having fun, no worries.  In elementary school I was still pretty confident, in charge, and appreciative of myself.  In junior high school things start to change.

   It has nothing to do with the school, but with me and this time of my life.  Although I’ve always been learning about the world around, especially from the people who come into my Bubble, the teenage years seemed to be where I really started to be self-conscious.

   So somewhere I started to question myself, how I felt about myself.  I started to worry about what you thought of me because my hands were sweaty when we danced together.  You made fun of my flat nose because I was Chinese.  You looked at me in “that way” when I didn’t know the answer.  I started to live self-consciously in a fearful kind of way.

   This is where my fear could have been nipped in the bud, but it wasn’t the journey for which I was destined.  In retrospect, being affirmed and taught from the get-go that I am unique, beautiful and worthy human being with my differences, might have helped me overcome my fear, perhaps not.

   Fast-forward to 1998.  I look at myself in the bathroom mirror.  There’s an “L” placed over my forehead with my hand denoting “Loser”.  I have self-loathing and self-hatred.  I look like sh*t and I feel like sh*t.  I hate myself.  Why?  Because I know I will drink today and I will drink too much today.  And I will feel like sh*t again tomorrow.

   I have tried many ways to stop drinking, but none of them work.  I am not living under the bridge nor drinking from a brown paper bag.  I have a family, a home, two cars, a dog and a job.  I am college educated.  Yet I can’t go a day without a drink.

   Drinking helped me when I felt self-conscious.  Drinking helped me when I didn’t fit in.  Drinking helped me when I didn’t know the answer.  It took the edge off for a long while until one day…POOF!…I HAD to drink.  No if’s, and’s or but’s.  I was going to drink today because that’s all I could think about and drinking was my life.

   So in 1998 I am in an alcohol treatment program.  I learn that drinking, alcoholism, is a disease of mind and body.  It has nothing to do with self-will.  And from that day forward I learn to love myself for who and what I am.  What a beautiful thing to be on the upside of my journey, to look at the glass half-full, with hope and optimism for this beautiful time in my life.

   I know that I couldn’t have got to this magical place in my life on my own.  I would still be trying to scrape together enough self-will or willpower to not drink today.  I would be devising some other new plans to keep me from drinking today, or just drinking only one or two.  It wouldn’t work.  So the recovery program set me on my new, and clearly, right path.

   Having counselors and students in my program was the first time I realized there were others out there that battled with drinking.  And then going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, as was suggested, is where the real freedom began.  Working with a sponsor, surrounding myself with like-minded people who just wanted to be sober for the day, confirmed for me I do not have to do this alone.  And not only that, I wasn’t judged.  I was loved in the rooms of AA before I could love myself.

   So now I get to love myself, to glow from the inside out.  I get to attract people who love, respect, and appreciate my energy.  I am worthy and get to be comfortable in my own skin.

   Just know that if you are feeling like a “loser”, feeling worthless and will never be good enough, together we can get through this.  Don’t give up.  Put out your hand and let us love you until you can love yourself.

   Thank you for sharing your time with me.  I encourage feedback so please don’t feel yours isn’t deserving.  It IS!  One day at a time, one ripple at a time, we can be the best we can be and help others to do the same.  The rewards are massive!

   With warmest aloha, Dee Harris