I love all my fellows. Even the ones I do not like. Sort of like my wife. I have often told her “I always love you, but I do not always like you.” Ten years ago, I could not have said that. I came into program almost 9½ years ago. Ten years ago, I did not truly understand love. Why? Because I did not truly love myself, but I could not face admitting that.
I have heard it in program, and in other places before I came to program. You must learn to love yourself before you can love anyone else. Oh sure, I said the words often enough, especially to my mother. But I did not mean it. It was not that I was lying. I just did not understand.
In program, I learned first to love myself. Then I learned to love my family, and then I was able to date to mate and find a wife. And now I know I love all of you as well. So what does it mean to learn to love myself? For starters, I had to accept myself. I had to believe that I was worth loving, even with the bad stuff. I started out as a weird combination of arrogant and insecure. Only in these rooms do I consistently find people who get that. The arrogance was to cover up the insecurity. I got scared of failure somewhere early on, stopped believing in my ability to succeed, and then covered it up with arrogance. And food.
So I had to learn to accept that I was enough; that I am who I am, good traits and bad. Then, I gave something crazy a shot. I decided to let God love me. I came to believe in a power greater than myself. I gave that Higher Power permission to love me. And it did. Still does. I became lovable. Even as I lost my big, cuddly teddy bear frame, I became lovable. And then amazing things seemed to happen. I noticed other people loving me, too. I learned to be loved, and then I learned to love.
I also learned one of the great things about love. It is infinite. I can give as much love as I want, and still have more than enough left. So I started lovin’! And why not share the love? It does not cost me anything. On the contrary, it makes me feel good to share the love. The more love I give, the more love I get. Including from myself. I love myself more when I love others more.
So maybe I am being selfish in loving all my fellows. But I do not think so. Because loving someone is not a selfish act. It cannot be selfish and still be love. Even with my wife, who I love, always. It makes marriage better that we love each other, but I could not force myself to love her just to make the marriage work. I love her simply because I do.
I will not sit here and say I love everyone in the world. I am not there yet. But the people in my life, yes,
I love them. My fellows in OA, whether I have ever met them or not, yes, I love them. In the words of Freddie Mercury, “Thank you, you beautiful people, I love you all!”
And thank you Higher Power, for helping me learn to love myself, so that I could learn to love others. Happy Lovin’!
Published in the Metro Memo – February 2015