From Courage to Change of January 24;
I will dare to be myself. I may be tempted to paste a smile on my face even though I am angry, in order to please another person. When turning down an invitation, I may want to make excuses so that nobody will be hurt. I may be inclined to cancel plans that I care about, without protest, because a loved one prefers to stay home and I don’t want to make waves. These may be perfectly acceptable choices, and I may opt for any or all of them. But today I will be honest with myself as I do so — I will not pretend to feel what I do not feel or to want what I do not want.
Al-Anon does not tell me how to behave. It doesn’t legislate right or wrong choices. But Al-Anon does encourage me to look searchingly and fearlessly at myself, my feelings, motives, and actions. I can only learn to love myself if I am willing to learn who I am.
I have a right to want what I want and to feel the way I feel. I may not choose to act on those feelings or desires, but I won’t hide them from myself. They are part of me.
“This above all: to thine own self be true.”
~ William Shakespeare
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I am a “double winner.” That is to say, I am qualified for both AA and Al-Anon. The 12 Steps in both Fellowships have provided ways for me to get to know myself, the true me. There was a me encased in diplomatic roles hiding away. There was a me that was rejected and replaced by my own alcoholic disease. The 12 Steps process helped separate the true me from the false, and coaxed the child in me from underneath the bed, hiding away from a world of uncontrollable chaos. I am not my shortcomings. I am not the enabler of self-destructive behavior in myself or others.
The words, “I will dare to be myself” are powerful only when I know who I am. An active alcoholic might say that their self-will run riot is just who they are. An active co-dependent might claim martyrdom as the truest reflection of their love. I have experienced the misery of letting this disease in myself and others define who I am. No more.
So I have been courting and encouraging my higher Self into the “Sunlight of the Spirit.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 66) The exploration of this Self’s desires and feelings bring satisfaction, serenity, and often the ability to enjoy life. I am deeply grateful to the program and the Higher Power that loves me through this process, and introduces Me to me.