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LOVE YOURSELF MORE

Last year a friend of mine opened an art studio in her house. It had been a dream of hers for many years to have a great space where she could do her art but also hold workshops and classes. Finally, in 2020 - yes 2020 - she began making it happen. She and her husband found the perfect house - sans the massive repairs and renovations it needed due the foreclosure nature of the sale. Just as the then-unprecedented pandemic was beginning to tighten its grip on the world, they bought the house.


"We closed the day before everything shut down."


Her husband "gave" her (as in agreed upon and supported her dream) the living room and the dining room and all summer long, they worked to convert the space into her art studio and classroom. In the fall of 2020 - yes again, that 2020 - she held her open house. I helped her with her open house and this year have been that (free) teacher's aid she has needed on occasion for large classes or day long events.


Why am I sharing this story with you?


Two reasons.


First, you can make your dreams come true.


Even when the whole world is being thrashed about in the chaos of a pandemic or you are being thrashed about in the chaos of an alcoholic marriage. I spent far too many years thinking his drinking had to stop so that the chaos within me would stop. It doesn't work that way. It's never worked that way and it never will work that way. I understand how and why you feel and believe and expect it to be so. It was a 20 year long lesson for me to come to the knowledge that,


"OH! I have to create the life of my dreams ANYWAY! Within - not WITHOUT - the chaos, turmoil and toxicity of being married to an alcoholic."


But I also shared this story with you for an even more personal reason than my lesson learned. I shared it with you because I am proud of myself for supporting and helping my friend. I like this in me.


Does it sound like I am bragging?


I am not.


But I am acknowledging to me something I like about me.


When was the last time you told yourself something you liked about yourself? Acknowledged to yourself something you enjoyed about being you? When did you last - or have you ever - told yourself you were proud of you?


Being married to an alcoholic delivered me to a deep pit of self-despair, self-loathing and self-hatred that I didn't even know existed. For a long time, I tripped and stumbled, fell down and sometimes just sat down and cried in the foreboding darkness. It is said that a snake can become so angry that it turns and bites its own tail. I attacked myself in that darkness like an angry viper. It saddens me to think back on the damnation and condemnation my being suffered at my own hands.


Still, something in me kept searching for the light.


Something in me refused to stay down when I sat down to cry. I will say that for myself. I never, ever gave up. I don't know what kept me going, especially when I seemed to be getting now where but going I kept. And so what I now know is that when you find yourself in that pit of darkness, the light you seek is going to come from within you. And not just come from you but be created by you. Cultivated by you. If you don't work against the darkness, the darkness will overcome you.


Smile at yourself. (I know that sounds so corny but it actually works.) Say kind things to yourself. Out loud! (Why do we berate ourselves all day long but the minute it's suggested we say kind things to ourselves, we bristle and push back, claiming that is too ooey-gooey new-agey, self-helpy?) The fact is in the face of life with an alcoholic husband, corny and ooey-gooey, new-agey, self-helpy might just be all we got.


It may seem like the darkness of his compulsive drinking took over you and your life all at once, in a single day but in actuality, alcoholism is a progressive disorder and so is its effects on you. It drives out the light of your being little by little, bit by bit until you feel like the darkness is normal. As thought it is all you've ever known. I've spent the last 20 years being progressively more and more out of control, screaming into the black that was becoming my soul. I hated him. I hated his drinking but most of all, worse of all, I hated me.


I think about myself in those worse days and I ask myself,


"What did I want to hear? What did I need to hear?"


The best thing I can say is love yourself more. It sounds trite and silly and maybe even a little condescending but it's the best thing you can do for yourself.


And actually, it's the only thing you can do for yourself. Seek your own light in the middle of his darkness.

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