LEARNING TO LOVE
The golden rule doesn’t work very well for some of us who grew up in dysfunctional families. It didn’t work for me because, as an ACOAsp* I didn’t love myself at first. I loved others more. The basic premise is flawed. Those of us in recovery often haven’t learned to love ourselves. Doing unto others as you would have them do unto to you only works if you have boundaries and know how people should treat you. and most importantly, if you love yourself. If you have been criticized, neglected, and perhaps abused, whether emotionally or physically, it may be hard to love yourself since obviously important people in your life did not seem to love you. Growing up in dysfunction skews the “holy” rules we are fed our whole lives, at home and at church. We are told that Jesus instructs us to love our fellow man as we love ourselves. Same problem. I didn’t love myself at first. I loved others more. So what happens if we don’t love or value ourselves? It’s so much easier to love others-they have what we want and can offer us the love we seek if we just behave right or if we are just good enough or smart enough.
As an adult with 16 years of Sobriety I have belonged to a number of different fellowships over my years in recovery. I have found in recovery fellowships the unconditional love that I craved and needed and missed while growing up. And so now I am learning to love myself and value myself as much as I value anyone else.
So I have turned the Golden Rule around for those of us who have struggled with self worth and boundaries. So I propose a different Golden Rule for those of us in ACOA or any recovery program or fellowship, or those just struggling to heal and grow and blossom: “Learn to love yourself as you love others. Do unto yourself as you would do unto others. Forgive yourself as you forgive others. Love yourself as you love your fellows. ”