From Courage to Change, Al-Anon conferenced approved literature, May 30:
“As a result of living in a household where alcohol was abused, the concept of being gentle with myself was foreign. What was familiar was striving for perfection and hating myself whenever I fell short of my goals…If I am being hard on myself, I can stop and remember that I deserve gentleness and understanding from myself. Being human is not a character defect!
‘The question is not what a man can scorn, or disparage, or find fault with, but what he can love, and value, and appreciate.’ ~John Ruskin”
We pass on what was given to us. And so the three A’s—awareness, acceptance, and action—have helped me see clearly what I’ve needed to change about myself and, by extension, others.
As I have learned in recovery to love myself more and to treat myself with kindness, I have passed that on to family and friends all around me.
So often as adults we appear to be on automatic pilot, behaving in ways that make us cringe afterwards. Our caretakers were often our role models, and we learned how to parent from them. No one’s life is perfect, and few people have perfect parents. But however we fared growing up, the beauty of recovery is that we get to do things over—with more gentleness and compassion for ourselves as well as our caretakers. Especially those we learned from. We can do things differently now if we want to. These are “living amends.”
“We have two lives… the life we learn with and the life we live with after that.” ~Bernard Malamud