“Accept Who You Are and Revel in It”
Self-hatred is abject misery. I hated myself for years, most assuredly qualifying me as an authority on this matter.
Consumerism and marketing taught me to hate myself as I grew up watching television for hours on end. “YOU need to own this sports car, wear this cologne, look this handsome, be this witty, make this much money, marry a beautiful woman, own a house like this, and then, just maybe, then you will be worth a shit….”
My hyper-achieving, empathy-deficient family of origin’s two cents? “You are not worthy of love until you are thin enough, smart enough, accomplished enough, and successful enough.”
“War is good because it gets rid of the undesirables,” was an oft repeated phrase around my house that still echoes in the recesses of my mind on occasion. Even at age 51.
How is that for a self-esteem booster for a child who instinctively knew something was drastically wrong (my Bipolar Disorder was brewing but hadn’t fully manifested) and who was already ruminating about becoming a homeless adult? That was MY “dream” as a child. That I was going to be a homeless”undesirable.”
I was fucked coming out of the gate.
Advertising and our consumer culture taught me that I was inconsequential and a loser, particularly when I grew into adulthood and was struggling just to function near the “lower rungs of society.”
And every ounce of the meager scraps of love tossed my way by my family of origin was conditional and felt stiff, wooden, and artificial.
Self-acceptance? Hahaha! I spent nearly every waking moment as a caricature of a person, “portraying” someone else. Or raging at the world. Or planning self-annihilation, directly by suicide or indirectly by self-destructive behavior.
26 years of therapy, affirmations, prayer, a shift to the counter-cultural beliefs of AA and the Red Letters, plus finding “my people” in recovery, surrendering to a Higher Power of my understanding, working the Steps of AA, discovering non-familial brothers and sisters, carving out a career with blood, sweat, and tears, marrying an amazing wife, and connecting deeply with my three awesome sons have all “conspired” to enable me to experience self-acceptance and self-love.
Brene Brown once wrote, “Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.”
Through the years, with a great deal of help from human angels, great mentors, my Higher Power, and my efforts, I have, when I am spiritually fit, reached a place where I feel I truly belong in this world. Just as I am. For who I am. Nothing to prove. No one to impress.
Self-acceptance has blessed me with the courage to “be authentic, vulnerable, and imperfect.”
To quote AA co-founder, Bill Wilson from his 1958 Grapevine article, Emotional Sobriety:
‘I have been given a quiet place in bright sunshine.’