For most of my life I had been trapped. Once in meditation, I envisioned my hands and feet stuck in tar on the inside of a door, rendering me completely incapable of opening it. I had been cast into an infernal prison by abuse and detained there by the addictions that turned me away from self-awareness. As is common for most addicts as well as sexual abuse survivors, I developed the core beliefs that I am a bad person and no one would love me as I am. I was not loved (cared for and kept safe) by my family, and although I attended church regularly as a child and young adult, I had never known God’s love. I actually felt worthless, undeserving of love – even God’s. And I manifested relationships that confirmed this.
Eventually, I found my way to a 12-step meeting that was specifically for abuse survivors who struggled with relationships. One night, a newcomer to our meeting listened carefully, waiting patiently until the end to speak. He said, “Never before have I encountered a group of people who are so introspective, self-aware, and insightful.” It was true. This group of abuse survivor/addicts had enormous self-knowledge. We had, indeed, faced up to and acknowledged the hell in which we had found ourselves. We knew about our abusive childhoods, how these experiences contributed to the development of our self-destructive behaviors and our low self-esteem; we knew about our losses, the horrible consequences of our actions, and the harm we had caused to others and ourselves; we knew about our struggles and our victories; we knew about the importance of acknowledging our wrongdoing and seeking support; we knew about the addict within us who was still suffering. We knew A LOT about ourselves. What we did not know, however – and we did not know it to the core of our beings – is that we are worthy of love, and, we are loved. We did not know how to know the truth about our pasts, our behaviors – the totality, the reality, of our lives – and still love ourselves.
In addition to participating in 12-step programs, most of us were in therapy, often for many years. But, still, the classic self-hatred of the addict was not healed. For addicts, the greatest obstacle to feeling loved could very well be our own minds, which harbor the thoughts and beliefs about unworthiness and unlovability.
Then words from a book by Kenneth Bakken, Journey Into God, touched my heart. “God’s healing is a grace. It does not have to be earned....In God’s sight we are precious, beautiful, beloved, of infinite worth.” I was not aware of it, but God’s love (coming to me through many healers, friends, workshops, and authors) had been surrounding me – healing me and guiding me during those hellish years. With this reality finally taking root in my heart, the journey of self-discovery and self-awareness I had begun years earlier became a sacred endeavor for me.
In my continuing meditation practice, where I was gently, quietly, alone in the presence of The Alone, listening to Petals every morning for 22 minutes – THERE was the somewhere along my life journey that I nurtured the seedling planted in my heart by Bakken; and I actually came to believe that I am a precious child of God, worthy of/deserving of love.
There, in that quiet place, recovering this lost piece of self-knowledge, a life was saved.