I have lived a fairly respectable life by societal norms, I guess. I really don’t judge others who have led less conventional lives, in fact, I have kind of envied them. Respect is something though, I have lacked mostly for myself, which means that my respect for others has also foundered.
I have been afraid. Very afraid to live my own life. I have mostly bowed to convention because I was terrified of who and what I would become if I dared to step outside the lines. I have not been conventional in my head. My mind, is risky and daring, but I want to hide it beneath convention and properness. And so I have. But beneath the banal exterior rages a ruthless tiger of fuckedupedness.
In truth, the whole of my recovery is finding a place for that torrent in my soul to find appropriate expression in my life. To own that which is mine, to have respect for self AND others at the same time. To not go galavanting about wreaking havoc on the feelings and lives of others while also staying true to myself at the same time. It has been a struggle.
This might be leading you to a place where you wonder what respect has to do with any of this...but I will tell you that if you don’t respect yourself, you cannot really respect others, and it will be almost impossible to find out where you end, and where others begin. And that, in my experience, will lead to a the greatest disrespect one can ever have, betrayal of who you are, the beautiful and the devastating. The birth and death of all that brought you this far.
I have not had a great deal of self respect over the years, tending to lead more toward lying and manipulation, hiding bad motives or even hard motives to own, underneath a better seeming one. It has plagued me the whole of my life. My desire to be good, honest, principled and respectable and these baser desires that lead me out of all of that and into a much, much harder place. And after years of analysis, professional and self, I think I am coming to the conclusion that it is all just a journey and sometimes it is good, decent and respectable and other times it is not, it is just so not. But all my life is unfolding according to a divine plan that demands repeatedly that I be at the center of this life that is mine to live, fuck up, recover from, learn from, use for the benefit of others.
What I do know without a doubt is that I cannot ever have respect for myself so long as I am not living according to principles. Honesty seeming to be the one that plagues me the most. I learned young in life to keep secrets and that allowed me to create an internal and external life that often, had largely nothing to do with each other. Recovery has been about merging those two people and lives into one whole honest human regardless of the exterior circumstances, regardless of what other people want from me or expect from me, it is what I expect from myself that matters most of all. And the only way I can feel respect for me is to own the parts of myself that I would rather not.
I am nowhere near done with the growth. In some ways, I feel like I have only just begun. I feel like I have so much more to learn, do and see. And I feel like caring and practicing these most basic and crucial parts of the love ethic are my path to gaining insight and accountability on the path. I am not moral because morality is the goal, I am trying to be moral so that I can live with peace and ease within my skin. My morality has to be what is ok for me, and being honest about that is what is required which is not easy, or comfortable, or often acceptable to others. My need to be honest and respectful doesn’t alter though, that is a foundational requirement regardless of age, situation, or person. Respect only comes with practice and, in my experience, only results in me being less than respectable so that I learn where the boundaries are, where I stop and others begin.
For me, I have a deep and abiding respect for my higher power. For the love that I have been given, for a program of recovery and those in that life. This is where I learned the principles of loving kindness, it is also where I learned that my greatest shame, fuck ups and glaring defects are the best and most useful parts of me...forever. And it is my commitment to always look at this shadowy side of me that allows me to participate more fully in life, love and all that exists in between. I am not perfect, nor will I ever be, but I must remain faithful to the unpacking of the sickness within my soul if I am ever to experience love ethic in action, one day at a time.