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I remember when my first spiritual teacher told me that love was the most important thing there was and it could transcend and heal all things. I thought he was crazy, it didn’t apply to the love I was familiar with. The love that I knew was learned from those perfect families on TV and any of that I received from my family came at too high a cost. So if that was what I needed to heal I’d rather stay broken. Little did I know how wrong that I was!

A vision of love

My difficulty with love growing up was that I really didn’t know much about it. It was so rarely mirrored for me in my family so that my perception of what it was became skewed. I remember, as a little boy, waking up early in the morning and running into my parents’ room and jumping under the covers to snuggle with my father. I felt safe, special and wanted.  Even today, fifty years later I can still remember how he smelled. But as my family life changed drastically behind my mother’s alcoholism and its effects on my parent’s relationship and our family, those types of interactions with my father stopped. As a child with limited understanding, I thought the fact that the nurturing ended, was because I had done something wrong. This sparked behaviors of seeking love and acceptance that were detrimental to my well being.

Cause and effect

Addictive Behavior pioneer and lecturer Earnie Larson describes these behaviors changes simply. “What we live with we learn, what we learn we practice, what we practice we become and what we become has consequences.”

Love became something that I thought I had to earn. My life became a game of cause and effect. The game was that I had to determine who I needed to be for you to love me and become that person. Who I really was, did not deserve love. How painful and tiring it was to realize that I spent most of my time tap dancing as fast as I could and jumping through hoops, to get the love that was already mine because I was a child of God.

It has been a difficult, long and sometimes painful journey back to love but has been worth every minute. I have learned that the feelings of love can soothe us, bring us to tears and warm our hearts. But more importantly, the actions of love can and will heal the world. It is the courage that comes from self-love that allows us to act.  It is true that in order to heal we will need healing acts from others but, it must start with us. This will allow us to learn to act lovingly towards others. My father is one of the gentlest souls that I know. But growing up he rarely acted from that place with me. He was overly critical; nothing was good enough for him. I understand today that he could only give me what he had received growing up. Having love in our heart is not the end, it is the beginning. A feeling of love unexpressed in action is wasted.

New knowledge

Love can be expressed in so many ways: compassion, giving of your time, showing up, understanding, empathy, listening not just hearing (there is a difference), patience, gentleness, teaching, encouragement and speaking the truth, tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness, a hug,  support and speaking the truth.

I have spent a great deal of time over the years seeking spiritual enlightenment through prayer, meditation, contemplation, reading, personal growth and workshops to relearn an old lesson. Keeping it simple is the highest form of intelligence. Walking and living in love is the highest spiritual plane. Living in love allows us to make decisions based on love. Love-based decisions take into account all those that are concerned with and affected by the decision. Not making decisions from a place of love is one of the reasons that even though the US is considered the richest nation in the world, we have children going to bed hungry and citizens who are homeless.

Living love is available to us all and it is as simple as making a choice.


  1. I have nothing but hatred and bitterness inside me. I have been sober for 15.8 yrs, and the parent who abused me verbally and emotionally has been the flaming codependent who disliked females, and only gave birth to me because she needed a scapegoat. I hate her, and I hate myself. I wish I had taken my life when I was 14. I am 57 now, and given my lack of lifeskills and love I wish I had never been born.

    • I’m sorry that you feel that way. I know what helped me the most with life skills and love were two things. One was joining an ACOA therapy group with one on one counseling. The next was finding a sponsor who had been through what I had and was ahead of me in his work. One of the most important lesson I have learned about love came from loving myself enough to take the risk and do the work in order heal, forgive and move on. I pray that you can do the same.

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