“Love and tolerance of others is our code”. (Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 84)
Several years ago, close to Valentine’s Day, I was listening to the radio one morning on my drive into work. The radio host asked the above question to the listening audience. Immediately, the phoneline was inundated with dozens of phone calls from listeners all offering sage wisdom on the topic. However, one caller’s comments have stayed with me all this time. He responded with, “Love isn’t a noun – it’s a verb”.
In a popular book from the early nineties entitled “The 5 Love Languages”, the author posited that everyone gives and receives love a little differently. Some feel loved when they hear affirming words and others feel loved when they receive a special gift. Still others feel loved through acts of service, while others feel loved by spending quality time. And still others feel loved through physical touch. There isn’t one love language better than the other.
Early in recovery I had a lot of wreckage from the past to repair. It took years to create the damage and it occurred to me that it may take an equal amount of time to repair it. I started slowly by first making verbal amends and then following-up those amends with behavioral amends.
Through my addiction I destroyed the trust my family had for me and trust is a foundational element for any loving relationship. Thus, I set out to show I could be trusted again. I set out to became a person of my word. When I said I would be some place at an appointed time, I made sure I was there. If I couldn’t be there, I made sure I called and explained the circumstances. To those I owed money, I slowly but consistently paid off my debts. I found a home group and attended meetings faithfully. I got a sponsor and worked rigorously with him on applying the principles of the program into my daily life. Slowly but surely, my family started to trust me again. Slowly but surely my self-respect and self-esteem started to grow. In sum, I behaved lovingly toward my family and they responded in kind.
In a letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul once wrote, “Love is patient, love is kind.” Through recovery I have learned how to give and receive love. It is one of the many gifts of the program that I have received.