How many times I have yearned for a “good” parent to nurture and support my feelings, or a loving partner to comfort and hold me when I am afraid? Or expected a “caring” child to want to pitch in when I was ill or overwhelmed?
When loved ones do not meet our expectations, it is our expectations of our loved ones, not our loved ones, that have let us down.
“In [recovery] I discover in myself the power to throw new light on a seemingly hopeless situation. I learn I must use this power not to change the [dysfunctional person], over whom I am powerless, but to overcome my own distorted ideas and attitudes.” One Day at a Time in Al-anon
Love is expressed in many ways, and those of us affected by family dysfunction may not be able to express (or receive) it in the way we like. Yearnings are natural, and we have a right to them. But, just as I would not go to a drugstore for fresh produce, maybe I need to turn to someone other than my personality disordered family member for nurturing or help.
No one person will ever be able to offer all that I require. If we stop insisting that our needs be met according to our will, we may discover that all the love and support we need is already present. Even functional people may not meet our needs. On the other hand, when love is not offered, we don’t have to feel deprived. Instead let me learn to recognize that well-established 12-step fellowships can be healthy places to ask for and get my needs met. With healthy encouragement and support, I am learning to treat my needs as important and appropriate and to treat myself as deserving.
Let me recognize love whenever and however it is offered. This is called “Looking for the Good.”