One of the things that I love about the recovery community is the overwhelming desire of most of its members, men and women alike, to be of service. They are givers.

A theme I hear universally from both friends and clients in recovery is a desire to give back. They express the need to help others, to be of service, to teach, to provide, or to create in a way that positively impacts the world around them. The passion and drive behind each of these declarations are truly extraordinary. They wish to create meaning and connections from a place of genuine love; a kind of love that often times feels unique to those who so thoroughly understand loneliness, desperation, and disenfranchisement.

What is not usually stated initially, though always present, is the need and desire to receive. It is impossible to give without replenishment; it’s unnatural and creates an imbalance. 

Some of us feel like we have already taken so much that we owe some kind of invisible, unrepayable debt. Nothing that we ever do will be enough to make up for the damage we left behind. We carry stories of shame, many from before our addictions surfaced, that told us that we were not worthy. These are two of the biggest and most prevalent blocks that we face in recovery; the fears of enoughness & worth.

Those stories are lies.

Receiving and taking are not the same. We are all worthy of love, it is our birthright. We are all worthy of joy and purpose and passion and fulfillment and genuine human connection. There is no test – you are already there. Many of us struggle with those connections because we forget that strong ones require reciprocity. Always giving is not an option.

If the idea of receiving feels uncomfortable, I encourage you to examine it a little bit closer. What was the last thing that you felt awkward or uncomfortable about receiving; was it a compliment, a gift, a show of support, etc.? Was it given to you from a place of genuine care? Ask yourself if you are even able to believe that yet. If not, that’s a good place to start with the exercise below. If you do believe it, ask yourself what was uncomfortable about it. Was the attention uncomfortable? What specifically felt uncomfortable? Do you feel any fear around being recognized for your efforts or accomplishments? What is telling you to shrink away from receiving?

Please note, that if you are in a situation where it feels creepy or weird, that’s not what I’m talking about. If the weirdo behind you in line at the coffee shop is insistent on buying your coffee while being overtly suggestive and creepy, that’s not shit you should be taking. This is not about being violated or crossing personal safety boundaries, emotionally or physically. Trust your gut. I’m talking about authentic moments of connection.

What would that moment have felt like if you had simply and genuinely accepted? What would a series of those moments feel like? How would that impact your ability to give back? How would your energy be affected if you allowed those moments to really reach you? Take a moment and feel the vibration of positivity, of love, of togetherness that receiving brings.

Take a moment of stillness with that feeling; experience it and get familiar with it. Think of it like a muscle that you need to work every single day. All of them. If it feels hard to experience in the moment at first, which is totally normal, repeat the exercise above at a place and time that feel comfortable for you. Practice awareness and feel the presence of love and energy that flows and connects. Like any muscle, you’ll find it getting stronger over time. You’ll feel it flex, even involuntarily sometimes, making you feel present and connected in the moment. You become part of the flow.

If you’re struggling to think of an instance where someone offered you a kindness or you questioned whether they really meant it, here it is:

I love you. I love your courage and wild brave heart for being here today. I love you for trying and failing and trying again. I love you for being exactly who you fucking are and every single beautiful and messy thing that you may become. Love never runs out; it never dries up. There is always enough and you, Braveheart, are worthy of every drop.

If you don’t believe me today, come back and read it again tomorrow.