Darkness cannot drive our darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’ve been thinking about this quote and how much it resonates with my own recovery journey. For most of my life, I tried to drive out the darkness in myself through incredibly destructive ways. I used drugs, alcohol, relationships, men, sex, work, food, religion and SO many other things to try to drive out the darkness. What I was left with each time was more darkness. It was an ever downward spiral that eventually lead to places I never thought I would be. When I couldn’t turn to addiction in any form, I was forced to face my reality. My darkness. I thought there was no hope. I thought I was a lost cause. I thought that I was too far gone for anyone to ever love me. In despair, I walked into my first 12 step meeting. What I found that day was a small glimmer of hope. I found a small ray of light. I came back the next week and found a little more. I even shared a little bit of my story. And an incredible thing happened, I felt a little lighter. Each time I shared a little bit of my darkness and brought it to the light, I healed a little more. Darkness didn’t drive out my darkness. Light did. When I tried to hide my pain through addiction, my pain increased. When I started speaking to my pain, it has lost some of it’s power. Light has driven out my darkness. Light continues to drive out my darkness. Each time I bring something to the light, the darkness I’ve felt decreases.
One of my many realities in recovery has been the realization of how much hate I have been holding on to. Most of this hate has been directed at myself. Prior to entering recovery, I wouldn’t have labeled myself as a resentful or hateful person. I thought that I was kind. I thought that I was loving. I thought I cared about others. I knew I struggled with self esteem, but I just assumed that everyone did. Working the steps has shown me how much resentment I have held onto. I’ve held onto hate for myself for things I have done. I’ve resented almost every person I have ever met for one reason or another. Hate can’t drive out hate. Only love can. Hating someone for something they have done hasn’t served me well. Hating myself for things I have done almost killed me. It’s been the catalyst for my addiction. It’s given me the fuel to feed my darkness. It was only when I turned to love that I was able to start driving out the hate. But it’s a work in progress. I’m a work in progress. There is still darkness within me. There is still hate within me. But I’m choosing to turn to light. I’m choosing to turn to love. I’m not perfect and some times I do chose darkness. Sometimes I do chose the hate. But I’m trying. In the wise words of Martin Luther King Jr, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”