When I came to AA, they said "let us love you till you can love yourself."
Frankly I thought the sentiment was a little cloying and a little gross.
How else could I view it, considering how much self-loathing I had?
(It has been my experience that violent reactions to loving or spiritual sentiment is usually because it strikes close to a deeply-seated issue that I was often almost completely blind to. )
But I did find love in AA meetings. In small ways, at first: Through the 12 Traditions, and how they keep a meeting safe for everyone. Through the even-handed way most of the long-timers dealt with conflicts within the group. Through the welcoming spirit and kind hospitality of virtually everyone I met.
I know it sounds extremely infantile -- and a little self-serving, given what I tend to write about here -- but in that environment, via meetings and the fellowship, I blossomed. I slowly -- so, so slowly -- started to feel safe. To trust the friendship being offered. To stop worrying with that all-consuming self-obsession what everyone thought of me.
I need meetings now as I did when I was new because I still feel that kind of love from the fellowship.
It's just that nowadays, I feel it most when I do for others in the room what was done for me: Safeguard the Traditions, respond to things in as tolerant and even-handed a way as possible, and welcome new people and also long-timers who might be feeling the mileage.
I need meetings today so that the best parts of me have a place to express themselves -- to stay in bloom.