When I was a little Jewish girl, it was all about the costume. I wore a fancy, brightly-colored dress and a crown made of aluminum foil. I even got to wear my mother’s rhinestone earrings! I always thought about the outer accoutrements of the holiday: the most elegant costume, the yummy hamentashen and the beautiful happy songs. The focus was on the final chapter: The celebration of the Jewish people's victory.

One thing I never contemplated back then was the inner anguish and turmoil that Esther went through during so many years as she masqueraded as a gentile beauty in front of the older obnoxious King Achashverosh. I am sure that Esther only wanted to marry a kindly and learned man such as her cousin Mordechai (although according to rabbinic tradition he really was her husband!). Think about how she had to concentrate on the “outer” self – and continue her masquerade as a Persian queen who had to fulfill the King’s every desire.

Now I think about the long sacrifice that Esther made over many years — and how she hid her true feelings from everyone around her, her true religion and her true abhorrence of the Persian’s view of the Jewish people.

So there’s always this conflict between our inner selves and our role-playing selves. During my using days, I was consumed with how I looked, my make-up and if my clothes were "cool" or "hip." I was absorbed with "the right impression" and how I interacted with "society." I behaved like I was acting out of a script in a play. Rarely did I ever share my inner feelings, my fears or my spiritual desires.

Now that I have been attending meetings for over sixteen years, I am in the habit of sharing "what’s really going on inside." I talk about my true feelings and my conflicts. It seems that I used drugs to "stay on the surface" and not confront my own self – my goals and desires. These days I care more about the content of people’s sharing rather than what they are wearing and what their job is. I have an internal measuring stick that insists that I stay focused on “the interior view.”

Even though Esther looks beautiful in her queenly costume, what was really important was the sacrifice that she made to save the Jewish people. Her soul was made of iron to endure such a tough role. That is what we Jewish women need to emulate of Esther: the sacrifice, the endurance and the true commitment. We need to stay in touch with the feelings that lie under the costume.

This year, as I wear my fancy clothes on Purim, I will think about the deep inner changes in me and how that is much more important than anything else.