Recovery is a transformational journey called individuation. The promises of recovery and the benefits it returns are freedom, confidence, and self-love. There are stages of recovery from addiction and codependency, from building awareness and detaching, doing the hard work of changing yourself and your life, to eventually experiencing the promises.
It’s common for people to complain that their partner or loved ones aren’t working on themselves. They think, “Why bother?” This attitude is ill-conceived, because we embark on this journey to change ourselves, and we are the ones who reap the rewards.
These are some highlights and promises of recovery that you can look forward to:
1. We develop self-esteem, self-acceptance, and self-love. (Read How Do Self-Acceptance, Self-Love, and Self-Esteem Differ?)
We gain self-compassion and self-love and learn to nurture ourselves. Our sense of worth no longer depends on other people. We’ve grown our self-esteem by consciously changing our actions and how we talk to ourselves and others. We’ve rooted out the cause of our low self-worth and shared our secrets and admitted our flaws and mistakes with a compassionate guide or a therapist to change our beliefs and resolve toxic shame.
2. We mature, have integrity, and become self-responsible.
Initially, codependents don’t want to be responsible for themselves. They expect other people to rescue them from their unhappiness and blame them for it. They devote all their attention to helping other people change to feel more comfortable while neglecting themselves.
Recovery from codependency teaches that only we are responsible for our happiness and our unhappiness. Many codependents don’t have principles to live by; or if they do, they easily sacrifice them for other people, or their actions don’t align with their values. For example, they may prize honesty, but withhold the truth or lie to people-please. In recovery, we know who we are and have integrity. Our words and actions align with our beliefs and our true self.
3. We honor ourselves and have the courage to express our feelings, wants, and needs.
First, we must discover our true self and identify our feelings, needs, and wants. We learn to be assertive and risk expressing ourselves. We give up people-pleasing and the relationship anxiety, guilt, and resentment that go with it. Instead, we value ourselves enough to ask for what we want. Until we do this, we remain unhappy and don’t get our needs met.
4. We no longer tolerate disrespectful behavior.
Like a good parent, we value and protect ourselves from harm caused by other people in order to feel safe. We have the courage to set personal boundaries, and we empower ourselves as a result, leaving resentment behind.
5. We develop trust in ourselves, are no longer confused, and can clearly perceive the truth about ourselves, others, and reality.
Due to years living in denial of bad behavior under a false set of beliefs and being out-of-touch with our true self, we didn’t trust ourselves and our perceptions. We may have been manipulated by others and we went along to get along. As the veils of denial and self-doubt are lifted, we perceive everything in a new light.
6. We gain freedom and autonomy. The world no longer feels threatening.
Our thinking and behavior are no longer determined by our insecurity and dependency on others. With inner security and greater self-esteem and confidence, we no longer live in fear of people or emotional abandonment. We will be able to love others without becoming enmeshed and losing ourselves. We forgive and make peace with ourselves, our past, and with other people.
7. We no longer need to control or manipulate other people.
Having been dependent upon people who we believed determined our worth and happiness, we tried to control them. Once we take responsibility for our own lives and welfare and are able to be direct, we no longer try to control in relationships.
Recovery includes reviewing our conduct, relationships, and attitudes toward others. With greater awareness and self-compassion, we’re able to let go of resentment and blame, overcome guilt, forgive other people, and practice self-forgiveness. We feel empowered to stop being a victim.
8. We discover our potential and are willing to take risks to develop ourselves and express our talents.
With increased self-esteem and courage, we have the confidence and the energy to explore and develop our talents and skills. We’re motivated to express our passions and create a life that reflects our true self.
9. We’re able to have loving, supportive, intimate relationships based on mutual respect not control and power struggles.
We’re no longer comfortable in high-conflict or abusive relationships with highly aggressive people. We’ve let go of trying to control people and force change. We’ve gained personal autonomy, learned assertive communication, and self-esteem that prompt us to seek healthy, interdependent relationships. Our self-worth demands mutual safety, trust, reciprocity, and respect that make it safe to be vulnerable and receive love. All of this enables us to enjoy intimacy in close relationships.
10. Our insecurity is replaced with serenity, faith, and a sense of well-being.
We learned that forcing solutions can do more harm than good. Through our experience, we gain humility and begin to trust the process of transformation, which has its own timetable. Having a spiritual practice can facilitate these changes. As we accept life on its own terms, we know a peace we never had before. We begin to live the serenity prayer. We have the wisdom to accept what we cannot change and change what we can. We leave the rest to our higher power.
Having a greater connection to ourselves and our higher power, we know that we’re never alone. If we’re lucky enough to participate in a 12-Step program, when we lose that connection, we know that we can reach out to others anytime, anywhere, to support and remind us.
Co-Dependents Anonymous has “12 Promises,” which you can read on their website. Alcoholics Anonymous also has 12 Promises. Al-Anon Family Groups doesn’t endorse any promises of recovery. The results you experience will ultimately depend on you and the work you invest in your own recovery. For many people, this includes psychotherapy and healing from childhood trauma and intimate partner abuse.
© Darlene Lancer 2023