Top 11 Myths of Recovery

A contemporary French print of an English wife...
Image via Wikipedia

In 2008, before I had my ultimate realization that nothing is certain, and life is full of surprises and I have no control over really anything life throws at me, I believed certain things were written in stone about my newfound recovery. Boy was I wrong…

  1. You’ll never make a mistake again. When I was first in recovery there was a point that I truly believed I had made every mistake known to man and had learned my lessons from all of them. I swore, I wouldn’t repeat the mistakes of the past. And looking back, I’m pretty pleased that, for the most part, I did avoid making some of the biggies. However, I soon found out that there’s a whole world of new mistakes to make! Oh, the frustration. And yet, what recovery teaches us is to forgive ourselves. That we are human. And that we are bound to make mistakes. There is no such thing as perfection in recovery, and there’s  no such thing as perfection in healthy living. Healthy living means knowing everyone makes mistakes, making mistakes, addressing them when they crop up and trying to learn from them. We all do the best we can in this world. And as long as we’re not killing anyone, lying, cheating, being consciously deceptive or hurtful towards others, everything else is insignificant.
  2. You’ll never be in pain again, or suffer. This was another myth I learned soon after being in recovery for awhile. Trouble still comes at you; loved ones still die; people still hurt you; work is still a struggle; pain still exists. WHat recovery teaches you, however, is how to manage the pain and suffering better as opposed to avoiding it like before. Before recovery I hid behind the high a PoA gave me and didn’t face pain. After recovery, I struggle to manage difficulties in my life like an adult and I face the pain that comes. By doing this, I teach my children to be strong, I show others I am capable of taking care of myself, and I feel more confident and in control of my life. It is STILL in my nature to want to run and hide from pain and suffering. But I try to see running away and hiding as no longer an option.
  3. Slips and relapses don’t happen. Slips and relapses do happen. Recovery is progress, not perfection. The difference is, once you no longer have a PoA as your defense mechanism to hide behind, you have other things: wasting time, procrastinating, not addressing pressing issues but letting them fester, slipping into depression, giving up, etc. Recovery is 24/7. It is something you make a lifetime commitment to. And once you’ve given up the PoA and chosen to live your life instead, you still need to be aware of your commitment to yourself. Just because you’ve given up pie while on your diet, doesn’t mean you won’t think you can turn to candy instead! My advice: be aware. When you catch yourself slipping, you already have many of the tools necessary to bring yourself back up to that elevated place. Don’t ever give up on yourself.
  4. Slips and relapses means you’re not in recovery anymore. Like I said above, slips and relapses are part of life. Learn to live with them and learn to address them if and when they crop up. Also, be aware of the type of slips or relapses you’re having. Are you falling back into old, bottom line behaviors? Have you lost your enthusiasm for working your recovery? Do you find yourself day-dreaming incessantly again? Are you stalking an old PoA or entertaining the idea of seeing him or her again? Ask yourself why you think you may be taking this turn back down an old, outmoded road and what you can do to reroute. You (and your children, if you have them) are your highest priority. Don’t give up on your recovery.
  5. You’ll find the partner of your dreams. So many of us recover for the wrong reasons, and finding the guy or girl of your dreams is one of them. We choose recovery because, most likely, we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Because the pain of love addiction finally outweighs the pain of heading into the unknown world of recovery and letting go. And so in that sense, we choose recovery not because of any other hoped for outcome but one: that we finally learn to love ourselves, forgive ourselves and face life. When that knowledge comes, certain benefits do result. When we become better, healthier individuals, it’s inevitable– healthier individuals are drawn to us. Water seeks its own level. But nothing in life is guaranteed. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And becoming an adult in recovery entails an understanding of that reality. It would be nice to find the perfect man of your dreams, but it’s never guaranteed. And yet, you must learn to love yourself and your life in spite of that.
  6. You’ll fall in love and have a successful relationship. When I finally “got it” and was well into recovery, I dated a guy who I thought was the last, most perfect guy ever.  We laughed all the time, never fought, got along great, I loved him, he loved me. WHo could ask for anything more? I had kept my boundaries in place and though he used to smoke pot, he told me he quit and everything was great. And then he dumped me. Huh? What went wrong? I had done everything by the book! I gave him his freedom, never smothered him, was true to myself, had a life of my own, was happy, etc. etc. I was devastated. But I still didn’t foresee that he was not being honest with himself or me. He tried to give up smoking for me, but in the end, he felt it was too much a part of his life to give up. So, despite the illusion of a great relationship, and despite having it all figured out myself, there’s always the other side, and there’s always surprises.  The other part to this myth is that once you recover, you may not want to date or marry ever again! And while this may be the road less traveled, you need to recognize that it’s  okay! You do not have to live like everyone else. But in order to help you come to that conclusion ask yourself a few profound questions: a.) Do I truly believe I am being true to my nature by choosing to be alone? b.) Am I sure this is not just a case of sexual anorexia or a fear of entering into a new relationship? And c.) Am I willing to change my beliefs or the way I feel if circumstances change or if an opportunity presents itself?
  7. Your marriage must end. I always say that a  successful recovery has nothing to do with the PoA, and yet, if you happened to be married to one, or conversely, if you’ve cheated on your spouse with a PoA, the bottom line is that you have work to do on YOU and lots of it. What that usually means is alone time. And yet, in a marriage, alone time is hard to come by. A relationship, good or bad, places demands upon you, and a once loving husband may not be that understanding when things change. And yet, it is up to you to carve out some time alone, within your marriage so as to do some serious recovery work. This does not mean divorce. It means communicating with your spouse that there’s a problem and that you need time to fix it. If he or she is understanding and gives you that freedom to work stuff out, and if at the end of your soul searching you determine your marriage can and should be saved, by all means, save it.  Sadly, this is rare.
  8. Your marriage must continue. When we change, recover and stop being the sick, unhealthy person we were, we are shocked to realize we married someone equally unhealthy. Unless the spouse is also willing to change–on his or her own–divorce is a sad, but logical next step. You see, oftentimes we think if we can just get rid of the PoA and the desire for passion that we are lacking in our marriage, our marriage can be saved. But the truth is, this is not about passion or lust or a midlife crisis. If we dig deep, it’s probably about the fact that we have nothing in common with our spouse, don’t really love him, but are deathly afraid to be alone and surviving on our own. So…instead of divorce, so many of us decide to take on an affair instead, jumping from the fire into the frying pan. Recovery, though,  does not exactly lead you to the conclusion that saving the marriage is the best thing. Oftentimes in recovery, we find that our dependence on the marriage is part of our love addiction. Even if we are not addicted to the husband or wife, we’re addicted to the relationship.
  9. Your PoA will want you back once you recover. This is one of those things that’s so very difficult to see from your vantage point, mainly because if you are thinking in these terms, you are probably still deep into denial about who you are and who your PoA is. But here’s a formula to live by: if you are sick and unhealthy, chances are your PoA is just as sick and unhealthy (another really difficult thing to see or admit). SO when you recover and get healthy, there’s a 99.9 percent chance you will want NOTHING to do with the PoA. Why? Because with recovery comes clarity. Recovery helps you take the blinders off and see the world more for what it is than what you would like it to be. And that means that the PoAs flaws come to light rather quickly once in recovery. If, on the other hand, you don’t know your PoA very well, or still believe he or she has no red flags or flaws, recovery will still lift the veil of fantasy to the point where you recognize that you have created an attachment to someone you don’t even know. This is why torchbearers are torchbearers. They do not enter into recovery. You cannot be a torchbearer and be in recovery because the very essence of recovery means that you recognize the impossibility of the relationship and are willing to move on. But who am I to say that the PoA will not want you back after you are this stunningly confident, beautiful on the inside, secure human being with loads of self-esteem? Maybe he or she will want you back or conversely, finally take notice! The thing is, recovery will also create in you a desire to date a better class of person, a healthier individual. So, in that sense, even if the PoA wants you back, chances are, you will have outgrown him. And that’s a good thing!
  10. You will still be the same person as always. Possibly the biggest myth of them all is the false belief that you will not or cannot change. But like the caterpillar who morphs into a butterfly, you have no choice once you devote your life to your recovery: you will change. Part of the dis-ease of love addiction is not so much an unwillingness to change as it is a fear of letting go. And part of that fear comes from who you might become or what might become of you once you let go of your current life’s situation. My only advice in the end is, don’t be afraid. Recovery is a rebirth. Have faith in your ability to recover and become something better, even if it means letting go of what you’ve got now. Love addicts are, by nature, survivors. We can handle all sorts of adversity. Heck, we’ve placed ourselves in the path of destruction repeatedly, and for what? To prove our strength? No. Because it’s simply our nature to do so. But remember, that same strength we possess for struggling with a PoA can also be applied to another struggle: that of saving our own lives.
  11. Once you learn a lesson, you’ll never forget it. I’ll just say, hah! to that. I can’t tell you how many wonderful lessons I’ve learned since this journey began, and how many I lost and had to relearn a long the way. Humans forget. You may have to remind yourself again, and again when it comes to certain lessons.

2 thoughts on “Top 11 Myths of Recovery

  1. The beautiful stages of recovery.
    When I first went headlong into recovery in April 2013, I wondered at length what it would eventually feel like to be recovered and when I would know when it had actually happened in full. Let me tell you; I arrived at the next milestone today. After fending off the most obvious of ‘avoidants’, the usual guys I would fall for, I became a master at it. Yes, I could see them coming a mile off and my pride blossomed with every rebuff of the usual kind of guy I would have once have sold my soul for. Safely home, I thought. Not really. After more than a year of honing these skills with dignity, fairness and strength, I didn’t know that I was about to encounter the next level of avoidant. The ones who aren’t so obvious. The ones who have mastered ‘hiding’ their avoidance, ‘hiding’ their aloofness and what appears in the end to be downright disrespect. In hindsight, I must have been falling straight for the most obvious avoidant, not ever getting to meet the ones who are even worse than that. Please can someone give a name to these people, because at the moment, I can’t think of one and refuse to try to find one.
    I knew I would encounter many people along my journey of recovery, and rightly so, but I never calculated for the superior narcissist who could mask avoidance as well as narcissistic behaviour so well. Thankfully, my recovery continues unblemished. I suppose, it’s when you think you’ve got it all sewn up, a swerve ball comes along to let you know you’ve got to up your own recovery game. The ghosts of the past are forever there, it would seem, but thankfully, they’re only ghosts. Extremely uncomfortable reminders of a life I used to know. The past is a foreign land, they do things differently there.


    1. Ouch! Hard lesson to learn, especially when you thought you’d seen it all. This actually happened to me and was the catalyst for this blog. I had finally (or so I thought) gotten rid of a PoA and met a nice guy. I thought he was super healthy and well put together and that, in keeping with linear time, I was finding healthier partners…like a step ladder I was moving up. In hindsight, I had actually fallen off the ladder, broke my leg in the fall, went in for surgery and came back with a new prosthetic. I had actually ended up falling for a guy who was emotionally far more immature than possibly anyone I’d ever previously met! Go figure. But, it all worked out in the end, because at that point in my life I threw in the towel and said no more. I was simply going to enjoy my life no matter what, but I will never seek out love again. And bam. Lookie what happened. Certainly not part of the master plan. So…hang in there. Every crazy person you meet brings you one step closer to a healthier person 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s