I've wondered during the past several years of therapy when I would be "done" and some people have said you are never done. That may be true in the the sense that we are always learning, growing and changing, but I think there is a lot to be said for being done in the recovery sense of the word, not using whatever your crutch was any more.
Several months ago, I was watching the TV show Necessary Roughness and the lead character, Dr. Dani, said:
The thing about habits is that you have to disrupt them gently, in steps, until one day you have a whole new routine. Old habits do die, you just have to want it bad enough.
I feel like that is how it has been for me, changes made slowly. As I write this I realize I haven't used a co-dependent behavior in a really long time. I feel like I have the skills now to make better choices and that I listen more to my inner self and see a more whole me. Judith Viorst said it beautifully in her book Necessary Losses:
For healthy growth involves being able to give up our need for approval when the price of that approval is our true self. What we call our sense of identity is our sense that our truest, strongest, deepest self persists over time in spite of constant change. It is a sense of self-sameness that is deeper than any differences a true self on which all ourselves converge. This steadying sameness includes both what we are and what we are not. It includes our identifications and distinctiveness. And it also includes both our private, inner "I am I" experiences and the recognition by others that "yes, you are you."
So, what does recovery really mean? In the "Co-Dependent's Guide to the 12 Steps" by Melodie Beattie, she puts it simply that recovery means:
We are safe now. We are cared for. We are protected.
We are free now to live our lives and love ourselves.
I have come a long way in the last four years and I feel like I can really say that I am in recovery. I do not fall into co-dependent behaviors when things in life go wrong. I now have the skills to act appropriately when challenges come my way. I believe that I am worth things like rest, nourishment and so much more. I love who I am becoming, a more complete self. I believe in me and in my dreams. As Melody Beattie says in her book:
Recovery is accepting yourself for who you are,
no longer waiting for others to define you or to approve you.
Before all of this, I would hope that others would say and believe good things about me. My level of belief in myself would ebb and flow with what others thought of me. I have learned how to define me by my own terms, not by what others may think and say. I have learned how to feel my pain and embrace it. I have learned how to feel love for myself and embrace that. I can accept all of me. I do the things that bring me joy and are a part of me. And yes, I can finally say, "I am I."