What are the Indicators of Success? What are the indicators of achievement? Those are some very interesting questions.
Almost unequivocally, every single person who is addicted, and also those who suffer from betrayal trauma, has been wounded. And most were wounded long before the current state of affairs brought them to where they are today. Most don’t even realize that the wounds from their distant past are there and have so profoundly impacted their current situation. This is not to blame someone suffering from betrayal trauma, or even someone else, but there are subliminal subconscious reasons they are in the situation that they are in. That’s a deep dark subject for another time that would likely take a life of its own.
So what are the characteristics of someone in recovery?
WILL & COMMITMENT
We know something is inherently wrong, and we have the tenacity to pursue it and find and figure out what it is. We may not know exactly what it is yet, but we know it isn’t right. Our determination is not to put a bandaid on the symptom, but to find a solution to the problem. It doesn’t mean we won’t stumble along the way. We will fail. But we also will not allow our failures to define us. We have the WILL to pursue it to the very END. We are committed and have a COMMITMENT to pursue it to the very END. The END? That’s when we can close not only the chapter, but the book, on that obstacle we have chosen to overcome.
PURPOSE, DIRECTION, & STRUCTURE
We have PURPOSE. The addicted and betrayed brain is all over the place misfiring like an engine in dire need of a tuneup. For the addict, it is the compartmentalization that goes along with the addiction that has compromised and wired his brain in a dysfunctional manner. For the betrayed, it is the compartmentalization that goes along with the betrayal in an emotionally compromised state. Those in recovery have mindful PURPOSE and DIRECTION in the form of STRUCTURE. As we define our PURPOSE, we build a STRUCTURE in the form of a calendar with well defined specific details about who, what, when, where, and how we accomplish our VALUES, DREAMS, & GOALS (see below). Our schedule is full. Our PURPOSE drives us to focus on what genuinely matters, things that really count, such that we have little time, let alone interest or capacity, to think about what doesn’t.
HONOR, DIGNITY, & RESPECT
Not only do we have HONOR, DIGNITY, & RESPECT for ourselves, but we also exhibit those very same characteristics toward all of those around us. Even those we may feel isn’t worthy of it. It takes a lot of grace and gratitude to extend it to those perceived to be undeserving of it. That is a strong exhibition of great character. When we HONOR ourselves, we refuse to accept the lies we tell and/or believe about ourselves. When we HONOR others, we tell them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If it isn’t right for us, it isn’t right for anyone else either. DIGNITY is the highest of moral standards that demonstrate to ourselves, and to others, that we accept and exhibit nothing less than the very best we have to offer. RESPECT is the highest regard and esteem bestowed upon one another. Addicts have no self-respect, let alone for others. Betrayal trauma victims question their own self-respect, often wondering why. All of these characteristics, individually and collectively, are synonymous with one another and demonstrate a resolve to recover.
An addict in recovery exhibits AUTHENTICITY. You can tell, almost as if they took a Sharpie, and wrote it on their forehead that they aren’t authentic. It often exhibits itself in the form of domination, control, and manipulation of their intended target, or victim as it were, notwithstanding further grooming and gaslighting. The betrayed Partner already exhibits, and often very painfully so, AUTHENTICITY. AUTHENTICITY will show up and take on the form of empathy, validation, and understanding.
FAITH, HOPE, CHARITY & LOVE
Now everyone has a different view of what constitutes FAITH. For Christians, it is blind FAITH in God that attracts them to God. FAITH, HOPE, & CHARITY is a theological virtue based on a philosophy of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless, it is applicable to recovery anyway. You must have FAITH that you can get through and past it and that there is HOPE at the other end that leads one into their pursuit of happiness. And CHARITY is that reciprocity that normally comes from a mutual interest in the relationship. Otherwise, what would be the point? All of this points to an innate burning desire to do so, not only for the LOVE of one’s self, but for the LOVE of one another.
VALUES, DREAMS, & GOALS
When there is a lack of VALUES, DREAMS, & GOALS, where one is simply fine with the status quo and doesn’t have the first clue where they want to be even a year from now, let alone five, trouble is on the horizon. It’s because the brain is too preoccupied “in the moment” to have any insight of any of those things “in the future”. Besides, what VALUES does an addict have that aren’t compromised anyway? How much of their addiction has affected any DREAMS they may have had? And let’s not forget the GOALS to get there. As for the betrayed partner, whatever theirs were have been halted, derailed, crashed, and burned as they must reevaluate their position in the relationship for the unforeseeable unexpected circumstances beyond their control. Understandably, life doesn’t always work out the way we intended, so we are forever changing our VALUES, DREAMS, GOALS to meet the demand of our new reality; our new “normal”. Those who are in recovery have set, and you can quiz them on it and get an immediate response, VALUES, DREAMS, & GOALS.
Not only does a recovering addict or betrayed partner VALUE themselves, but others as well. Addicts are selfish. Betrayed partners are selfless. When recovery commences, these roles become reversed as the addict must become more selfless, and the betrayed must become more selfish. This is a necessity. Eventually, if done properly, an equilibrium will occur. Watch for a transition in value to one’s self and others for signs recovery is in progress.
ENTREPRENEURIAL, CREATIVITY, & ENTERPRISING
We’re not talking about business, art, or work here. We’re talking about investment in recovery. Each will seek every opportunity to find what is necessary, the tools, research, and resources, to heal and take care of themselves. And they must take care of themselves first and foremost according to the airplane oxygen mask analogy. Each will find creative ways to foster their own recovery journey. And it takes an ENTERPRISING effort and initiative to do so. They become their own advocate in pursuit with an ENTREPRENEURIAL spirit. Watch for these characteristics as it supports their WILL & COMMITMENT, and their desire to succeed.
Both addicts and betrayed partners are unstable. Now, before you go off and say “wait a minute, if he hadn’t have done…”, let me just stop you right there. Remember where I said an “emotionally compromised” state above? Yes, your emotionally compromised state has caused you to be unstable. Your Partner is already unstable as you watch them go from one extreme to the other often in the form of loving, caring, nurturing one minute to hostile, angry, and out of control the next. That’s what a compartmentalized brain does for you. The wiring in the brain is short circuited and the prefrontal cortex is in conflict with the hindbrain, lizard brain, goldfish brain, or whatever urban characterization you wish to utilize to describe it. When you begin to witness STABILITY, you begin to see signs of recovery in the works. It means the neural pathway connections are in the process of being rerouted, or rewired as it is often termed.
Both the addict and the betrayed partner will view this as an important part of their recovery. Not only is making a DIFFERENCE in their own lives important to themselves, but doing so for others demonstrates a willingness to share the unfortunate situation, circumstances, and experiences because I assure you, the process is such a painful one, they never want another human being to ever have to go through it. It is Step 12 in every 12-Step Program. Helping others is helping us too.
These are the signs and symptoms of active recovery work and characteristics. Look for them in both yourself and that of your Partner.