However, when we each embrace the responsibility and freedom to be whole and complete individuals, we set ourselves up for a life of contentment and joy. So, here are two practical ways to love and honor our whole self—whether our whole and complete self happens to be single or in a relationship.

We must give ourselves the gift of healing.

Let’s face it. We all get banged up by life and experiences. There have been times in my life that I have not felt whole because, in fact, I was broken and needed healing. I had never given myself the time and resources I needed to heal from past wounds. I had never unlearned the codependent ways of relating I learned in an alcoholic home.

This level of healing takes time and requires compassion for ourselves. Someone else’s love for us cannot substitute for the self-love and self-care required on this journey. My husband never could have healed my wounds, even though he loves me tremendously. My healing journey from codependency was exactly that—my healing journey. For me, that looked like taking time out from some of my regular activities and obligations in order to process and heal. I invested in a year of weekly counseling sessions. I set aside time for 12-step meetings, reading, journaling and other self-care practices. The healing journey is a gift we must give ourselves, along with all of the self-love and self-care that will help us to do it well.

We must embrace the desires of our true self.

Do you have a deep desire to travel? Do you want to go back to school? Do you dream of learning to paint or writing a book? Here’s what I’ve noticed about my friends, both single and committed, who are living life to the fullest: they own the desires of their heart and take responsibility for bringing them to fruition.

Right now, I’m thinking of Scott Harper, a single friend who would prefer to have a companion to do life with. However, that’s not his reality right now. His reality does include a standard that he owns as his truth. It sounds something like this:

“I could find someone. But I’m not looking for just someone. I’ve done a lot of my own work, emotionally and spiritually, and I’m looking for someone who has done their own work and healing. I love my job and have an amazing community of friends so I’m looking for someone who is already enjoying their life and has meaningful friendships. My life is so full and I’m looking for someone else whose life is full. Then, we can come together as two whole people and add to each other’s lives.”


Scott loves photography and travel, and he’s not going to wait until Miss “I’m-a-whole-person-too” comes along to share it with him. He travels extensively, now, solo and sometimes with friends. He takes incredible photos and celebrates all of his adventures with his friends when he returns home.

Here are a few photos he’s taken recently:






What a bummer it would be to miss this kind of beauty and the opportunities to use his creative gifts as a photographer by waiting for his ideal travel companion to come along. There’s no need for him to wait because he is whole, complete, and living in authentic ownership of what makes his heart happy.

On the flippity-flop, I’m now thinking of a married friend who has pursued many of her own interests which are not shared by her spouse. She is more of an extrovert, while he is an introvert. Rather than feeling resentful that he doesn’t want to go out, she’ll graciously let him be a homebody while she has dinner with a friend. If several couples are hanging out and her husband wants to recharge at home, she feels complete freedom to attend by herself and hang with the couples. She can do this with total confidence because she knows she is not one half of a couple. She is a whole and complete person who has plenty to add to any social situation. These are just a few of many ways she’s learned to embrace her desires and take ownership of their manifestation.

We can always enjoy the support and companionship of others, but when we own the desires of our heart and the freedom to make them happen, our world of experiences opens up exponentially. We don’t put our lives on hold, waiting for someone to share our experiences. We don’t resent those with whom we are in a relationship for not sharing our desires or getting what’s important to us. We don’t give our power away, thinking someone else can complete us or heal us.

We are whole and positive, without fractions or pieces, just as we are. We are free to pursue the healing we long for and to own our heart’s desires. We are empowered to take action and bring them to fruition. We are free to love ourselves, to love others without strings attached, and to thrive as the unique individuals we were created to be.

Photo 18

We’d love to hear your thoughts! How do you incorporate self-love and self-acceptance into your recovery?

For a cornucopia of self-care suggestions, check out Heidi’s previous article here. For a story about codependency recovery, click here.