The Key to Recovery; What Walls Need Tearing Down?

June 9, 2023

I read a quote from Phil Valentine the other day that I love. Phil is the executive director of CCAR, the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery, and last week he received a lifetime achievement award with Faces & Voices of Recovery. Here’s the quote:

Text quote that reads, "The key to recovery is to tear walls down to let love in. - Phil Valentine"

“The key to recovery is to tear walls down to let love in.”

Phil Valentine

So much came up for me around this.

When I first saw the quote, I looked at it through the family lens, because I’m coaching and training families every single day to show up differently so that they can recover, and most especially, so that their loved one has a better chance of finding recovery.

But it occurred to me that when I teach families to tear their walls down, it could be confusing. We’re over here teaching families to create boundaries, detach with love, to not engage with the addiction. You might think, how is this tearing walls down?

In actuality, everything we do at Tipping Point is to help you tear walls down and let love in.

When you boil it down, there are two primary emotions: love and fear. Just like there are three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) and all other colors are made from those three, all other emotions come from either love or fear.

In our curriculum, we often talk about the fork in the road—there are only two possible paths. There is addiction and there is recovery. Addiction is fed by fear, and recovery is fed by love. So when we as family members tear our walls down and let love in, we’re fostering recovery. We’re allowing ourselves to get better. And this involves setting boundaries. So let’s talk about that for a minute, because there are a lot of misconceptions around boundaries.

Boundaries are not walls.

In fact boundaries are actually what can allow you to tear walls down in a healthy way. What people often forget is that boundaries are not a punishment. They are not for someone else. They are all about you and what you need.

Here’s an example of this: if you find yourself complaining over and over again about something that involves someone else, there’s probably a boundary that you’re not setting or holding. Because all you can control is you. You can’t control or manage what other people do. What you can control is how you respond to it.

I always refer back to the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (them), the courage to change the things I can (me), and the wisdom to know the difference (what’s theirs and what’s mine).

You can’t control what your loved one does, but by having impeccable boundaries, you can remain in their life without getting caught up or torn down by the chaos of their addiction. You can open your heart, tear walls down, and have really solid boundaries all at the same time.

Because in its simplest form, we have love and fear. Addiction or recovery. Which are you feeding?

It’s nuanced, and it doesn’t happen right away.

It also doesn’t happen alone.

This kind of recovery work happens in community.

Here at Tipping Point Recovery, you can get that community for free in our online community Friends of Tipping Point and at our weekly Double Circle Recovery Meeting.

Comment below and share with me: how did this land with you? What walls do you think you may need to tear down? I’d love to know.

Leave a Comment


  1. Jackie Esielionis

    Great read. I struggle with boundaries vs walls almost every day. Im getting better at it though.

  2. Tina

    This article resonates with me. I am at the point where I am establishing boundaries and have use faith to calm my fears. I love my daughter and always will. She knows I am here for her when she is ready to choose recovery and that I am here for her to talk to or have a meal together.

  3. Cindy Audet

    I might need to put aside my resentment (that she doesn’t appreciated me, she would take better care of herself) when I am connecting to my loved one


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