The Single Greatest Reason You Will Fail in Recovery

Podcast:


Transcript:

That sounds hopeful, doesn’t it?

Picture this with me: What if there was something more detrimental to a person in recovery than a relapse into their sexually compulsive behavior? Believe it or not, there is.

What if I told you that long-lasting freedom from porn addiction doesn’t only hinge on abstaining from watching anymore porn? Sure, this helps break a pattern of addiction, but it’s not number one on the list.

Are you ready for it?

The single greatest reason a person will fail in recovery from a sexual addiction is their unwillingness to know and be known by others in healthy accountability relationships.

Simply put: Recovery cannot become a solo act. Once it does, your chances of becoming a man or woman of sexual integrity instantly disappear. I know, I’m really riding the hope train today! But it’s the truth. Your recovery journey is one that is meant to be shared with others who also struggle the same way you do. There is so much power in knowing and being known by others who are also walking this path!

Here’s something I often need to remind myself: Whether or not I realize I need people in my life, the truth is that I need them. I’m not even the most social person either. I prefer small groups, quiet moments, and experiences that don’t involve a lot of people. But as it relates especially to my relationship with the Lord and my recovery journey, I cannot grow in isolation.

Think with me for a moment about the physical body: God created the body to include everything it needed on the inside and outside to function — two eyes, two ears, two feet, etc. But also for the inside to function correctly with the outside — without the brain, we cannot make complex decisions. Without lungs, we cannot effectively breathe and move. It all was designed to work together. You see my point.

But somehow we don’t think that applies to our own lives as it relates to our own addictions & behaviors. We depend upon others for so many reasons. When it comes to our recovery, we live as remote islands.

​I remember especially in the early part of my recovery — it wasn’t a matter of IF I was going to slip, but WHEN. The reality is that slips and relapses happen even in recovery. I needed healthy people in my life not just to confess what I had done but to hear THEIR stories too! So that I didn’t think I was the problem and I was weird for messing up.

Accountability reminds us that we’re not alone.

Accountability requires you to invite feedback, correction, discipline, and confrontation into your life. It invites others to see the real you and step in when they see an issue that could be harmful for your life. They have complete access because you’re unwilling to hide anything.

I believe there a couple reasons why many individuals don’t seek out healthy accountability for their lives:

  1. SHAME — If you’ve been in recovery for any length of time, I’m sure you understand that one of your greatest enemies to progress is shame. Shame causes us to hide, to bury, & to isolate from people who love us and care for us. I believe this to be the number one reason why so many don’t find long-lasting success in recovery. If the enemy can convince you that you’re worthless and you will never change, why seek help from anyone? That’s what shame does.
  1. PROCRASTINATION — “I’ll call ***** tomorrow.” “I’ll meet with ***** next week.” The constant pushing off what should take priority gets replaced by other demands in our lives.  We allow our schedules to dictate us instead of being the ones who dictate our scheudles. When you don’t make something as important as your recovery journey a priority, don’t be surprised at the level of your struggle. Establishing safe, healthy accountability sources takes work. It takes time. And it’s worth every second. Stop putting it off.

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of why people avoid accountability in their lives, but I believe these are two of the greatest reasons.

Looking back upon the last 12 years in my recovery journey, I will NEVER regret all the meetings, phone calls, text messages, groups, workshops, and other points of contact I made with people who cared about my heart. The value that all these interactions carried in my life were beyond words. Granted, at the end of the day, my recovery journey is totally my responsibility. If I wanted to, I could fall back into my former lifestyle at any moment. But that’s just it: I don’t want it anymore. And I haven’t for a long time.

While I own all of the decisions I’ve made on this journey, much of the credit for the success I’ve attained goes to those I invited into my life. The counselors, pastors, friends, and yes even my wife (most importantly) who knew they could challenge me and ask me the tough questions becuase they loved me. I’m so thankful for all of them! They are the people who helped me become the person I am today.

If you’re unsure how to find those kind of life giving relationships, Small Groups Online is the perfect place to begin! SGO helps you to find a weekly, online Zoom group where you will meet with others who share many of the same struggles you do. There are many days and times to choose from so finding a group to fit your schedule is really easy.

If you’re trying to do recovery on your own, you’re doing it the wrong way. Do it the right way by signing up for Small Groups Online today.


If you and your spouse are struggling and would like help on your journey, please feel free to contact us! Or, if you’re a wife and need some extra help from another wife who’s walked through what you have, head on over to the “Support for Wives” section and shoot Tracey a message by filling out the contact form. All communication is strictly confidential.

2 Things Your Spouse Doesn’t Need to Know About Your Porn Use

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If there are certain things you shouldn’t tell your spouse about your porn addiction, it must mean there are important things s/he does needs to know. First and foremost, that you are using pornography.

Confessing to your spouse, either before or after you’ve been caught, is crucial for your recovery and for your marriage to be healthy and whole. Secrets like this kill relationships. They breed darkness and shame. One of the greatest things in life is to have relationships where we are fully known and fully loved. If we harbor our sins, we will never be fully known and will always doubt whether or not we are loved because of who we truly are or for the image we project.

Honesty is of prime importance, but so is knowing what is appropriate to reveal. Here are two things you can plan on leaving out of this conversation.

1. Your Spouse Doesn’t Need the Gory Details

In our situation, I first found out about my husband’s addiction alone in a room on his computer when I started typing in the URL bar. Though the title of the webpage very clearly indicated that I would be taken to pornography, my disbelief and shock compelled me to check it out.

I wish I hadn’t.

I can still see those images when I recall the circumstances, even though this event happened seventeen years ago. The truth is, however, one doesn’t have to actually see something in order to form an image in our mind. If that was the case, books would be incredibly boring, right? When you tell your spouse about your porn use, you can leave out the gory details. She doesn’t need you to recreate the scene or let her in on what you like in your fantasy world. She definitely doesn’t need you to actually show her what you’ve been viewing.

What this does to your spouse:

  • These details can create unpleasant mental images, which can lead to traumatic flashbacks and increased distress.
  • It’s been well documented that social media and pornographic images of women have distorted both gender’s views on what constitutes a beautiful, sexually-appealing female. The last thing your spouse needs is to come face-to-face with unhealthy expectations and unmeetable standards. She is already feeling insecure in herself and in your relationship and this will only exacerbate the situation and lead to even worse consequences.
  • When her world has been rocked with your confession, a myriad of thoughts and emotions will pass through your spouse’s mind. One of those thoughts may be that not only does she needs to conform herself to look like these images, but to be pleasing to you, she must also act in the same ways. But physical intimacy within the context of marriage is the opposite of what happens in pornography. You don’t truly want her acting like the porn star on the screen, nor do you want her to feel the pressure of her doing something doesn’t want to do.

What to do instead: 

  • Affirm that your pornography use is not about her—who she is, what she does, or what she looks like.
  • Share (if you know already) what is behind your addiction, i.e. “I’ve been looking at porn since eighth grade and I haven’t yet been able to cut it out of my life” or “Every time I get stressed, I’ve turned to porn to try to escape because I didn’t know how to talk about it.”
  • Validate her feelings of betrayal, shock, anger, sadness, or whatever else comes out and don’t justify your porn use with something like “All I’m doing is looking at pictures.”

2. Your Spouse Doesn’t Need the Half-Truths

When you do tell your wife about your addiction, it may be tempting to only tell her pieces of your story in an effort not to overwhelm her. But think about it this way: if you were majorly injured playing your sport and had to have surgery, you’d be a little hesitant to perhaps engage in your sport in the same manner after you’ve begun to recover. You’d be more protective, tread a little more lightly. You’d ease into doing things that you used to take for granted because you felt safe and secure doing them before the injury. Overtime, though, with the right physical therapy and support, you’re pretty likely to get back in the game.

One injury is traumatic. But what if instead of one big blow, every time you got on the field, you hurt something—not bad enough to have surgery, but still incredibly painful: a twisted ankle, a broken forearm, a concussion. After every practice, something would go wrong and you’d feel more and more beat up, injury compounding injury. How long until you give up going to the fields?

Lest you’re considering expanding the sports analogy, I’ll tell you why we end it here. Sure, in sports, the more you train, the more you can do, the more your body can handle. But, confessing your addiction to your spouse is not an endurance sport. You may be tempted to think you’re building her resilience by giving her small things and that will help her work up and be able to handle the big things. But your brain is not a muscle and it doesn’t recover or process trauma in the same way as your muscular system.

What this does to your wife:

  • Half-truths only intensify her trauma. If you share part of your story and she thinks she knows the full extent, the next time you further reveal details or events surrounding your addiction, she will experience both the new trauma and re-live the entire first round. This is compounding trauma.
  • It makes her unable to begin to trust you again because she never knows when the story is really out. If you confess piecemeal, she will fear there’s going to be something around another corner down the road.

What to do instead:

  • Prior to talking with her, think through your whole story and what you need to tell her.For example, if your story includes watching porn AND corresponding with someone from a pornographic or dating website, make a plan on how you will stay the course of confession, knowing it’s going to be hard and you may be tempted to stop after her reaction about the first thing. It may be helpful to role-play this with a trusted friend, counselor, or pastor.
  • Know she will probably ask you a lot of questions.Pray and ask God to give you the strength to answer each one honestly and carefully. Pray also for your wife before you tell her.

This is will be a difficult conversation for both of you. It will rock your spouse’s world and will feel like the foundation of your relationship is gone. However, through this conversation, you also have the opportunity to begin to lay a new foundation and to rebuild something out of the rubble. We serve a God of restoration and reconciliation and with Him, all things are possible.

Source: Covenant Eyes

014: The Truth About Transparency

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Transparency in recovery means you’re completely honest with your spouse, doesn’t it? What do you really share with them? How far do you go in explaining to them how you struggle? This week, Frank & Tracey both attempt to address these questions and more as they talk from their own personal experience of addiction & recovery journeys. Husbands AND wives: You don’t want to miss this episode.


If you and your spouse are struggling and would like help on your journey, please feel free to contact us! Or, if you’re a wife and need some extra help from another wife who’s walked through what you have, head on over to the “Support for Wives” section and shoot Tracey a a message by filling out the contact form. All communication is strictly confidential.

176: Your Spouse Needs This

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Oftentimes in a man’s recovery, so much attention is given to his journey and what he needs to get healthy that his wife seems to be left in the shadows. What about her needs? What is she needing the most for her own recovery? This week, Frank & Tracey talk about what a wife needs most from her husband as he walks in recovery from sexual addiction.


If you and your spouse are struggling and would like help on your journey, please feel free to contact us! Or, if you’re a wife and need some extra help from another wife who’s walked through what you have, head on over to the “Support for Wives” section and shoot Tracey a a message by filling out the contact form. All communication is strictly confidential.