“Why are you here?”
“I have a problem with [fill in the blank] and my spouse found out. I don’t want to lose my marriage.”
We can be thankful for “getting caught” if that is the beginning of recovery and freedom. Many of us actually wanted to get caught because we were tired of hiding and living a double life. Some of us were so burdened with our secrets that we confessed before getting caught.
But there is a subtle danger here. Getting sober for someone else is not going to lead to lasting change. Doing it for that reason is going to lead to disappointment because your focus is on the consequences of the behaviors and not their root causes.
Not only that, you have another problem on your hands. While the discovery has given you a temporary sense of relief, your spouse has been traumatized by the betrayal and deceit you have inflicted on them. You are relieved while their world has been turned upside down.
There is another potential trap: The lifted burden and relief you feel can lead to a false sense of freedom from the addiction. “All I needed to do was confess and get it out in the open. I don’t feel its draw anymore. I am free from it!”
Not so fast. This is a huge deception. The “pink cloud” you are experiencing will soon give way to the black cloud of your entrenched and isolating habits. Discovery or confession might be mile one, but this is going to be a marathon not a sprint. For many of us, an ultra-marathon.
Here are the facts: even if you are “just” watching porn and masturbating, you have some level of addiction. You may have gone beyond and already crossed lines you never said you would cross and your addiction has become quite severe. In any case, you have damaged your brain and soul and you need help for yourself. It is natural for you to want help because of the harm you are doing to those you love, but it is you that needs the help and healing.
Imagine you were a smoker and wanted to quit because the second hand smoke was hurting your wife and children. That is a noble reason, but what if they moved out and left the smoky environment? Would you still want to quit? What about the damage and destruction that smoking is causing you?
The very best way to help others is to get help for you. When the oxygen masks drop down, you are supposed to put your mask on first before being concerned with the others.
My marriage was over before I finally sat alone in my apartment and said, I don’t want to die like this. I have to do it for me. There was no more marriage to save; I had to get help and save my own life.
Some indeed have been “scared straight” through discovery and their spouse’s threat to leave. But the successful ones continued in recovery by working through the steps and focusing on their own underlying issues. They connected with God and others and made recovery primarily for them.
I know to some this sounds selfish and horribly wrong, especially if you are the spouse of the addict. I am sorry, but this is the reality: if they just do it for you, it won’t last. They have to do it for themselves.
Your life is too valuable to waste stuck in an addiction. You are made in the image of God and Jesus Christ loved you enough to die for you.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:12).
If you are saved, you are His child and “accepted in the beloved,” the Lord Jesus Christ. If you could sit with God face-to-face and ask Him, “What do you want for my life?” what would He say? I want you to stay defeated and trapped in your addiction? God forbid. “If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
It’s time to be selfish. It’s time to get sober and recover for you. “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh….” The actions of your addiction are destroying you. Every time you indulge, you are causing more damage to your physical brain. You are chipping away at your emotional and spiritual life and your ability to relate to others in a healthy way. You are rotting and decaying from the inside out.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying to do it alone. You desperately need the help of God and others, particularly those that are working on their own recovery and healing. But do it for you.
Start today and stay the course. Do it for you. You are worth it.
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