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What Can the Tour de France Teach Us About Recovery?

"Habit is stronger than reason."- George Santayana

Each year I love to follow the grueling Tour de France (TDF) cycling race.  Besides watching what, in my mind, is the toughest sport with the fittest athletes in the most trying conditions, the race also serves as travelogue for a very beautiful and diverse country.  As I watch this year I couldn’t help but notice the parallel process between the endurance race and the enduring road of recovery.

Some of the many parallel thoughts I observe:

 


Surround yourself with a strong team.

While there can only be one winner of the race, the winner does not win the race alone!  To the outside observer it looks like it could be a single rider competing for that yellow jersey.  Each TDF team is composed of 10 members that support one another and compete with an overall goal and strategy.  Recovery is not a solo event.  Similarly you are riding for yourself, but those with strong recovery ride with a strong team of peer support surrounding them.  Riding in the peleton can be stressful. When one has a strong team of support surrounding them, anxiety is reduced and safety is increased.

Beginning Couples Recovery in Sex Addiction Recovery

"Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality."   Abraham Lincoln

 Couples recovery is difficult in the aftermath of sexual betrayal.  The repair process can be a long and winding road.   Trust is blown in the marriage impacted by addiction. Fear is at an all time high on the part of both parties. What a betrayed spouse thought was about their marriage, isn’t.   Initially repair feels like an insurmountable mountain to climb.  Anger, rage, fear and feelings of grief on the part of the betrayed spouse run high. For the addict’s part, initially, they feel a whole lot of fear and shame. The betrayed spouse tries to get at the truth and is approaching someone who has been hiding the truth of a somewhat secret and hidden life, sometimes for years. The tools to right the sinking ship are lacking in the beginning days.

The ability to live honestly, truthfully, and with integrity is necessary.  How do you get there from here?

Rewiring Habits in Sex Addiction

 It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood 

Remember Mr. Rogers?

  He began every one of his ½ hour educational shows with the same ritual.  He would come onto the set through the same door chirping out his usual song “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood, ….”.  All the while, he would go through the same motions of taking off his tweed suit jacket, don his casual work sweater, take off his dress wing-tipped shoes, and put on his casual sneakers.  You knew what was coming.   He started each show the same way.  That ritual set the stage for that day’s show. 

Mr. Rogers was an extraordinary educator.  He knew the importance of structure for children.  Structure helps us make transitions.  Structure helps us make sense of the unknown.  As a marriage and family therapist I help parents develop routines that help children settle, feel safe, and decrease anxiety in the changes that face them as they developmentally move through time. 

Sex Addiction Recovery and Super Heroes

On this day I had the luxury of sitting with a cup of coffee and taking in a bit of CNN as I began my day. umich.edu Dr. Sanjay Gupta was reporting his experience of giving the commencement address at his alma mater, Michigan University.  I was struck by the main message he wished to convey to these graduates.  His advice:  “Do one thing that you fear every day and become the action hero in your own life.”  Well said. 

That message applies for those working on recovery, as well. Fear is to recovery as Kryptonite was to Superman.  Many in recovery face actions that are fearful, yet, doing that fearful act can bring one to their own aid.  Reaching out to another peer with personal struggle, calling a sponsor for aid with the craziness in one’s own head, making an amends to those whom amends are owed can all be very scary acts indeed.  If you can work through the fear and take action imagine where that might lead you.  The sky is the limit!