"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.
"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?
I was alerted this afternoon by a friend about a Fox News Story reporting Morality in Media's Dirty Dozen list and Verizon’s decision to offer incest and child-themed pornography on Video-on-Demand. I will refrain from listing titles here for risk of triggering those who read this blog.
In 20 years of practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist, 15 years with advanced clinical chemical addiction credentials, and 5 years specializing in sex addiction, I have gleaned a lot of clinical wisdom. No matter how unbiased I may try to be, biases inherently creep into my work as a clinician. We all have our blind sides. Clinicians and those in recovery live in consultation to have them in check.
Remember the carnival game “Whac-a-Mole”? Moles would pop up through a hole and the object of the game was to force individual moles back into their hole with a mallet. The goal is to make them disappear as fast as possible when they rear their heads. Addiction interaction is like the “Whac-a-mole” game.
I had my chemical addiction credentials for over a decade before receiving my Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) credentials. For years I noticed the phenomenon as one would get sober from alcohol or drugs, other behaviors might begin to creep in as problematic or new focus in an unhealthy, unbalanced, way. I would see clients cease drinking and begin shopping to excess, or beyond one’s means. Men would stop drinking, but with new renewed clarity and focus, begin work to excess. This work drive would become a detriment to family obligations and life balance. Even more, I would notice within marriages where addiction had been present, one spouse would shop to excess and the other spouse would feel like they were obligated to keep up with the debt forcing unhealthy work escalations in response.