Thursday, November 6, 2014

LDS Recovery Over-Encouragement: Hinder or Help?

I want to share an interesting conversation I had with my husband...

About a year ago I thought my husband was better. He said he was sober. He no longer displayed his usual addict behavior or signs he relapsed. He progressed ALOT. He didn't seem to always be in this black abyss of shame. He LOVED going to counseling. He loved going to meetings. He had a sponsor. He wasn't getting majorly defensive like he used to. There wasn't as much tension as before, and if he did get upset he snapped out of it alot quicker. He wasn't isolating or as distant. He talked about his feelings more than he used to. A good portion of his addict behavior seemed like it was gone, and most of all the bishop, therapist, and his sponsor all said he was doing AWESOME and that he was in Recovery.

Great, RIGHT???

I felt in my gut something wasn't right----I just assumed I was crazy. It was easier to just try and believe he was sober and not think or deal with it. He was acting sober. He did everything people said a sober man in recovery would do. Every time I'd pray and ask God if he was lying I'd feel immense peace. If I asked God if he was telling the truth I'd still feel peace, maybe not as strong, but pretty great. Was I feeling peace because he WAS lying, or was I feeling peace because he telling the truth?

Later I received many calm peaceful promptings to check my husbands phone monitoring program. I kept putting it off because it didn't feel urgent, and frankly I just didn't want to take the time to do it. Months later I finally got around to checking it, and yep sure enough I found out my husband relapsed. And not only that, but he was looking at pornography for 5 whole months MORE frequently and worse than he was before! But how did I not notice for 5 whole months? Im usually a HAWK with these things. Why did I not pick up on any usual signs? Why???
Because he got better at lying and making it LOOK like he was sober, and I continued to look only for the obvious common signs he used to give off. But addiction is progressive, remember? :)


Fast forward to present day.

Things have gotten muuuch better and as far as I know he is 9 months sober. I decided to ask my husband why he didnt show his usual outward addictive behavior and signs of relapse during those 5 whole months.

His response completely suprised me...

Husband: "I didn't show my usual signs of relapse because I didn't feel as much shame and guilt when I relapsed."

Me: "Wait wait ....HUH, what?..Why??"

Husband: "Because when I used to relapse or 'slip', the counselor, bishop, sponsor and everyone at the 12step meetings told me I was in Recovery for having progressed so much. They gave me so much encouragement and would say things like: 'Oh, well that sucks, but it could be worse. It happens. Its normal and everyone goes through it when trying to get sober. Don't let this get ya down, just keep trying. You can do it. Just dust yourself off and keep going. You're a good person, you're doing great, and you're in Recovery. The important thing is for you to keep focusing on the positive and moving forward, you are such a great wonderful man!'..."
Husband: "...So I just didn't feel as guilty and bad for relapsing, everyone made it seem like it wasn't a big deal because I was doing great and progressing . I would tell myself things like 'Well if I beat myself up about it then that will just get me down. I need to remember what everyone says--that I'm in Recovery, but my wife just wouldn't understand that, so I need to continue staying positive so she won't notice. I need to continue focusing on making progress, not letting it get me down, and remind myself about what everyone said about me being such good person'."

(....And there was me of course with my jaw dropping to the floor and my husband nodding "I know right, ha it's insanity" :) )

What good is encouragement without consequences and a clear understanding to an addict of how wrong and SERIOUS the sin was? Instead, over-encouragement and falsely telling my husband he was in Recovery rewarded him for his negative behavior, turned him into an even bigger lying monster, taught him his actions were OK as long as he was progressing, and taught him how to feel less shame and guilt for his actions.

Blows my freaking mind haha.

In D&C God says:

"And inasmuch as they have sinned they might chastened , that they might repent"
"Whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things all things out of temptation"

  Chasten : To correct by punishment, discipline, suffering, or reproof.

If leaders, friends, family, sponsors etc are unwilling to chastise and send a clear loving message "NO, what you did was wrong, it was not OK", what message does that send?

To a normal non addict person it may send the message of love, compassion and forgiveness. But to an addict like my husband it sent the message "Oh, so I got away with it. Which means the bishop, therapist, sponsor etc aren't that concerned, which means it must not be THAT bad. Because its OK to slip/relapse in Recovery as long as I'm doing really good and progressing alot." (See more here and here)

Sounds like insanity, doesn't it?

Coming from an addict myself who also never had any real consequences growing up, there is nothing more loving, compassionate and Christ-like to us addicts than having strong boundaries and allowing us to experience the consequences to our actions. Please do not rob us of our consequences.


  1. How in the world do you ever bounce back and begin to rebuild trust after that ?? Too go so long and ... I think it would make me doubt every move my husband makes , good AND bad ( addict looking or recovery looking) . Another reason for some kind of "" checking up device "" , if not for that how ever would you have known ??! I know God always brings it out someday . But in the meantime I feel like I slowly lose sanity ! Your sooo right about the consequences . It seems like my husband has a few built in radars around , our children . When he is not getting any consequences , so it seems , he cannot give OUT consequences to the children for nothing ! I love your line " It was easier to just TRY and believe he was sober and not think or deal with it ." I get soo tired of reading / hearing the smart ones ( degrees) tell wives to work on trusting. I firmly believe trust COMES with no effort , it just shows up one day with no work at all , that, in my heart, is trust . I will be a lot more watchful of my heart and gut , thank you again for the heads up !! And oh how sorry I am for the hurt you went through , AGAIN! :(

    1. Its been a traumatizing journey, a journey that could still end in disaster ha, WHO knows with an addict, Im just thankful that for now, things are good :)

      I am forever thankful for the monitoring programs, I know God always eventually brings truth to light, ha but I am an extremely impatient person and I'd rather not wait, so I decided i'd help the Lord out so instead of the Lord doing all the work by having to try to find a way to tell me my how my husband acted out (which is extremely hard to decipher in a state of confusion and fog ha), he simply had to say "check the program". It made the Lords warnings to me SO much straight forward and clear.....and c'mon we could all use a little less confusion in our lives.

      And I couldnt agree MORE. Ive never had to work on trusting my husband. Any time I tried I was left more traumatized. How does one WORK on trusting their lying husband anyway? It doesnt seem to make any sense? :) I'm also a full full believer that my HUSBAND earns the trust back, and when I am ready...the trust just comes. We only need to focus on trusting God anyway, right? Once we do that, it all falls in place :)

  2. You are truly amazing , so amazing I wonder if your real or a story some movie writer made up . Just kidding , sorry.
    Do you have any thoughts on why did you have any sense of peace even while he was looking...I have such a difficult time with the trust my gut thing, several times I was " proven " wrong ( or so it seems) ''/ and with all my increasing not really liking him much , UGH this gets soo confusing . Sorry if tthese are unfair questions.

  3. YES I've thought alllot about this one, I was so confused as to why God would send me peace when my hubs was bringing danger into my home! (Ha and I was very angry at God for quite a while too).

    I've come to learn though that God doesn't send me messages of panic of anxiety. He only works through peace and love. Ha sometimes he will send me peace and ill think about it and become scared and full of anxiety, but he only works through peace and love. So I think when I asked him if my husband was lying, the strong sense of peace was Him confirming to me that my hubs WAS lying to me about something. SOMETHING. And when I asked Him if my husband was telling the truth, He still gave me peace, just not as strong. So its almost like the whole combined message he was saying to me was "Yes, your husband is being truthful about many things, but he is still lying to you about most things. Everything will be OK, I will provide for you no matter what. Here, I will send you peace to help you through this".

    It helped me remain more calm and it gave me a nice reassurance :)