Aug 8, 2015

Recovery: What It Is and What It Isn't

What Is Recovery?

Wanna know what the grande ol' mystery to Recovery is? The answer we all search for when figuring out if our partners are in Recovery? 

This may be hard for some to accept. You ready?


Im sure we've all thought our partners were honest at one point or another. Honesty? Easy peasy right? But do we fully know what it means to be completely honest?? Let's start with definitions, because you know I love me some good definitions. :)

            Truthful, sincere, free of deceit and fraud, unpretentious, morally correct, virtuous, candid, frank, open, forthright, ingenious, straightforward, plain speaking, matter-of-fact, upfront, aboveboard, genuine, honorable.
.. healthy functioning state of mind, strength, or health
     "A voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health and citizenship.” - The Betty Ford Institute
     “Recovery from addiction is a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life.” - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
     “A process of overcoming both physical and psychological dependence on an addiction with a commitment to abstinence-based sobriety” - American Society of Addiction Medicine"

How Do We Know If Our Partners Are In Recovery?

He will be completely honest to himself, his wife/partner, to God (if applicable), and to his therapist/ sponsor/ church leader etc. Not just once. Not for a few months. For the rest of his LIFE. Going back to addict behavior every once in a while shows the presence of the Addiction Cycle, even if they have not yet physically acted out. Addict's must be out of the Addiction Cycle in order to get INTO true Recovery. This process could take anywhere from 1-6 years. However, RECOVERY IS NOT PERFECTION. Recovery is not a one stop process. It's NOT about never making simple mistakes ever again, we all make mistakes. I see it more as an ongoing straight line towards progress...while continually staying sober.

Honest and CONSISTENT Recovery Behaviors Include, But Not Limited To:

  • Complete sobriety. ZERO Slips, Relapses or Acting Out.                 Acting Out - Intentionally seeking out any erotic and sensual stimulus, even if "accidental" at first, this includes waking up in the middle of wet dreams and continuing, or accidentally coming across pornography but choosing to continue looking at it. DEFINITE lines of acting out: Pornography, Masturbation, Infidelity, Emotional infidelity, Inappropriate relationships with opposite sex, Chatting, Flirting, Sex ad browsing, Forcing anyone to have sex (yes, even if it’s your own wife/partner), & Massage brothels. For definitions of pornography, addiction, etc., go HERE
  1. PREVENTS Slips, Relapses, and Acting Out by being honest and reaching out to others beforehand.
  2. VULNERABLE : Talks about feelings, thoughts, and experiences.
  3. If religious, gone through the basics of the Repentance Process (although, is the repentance process ever REALLY done?)
  4. Doesn't intentionally seek lust and fantasy, and will openly talk about triggers if they happen. 
  5. Responsible for his actions, regardless of the consequences.
  6. Can admit when he makes a mistake or is wrong, and apologizes without prompting.
  7. Can self parent and use "thinking brain"
  8. Empathetic - Gives you the space and closeness you need and shows that he understands the hurt which he has caused you and loved ones.
  9. Open to feedback
  10. Can listen and hold your pain.
  11. Respectful of your Boundaries, body, & feelings.
  12. Progressively trying to better himself, his quality of life, and his family's quality of life.
  13. Not abusive
  14. Thankful
  15. Easy going
  16. Humble
  17. Meek
  18. Submissive
  19. Accountable
  20. Lowly of heart
  21. If religious, a close relationship with God; Christlike
  22. Shares his successes in recovery efforts.
  23. Will willingly take an annual polygraph if needed (and will pass). 

What About Being Recovered? Can My Partner Ever Be Cured? 

For an addict, there's no such thing as being "recovered" or "cured". This is because the addictive neural pathways in the brain will never go away. They can thankfully go dormant, and an addict CAN be sober and healthy for the rest of their lives, but the neural pathways don't disappear. It's like riding a bicycle. No matter how long it's been since you've ridden a bicycle, your brain will remember again thanks to neural pathways. Once an addict picks up that "bicycle" again, then those addictive neural pathways will light back up, those urges and desires will spring back up, and it will take work and time for them to go dormant again. 

How Do We Know If Our Partners Are NOT In Recovery? 

He will not be completely honest with himself, his wife/partner, God (if applicable), therapist, sponsor, church leader etc.

Recovery is NOT :

  1. Acting Out in addiction in ANY way. 
  2. Lying
  3. Abusive in any way to others or self. 
  4. Minimizing
  5. Defensive
  6. Blaming and redirecting. 
  7. Manipulative
  8. Controlling
  9. Is in the Addiction Cycle
  10. Refuses to be vulnerable
  11. Pressures or coerces partner into sex
  12. Entitlement 
  13. Uses fear, guilt, or threats to get what they want.
  14. Rationalizes
  15. Prideful and egotistical
  16. Hero complex
  17. Intentionally finds ways to lust and fantasize. 
  18. Escapes the pain and guilt to make themselves feel better in the moment. 
  19. Runs away, hides, or isolates from issues o and uncomfortable situations.
  20. Doesn't talk about their behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and triggers.
  21. Refuses to see a therapist. 
  22. Refuses to take a polygraph (this indicates they are refusing to be honest). 
  23. Doesn't share things they've been learning
  24. Acts like the victim and seeks sympathy, or tries to get others to take sides.
  25. Evasive and disrespectful of others personal Boundaries.
  26. Discloses information only when asked.
  27. Is caught or reported by someone else, rather than admitting to or confessing inappropriate behavior. 
  28. Criticizes
  29. Gets angry without discussing feelings afterward
  30. Moody "Jekyll & Hyde"
  31. Resentful
  32. Vindictive
  33. Overly critical 
  34. Selfish
  35. Pretends or convinces others there are no problems, that they are taken care of, or are no big deal.
  36. Makes empty promises
  37. Self sabotages, self punishes or is self loathing
  38. Not willing to put in the time or effort to fix problems.
  39. Continues to put themselves in situations where they can be tempted ("Yellow light" behavior: websites known to have unsafe content, numbing out online, random web surfing, unsafe friends/family, unsafe co-workers, etc)
  40. Uses other addictions— such as food, alcohol, drugs, video/online games, over-working, spending— to avoid dealing with real problems. 
  41. Wants you to be okay with their addiction and feels like "you don't love them" if they can’t do whatever they want. 
  42. Wants life to go back to the way things were before getting caught, rather than improving and growing. 
  43. Gets upset when you don't believe they've magically changed.
  44. Makes quick-fix deals and apologies in order for you to drop the issue.
  45. Not living standards in accordance with religious beliefs, if applicable.
  46. Lashes out at kids when upset/continues to treat kids like crap/ controlling and shaming

Why It's Important To Define Recovery

The definitions of Recovery, Slip, Relapse, and Acting Out can mean completely two different things depending on the person, therapist, sponsor, or 12 step group.

I believe addicts (and betrayed partners) NEED as much clarity in this process as possible, and if EVERYONE has different definitions then it leaves huge room for miscommunication and can be dangerous for an addict and most importantly, their loved ones.

For example,

If my husband looked at porn for 5 min and then later told someone who believes relapses/slips are OK in Recovery -- "Hey, I had a slip today. Do I need to restart my sobriety?" --.......guess what that person would tell my husband? They'd say "It's ok man, you don't need to reset your sobriety. Slips happen. You're still in Recovery and doing great, good job!"

And then guess what wrong misconception my husband would gather from that? :) He'd think:

"I don't need to reset my sobriety for looking at porn for 5 min. It's OK. Im still in Recovery and doing great".

Do you see the problem here? 😉

He would assume his definition of Recovery and Slip was the same as everyone else's and vise versa. And we all know addicts are notorious for easily misunderstanding stuff. That is very dangerous and detrimental to his healing AND is dangerous and a threat to his family's safety.

You NEVER want an addict to ever "misunderstand" that it's OK to look at porn for 5 min and can still remain IN Recovery.

Thats not to say that an addict can't progress and do really really well while working TOWARDS Recovery. My own husband has progressed significantly and his acting out and addict behaviors continue to become farther and farther apart. He's gone from acting out every few days, to every 12+ months, to hopefully never again. Things went from 95% tension in my home, to only 5%.

That's GREAT!

But he's not IN Recovery yet. And that's OK.

Being in recovery is about complete honesty. It's about doing whatever it takes to stay sober and continually having that progressive change of heart for the rest of their life.

Whatever it takes is whatever it takes.