29 May 2012

Is it just me, or is this recovery lasting forever?

I hate the phrase "Once an addict, always an addict." I don't hate it because it isn't true, I think there is truth in it.  But I hate it because it invokes fear and anxiety along with despair and hopelessness.
But I've also learned about honesty in this journey.  And honesty with myself amounts to a certain degree of realism.  I have unwavering hope in Pete's recovery, but I am realistic about my ideas of the long-term effects of addiction in my life.  I haven't always been this way, and neither has Pete.  It has taken both of us a long time to realize that we are past the point of  a quick-fix, or "getting over" this and sweeping it under the rug and moving on with our lives as if it never happened.  In the beginning that was what we both wanted.  Shame, naivete, and a little fear kept us from accepting, trusting and healing. 

Now I know that my life is changed forever.  And I don't say that in a foreboding and hopeless way.  I say it because, not only am I a completely modified version of myself, I've also let go of my plans and expectations for what the future may hold.  The addiction part of my life is SO out of my hands.  That's where trust in God comes in.  But in the meantime I try to keep the following things in mind.

1. In order to feel hope and avoid discouragement, it might be tempting to see recovery as an event, that once it has taken place the addict is cured. I asked my husband if he thought it was possible to quit cold turkey, and he said "Certainly." He said that maybe if a man hit rock bottom he might be motivated AND desperate enough to never go back.  But that might be rare.  Those with experience, please speak up. 

2. I can also see how an addict might get comfortable in their recovery, after years of diligent effort to change old habits that led to addiction. I can see how after years of sobriety a former addict might not still consider himself an addict.  This is important because I don't think addicts should let their addiction define them. They are so much more than their "problem."

3. However, my husband knows that although he looks forward to an indefinite sobriety, a time in his life when he feels he has moved past this temptation, he knows there are some things about him that are different than men who aren't addicts. There are some things he knows he will never do.  Just like an alocoholic, even one who has been sober for years, will likely never enter a bar, my husband will never be casual about his use of the internet or flipping through  channels alone in his hotel room.  Someone recovering from an addiction to gambling will probably stay away from casinos. 

Like the analogy that both Pete and I have shared about the pathway, it will always exist.  And with the right triggers, should an addict find his way back to that path, with minimal effort it can be restored to its original convenience as the path of least resistance.   Fortunately, hope maintains its place, because a path covered over is much easier to avoid, especially when the addict finds joy in new pathways, giving him freedom from the pains and issues that lead him down his original path in the first place. 

So while I believe whole-heartedly in recovery, I also believe that there is some truth to the saying "once an addict, always an addict."  And honestly, I'm okay with that.  I'm okay living with an addict.  Call me crazy, and forgive me for a minute if you think I'm minimizing this, BUT

*There are worse things than pornography.  I don't mean to be insensitive, believe me, I know it sucks.  But a little gratitude goes a long way. Trials are unavoidable and as far as trials go, this one seems to be working for me.  (How's that for an invitation for more trials?)
*Even in "worse things" God is there to offer strength and peace.  Even in storms darker than mine, there is blue sky ahead.
*Pete's recovery is not the "golden ticket" to my happiness.  My happiness is my responsibility and is always there for the taking.


  1. My husband and I are becoming much more comfortable with that idea of a lifetime of dealing with this issue as well -- we both see addiction recovery as something we'll be involved with for the rest of our lives (facilitators? missionaries? sponsors? who knows?) This idea of it being part of our lives forever used to make me angry, scared and bitter. Now it's something I've accepted, and a small part of me is even embracing it and finding purpose in it (there are whole paragraphs of my patriarchal blessing that make so much sense in terms of this whole issue). Though there are days I want to scream into a pillow or punch a wall at the thought :-)

    And, having a friend be near the brink of death multiple times this last week, then now facing a long recovery, as a single Mom with twin newborns waiting at home, has been one giant slap-upside-the-face-reminder that my trials aren't that bad. And the more I get out of myself and serve others, the better off I'll be . . .

  2. Jane, this is what I posted on just this morning! Oh the timetables!! God doesn't even care about time...only humans measure it. But I know what you mean...we want to be done!!! We are tired of dragging ourselves through this. But I think HX is right..we are now in this. (I am bc of addiction...you women bc of your husbands) But that is the 12th step..carry the message to others. I accept it as one of my new campaigns in life. Last night, my girl mentioned this..I know now a ton about what works and what doesn't, now I can start helping/training others. Look at this as an opportunity to give back.

    Not to say we are out in the clear, it is still a one day at a time program. Life is!! Oh the fears. We replace those wiht faith...and we win. I am so happy for you two though and the things you are learning. i'm cheering for you and Pete!!

  3. Beautiful. I love seeing couples traveling this road in recovery together. Sometime it's hard to hear because I wonder if my husband & I will travel the road together, but it also gives me reason to hope. Whatever happens with him & me though is another story, this addiction, however, will always be a part of me. It has already changed me so much and will continue to change me. I just hope that a majority of the changes that come to pass in me will be for the better. And this is why I keep working the steps...so I don't let the addiction overtake me & destroy me.

    Anyhow, hope that all makes sense.

  4. Although I hate that pornography invades my life, I am so grateful for the closeness that working for recovery has brought between my husband and I. Slowly we are getting to know each other layer by layer. Slowly we are allowing our fancy facades to break down. We are learning to be *real*. We are allowing each other into dark corners we thought we could keep hidden forever. It's terribly painful, but the intimacy level we are reaching is worth all the struggle. But please don't quote me on that, especially on a day when I need to weep and moan a bit. ;)

  5. Nice story. Many would relate from this post, since , pornography is a big problem to many nowadays. It is good that you have acquired a good process of addiction recovery.