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.