My father use to tell me that there were three types of people in the world.
#1 are people who can learn from other’s mistakes, the power of observation.
#2 are people who can learn from their own mistakes, like touching a hot stove as a youngster.
#3 are people who don’t learn at all.
That last category, I make up are addicts. So exactly how many D.U.I.’s (driving under the influence) does someone have to get before they stop drinking and driving? Or getting caught by a wife looking at porn, or having affairs or some kind of involvement with the sex industry? And yet when he/she gets caught they all say the same three things: I just did it this one time [that’s a lie], I promise I’ll never do it again [that’s not a lie they just believe that they are powerful and can stop anytime] and last of all with the most emotion [tears, snot & or threats of suicide] PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME.
The partner because of their own abandonment issues, fear of economic insecurities, religious beliefs, the children, family or the need to save face finally gets worn down and tries to forgive yet they can’t forget. Their anger, rage, hurt and pain remain just below the surface. While the addict walks on eggs shells holding his breath mostly waiting for the tornado to pass. He believes the “bad behavior” is behind him never to reappear. Yet often after the fear subsides, and some semblance of normal gets re-created, the behavior will return. If left untreated it will always get worse never better! The Alcoholics Anonymous basic text calls it “the phenomenon of craving”. It just doesn’t go away. Kind of like diabetes, the best you can hope for is a one-day reprieve. The issue has to be addressed and talking with your partner at 3 am is not the answer.
So often I will get a call from a traumatized spouse who wants to come in with their partner seeing this as a “couples issue”. It’s not! The behavior almost 100% of the time pre-dates the relationship. It’s hard for a wife to let go and see this as his problem. He did bring his mess into the marriage whether she knew it or not, but it’s not her issue. He needs to do his work and get well and not to save the marriage. She needs to do her work to get well for herself not to save the family. That’s the tricky part.
I push people to go to Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous (S.L.A.A.), and yes most meetings are co-ed. That usually makes a deceived partner crazy, yet truth be told the meetings are safe. There is actually part of their pre-amble that is read at every meeting that states that there can be no sexual or emotional intrigue in this room so it can remain a safe place to heal. I believe Seattle has the best S.L.A.A. fellowship in the country. In this regard S.L.A.A. is not A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) There is no 13th stepping going on here.
Their program has a basic text, helping literature and people will to take support calls and sponsor. As I always say “it takes a village to save an addict”. In the S.L.A.A. Welcome pamphlet there is a page towards the back that lists the 12 signs of recovery. Clean and direct. It is laid out simply to show exactly what wellness “should” look like from this addiction.
At the end of the day it’s a “design for living”. Addicts really need it. It seems their history shows that they keep doing the same insane behavior expecting a different result. As my father would say “they’re Just not teachable”. Time for a new plan, but only if you have been granted the gift of desperation.
If these 12 signs and this blog strike a chord, it just might be time for a real New Year’s resolution. My prayer for you: may year 2020 give you perfect vision. And remember “misery is optional” and hindsight is 20/20.
S.L.A.A. Signs of Recovery © 1990
The Augustine Fellowship, S.L.A.A., Fellowship-Wide Services, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
- We seek to develop a daily relationship with a Higher Power, knowing that we are not alone in our efforts to heal ourselves from our addiction.
- We are willing to be vulnerable because the capacity to trust has been restored to us by our faith in a Higher Power.
- We surrender, one day at a time, our whole life strategy of, and our obsession with the pursuit of romantic and sexual intrigue and emotional dependency.
- We learn to avoid situations that may put us at risk physically, morally, psychologically or spiritually.
- We learn to accept and love ourselves, to take responsibility for our own lives, and to take care of our own needs before involving ourselves with others.
- We become willing to ask for help, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and learning to trust and accept others.
- We allow ourselves to work through the pain of our low self-esteem and our fears of abandonment and responsibility. We learn to feel comfortable in solitude.
- We begin to accept our imperfections and mistakes as part of being human, healing our shame and perfectionism while working on our character defects.
- We begin to substitute honesty for self-destructive ways of expressing emotions and feelings.
- We become honest in expressing who we are, developing true intimacy in our relationships with ourselves and others.
- We learn to value sex as a by-product of sharing, commitment, trust and cooperation in a partnership.
- We are restored to sanity, on a daily basis, by participating in the process of recovery.