Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Supporting a loved one after a slip

Recently, Haydee has been conversion with a friend who is a former wife of an addict. This friend has had some questions relating to her healing. One of her questions was how can someone best support a loved one who is recovering from a pornography addiction when they have a slip? Haydee passed this question on to me, and I thought I would post my answer here.

The first thing I need to make clear is that each person is different. The answers for how to show support for me will not be the same as how to show support for someone else, but there may be some similarities and that is why I am posting this.

Just like each addict is different, each loved one is also different and will have their own needs and things they are comfortable with. If something that would be helpful to me would make Haydee uncomfortable, I don't expect her to do it. I'm just stating that it would be nice if that happened.

Another thing to understand is that no one can help me recover except for the Savior. Giving support to a loved one with an addiction is not the same thing as trying to "fix" them or make their issues go away.

Now that all of the caveats are out of the way, how can a loved one best support me when I have a slip?

First, don't try to belittle or punish me. Nothing you can say is going to make me feel worse than I already do, but it may trigger my fight or flight mechanism. This leaves me in a more vulnerable state as I have spent many years turning to pornography when that is triggered.

Second, let me know that you still love me. I need to see this in actions as well as words. For me to feel love, I need physical intimacy. This does not mean sexual intimacy, but a hug or a touch on the arm can do amazing things to help me feel that I am OK even if my behavior has been less than what I would desire.

Finally, let me know that you appreciate the efforts I have been making. This will help me to see the progress I have made. Sometimes when I slip, I fail to look back and see how far I have come. It is important for me to remember that the person I am today is not the person I was before. The difference is in the efforts I have made. Help me remember this when I am feeling down after a slip.

I also want to mention that these suggestions are for supporting someone who is actively working on recovery. Someone who is actively pursuing the addiction will probably take these as license to continue in the destructive behavior. In that situation, please do whatever you need to protect yourself and your family.

2 comments:

  1. I don't think it's at all appropriate for a recovering addict to give advice on how to support an addict when he is unfaithful. There are lots of resources for wives to learn how and when to set boundaries, and directing a wife to either another wife or to boundary resources would be more appropriate.

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    1. I firmly believe the spouse of an addict has every right to do whatever they need for their own healing, but it is important to remember that setting and enforcing boundaries is for the spouse's healing not for the addict. This post was simply a response to a question about what would be helpful for the addict.
      I am by no means an expert on recovery for either the addict or the spouse. What I do know is that I need to be truthful with my wife when I do have a slip, and I need to give her space to process and deal with it in her own manner. I also know that when she responds to me in love and kindness I gain a greater resolve to improve and do better.

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