“No legacy is so rich as honesty” Shakespeare
It hit me like a two by four between the eyes. A piece of recovery literature called How It Works spoke about people who cannot recover. It calls them ‘unfortunates.’ Just as we need to how people can recover from sex addiction, so we also need to learn what might bar us from the recovery we say we want. The passage simply said ‘They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average.’
‘Grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.’ What does that mean? Grasping a subject or a field of study usually takes a while. Developing something takes longer. Sex addiction is a disease of lying, hiding and isolating. In order to recover, this manner of living needs to have its back broken. Sunlight is the best disinfectant and honesty brings the light in. This is the message of 1 John 1:7. It takes effort to grasp a new life of rigorous honesty and this can only be done by constant practice. Many give up before the miracle happens.
The word ‘developing’ means a process that evolves over time, whether it is a housing development, muscular development or character development. It takes persistence. In my experience, many people who attend recovery meetings never develop it because they never give themselves to the long process it is going to take to overcome addiction to instant gratification. They never break out of the mindset of deception and running away. Proverbs 28:28 says ‘The wicked run when no one is chasing them.’ Why, because the rut of deception has already been carved and shame ends up being the path of least resistance. I know because I lived it for years. This is why we recommend an intensive experience away for people beginning their recovery. Days concentrating only on recovery serves well to break the spell of denial..
So how can a person begin to live a life that demands rigorous honesty? Here are some small steps to begin the development process. Everyone who practices rigorous honesty will do them in some form.
1. Begin to be honest about everything, even things that aren’t life-shattering. These things include what I or other people said, where I was or what I was thinking. Part of this is giving up any attempt to control another person’s, particularly my spouse’s response. Doing this allows me to accept that other people have their own feelings, needs and thoughts that are not wrapped around my recovery. Practicing honesty in everything can bring greater freedom in life. Lets face it. Lying can be an attempt to take the risk out of life. There is only one problem. Life is risky by nature. We were meant to surf the waves, not try to control the tides, though many people still try.
2. Tell someone about the little lust struggles before they become big ones. Many men in recovery don’t talk to anyone until they are dealing with big lust challenges. But a large part of recovery is ‘developing’ relationships where I am being honest about many things, not just lust challenges. Resentments, hurts, fears, all of this needs to come out in order for us to feel connected, human and understood. As we are honest about our feelings, we join the human race and come out of isolation. When we do so, we begin to heal and enjoy living, some for the first time. This should also include telling my spouse where I am still struggling on a regular basis.. A long sober addict once said, “I need to tell my wife how sick I still am, not how well I am doing.” Doing this will solve one great and frequent complaint from spouses. “He almost never tells me how he is doing with his addiction.” Most wives say, “I can deal with struggles. I can’t handle lies.”
3. Be pro-active in recovery by making outgoing calls and connections to people, whether I need to do so or not. Stay connected. Reactive recovery says, ‘I am going to stay isolated until I get into trouble. Then maybe I will reach out.’ Proactive recovery says, ‘I am part of a fellowship (not just going to meetings!) that I need all the time. I am going to call, meet with people and do all I can to break out of isolation and change the way I relate to people. Remember, recovery is not just about not doing it. Recovery is about finding a whole new way to live, one that is ultimately focused on giving and helping others to recover and turns out to be ‘happy joyous and free.’
A simple way to begin to break out of the prison of addiction is to do the opposite. It begins with rigorous honesty.
In the Lust-Bearer,
Jay Haug, Executive Director
Living Without Lust Inc.