What does recovery look/feel like?

Whether you are a person dealing with sex/pornography addiction yourself, or you are a spouse/loved one of someone in addiction, the following information (shared with permission from SA Lifeline — see pages 144-145 of their Understanding Pornography book) may be of benefit.

For the Addict: (contrasts unhealthy/lack-of-recovery behaviors VS healthy/recovery behaviors)

I lie, am evasive, or only disclose information when asked. VS. I am honest.

I was caught or reported by someone else rather than admitting to or confessing inappropriate behavior. VS I am open and willing to talk about what I do, think, and feel.

I pretend or try to convince others that there are no problems, that they are taken care of, or are no big deal. VS I am trying to find out what caused my addictions and prevent addictive behavior from happening again.

I am defensive, deny, minimize, rationalize, and blame others in order to avoid dealing with my problems. VS I take responsibility for making personal changes.

I want to go back to the way things were before getting caught, rather than improving and growing. VS I have made up my own rules for staying out of compulsive sexual behaviors and am following them.

I refuse to attend 12-Step meetings or get a sponsor, and continue to “punish” myself. VS I regularly attend 12-Step groups, report to my sponsor, and accept the Atonement in my life.

I am not willing to put in the time or effort to fix problems or work the 12-Steps. VS I am working on the 12-Steps and my issues daily.

I run away, hide, or won’t talk about my behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and fantasies. VS I meet regularly with my ecclesiastical leader.

I do not actively participate in counseling. VS I decide to see a counselor on my own rather than being forced to or told to by someone else.

I use other addictions—like alcohol or drugs—to avoid dealing with my real problems. VS I go to professional counseling sessions, work on issues underlying my behavior, and do all homework given.

I act as if I am the victim and seek sympathy or try to get others to take sides. VS I am working more on what I need to change rather than on what I think my spouse needs to change.

I want my spouse to be okay with my addictions and feel cheated if I can’t continue. VS I give my spouse the space and closeness she needs.

I criticize and blame others more than I take personal responsibility. VS I show that I understand the hurt which I have caused my
spouse and loved ones.

I am angry, moody, resentful, critical, or out of control, and only think about my own needs. VS I work to earn others trust and forgiveness.

I try to make a quick-fix deal and apologize—just to have the issue dropped. VS I work to solve problems that were caused by my
addiction.

I am manipulative and use fear, guilt, or threats to get what I want. VS I speak and act with respect.

I make impulsive decisions and have impulsive behaviors. VS I am dependable in taking care of my family, occupation, and religious responsibilities. VS I make promises rather than changes. I am setting specific, measurable goals and achieving them.

I am not living Church standards. VS I am living the standards of the Church.

I continue to put myself in situations where I’ll be tempted. VS I have made significant lifestyle changes.

For the spouse:

I feel that in some way my spouses addiction is my fault and blame myself for his behavior. VS I recognize that pornography addiction is a serious problem and requires hard work to find recovery. However, I do not blame myself for my spouses addiction.

I pretend there isn’t a problem, it is already taken care of, or it isn’t a big deal. VS I require honesty and transparency from the addict and ask him directly when something is bothering me.

I believe whatever the addict tells me, even if my gut tells me something is wrong. VS I take responsibility for making positive changes in my life.

I refuse to take responsibility for changing what I can and taking care of myself. VS I find help and support from others in dealing with the betrayal and trauma I am experiencing and its impact on me.

I try to deal with my emotions on my own. I openly share what I think, feel, and am experiencing with appropriate trusted people. VS
I keep the addiction a secret and fail to seek outside help. [the manual talks more about how to balance this with respecting his privacy in the FAQs section, question 58]

I meet regularly with my ecclesiastical leader. I think that only the addict needs counseling, not me; or, I fail to do homework and skip sessions. VS I work with a therapist who is trained in sexual addiction— whether or not my spouse wants me to.

I make excuses for not attending 12-Step meetings for spouses or, quit going once I feel okay again. VS I actively attend 12-Step meetings for spouses and work on my own recovery daily.

I rationalize that I don’t really need any guidance. VS I find a sponsor and work with her regularly.

I neglect or minimize my needs and wants. VS I practice self-care daily.

I bury my emotions, or utilize other addictions such as food or drugs to avoid them. VS I allow myself to feel natural emotions, hurt, and anger, and then surrender them to God.

I persist in believing that God doesn’t care about me. VS I seek to feel God’s love for me.

I deny, minimize, rationalize, or blame others to avoid making changes or letting go of resentment. VS I work towards forgiving and letting go of the resentment for the hurt which the addicted spouse has caused.

I criticize or blame the addict—rather than set boundaries or make changes to protect myself. VS I set and follow boundaries to protect myself from my spouses addictive behavior and from obsessing about his addiction.

I make a quick-fix deal: If the addict says he is sorry, I will just forget it and won’t talk about it anymore. VS I refuse to accept or enable addict behavior; I look for positive changes—not just promises.

I obsess about what the addict needs to do, rather than work on my own recovery. VS I focus on the changes that I can make, rather than on what I think my spouse needs to change.

I choose how to act based on my fear of the addict’s reaction, or I respond explosively. VS I appropriately share my needs and feelings with the addict instead of worrying about how he might respond.

I set my level of affection based on what my spouse wants rather than on what I need. VS I ask for the space, closeness, or help that I need.

I go along with addictive behavior, or tell myself that it is okay—or that it is not really that bad. VS I work towards extending trust if my spouse is showing behavior that is deserving of trust.

I use demands, fear, guilt, manipulation, or threats to get what I want or need. VS I take care of my personal and family needs.

I do it all myself—even if I’m overwhelmed, and constantly demand perfection from myself. VS I set small measurable goals for myself and work for progress—not perfection.

I do not put in the time and effort to deal with the problem, or fail to set realistic expectations. VS I accept that healing from the effects of my spouse’s addiction is a long process that will take time and effort.