As this is published (in the Fall of 2018), my husband and I have been in recovery for over a year now. If you had told me then what my life would look like today, I wouldn’t have believed you.
For us, recovery is not merely a checklist of things to do, but instead has become a new way of life. Recovery is a combination of therapy, Awaken meetings, community, devotions, and open communication with one another using healthy tools.
First, let me say this: Life doesn’t always smell like roses, and there are still a number of issues that pop up, but the main difference is the presence of God’s grace to get me through them.
Here are 5 ways my life is different today than it was before recovery:
Open Communication: When my husband and I entered recovery, neither of us knew how to identify our feelings, wants, or needs. We weren’t aware of appropriate ways to “own up” to our sin. Now, with the tools that we’ve been given, we are able to express how we feel and what we desire. Sometimes it’s as simple as “I am irritable because I had a bad day; I want some alone time.” Other times, it’s more complicated. When times are tough, we have an open conversation to get the root or source of the feeling. I have lived my life for many years denying feelings and desires, so sometimes I can’t see them until the feeling has calmed down.
Trust: I think my biggest complaint about my marriage before recovery was that I could not trust my husband. After several months of intense work, I honestly can say that trust has been restored. Instead of worrying daily, or sometimes hourly, I rarely think about whether or not he has lied. Don’t get me wrong, I still can get into a funk and step back into old behavior when I am triggered, but now those days are few and far between. On the flip side, he is now able to trust me to not react explosively. The “fight, flight, or freeze” reactions I used to cope with before in my marriage are not useful to me today. The restoration of trust has kept us both grounded and approachable.
Community: For someone who stayed isolated and fearful that others would hurt me, this has been the number one tool in my toolbelt for growth. When I first came into Awaken, I tended to be standoffish, afraid to be vulnerable. I was encouraged often to reach out to others after group hours. I started reaching out to several people—some I felt safe with and others I didn’t. I made decisions accordingly on who I wanted to pursue friendships with. Now, the friendships I have with other ladies in Awaken is mind-blowing to me. We encourage each other, lament with each other, and talk about things I would have never imagined discussing with a friend. The friendships that come out of healthy behavior look and feel so much different than the surface friendships I have had before.
Self-Discovery: Since the beginning of the year, I have been able to do some intense therapy to process my past—particularly the trauma that happened to me before I met my husband. Not only have I been able to talk about this past trauma with my therapist, but I’ve also been able to share my story with a select few as I processed (and continue to process) it. In addition, I’ve taken several personality tests that have been very helpful tools in learning who I was designed to be. I can confidently address who I am—looking at both flaws and strengths.
Using Recovery Tools Daily: Recovery is not just about my marriage—but also about how I live my life. Currently, I am facing a really hard situation in my family, as a loved one struggles with mental illness. It’s been imperative in my life to use to the recovery tools for this situation. Setting boundaries, not “rescuing” the person, and not taking “ownership” for the other person’s decisions, have been absolutely necessary. Without recovery tools, I would have been a puddle on the floor over the past couple of weeks. But with God’s grace, I am able to stand on my own two feet. It still hurts—and I’m in a grieving process over it. But recovery has given me the capability to identify the sadness, not “take action” to cover up the sadness, and continue to move forward with my life.
Because of God’s grace and his gift of recovery, several parts of our marriage have been restored. Trust, communication, and expression of our needs has been a day-to-day process. We often remind ourselves to take it “one day at a time” when things are hard. I am excited to continue the healing process with my husband through Awaken, therapy, and the beautiful friendships we have formed over the last year.
This post was written by an anonymous contributor who is part of an Awaken group in Birmingham, AL, for women who have been affected by their husbands’ or boyfriends’ sexual addiction. She is reaching for authenticity and vulnerability in recovery. Through community and therapy, the Lord is teaching her that her identity is covered in grace, not shame. For the first time in her life, she is learning who God designed her to be.
We’re excited that she is bringing us into her journey of healing & recovery, and our prayer is that through her journey, you’ll find hope and encouragement for your own.
Awaken also offers groups in Birmingham for men and women who struggle with sexual addiction. Additionally, we have Twelve Step groups dealing with issues of addiction and control. CLICK HERE to get information on all of our group offerings. Or contact us with any questions you have.