A Tale of Two Selves: Leading a Double Life

leading a double lifeBy all appearances, Gary (who’s not real, by the way) is a successful businessman, a loving father and husband, even an elder at his church. He is respected in his social circles, esteemed in his business, and loved by his family.

 

Behind the facade, though, Gary leads a very different life. He watches porn, though far less than he used to as his interest in getting massages with happy endings at local parlors has taken off. He slips in visits with prostitutes at hotels in the area between meetings, skimming money from his business to hide it from his wife. He covers his tracks, making sure that his secret life stays a secret.

 

Gary comes to see me because afraid he may have an STD and he’s not sure what to do. More than that, he confides he’s getting tired of the effort required to maintain his double life. Gary is typical of the clients that I see that are struggling sexual behaviors that have gotten out of hand.

 

And, like many of my clients, he wonders how things got this far, why keeps doing what he does, and how he could live two such drastically different lives.

 

The answer? In a word, shame.

How to Find an Addiction Counselor

addiction counselorFinding the right help for an addiction isn’t easy. These days, there are quite a few options. Do you choose inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment? Intensive outpatient? An online recovery program?

 

And what do you do if you know you also have concerns about your mental health at the same time? How should you decide what you should do if you need chemical dependency treatment and also need help with your depression, anxiety, or some other mental health issue?

 

Navigating all of this can be tricky, but there are a few considerations that might be helpful as you find an addiction counselor to begin your recovery.

Why Overcoming Addiction Isn’t About Getting Sober

overcoming addictionWhen we talk about overcoming addiction, successful recovery is often determined by abstinence or sobriety. That is, you’ve only beaten your addiction to the extent that you haven’t used, drank, or acted out.

 

This idea is so common in our culture that in 12-step circles, we measure the strength of one’s recovery in terms of “clean time,” or that period of time that’s elapsed since your last acted, used, or drank. Hang around recovery treatment centers long enough and you’re bound to hear things like, “He’s got 12 years,” or “I just got my 90 days.”

 

But here’s the thing: Overcoming addiction has nothing to do with how long you haven’t engaged in your addiction. 

 

So what’s the real story with beating addiction?

Silencing the Inner Critic: Alcohol, Drugs, Porn, and Problematic Sex

silencing your inner criticChances are if you’re reading this blog post, you know exactly what an “inner critic” is. In fact, I’m willing to bet you’re intimately familiar with what that inner critic sounds like.

 

You also know all too well what if feels like to be on the receiving end of his or her withering, ruthless self-criticisms and attacks.

 

I certainly do. As I’ve gotten better over the years at listening to how I talk to myself, I’ve noticed that I am my own worst critic. It’s a cliche for a reason as being harder on oneself than anyone else is a very common experience.

 

Let’s look at this inner critic and what it has to do with problematic drug use or sexual behaviors.

Three Things Couples Can Do Immediately After an Affair to Start Healing

Things Couples Can Do Immediately After an AffairMaybe you’ve just found out about your partner’s betrayal, and your world has been turned upside down. Your heart has been shattered, and you wonder how you can ever trust him again.

 

Or maybe your partner has just discovered your affair, or you’ve just told her. You’re ashamed and scared of losing her. You’ll do anything to save the relationship. You’ve tried apologizing but it only seems to make things worse.

 

After the discovery of an affair, whether it’s a one-time fling or a long string of intimate betrayals over many years, the relationship can only begin to heal once the storm of the initial crisis is past. So what steps can you take to calm the storm and start healing?

I Asked Myself This Question When I Thought About Drinking

I asked myself this question when I thought about drinkingI know it’s the weekend because that ‘s usually when I make my weekly trip to my local Trader Joe’s. Recently, I was thrilled to find pumpkin-flavored Kringles, which are a flaky, frosting-covered pastry that’s really close to the Dutch pastries I grew up with.

 

Ah, autumn. My 3 1/2-year-old son was pushing the cart and I threw one in amongst the peanut butter, pasta, bacon, vegetables, and other goodies.

 

Then I strolled over to the side of the store that had the wine, beer, beverages, and snacks. I added a few more items to the cart, double-checked my grocery list on my phone, and was ready to call it a day.

 

I walked over to the cashier with the shortest line and stood there, waiting. I sighed.

 

My eyes roamed for a moment as I allowed my mind to wander. That’s when I saw it.

Changing the Language of Addiction: Fighting Stigma

changing the language of addictionA client recently shared with me his experience of going to a faith-based recovery support group. He sincerely appreciated that he and the other attendees did not self-identify as addicts or alcoholics.

 

Instead, each person introduced themselves as a child of God.

 

How incredible, I thought. How healing it must have been, at a time when he is truly hurting, to identify with a label that affirms his value and worth instead of one that he experiences as shaming.

 

It was a stunning reminder of the power of language in our lives. There are few other arenas where the power of language is as strongly felt as it is with addiction. But why is this? Why is choosing our words carefully when we talk about drug and alcohol problems important? And how can we go about changing the language of addiction?

Afraid to Quit Drinking? Here’s the Real Reason Why (Part 2)

afraid to quit drinking (part 2)Afraid to quit drinking? You’re not alone. In part 1, I reviewed some very common fears about quitting drinking or about moderating your drinking. I suggested that there’s a deeper reason behind all of these common fears: Our fear of change.

 

See, there’s a voice in all of us that tells us that we can’t do something, that when we think about doing something new or different, gets nervous, anxious, or scared. This voice tells us the same “emotional truths” over and over again. It’s trying to protect us from re-experiencing hurts from our childhoods but it’s not helping us anymore as adults.

 

In fact, it’s keeping us stuck. That voice is known as the ego. But what’s up with the ego? And why is it so important to look at what the ego’s up to if we want to change our drinking?

Afraid to Quit Drinking? Here’s the Real Reason Why (Part 1)

afraid to quit drinkingI always joke that I had to go to seminary to learn to drink.

 

In the fall of 2003, I moved across the country to go to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. I was anxious and scared but also thrilled to be starting graduate school. I was starting a theology degree and wanted to dive in. So what did I do? I signed up a a Biblical Greek intensive; I for the next 2 1/2 months, I studied nothing but Greek. All the time.

 

It was as exciting and brutal as it sounds. By the end of the term, I was exhausted and stressed as my perfectionism had been in full swing for months on end. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was on the hunt for some way to relax, to not feel so damn wound up all the time.

 

Christmas, 2003. Enter Johnny Walker, stage left. Thus began my long, storied history with alcohol. It took me years and years, but I finally learned to change my relationship with drinking.

 

I tried to cut back so many times. Countless times. And each time, I was discouraged. I thought it was hopeless. But the real story?

 

I was terrified to stop drinking.