How Much to Tell & When, Part 3: The Tension Before Formal Disclosure

This post is the third in a series of posts called How Much to Tell and When: Disclosure in Early Recovery. This post discusses the tension between the initial and partial discovery of sexually compulsive behaviors and formal, full disclosure of those behaviors. Click here to read part 1 on spontaneous disclosure, here to read part 2 about formal therapeutic disclosure, and here to read part 4 on what a sex addict should tell his or her partner when asked about acting out.

 

Sometimes Christians talk about living in “the already and not yet.” While it’s not a perfect analogy, it captures well what it’s like in between the initial discovery and the formal disclosure for sex addicts and their partners.

 

“The already and not yet” is a way of referring to the idea that the culmination of time and history began in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus brought in the kingdom of God in his ministry such that it’s presently among us, but that it will only be realized in its fullness when Jesus returns in the future.

 

So God’s rule in the kingdom is already present and partially realized, and it is not yet fully manifest. Christians call this present age “the already and the not yet” for this reason.

 

It can be an excruciating era to live in, as sex addicts in recovery and their partners know well.

The Guide to Empathy for Sex Addicts (Part II)

Empathy, if you recall from part I, is the ability and practice of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Most simply, empathy is an effort to take the other’s perspective and share his feelings.

 

We went a bit farther than that, though.

 

Empathy is not agreeing with the other person (most likely your partner). It’s not sympathizing with her. It’s not just listening like a bump on a log. It’s not sharing “that-time-when-something-similar-happened” to you. It’s not fixing her or making her feel better (although empathy can and will probably make her feel better and more connected to you).

 

Instead, empathy means that you’re attempting to know and understand the other person’s perspective from within her subjective world. Empathy constantly seeks for avenues into another’s universe, joining her mind, her heart as she feels safe enough to open it to you.

The Guide to Empathy for Sex Addicts (Part I)

Sex addiction therapists will, if asked, most likely tell you that sex addiction is an intimacy disorder, but what does this mean?

 

Rob Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S, author and renowned sex addiction practitioner and expert, puts it this way: “Sex addicts typically struggle with underlying emotional or psychological problems often stemming from early life abuse such as physical or sexual trauma or emotional neglect. . . . “[Sex addiction] is in essence a symptom of underlying profound adult challenges with intimacy and attachment, stemming from both genetic and environmental sources.”*

 

If you’ve struggle with sexual addiction and or sexually compulsive behaviors, creating and participating in meaningfully intimate relationships probably isn’t easy for you.

Pleasure and Pain: Power and the Arousal Neuropathway (Part II)

In part I, we reconsidered the arousal neuropathway as the addictive neuropathways have been on our minds of late. We established that the sexual activities that activate the arousal neuropathway, which is about excitement, pleasure, and intensity, can include the exertion of power over another person.

Understanding the Addiction Neuropathways

In my previous post, we talked briefly about addiction interaction and how addictions can co-occur in different ways. As we saw, it’s crucial to understand addiction interaction disorder because it can pose a danger to recovery as the possibility of one addiction replacing another is very real.

 

Moreover, addictions can interact with one another at the same time in highly complex ways. So while is always critical to get help for the most life-threatening addiction first, it’s important to be thoroughly honest with oneself while in recovery about all of the addictions present in one’s life.

The Hidden Danger to Sex Addiction Recovery: Addiction Interaction

A few months ago in my last post, we saw that addicts will unconsciously gravitate toward their substances or compulsive behaviors of choice as a way to manage their emotional pain.

 

Everyone’s emotional pain is different, and people seek out substances or behaviors that will alter their states of mind in just the way they’re looking for.

 

The One Emotion Addicts Do Not Want to Feel

Why do addicts become addicted?

 

It’s an enormously complex question. We could answer this question in a number of different ways, couldn’t we?

 

From a neurobiological perspective, we could argue that addicts crave increasing amounts of the substance or behaviors to which they’re addicted in order to get more and more of a dopamine kick, the delicious chemical the brain releases when we do anything pleasurable.

The Double Life of a Christian Sex Addict

“When I was eight, the imposter, or false self, was born as a defense against pain. The imposter within whispered, ‘Brennan, don’t ever be your real self anymore because nobody likes you as you are. Invent a new self that everybody will admire and nobody will know.’ So I became a good boy—polite, well-mannered, unobtrusive, and deferential. I studied hard, scored excellent grades, won a scholarship in high school, and was stalked every waking moment by the terror of abandonment and the sense that nobody was there for me.”

– Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child

The Big Danger Christian Sex Addicts in Recovery Need to Watch Out For

Let me tell you a story about a man named Joe.

 

(Joe isn’t a real person. I made him up so I could tell you this entirely fictional story about him. But in a way, Joe is real enough, as you’ll see in a moment.)

 

Joe seems like a normal guy. He’s well-liked by his coworkers. He loves his wife and children. He hosts backyard barbecues in the summer on weekends for friends and family. His faith is important to him and he’s a respected leader in his church.

 

By all appearances, he’s an outstanding guy.

 

But Joe has a secret.