One of the most challenging obstacles (and ultimately, opportunities) in recovery is for people to be 100% accountable for their actions, betrayals, lies, manipulations, decisions, and choices. Even after being in recovery for awhile, people often continue to struggle to be accountable; some tend to get in a cycle of perpetually blaming others for their actions.
I call this the "Woe Is Me" Syndrome. It is a form of victim stancing where a person blames everyone and everything for their acting out behaviors, including the lies and betrayal that always seem to follow.
I have spent years working with my clients on the concept that "Woe is NOT you", meaning, they are not the victims of their addictions, their lies and betrayal, their manipulation. While I understand and respect the reality that indeed nearly all the clients that come to Namasté Center for Healing and The Prevention Project™, have traumatic pasts and that most have coped via their addictive behaviors (sex, food, money, games, etc), playing the "Woe is Me" card is still a thinking error and is most often used to get sympathy, hold hostage, and even hijack their partner's anger and hurt so that the focus stays off of them. This ultimately ends up being delayed punishment and doesn't help the person who has the addiction or their relationship. Instead, it perpetuates their addictive nightmare.
Getting 100% accountable in recovery can be new and scary. The fear of rejection, judgment, and the unknown can indeed feel overwhelming at times. Being 100% responsible, accountable, and honest for one's choices in their lapses and relapses takes an incredible amount of courage and bravery, but mainly it takes someone being able to stand tall in recovery mode and not lay down in painful addiction mode.
There are some simple steps to taking 100% accountability in one's recovery. As we teach in our Sexual & Relationship Recovery Program, there are 4 New Core Values we teach:
- Honesty (which creates...)
- Vulnerability (which creates...)
- Nurturing--Being able to ask for what you NEED (which creates...)
- Intimacy (lasting connection with one's partner and self)
Being honest is scary and oftentimes foreign. After all, many people with addictions learned early on during their upbringing to lie, to have a double life (this was even before they had an addiction). But there is freedom in being honest; the weight is lifted and people begin to see you in a new light--as working your recovery program instead of continuing the b.s. in your addiction.
Being vulnerable comes from being honest. This takes authenticity; the idea of "showing up to be seen" as Brené Brown talks about in all of her vulnerability talks. This takes a lot of practice in therapy and includes a sense of safety. So often, our inner child and inner teen are either terrified and want to hide or are reactive and thus want to come out to "protect" us from danger (this is typically a trauma response from one's past). Therefore, people in recovery hold back from being vulnerable and either stay in a hyper-aroused state (fight or flight) or a hypo-aroused state (numb and checked out). Learning to self regulate and manage one's discomfort is a huge part of the recovery process and it also assists people in being vulnerable.
The idea of nurturing is so crucial to recovery and to being accountable. Being able to ask for what you need can be incredibly challenging for so many people. After all, most people with intimacy disorders, specifically sexual addiction, had caregivers that failed to meet their needs. Being deprived of love, among other basic needs, was often the norm. Learning to ask for what you need is crucial to being accountable for your recovery and in your recovery. It also strengthens your relationships.
Intimacy comes from being accountable in your recovery, and from being consistent. Partners learn to trust again when they see committed action and change. Closeness comes from consistency in recovery: consistently doing what it takes to be honest, accountable, responsible, humble, progressive, and ultimately sober.
Embracing Accountability in your recovery is possible if you are willing. Letting go of the "Woe is Me" syndrome and eating some humble pie is often necessary but so worth it. Experiencing this new taste of recovery can indeed be challenging, but in the long run it is absolutely life-changing.
This week, let go of the "Woe Is Me" attitude and embrace accountability in your life, with your choices, and with all of your decisions in your recovery.
And as always, know that you are worth it dear ones. :)
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