Will went to his SA meeting the other night and received his one year sobriety coin. One year. I guess they make a big deal out of it. Lots of congratulations and handshakes and hugs for being so strong and brave. He was told how much courage he had for coming forward and dealing with his addiction. For not living in secret anymore.
I’m sorry. I know this is going to sound petty and ungrateful and sour. Maybe it is. Here’s what I think about all the hoopla about being faithful to your wife for one year out of the 37 you’ve been legally married to her…SO WHAT!?!?! I get that this is progress and that I should be happy that he is at least in recovery…now. I understand that one year is a good start and that it is usually the hardest. I get that it is a major deal after being an asshole cheater for so long. But…Courageous? Brave? Strong? No…just no. It takes strength to withstand temptation and stay true to a promise you make before God. It takes a strong man to be honest and true and kind and faithful. It takes bravery to stand up the first time you lose your mind and do something unfaithful and confess and get help. A brave man seeks help immediately. A brave man is rigorously honest. It takes courage to admit you are a complete ass and have destroyed another human being….it is the coward who has to be caught red-handed and then be informed that it is hurtful. It takes courage to come forward and defend your wife, not cower behind her as she bears the brunt of spurned whores and sluts in your wake. So. Courage. Bravery. Strength. NOT attributes, really, of the one year sober sex addict in my opinion. My definition of theses attributes are as follows:
Real Strength=Living through disclosure after disclosure of disgusting escapades with a human element of the female gender so despicable that you shudder at the thought. Hearing “I’m sorry” until it has completely lost all meaning and you no longer recognize it as a true form of apology. Having your heart broken into so many tiny little pieces that it no longer feels like beating…yet it does. Enduring more emotional pain than any person should ever have to experience and doing it while raising kids or working, or maintaining a semblance of a “normal” life. Carrying on while the world throws trigger after trigger at you, day after day, and you look forward, and beyond, and just keep breathing.
Real Bravery=Walking into the doctors office and announcing that you are there for a full STD screening…then having to answer all the questions about your sexual activity to the kindly old physician who has been your family doctor for years. Facing the results and learning that your yeast infections over the past several years were likely HSV breakouts…but no worries…now you get to take Valtrex and your immunity system is compromised and isn’t knowing better than not knowing? Standing next to your cheater and seeing the pity in the faces of those who know and think you should have left cause you can do better. Waking up every day and knowing that it will be hard work to get through your trauma…again.
Real Courage=Making decisions about your life now and your future knowing what your spouse was and is…and what you can only hope he will become. Knowingly taking on a journey which will bring more pain with only faith to sustain you in the hope for true happiness. Re-committing to someone who has yet to really prove any committment to you, going only on his word that he will…knowing that his word meant nothing. Trusting that regardless of all that has happened, God still loves you and will continue to sustain you. That He has always been there but you chose to believe your cheater instead of God’s still small voice…and knowing that you must always listen to Him going forward.
I believe that being sober for one year in any addiction is an accomplishment. I believe that it takes hard work. I believe that it takes commitment. I do not think it is particularly brave or strong or courageous. Maybe it does merit a coin.
I believe to be the partner of an addict and to live through the hell that they perpetrate through their addiction is worthy of a far more than a coin. I believe that partners are the true heroes. They are…WE are…ALL brave and strong and courageous. We also have what the addict has lacked and is only now beginning to understand and acquire…honesty, integrity, values, morals, compassion and respect. Nobody ever gave me a coin for what I have endured and am still enduring because of Will’s addiction. That’s ok. I don’t need one. What I have is far more precious. I have the sureness that I already have sufficient strength, bravery and courage to get me through anything. To my arsenal I have added knowledge, insight, power and confidence. Because of others like me here, I have also strengthened my compassion and empathy, my kindness and my faith. I don’t need a mere coin when I have learned to recognize my own self worth and my value. I don’t need anybody’s congratulations when I have the understanding, compassion and friendship of others who have walked and are walking my same path. We know, us partners, the value of authenticity and truth, the incredible worth of connection and caring. We have learned the gift of sharing and healing. And maybe above all, the simple yet profound treasure that gratitude is. I am grateful that I don’t need a coin, or a high five, or a pat on the back as an outward sign of my strength and progress. I am grateful that I am secure in who I am and who I am becoming.