Recovery will mean facing the suffering in our lives. This is hard to do, and many people cannot or will not do it. So they drift away from recovery habits, and drift back into their old behaviors. When we courageously address the painful issues in our lives, healing will happen. This is true for all of us – sexual strugglers and the spouses of strugglers alike.
The sexual struggler who does not face their suffering and process their pain may stay stuck in the “never never land” of recovery: chronic relapsing. Addicts don’t make progress in recovery until they can begin to build days and weeks of solid sobriety. Until the alcoholic or junkie is able to experience life without his or her drug in their system, they can’t begin to face the issues in their life that need to be processed.
The same is true with people struggling with compulsive sexual behavior. Sexual strugglers “act out” as a way of coping with or shielding themselves from painful or stressful aspects of life. They may act out because they are bored, resentful, anxious, lonely, etc.
This is important because it means that unless and until the sexual struggler is able to start experiencing life without their “drug” (or coping mechanism), they’re not going to make much progress in understanding or changing what’s really going on. Instead, they may continue “living in the fog of lust,” as described by Sexaholics Anonymous.
Spouses of sexual strugglers must also face their own personal suffering in order for healing to occur. We do not dwell on past pain. Rather, we prayerfully consider how our wounds of the past are impacting us today. We seek counseling with a trusted professional to address our concerns in a way that leads us on the path to healing, peace and joy.
Gangaji describes it this way:
“We have tried everything to get rid of suffering. We have gone everywhere to get rid of suffering. We have bought everything to get rid of it. We have ingested everything to get rid of it.
“Finally, when one has tried enough, there arises the possibility of spiritual maturity with the willingness to stop the futile attempts to get rid of, and, instead, to actually experience suffering. In that momentous instant, there is the realization of that which is beyond suffering, of that which is untouched by suffering. There is the realization of who one truly is.”
Someone has said that “Sometimes the only way out is through.” We can’t get around suffering. We can either deny it and try to cope (usually with some unhealthy addiction), or face it and work through it and become whole. I agree with Gangaji that the possibility of spiritual maturity comes with the willingness to face and work through the ups and downs of life, including our suffering.
Or, as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”