Excuses and Denials: I’m Stuck. Oh My!

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Tami VerHelst

This happens so often it makes my head spin. I answer the phone – the one that people call seeking help for addiction. Two scenarios – it’s from someone struggling with addiction personally, or it’s a loved one of someone struggling.

Scenario 1

The conversation goes something like this: I need help! My life/relationship/family/job is a mess. These callers often share that their relationship (or job) is on the verge of ending and they are desperate to have everything be fixed and back to normal, but they don’t know what to do. They want/need help!

I do my best to let them know that they are not alone and that there is qualified help. There is an option to change and learn to do life differently. There is no magic fix for their issues, but there is a way to stop the acting out behavior and live differently. I also share what that will take and that it is so worth the effort. It is amazing how quickly the conversation becomes “It’s not that bad,” or, “I can’t do THAT!” In other words, they balk at the time and money for qualified help; they even struggle to commit to free resources that could help them.

Scenario 2

The conversation goes something like this: I need help! My partner/spouse (sometimes family member) is a porn/sex addict (perhaps with a co-occurring chemical addiction). Typically in these conversations, I then hear a lot more details – how long they’ve been together, the betrayal that they have endured, etc.

I do my best to let these callers know that they are not alone and that there is qualified help. There is an option for their spouse/partner/loved one to get the help they need to survive the other person’s addiction. I also share ideas for how their addicted loved one can find help. This is typically followed by “He won’t do that.”

In those cases, I am saddened that the partner has given up hope for any meaningful change. They are unhappy but seemingly willing to accept that this is how things are and will continue to be. At best. The truth is that addiction is a chronic condition and things do get worse. They can probably look back and see that this has occurred for their addict (and themselves) already. But they’re stuck because “He won’t do that.”

Moving Forward

Change is scary. Setting healthy boundaries for a partner is scary. Taking a step to give up the maladaptive coping mechanisms for an addict is scary. Sadly, fear of change permits the addiction to continue, to flourish with all the negative consequences for the addict and heartbreak for the partners.

I captured a quote recently: “If you are stuck in a rut today, it is because you got comfortable there.” What happens if we are brave and take the steps toward change? It is LIFE ALTERING! I am proof of this, and so are countless others. If we do the next right thing, we can change. We can have relationships that are meaningful. We can live in integrity. We can be the person we are meant to be. It’s worth getting out of the rut.

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This blog originally appeared on the author’s website, momentumaddictionrecovery.com. It is reprinted here with her permission.