Looking back over the last 14 years, I’ve found two questions to be of utmost importance as it relates to my recovery journey:
- Why am I in recovery?
- Who am I in recovery for?
You might think I’m being overly dramatic, but the answers to these questions will define your life in recovery.
Not only that, but the answers will be different for everyone. How you answer those questions will determine your success or failure in recovering from addiction. I’ve seen it time and time again from men.
Heck, I’ve had to come back to those questions time and time again as well. It’s a healthy thing to do, no matter how far into the journey you are. Let’s unpack each question a bit.
WHY AM I IN RECOVERY?
It all starts here at the why. Every single person who has come out of addiction into recovery needs to find their “why”.
I remember finding mine after 13 years of being addicted to pornography. After first discovering porn at 13 and living in shame for years, I finally discovered the damage it had done to my own life and those around me.
My fiance at the time, Tracey, had made it clear that she wouldn’t marry a liar. Someone who was more in love with fantasy and make-believe women than the flesh and blood person sitting before them.
After years and years of lies and hiding, I had found my why: I no longer could recognize myself because this addiction had nearly consumed me.
I wanted a marriage that was capable of flourishing. I wanted to become the man that God was calling me to be. And I realized that wouldn’t be possible living in the condition I was in.
I wasn’t healthy. I was sick. And I finally knew it. As I look back, I’m grateful that I felt enough conviction to pursue health and break the cycle of addiction in my life.
Today I’m free of my addiction to pornography. I’ve experienced an incredible amount of healing. I don’t have the desires that I used to have some 14 years ago. And yet, I still come back to my “why”.
Why? Because it helps remind me that what I’m doing matters. It not only matters to me. It not only matters for my wife. It matters for future generations from my childhood onward. And that’s no understatement.
Even the people I interact with, the people I lead, and the people I work with, I believe, are better off knowing someone who was able to live a life of integrity and wholeness. I believe that discovering my why and committing to that will count for eternity.
WHO AM I IN RECOVERY FOR?
This brings us to another question: Who are you in recovery for? I want you to really reflect on this one for a little bit. Don’t be so quick to answer the obvious.
Over the years, I’ve met men who claimed they were “in it to win it” and then soon after lost steam and fell back into obscurity because they were living out their recovery for someone else. And that really is the problem, isn’t it?
If we’re not in recovery for ourselves first and foremost, the reality is that we’re not going to be successful.
Can I share something pretty personal with you? Please excuse me for a second if this sounds morbid, but this thought has come to mind before: “God forbid, but if something bad were to happen to my wife, would my recovery be lasting?” Would my heart still be committed to honoring the opposite sex EVEN if I were a single man? This is a hard question to entertain, but I think it’s an important one.
Thankfully, I do believe my recovery is one of the most valuable treasures I carry in life. And in order to see that continue, I MUST place my heart at the center of focus. I have to do this for myself first, regardless of any other person’s needs or feelings.
My heart always cringes a little bit whenever I meet a man who comes into group and his primary reason for being there was because either his wife made him come or she was the one to find the group to begin with. I wish I could say my expectations were higher for his success, but normally if I can’t clearly understand who his recovery is for, I get really concerned about whether he’s going to be in this for the long term.
If a man can steward his body and condition it well or if he can tirelessly spend hours honing skills that are devoted to his career, why can’t he devote as much energy to something that will literally last beyond this life?
I believe these two questions matter greatly!
The answers to these questions make up the difference between the man who is aggressively pursuing freedom & healing from the man who is passively doing what he has to do because someone is forcing him to. Do you see the difference?
Reflection: What kind of man do you want to be? What do you want your recovery to look like? Are you able to honestly answer the two questions above? If your motivation for recovery isn’t what it should be, what needs to change so you can experience success?