Spouses need disclosure because they have a right to know who they love and what world they’re living in. It’s grossly unfair to pretend that everything is fine when it’s not. As difficult as this is, we’ve got to tell the whole truth. Besides, it’s your only hope of finding long term recovery. If you aren’t going to be honest, you aren’t going to be sober either.
When my husband came to visit while I was in treatment during family week, he made it clear that he really wasn’t interested in knowing what I’d done. Unfortunately, that’s not how recovery goes. Blissful ignorance is the antithesis of recovery. Done properly, disclosure gives you the whole truth but none of the gory details. How many anonymous sexual encounters, condoms, webcams, and affairs are part of the whole truth. Outfits, toys, thoughts, orgasms, and (usually) names are gory details. That’s easier said than done because wanting to know those details is a kind of defense mechanism for some people, as if the details somehow can delineate the borders of this new world you now inhabit; the real world that you’ve been unaware of.
My husband didn’t want to hear any of this but he needed to. I didn’t want to say any of this but I needed to. Even with help, I don’t think you can be prepared for that kind of pain. It hurt much worse than either of us expected.
The first time I went into labor, I knew what to expect. I read books, went to classes, and learned how to breathe. When the big day arrived, we were a little nervous but more excited than anything else. We were merrily hee-hee-hee-hoo-ing along until that first real pain hit. Ten hours later, we abandoned our goal of a drug free birth and I got a shot of demerol. Eight hours later I was absolutely certain I wouldn’t survive another contraction. Six hours later, after around 40 minutes of pushing, our child was born. The whole thing hurt much more than either of us expected.
The second time around, I was more than a little nervous because this time I knew exactly how much it was going to hurt . But even though I knew what was coming,that first real contraction brought a tidal wave of fear with it. That and incredulity. How could I have been so stupid as to do this twice? How could I have forgotten?
When you disclose a relapse, you know there’s a lot of pain coming but you’ve got to do it anyway.
I hope I never have to disclose that I’ve lost my sobriety but it could happen someday. After all, I’ve licked the bottle, to use an AA analogy, several times and only by the most technical of definitions have I been able to say I didn’t drink. There are times when I’ve been literally banging my head against the wall because every cell in my body is screaming for sex and I hate, hate, hate that I can’t just jerk off like the rest of the world.
I’ll bet you’re wondering if I’ve told my husband. I don’t tell him every time I want to watch a porn flick or read some dirty stories on the newsgroups; those are gory details. But I do tell about the big stuff. Nearly losing my sobriety is big stuff, so the answer is yes. I told him.
There are many reasons addicts lie about relapses but most of them boil down to avoiding pain. The only reason I can tell the truth because I remind myself that he has the right to know who he loves and what world he’s living in. If I truly love him (I do) I have let him see the real me, regardless of the outcome. Still, it’s like labor the second time around: way scarier because I know what’s coming. I’m sincerely grateful that my husband understands that.