I am open to the ideas of others and try to set aside my filters to truly listen to other view points. I do know that it is not easy to do, for any of us. Still, trying to predict what filters may be in place for others, trying to write to ensure that such filters do not get in the way of understanding, is too big of an expectation to put upon myself. After all, an important component to coming through this shit storm is that authenticity needs to be the guiding star on this journey. So, with that being said, here is how I really feel.
I am not a fan of the prevalent idea in the reconciliation community that most, if not all, serial cheaters are sex addicts (SA) and that such a diagnosis, accompanied by twelve-step, is the only path forward. In MC’s case, to make such a label fit would require too broad of a definition, overshadowing specific issues that needed to be targeted and addressed, specifically his (a) victim mentality, (b) excessive desire for external validation, (c) complete inability to self-validate, (d) fundamental misogynistic attitudes about what it takes to be a man and what is acceptable and desirable in a wife, (e) obsessive focus on himself, (f) obsessive focus on his self-pity and (g) avoidance of and cowardice toward conflict.
I do also see, time and again, those in SA twelve step programs being encouraged to, or at least not being discouraged from, using their shame and addiction as a shield from the anger of their spouse, as well as the potential of being guided by people who themselves are not healthy people. SA twelve-step and being there for the betrayed spouse do not have to be mutually exclusive, and yet, too often that is exactly what happens. Still, I also recognize that there is value to be found within a group setting.
As long as it doesn’t turn into another mechanism for reinforcing self-pity, a continuation of a victim-mentality, conflict-avoidance and self-absorbed pursuits, I can see value to a group dynamic to treatment and therapy. In fact, I think a sense of community and belonging to combat the isolation of both the cheater and betrayed is THE positive element of twelve-step.
But, I am bothered by the mantra that “AN SA DIAGNOSIS AND TWELVE-STEP ARE A MUST FOR RECOVERY.” Sex addiction and twelve-step are one path, but not the only path. Why is that so threatening to some? We too want a sense of community to combat the isolation. It is part of the reason for this blog.