Series One: Blog Forty-Nine
I have a friend who is a professional roadie. He travels all over the world working for different rock bands-setting up for a concert and then tearing it all down and packing it up for travel, hours later. Obviously, with COVID-19, he hasn’t been working all that much lately. He tells me that there is so much deadline pressure at the time of concert set up. Basically, the end result must be exactly the same or whatever the band desires. Usually, every venue has a few ins and outs that vary which require creativity and necessary adjustments in order for the set up to be just right. Problem solving skills are needed and every situation is a little different. He reflected that once it is all done and everything is right and the arena or stadium is full and rocking, he takes in a deep breath of satisfaction. Yet, in a few hours, he is clamoring with others to tear it all down, pack it just right and get it all done with pressure and time constraint so he can hit the road for the next gig.
For an addict, the road in recovery sometimes feels like being a “roadie.” Telling on self, the addict must take initiative to set up an appropriate disclosure. Once the disclosure is complete an addict can experience it all being torn down with predictable doubt and anguished reaction from a broken partner about what has been told.
Scaffolding healing in addictive betrayal will engage setting up and tearing down while traveling the road toward forgiveness and reconciliation. It’s a part of the terrain in recovery that is most difficult. Being a “roadie” in betrayal recovery often involves separation, emotional discomfort, even physical pain. Setting up temporary residence and constructing new daily rituals while tearing down old routines that have been gutted by betrayal behaviors is commonplace along the rugged road of betrayal recovery. Shame, guilt, resentment, and remorse are obstacles that must be navigated and addressed. Along the way there are plenty of set ups and tear downs.
Being a roadie in betrayal recovery begs to address ragged edges. Kids, extended family, and friends finding out things they only wish they never knew. There is the tearing down of dishonesty and displacement of responsibility. There is the attempt to set up and rebuild broken trust. There is this real sense of addiction recovery resembling the concept of being a “roadie”.
Another consideration in the way of betrayal recovery is that of being a “roomie”. Often when betrayal is unraveled, shattered trust leaves a couple, once best trusted friends, to only a shadow of intimate connection. Many times, I have heard both describe themselves as distant roommates. All too often addicts in betrayal recovery complain that their shambled relationship had shrunk to being mere roomies. Once best friends, now their only conversation is about the kids. The idea of sexual integration becomes only a method to numb the pain or a fleeting thought that has long sense become a joke to reality. Terms of endearment have evaporated and replaced by expressionless talk highlighted by stone faced interaction. The only intensity is the anger that gets stirred around the old act out that pierced trust and destroyed hope. Far too many couples working with betrayal get stuck in this painful cul de sac. They go to the store together, sit in church together, look stellar and strong from the outside, but there’s nothing there on the inside. Rather than go the distance to work through the painful contributions that each bring to the relationship, they solidify the position of one who is the “identified trust breaker” and the other being the “undeserving victim”. Many couples live out the rest of their lives in this destructive dynamic of unfulfilled living. They have settled to be roommates! It’s a sad conclusion of what could have been very different.
Possibly, you or someone you know is trudging through this hard road in recovery. Listed are suggestions to shift from being a “roadie” or a “roomie” to the reality of renewed and revived relational intimacy.
Set up and tear down is necessary in a betrayal odyssey. It is the only way to unpack the real pain and scrub the deceit from the wound of betrayal. Piecemealing what’s real about disclosure in betrayal will only set up more needed time for healing. More time will be needed for cleaning the wound. Professionals can be very helpful. Yet, ultimately unless you as an addict come to a place that you want to stop the juggernaut of addiction, you will need to go thru the tearing down of trust again and again until you are willing to ask for help. Many never do. It is important to understand the “roadie” mentality has a short shelf life in relationship recovery.
Setting up and tearing down is a necessary process in relational healing. It begins with a commitment to stop. It requires turning over every stone with naked truth telling. It necessitates openness and explanation of step by step build up that leads to offending behavior. Clarifying the histrionic of historical destructive behavior will help unbrainwash the unsuspecting partner who often is overwhelmed with confusion and guilt. The final level of scaffold is one of forgiveness and apology. Forgiveness simply underscores letting go and not holding against and apology making emphasizes the wrongdoing and not intentionality. Scaffolding each step is a way of rebuilding step by step.
After disclosure, the addiction betrayer may find it difficult to find a friend or at least, it may seem that way. Fearing abandonment, loneliness and absorbing the reality of trauma response to their addictive behavior, an addict becomes vulnerable to acting out. It takes strong resilience to bounce back and stay the course in recovery after disclosure is made. Further, it is required that an addict embrace an open attitude and a willingness to adjust. The journey from the penthouse to the doghouse can only be effectively made with a flexible attitude that cultivates a willingness to make adjustments. Addicts who are unwilling to adjust usually do not reconcile with their partner. There are way too many ongoing adjustments that must be made but won’t be made when the betrayer is stuck in anger, narcissism, fear, and grief. Kids may not want to see you or allow you to remain a part of their lives when they learn about your betrayal behavior. You may need to live separate from your family and need to pay for each family member’s therapy without knowing whether or not it is helpful. The cost of tearing down what has been irreparably damaged is high and difficult to pay. The only way it can be done is by embracing a willingness to make adjustments and stay the course and remain flexible.
The journey through healing betrayal bleaches the passion out of most relationships. Many conclude that they may get through this healing without a divorce but don’t ever believe that the relationship will be like it once had been. Yet, it has been my experience that when a couple working through betrayal commits to acts of cherishing their partner, the passion and love for the relationship can return. Cherish is a mindset and action before it becomes a feeling reality. Often when sexual attraction is devoid, it can be reignited by acts of love, appreciation and cherish. You must commit to these not because you feel like it but because you are determined to cherish your partner’s attributes of character, principles, and integrity. Then you demonstrate cherish by following through with simple acts of devotion in sharing ways that you love and care. Purposeful acts of cherish will open your heart and the flow of attraction and love can be restarted again.
Your head will help you commit to a date and time for telling on yourself. However, it is your heart that must open the flow toward healing. Heart is not about memorizing words for healing. Heart just flows. “Roomies” become impassioned relationships when the heart flows with real words of passion, cherish and sincerity— not when the head tries to control the response.
The journey toward betrayal healing is rough. Yet, when you embrace the “roadie” mentality of tearing down and rebuilding trust and refuse to accept a “roomie” mentality, relational healing from betrayal healing can be a reality.
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