Right versus wrong…what’s the difference?
How much should I fight for what’s right and oppose what’s wrong?
If I’m working on recovery behavior, how do I focus on serenity and peace and yet still combat wrong as I see it?
The topic of right versus wrong has been on my mind a lot lately, especially in conjunction with people’s beliefs and feelings.
If my wife shares her feelings about how I’m acting, about how what I’m doing, to her, is a trigger and reminds her of the old, addictive me, how should I handle that? Is her opinion right or is it wrong?
If a sponsee or friend in recovery begins to blame his wife or others for his actions, expressing that “They are crazy…they are selfish…they are blaming me for everything” or that he is trying but this or that keeps getting in the way of him truly recovering from porn addiction and masturbation and lust, what’s right and what’s wrong?
These are some of the questions I want to address today in this discussion topic.
What is Right vs. Wrong Mentality in Addiction Recovery?
One of the guys I look up to a lot in recovery, Steven C. says it simply, “Get honest!”
How does that relate to right versus wrong?
For many years of my life, I thought I was being honest with myself and others, but, as I look back, I was lying to myself over and over again and believing the lies I was telling. Honesty can be a pretty gray area for an addict.
I’ve learned that a good measure of real recovery from addiction is three simple words:
And what I’ve learned lately is that humility is hard to fake.
In connection with the question, then, about right versus wrong, if I have a situation where I’m tempted to be right or tempted to fight back and make a case for why someone else is wrong, this, to me, isn’t being humble.
For example, when my wife shares her feelings, they aren’t right or wrong, they are simply her feelings. If I get defensive, if I get angry, if I get irritated – to me, this is addict behavior; it’s not humble and I need to surrender and let go.
I had a sponsee share his thoughts with me the other day, and, to be honest, they caught me a bit off guard. But after reviewing them, they caused me to reflect on how I’m handling my interaction with sponsees.
Here’s part of what he said:
Nate texted me today to check in on me. It was nice. I need to be the one reaching out to him.
But to be honest, I feel like I’m just gonna be told what I’m doing wrong either in the way I’m reaching out, how I’m analyzing the situation, or for just not reaching out often enough. So it often seems like a bit of a lose lose.
I think this has been eating at me for a little while actually.
Maybe that’s what a sponsor is though. A person who’s there to just constantly point out how we really should be looking at things. I know I’m not perfect at the way I deal with my emotions. And I’m sure as hell not perfect in the way that I react to how my wife is doing. I know that. For me it’s a little discouraging, and it’s probably a good indicator as to where I’m at in recovery, but reaching out for me is hard enough, that I don’t want to feel like I’m gonna get criticized for doing it wrong, or analyzing my situations wrong.
Nate is a passionate dude when it comes to recovery. I’m grateful for that. But I kinda shut down when I feel like someone is pushing their own agenda on me. That’s a big part of my addictive behavior. That’s the “I make my own decisions thank you very much” attitude. Also known as P-R-I-D-E…
But, I know Nate. He loves me and wants to help me. It’s myself I need to get over. I know he comes from a good place, and fact is, he’s been able to call me out on things when I start to drift and don’t see it. I believe that it saves my life having someone like that. But it does get hard.
I think maybe it’s that I feel like if I’m gonna call to surrender or check in, I need to have worked through things completely already and have it figured out. I can’t call to try and figure it out. It’s backwards I know, but that’s how I feel. I’m legitimately worried that sometimes he’s gonna go, “Sean what in the hell are you doing!?” I think these feelings come from me though. If I lust, or if I hold onto my negative feelings and then think about calling, I feel like I’ve already screwed up. To me I always anticipate the conversation being about “Why did I not call earlier?” “How did you even let it get this far?” “You’re obviously not living in recovery properly.” That’s just where I see the conversation going in my brain. It’s the same approach I had to repentance and working the steps. I had to dig myself out a certain amount, before I could call upon the help of the Savior. That’s my own broken mentality. That’s the “I’ve gotta do so much before I can ask for help or even deserve help” mentality. I will call Nate tomorrow and we can talk about these feelings together.
These were his feelings. Were they right or wrong? In my opinion, if I start to analyze or get defensive or make a case for why he’s wrong and I’m right or whatever, I’m in the wrong. Period.
It reminds me of the question I’ve seen in Step 4: What’s my part?
Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes feelings come that I honestly didn’t intend to cause in those closest to me. But those feelings are what they are; if I’m working my own recovery, I can’t let the feelings of others cause me to go back to a place of anger, resentment or making a case for why I’m right and they’re wrong.
In the Big Book of AA it reads:
Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague. In many homes this is a difficult thing to do, but it must be done if any results are to be expected. (p. 98)
Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to! (103)
Ultimately, what I’m reminded of is that I don’t have all the answers.
I make mistakes all the time – just ask my wife and kids. They see me make the same mistakes over and over again.
I don’t know how to deal with the right vs. wrong situations other than to focus on my own recovery and remember the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Thy will, not mine, be done.
I look forward to your thoughts and experience.