Crippling Conversations with My Family About Sex Addiction
Conversations about your sex addiction are almost always a daunting task, but the conversations take on even higher stakes when you're confessing your secret sins to your family members. Some sex addicts keep their taboo desires and habits hidden from their loved ones for years or even decades; while others, like myself, choose to go all in and tell their family only a few months into the madness of active addiction. The conversations about sex addiction are never easy, but in my opinion, they can be extremely helpful in creating a healthy, transparent space with the people you love most.
The First Conversation About Sex Addiction
I was only a couple of months into this devastating addiction when I felt the need to share it with my biggest confidant, my dad. I was terrified, mortified, and filled with so much shame. Sex addiction felt like the worst possible thing I could share with my father, but I had to remember in those moments that this was a man who already knew some of my most shameful secrets and still chose to stand by me and love me unconditionally.
My dad stood by me through embarrassing, drunken nights when I needed to be picked up from a sketchy parking lot at two in the morning. He had loved me through the biggest fights, the worst breakdowns, and every single one of my failed relationships. My father was truly a best friend, mentor, hero, and support system all in one. So based on the evidence that he loved me dearly and hadn't failed me yet, I took a chance and confessed my most shameful secret to him.
The day I told him, I truly thought the world was going to end, but somehow, it didn't. My dad was surprised mostly, but not at all shaming. The world didn't end, instead, it kept going and we moved on. We finished our conversation talking about the weather, our work weeks, and various other mindless topics. Our hard conversation about sex addiction came to a close, and somehow, my dad still loved me even though I was a sex addict. I can't tell you how powerful that conversation was for me.
What If My Family Doesn't Accept Me After the Conversation About Sex Addiction?
I'll be honest with you, I've only had these conversations with a few family members throughout my 10-year addiction and thankfully, I haven't had anyone respond too negatively. I've had some people confused about the exact nature of sex addiction and respond with unusual or pressing questions. I've also had people say absolutely nothing at all other than the fact that they loved me and they supported me. Both of those responses leave me with questions and feeling a bit confused, however, they have never made me feel unloved.
With that said, if you tell someone in your family about your sex addiction and they respond with hatred, disgust, dismissal, or anything else that makes you feel ashamed or unloved, I want to encourage you that response does not have to determine the course of your sex addiction recovery or the love you have for yourself.
I'm incredibly blessed to have experienced unconditional love from my family members, however, some of the conversations I've had with friends did not go as smoothly. I've received numerous negative reactions from individuals who I thought would love me no matter what, and believe me when I say that took a serious toll on my self-love and self-worth.
Who Should I Have a Conversation About My Sex Addiction With?
Only you know who can receive this news and who cannot. There are certain family members or friends that I would never disclose this information to because I just know that it would cause more harm than good in those relationships.
Some people will always have their pre-conceived notions or stigmas attached to certain types of addiction, mental illness, or anything else. I believe that our society is moving in the right direction when it comes to these things though and I am confident that in future generations we will be even more accepting and supportive regarding notoriously shameful things, like sex addiction.
In my experience, young people tend to respond better than the older generations, but keep in mind that this method isn't foolproof. For example, my dad responded much better than a few of my friends who are within the same age group as me. So, it's important to remember that both young and old people can respond with love, just like they both have the potential to respond poorly.
I recommend thoroughly processing through who you are going to tell, why you want to tell that person, and what you hope to gain by telling that person. If the conversation would be more harmful than helpful to that specific relationship, consider what the long-term effects of that disclosure might be and determine if it's worth the risk. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't, but only you know the answer to that question.
Their Reactions Don't Define You
Lastly, I want to encourage you once more than no one can determine the trajectory of your addiction except for you. Just because someone responds unkindly does not mean that you are unworthy of love, care, or support in your recovery. It's possible that the only supportive response you'll receive when disclosing your sex addiction might from someone like a counselor or therapist, and that is perfectly okay.
Sex addiction is one of those tricky topics that can sometimes bring out the absolute worst in people. Keep in mind that someone else's ideas, beliefs, or unhealthy stigma about sex addiction do not get to define your specific journey to recovery.
Recovery from sex addiction is possible for anyone. Hope is possible. Support is possible. No matter how unkind people might be, you will get through it.
How have your conversations about sex addiction gone with your family?
Richardson, A. (2019, November 7). Crippling Conversations with My Family About Sex Addiction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/debunkingaddiction/2019/11/crippling-conversations-with-my-family-about-sex-addiction