One common question that comes up among men and women who struggle with various forms of sexual addiction is “Do I need to tell anyone?” which is closely followed by the second question, “If so, who do I tell?”
These are both very scary questions for anyone to face because you are shedding light on the one thing that you have been keeping secret for weeks, months, years, or even decades. Yet despite the fears surrounding confession we are faced with the undeniable truth that confession is a prerequisite for recovery. Let me say that again in a different way, IF YOU WANT TO GET CLEAN FROM YOUR SEXUAL ADDICTION YOU MUST CONFESS IT TO SOMEONE. This principle is not only Biblical but it is a staple for all recovery programs including traditional 12 step approaches.
Why? Simply put, how are you going to effectively deal with a secret addiction, or an affiar for that matter, if you continue to keep it secret?
Confession to God (for the Christian especially), confession to a spouse, confession to friend, and confession to your recovery group partners (if applicable) are all things one must eventually engage in if they want to move past dependency and on to lasting freedom. Of course, now that I answered the first question, what about the second … “Who do I tell?” More importantly, do I have to tell everybody and when? These matters are a little more difficult to address but I’d like to give you three principles to keep in mind when making these decisions.
First, while the Bible says, “confess your sins to one another,” it does not say “confess your sins to everybody you meet.” This is where some wisdom comes into play. Not everyone needs to know about your issue. Of course, there is something to be said about transparency but open confession is best done between you and those closest to you, those who aren’t looking to condemn but rather challenge and encourage you. I didn’t get super open about my addiction until after my recovery. However during my sexual dependency I only shared my failures, struggles, and victories with a select group of accountability partners, my pastors, and my spouse. CHOOSE YOUR ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS WISELY!
Second, while the timing may vary from individual to individual, the bottom line is you eventually need to confess to those you hurt or injured by your actions. Again, this is both biblical and a cornerstone of traditional recovery models. Simply put, if you want to get past your failures you need seek forgiveness from those you failed so you can then move on to forgiving yourself. The stress and anxiety of unconfessed wrongs will chew you up over time and prove to be a constant source of shame which is the enemy of recovery. It may come at the cost of a relationship or two. There will most likely be some tears shed. However, you need to take comfort in the fact that you did the right thing by seeking forgiveness and leave the consequences to God.
Lastly, be sensitive to others and to the voice of God when it comes to the timing of all this. Maybe you just need to start with a solid accountability partner before you confront your spouse. Perhaps you want to talk to your spouse before joining a recovery group. The bottom line is that each person’s situation is different and sometimes we can plow ahead with our desire to clear the conscious without any regard for the emotional state of others. Now that doesn’t mean you use that as an excuse to keep your mouth shut. However, use wisdom and be prayerful about these matters. When it comes to timing be sensitive to others and the voice of God.
There is one question I didn’t cover … “What if I can’t find a solid accountability partner to confess my issues to?” That’s a good question and a very common one. That being said, I would tell you 1) there is probably someone in your life already that you can talk to, you just need to ask and, 2) there are other options such as our online X3 recovery groups. X3groups are perfect both for those people seeking out solid accountability but have no other options presently in their life and those desiring an additional layer of accountability, encouragement, and support on top of what they already have in place. Whoever you choose or whatever route you go just know that recovery starts at confession. Time to let that cat out … he’s getting hot in that bag already!