Six Months Before Disclosure? Why?
You’ve done it again, now you feel the need to confess it. But Restored Warriors recommends that I wait? Why? Well, when an addict first confesses, his or her motive is usually more about making themselves feel better and less about being completely honest. Most all forced or spontaneous confessions will only reveal some truth. An addict is so accustomed to deception and minimizing the facts that they aren’t capable of telling the whole, honest truth. In this scenario, more truth comes out later. Staggered disclosure leads to greater pain and a prolonged recovery process.
In some cases, a full disclosure cannot wait. A forced disclosure occurs in the following circumstances:
• When a person is caught acting out by an important person in their life (e.g. their spouse, parent, child, or employer). Disclosure needs to occur around all the activities leading up to and involved in the behavior.
• When a person has been involved in illegal activity and the activity may become public. (A spouse needs to know what legal ramifications may be coming.)
• When an affair has been exposed. The spouse needs to know the truth around this circumstance in order to find safety.
• When a person is confronted with facts of his or her actions.
• When a person has contracted a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
A full disclosure happens when the addict has been in recovery for at least six months. This disclosure focuses on the full sexual history and is fact-based (not feelings or fantasy-based). The disclosure should be in writing and reviewed by a pastor, group leader, or Restored Warriors before being shared with a spouse. A description of full disclosure can be found here Under Disclosure Process.
The spouse of the addict also needs to be in a support group. They can get input from their group leader before disclosure. The spouse should write questions needed for healing and rebuilding trust. The spouse should have their leader or pastor, review the questions. Spouses should ask only the questions that were written prior to the disclosure. If something unexpected is revealed during disclosure and the spouse didn’t have predetermined questions regarding that circumstance, then the meeting should stop in order for the spouse to process and write out new questions. This area of disclosure should be revisited at a later time when the spouse has had time to process what he or she needs to know. Although the full disclosure process happens after sobriety has been established, it is critical to recovery that the addict learns to be transparent while working toward sobriety. Relapse(s) that occurs during the recovery process should be disclosed to group members and the spouse. Immediately after relapse occurs, your Recovery Action Plan (Addict) should be implemented. Breaking free from an addiction requires a person to live an honest lifestyle, break isolation, relate behaviors to consequences, and give the people whom they have hurt the respect and dignity to make informed choices. Your spouse will have their own Recovery Action Plan (Spouse). If you are working on your recovery, but are still keeping secrets, then shame will keep you stuck. Being honest and using your recovery tools with your spouse will move you toward true freedom.
You can always talk to your Group Leader about this process and timing.