Lots of people have heard the term “White Knuckling,” but do you know what it truly means?
The definition is: someone who is avoiding recovery by doing minimal efforts to appear to others that they are achieving recovery, all the while, not truly learning and/or changing behaviors or patterns to be successful in recovery.
Realizing your addicted partner is White Knuckling versus in True Recovery is heartbreaking as the spouse or partner. A lot of SSA’s (Sexual Stimulation Addicts) feel that they can recover without commitment. As in, “I’ll do this for a bit to get you off my back or make you happy to make my life happier but then when things ‘chill out’ I can get that part of my life back.”
That attitude from the SSA gets them nowhere, and pushes relational recovery back and even can have the betrayed partner questioning whether they should stay or go at this point.
Truth is, there is NO way to recover without committing to a sober lifestyle. Read that again…
There is NO WAY to recovery without committing to a sober lifestyle.
Living a sober lifestyle – that leads to the ultimate goal of living a Recovery Lifestyle -means undeniable and at times dramatic change in your life. Changes can be how you do all sort of simple things, that you wouldn’t necessarily think about unless you’re taking recovery seriously.
Doing the “fake commitment” thing actually hurts your relationship more in the long-term. When you are an SSA, your partner comes to expect the lying…. Even if it hurts. The relationship the SSA and betrayed are in has an established level of secrets and lack of Intimacy because of the SSA. The problem with White Knuckling is that you, as the SSA, have said and promised to change… but you haven’t changed at all. The Betrayed desperately wants to trust that their lives are becoming stable, and that their partner is safe and no longer abusing them, so they look at what you do, not always how you do it.
No spouse ever wants to be their partners “mom.” So, when you say you’re on the road to recovery, but then you stonewall or don’t communicate or don’t change… the betrayed partner can feel lost and confused, as the intimacy will NEVER return, which is conflicting to the betrayed partner. They don’t know what the next step is, as they truly don’t want to feel like they are in a parent-child relationship.
Maybe the betrayed partner sees you going to meetings or talking to a AP (accountability partner) or even showing up for weekly therapy, or joining a coaching program and sees you on the weekly calls. Maybe this goes on for weeks or months (sometimes up to Two Years!) before the chemical restraint your applying to your brain snaps and you end up binging.
You lied. Maybe you were even lying to yourself and thought if you just went to therapy, you would be fine…
No. Sorry. That’s not how recovery works. Recovery is a Lifestyle Change. As in your Whole life Will change. You WILL change. This isn’t a bad thing
I think the “change” part scares SSAs because they don’t realize that they aren’t losing themselves…but rather, they are actually finding themselves. Finding their True Self. Most addicts, in addiction, have NO IDEA who they truly are, and that’s because they’re being controlled by an addiction…and often that addiction does not line up with their True values, morals, goals, etc.
White Knuckling is SUPER toxic to the relationship or marriage because it’s not a regular lie. It’s not even a little lie… It’s a whole new layering of lies that further suppress the function of the relationship. White Knuckling is a huge long-term lie that can even be planned out in some cases, where the addict is fully aware they are bullshitting their partner and continuing to trick and abuse them.
A relationship is supposed to be 100/100. If you are supposed to be recovering when in reality you’re not, then the relationship isn’t even 100/50 because one partner is so far out the door at that point. A relationship with an Active Addict is 100/0…it’s really the equivalent of being single, because the addict is already in a relationship, with their addiction. Their addiction is their partner, and their real life partner is the nuisance.
White Knuckling is devastating, and a whole new betrayal, a new hurt, a series of new tricks and deception. How horrible! When you think about it…Someone doesn’t want to be with you so bad that they not only don’t commit back into the relationship but create a fake one to fool you.
This is manipulation in the highest degree.
It’s an alternate fake-life…. This is the equivalent to putting a band aid on a severed leg. It’s not really doing anything. In fact, it’s doing more damage than the SSA has already done to the relationship.
I personally know that you can go to therapy or coaching as much as you want, but if you aren’t paying attention or taking anything away from it…. If it’s not bettering you or you’re not listening, it’ll never work if you don’t work it.
There are all kinds of ways to White Knuckle, but only one way to sobriety.
If you don’t want a sober life, be honest about it. It’s literally the least you can do.
However, if you DO want recovery, then get serious. We have an amazing program for the SSA called Become a Knight, where you and other SSA’s begin an in-depth journey in your personal recovery so you can conquer addiction, gain the skills you need to keep sobriety, and begin the relationship reconstruction with your partner! This program is for SSA’s who are ready to leave addiction, pain, shame, and isolation behind and truly begin their journey to the Recovery Lifestyle!
Questions about the program? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer any and all questions or comment below!