I enjoy watching a good college football game between great teams. Great coaches never say to their team before the game, “Now, let’s go out there and not lose today!” If so, these coaches have short careers. Great coaches say, “Let’s go out there and win AND this is how we are going to do it.” It is always exciting to see the underdog come from behind and defeat a ranked team. Great coaches bring out the best in their team even when the fans are expecting them to lose. There are no greater games then when the underdog overcomes all odds.
The sports world would never tolerate coaching their teams not to lose, yet in the recovery world we see it every day in almost every meeting, as group members check in with their bottom lines, inner circle, or boundaries they will not cross to remain sober. Recovery can easily become a lists of what not to do. Don’t drink, use drugs, lie, lust, click there, view porn here, masturbate or cheat on your spouse. Initially these don’ts are helpful. However, they are all about being on defense – just hiding behind your shield. It is all about not failing, not disappointing your group or your loved ones. Defensive recovery will not take you the distance to victory. By focusing on not losing or relapsing, you relapse.
The military will tell you that in a war you want to be on the offense. Being on defense covering a land, air, or sea attack takes more resources. Coaches want their offense on the field scoring the points. Offense knows the play and where the ball is going. The defense tires quickly, because they do not know the play and have to cover the whole field. Offense is more fun, and its purpose is to be on the attack to score the points and expose the weaknesses of the defense.
Here is what playing to win looks like in recovery when you’re on offense.
- Pick up your sword and use it! Start being assertive and get involved in a healthy recovery group that encourages workbook work, be willingly take a polygraph test and make daily phone calls for accountability, work the 12 Steps, find a sponsor, work with a certified sexual recovery therapist, set the bar for your sobriety and implement consequences if you break it. Stop making your partner set the bar. Your recovery will be “good enough” once you start being assertive and internally motivated with a heart’s desire to change.
- Pursue your wife. Being on offense is about pursuing, protecting, and providing a safe place for your wife’s heart with your time, attention and money. Men on defense think of recovery as costing them time and money do not understand how a woman sees the time and money he puts in recovery work. It is symbolic to her as the degree that he loves her. A man in defensive recovery is all about “how do I not fail her or tick her off today?” And then that is exactly what happens.
- Share your story. Part of offensive recovery is about sharing your story with other men one on one or in a larger group. Sharing your testimony is a two way blessing. It blesses you as it gives you more freedom out of secrecy and it blesses those you share it with as you model what freedom could look like for them. They leave thinking “I don’t know how Joe has so much freedom, peace and joy in his life, but that is what I want. I do not know how he got that, but I am going to find out.”
- Finally, Offensive Recovery is all about no longer living the double life. True freedom is allowing your recovery world and friends to integrate with your personal and professional world. Now, you must understand there are exceptions to this. Because what might be wise for some, may be foolish for you. Use your discretion. However, the idea is to no longer live two separate lives. Defensive recovery is all about preventing these two worlds from touching the other. Offensive recovery is permitting the two worlds to integrate over time.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.