You’re ready to quit your addiction.
You’re ready to be teachable, to be under leadership and mentoring.
You’re ready to own your problem and get the help you need.
You’re ready for accountability.
All this sounds romantic, but accountability is a deliberate confrontation with yourself through another person—and confrontation is hard. It’s even harder when you begin to see the depth of your own issues and all the ugliness inside, the things you were happy to ignore before you decided to recover. We’re so much more entrenched in our habits than we think, so accustomed to “the way things were” that our bodies will desperately claw back to our old destructive ways.
Recovery is a street-fight, and our darker side will never fight fair.
The only way to truly recover, to get better, to fight the addiction, is to get under the authority of accountability. It assumes that the person who holds you accountable will challenge you with uncomfortable conviction. Here are three ways you’ll see that happen.
1) Accountability brings the honesty and sober clarity you’re looking for.
Honesty is the first step to healing. When you release a burden into a conversation, you’re taking a first step into freedom from your addiction. Sharing openly dissolves the shame of what we’ve done, and that’s how we get to the root of it.
Starting a dialogue also helps to dig out the patterns, reasons, and rationalizations for our habits. Without accountability, it’s too easy to dance around these things. But looking someone in the eye, someone who has the gentle authority to call you out, will bring a sober clarity to why you’re stuck in the same loops of harmful behaviors.
More than that: when you can drag out a destructive habit into the light, it immediately loses its seduction and power. You begin to see the habit for what it really is. You see how it’s taken you for a fool. You realize you’re not spinning alone in the dark.
2) Accountability makes sure that failure is not the final word.
Sometimes “accountability” can sound like “probation.” And while there’s some element of examination, the big difference is that accountability will cheer for you to win.
We can’t fight our destructive habits by ourselves. We need a community to rush in and encourage us, root for us, and to tell us that there’s more. If we do stumble, it’s not enough to grit our teeth and white-knuckle through it. There must be someone who’s both a coach and a cheerleader, pressing us on. AA sponsors and mentors for youth have shown statistical benefits for those enrolled, proving that we need other people for both discipline and vision.
When I was held accountable to someone who knew what he was doing, he called out the times I went wrong, but also celebrated the times I made good choices. It’s a big deal to have our victories highlighted. We often can’t see our own progress, but someone alongside side us always will. Most of us are more encouragement-starved than we realize.
We need to know that we’re actually doing better than we think.
3) Accountability gives both the restoration and resolve you need, in a tough and tender person side-by-side.
I was addicted to porn for fifteen years and I quit porn cold turkey. It was a crazy hard, uphill journey that’s now been nearly four years of sobriety. The key factor in quitting was an accountability partner who was both firm and gentle, tough and tender, and was always available.
The thing is, when you’re in your own harmful swirl of addiction, it can be difficult to see the damage you’re doing to yourself. “It’s not that bad” is a common refrain, all while you’re blinking away bleary nights of lost sleep and the suffocating haze of objectification.
But the second you’re held accountable, you see the pain in the other person’s eyes. You see how much they want you to get healthy, even more than you want that for yourself. You see both the compassion and conviction that you might have lost in yourself some time ago when the numbness set in.
Accountability electrifies our discipline. It revives those parts of us that stopped caring. It awakens the person we were meant to be out of slumber. It takes another person to hold us accountable to see that again. To see a little bit down the road.
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