Self-Will Run Riot

To borrow from both AA and the Twelve Steps, as well as Richard Rohr’s take on it, here is a fabulous quote which resonates with me and my own life:  

“Our troubles are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves; and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he or she does not think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must or it kills us!”

Several years ago, mid-affair, my life was about me; how everyone was to relate to me, how Samantha was to please me, and how my own little world had me at the center of it. Even while serving others, somehow it very easily became about me. I was sick. Sick and unable to see how lost I was.

I’m truly in awe at how easy it is to become self-deceived and to allow our self-will, as Rohr said, “to run riot.” We’re naturally bent towards self-absorption, but we can also be very ‘functioning’ addicts who know how to put on a pretty face or hide our addiction to life being all about us.

In recovery from infidelity, I’d like to encourage you betrayed spouses to know in your heart that many unfaithful are far sicker and self-deceived than they will admit to. They probably won’t admit, I mean genuinely admit with sincere brokenness and comprehension of their utter selfishness, till they get the right kind of help. And even if they do it will take a while. With respect to your personal situation, every struggle is different, but as they pursue recovery, more and more they’ll look back and see that it was all about them.

That’s why I’m amazed at times when I meet someone in the midst of crisis (due to infidelity or addiction) and they think a mere devotional or a simple book will be the key. Those steps are wonderful and great icing on the cake of recovery. But my friends, the type of self-deception and pure dysfunction which allows us to justify our affair(s) or addiction is deep seeded. If the unfaithful is going to get healthy, it will require more than just a book and a couple counseling sessions.  If they are as unhealthy as I was, they’ll unfortunately be able to deceive their way through the counseling sessions anyway. If you’re here, you’ve probably experienced this level of dysfunction, or are living it as we speak.

I wish it wasn’t this hard.  But this is where the unfaithful has a chance to own up to just how deceived they were (or are). It’s an opportunity to own up to the fact that affairs are not because our spouse will not have enough sex with us. They are not because our spouse is more focused on the kids, life in general, or career than they are our own needs.

To go a step further, our affair or addiction is not due to feeling unloved, ignored or rejected by our spouse. Those issues may make it easier to have an affair and may create an environment where we are incredibly vulnerable for temptation and moral failure, but are by no means the cause of an affair.

We have an affair because we’re not courageous enough or healthy enough or “present” enough to get our marriage help. We choose the easier way out. We choose the epitome of selfishness. We choose to not confront our situation or our spouse or our lifestyle. Much worse, we deceive ourselves into thinking this is our only option. There is always a better option my friend.

I hope you’ll get help today. I hope you’ll be courageous enough to consider letting your spouse know that you and your marriage need help instead. Let the codependency and the self-deception come to an end today.

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I wish

Thank you, Samuel, for your insight. How I wish my wife could see that in herself. Others have seen it in her even before I did, and even told me so, but I found it hard to believe someone so selfish. I believe now. But if she is still in denial 3 years after the affair ended, and still selfish so that everything must go her way, how do I get her to see herself?


Duwayne thank you for your kind words my friend. that's a tough question. in many ways, there isn't much hope she'll get it on her own. has she gotten any kind of help at all? one of the only ways I see unfaithful spouses change, or come to their senses if you will, is if they get help from someone like Rick or one of the programs on the site. besides that, there doesn't seem to be much breakthrough, only because they don't get the right kind of help. it's sad indeed, but they are so self deceived and have lied to themselves for soo long, the cycle cannot be broken on it's own. It needs outside intervention on an expertise level to speak their language. you both probably are in gridlock and can't break out, that's why a third party whose an expert can step in and help untie her and help her even untie herself from the lies she's told herself over and over again. does that make sense? I'm so sorry I don't have more to offer in terms of help or hope, but with God there truly is hope. perhaps she would be willing to get some help or be open to talking to someone like Rick or someone who works for Rick? hope that helps my friend.

What can I do as the hurt

What can I do as the hurt spouse, living with our 2 teenage sons, while my husband, their dad, lives in an RV in the same town and continues his affair with his AP who also lives in our small town nearby to both of us? Neither of us has filed for divorce, praise God, after 18 months of living this way. I am about to finish the Harboring Hope course. What a blessing it has been for me. Your article has left me thinking, " now that's what I'm talking about!". You described what I have thought about my lost husband for some time now. I have invited him to EMS weekend and to look at this website and am praying he sees himself in the courageous men and women who bare their souls in order for someone else to see hope and light and encouragement.

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