Written By: Katie Schipper
Negative Contracts and Women In Treatment
Many of us enter recovery with a limited and almost always skewed version of reality. Honesty is a foreign concept. We’ve lived with so many lies that we can’t tell what the truth is anymore.
Negative contracts are a necessity in unhealthy relationships. In fact, they’re the foundation of any sick relationship. The drive to keep secrets, deny the truth, and protect our drinking and drugging is paramount for an addict or alcoholic. So, the concept of a negative contract is incredibly natural in any relationship involving addicts. Even after entering a women’s treatment center, falling into negative contracts can happen very easily.
What is a Negative Contract?
A negative contract is formed any time two people agree to keep a secret that is harmful or dangerous. Unfortunately, after entering recovery this habit doesn’t just disappear!
Addiction appears in many disguises and the heart of all of them is the idea that certain things must be kept secret. That’s why forming negative contracts is so natural. It’s easy to believe that being a good friend means keeping secrets.
Oftentimes, negative contracts start out innocently. The secret could be as simple as someone breaking a rule that doesn’t seem like a big deal. Think passing a note, or flirting with a male client. What’s overlooked, however, is that it usually isn’t the secret that’s the core issue. The bigger picture is that when engaged in a negative contract, both parties are forgoing honesty, a cornerstone of recovery. It’s agreed, across the board, that without honesty, long-term recovery isn’t possible.
Whether the negative contract in question is over a small or large secret, the end result is the same – the people involved stay sick.
Bonding with Others
For females in recovery, negative contracts can take on special significance. Such a contract is a secret and serves as a bond and a type of camaraderie. Negative contracts can feel deceptively like friendship. They can feel like intimacy and, to be the one who tells the secret, can feel a lot like betrayal.
Of course, the reality is that making a choice to not keep secrets is the ultimate freedom. Like many things that are revealed to a newly sober woman, secrets have to be exposed as what they are – tools of addiction.
Knowing what a negative contract is, what holding one means, and the consequences involved is vital knowledge for any woman in recovery. Acknowledging that keeping secrets is not the foundation of a healthy relationship is very empowering. Learning to be honest above all else is a necessary trait for anyone in recovery.