Month: July 2016

What Recovering Men do

It wasn’t simply working the program itself that had an effect on healing and real connection for me  – but  largely it was in the act of demonstrating a willingness to submit consistently to a program – any decent program of recovery.   This was a huge relief to me when it suddenly broke into my awareness!   In other words I gave up my will to God in the only way I could comprehend at the time – go to my weekly meetings, do my daily reading and writing,  pray, and surrender lust to recovering friends.  Now I could rest assured and confident and simply watch the miracles.   

That is it – God does the rest.  The surgeon cuts, God heals.  We water and nourish the plant, God sees that it grows.   The program may shift from time to time as we, in consultation, see a need, or we move to another phase, but now that is the program we work … and we should be careful and prayerful to never make our program to easy or too oppressive – but to mostly just follow counsel of others before us.

Too easy, but we look beyond the mark…we  sometimes resist simply looking and living.  The recovering man consistently does what the man not recovering is not willing to do – the program.  

Keep your focus this summer!

“Street lust”  means being particularly aware of attractive women (substitute men if that that is your sexual template) – driving, walking, in the grocery store, etc…..and taking a real good look.  This is a tough habit for most – and often the last to go.  I want to share what has worked for me.  

Whenever I would happen across a woman that was particularly attractive, I tried to say a quick prayer for her and see if that allowed the moment to pass.  However,  if I noticed that I had a shift in feeling that lingered for more than a minute or two, I would call a recovering friend to make a surrender.  At first I was calling a lot!!!  I am not one who is typically excited about making calls frankly, even though I am always glad when I do.   Eventually, It wasn’t worth taking the look in the first place in order to avoid making so many calls.  

Now, as my peripheral vision sees a potentially triggering woman, rather than go through the little ritual of checking to confirm or disconfirm my suspicion, I will instead look elsewhere and experience that momentary off-balance feeling of wondering what I am missing.  It further helps  cement the deal by my orienting my body in a different direction altogether.   If I happen to directly (vs peripherally) see a woman who is triggering, I allow my eyes to “bounce off” her.   In denying myself in this way, my brain started to believe thatI had all I needed with God; that He would take care of all my needs.   I felt more and more like I was walking with Him in my everyday life and public experience. Now, if needed at all, it is easy to glance farther away or let my eyes “bounce off” from potentially triggering women and simply feel peace.  

At present this kind of consciousness in having a need to look away rarely happens at all and only in particularly triggering situations.    Instead I find myself looking back on interactions and realizing I am experiencing old bald dudes and pretty young women in largely the same way…people with varying emotions and experiences and personalities that I interact with.  For the single person, this is particularly useful, because you can better discern what it is you really want in a partner apart from a baseline attraction.  The single guy sometimes decides themselves into not surrendering a tendency to scan the streets etc because they are single and looking.  That is not true. They are better off slowing down or stopping the street lust so they can find balance and peace with God.  

A significant portion of this change occurred  by my practicing another level of surrender I would like to write about later after this has been practiced for a while.  

Dear Recovering Man…

Dear Recovering Man,  

Is there are a part of you that believes that just the right attractive woman or man will simply and amazingly take care of everything you ever yearned for – motivating all that is good within you?  Two things in this world are deceptive in this way: Riches and Beauty.   They are God substitutes.

As you continue to consistently surrender lust, the new kind of capacity and love you have started to experience will grow in you.  Then you will be ready to express your sexuality in marriage with a beautiful woman of your choice – because then you will know how to love!  You will have God and so not be dependent on either your woman or your fantasy of romance.  You will be a provider to her of good things – and she will love you back….it is a divine triangle.  

First, your foundation…keep surrendering the deception of lust…by growing stronger and stronger in your higher power and firmer and firmer in reality.

“…Everybody is going to hurt you…”

by Christopher Adams, AMFT

I make this post with some hesitancy.  I want to be very honest without justifying the specific pains that come from instances of abuse or blatant mistreatment of a spouse or a loved one.

Bob Marley, is not one that I have ever gone to for advice on how to live a successful life up to this point. However, when I read this quote of his, I was moved by the simple truth that it taught.

“If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you’re not worthy. … Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” – Bob Marley

“…Everybody is going to hurt you…” I find it interesting that we make the choice to live with a stranger and somehow believe that we will be nothing but happy for our entire lives.  I love the fairy tail and I want that to be true but when reality sets back in I understand that marriage, specifically, is one of the hardest endeavors that we choose to undertake.

John Gottman, a researcher who studies successful marriages, reports that couples who report being happy after 30 years of marriage are those couples that fight.  The catch to that is that after they fight, they have learned how to repair the hurts that have been sustained.

IF you have “found the one that is worth suffering for,” don’t give up on your marriage.  If they have been that person before, let’s see if they can be that person again before you walk away.  Marriage is hard and can be painful at times but it is, in my opinion, worth saving.


ChrisaChris is a Marriage and Family
Therapist, specializing in individual,
relationship, and family work.

Keeping Connections

So good that you are finding sobriety – which for me has always associated with clearer thinking, less obsessiveness, and more flexibility around everyday things not even associated with the addiction.….which makes it worth it all by itself.  For me there is no doubt that keeping connections maintain this freedom.  Connection with God and others.  I need this everyday or I am vulnerable to all kinds of old stuff, so it is first priority regardless of anything else.  Please call or text recovery friends, sponsor, or other accountability folks at the first sign of lust…This neutralizes its effects so it suddenly isn’t pouring over the dam and you wonder how you got to where you are.

Your drug of choice

Depression and Anxiety

As time passed in my sobriety, many other emotions presented themselves that I had to surrender -resentments, boredom, and fears for example.  Over time, by not resorting to my “drug” to medicate these emotions –  but turning to God, I found a great calm come over my mind that I had not experienced before.  I also felt more interested and satisfied by everyday small things – I felt connected to God.  This freedom and this connection was the greatest medication I could hope for – but with no regrets, no coming back-to-reality, no self-destruction.  Only peace.

Regulating Resentment

A note to a sponsee:

 It is interesting how you spoke of your recovery time on the angry outburst – you stayed in the light and saw the weakness and more quickly got centered.

This is a similar process to what you have experienced with your addiction and reflects my history as well.  Using the 12-step tools of recovery,  relapses for both anger and your drug are contained and overcome quickly and soon don’t occur at all.  It is a wonderful process!    I find that if I work to stay aware and surrender resentments early, from whatever source, I can deal comfortably and directly and reasonably with conflict as it comes up.  This, as opposed to its spilling over in a rush of overinflated emotion at some unpredictable moment.
Resentment and your addiction are very similar in this regard!  Their history needs to be confessed and neutralized in step 1, 4, 5, 8 and 9 and then they need to be neutralized  quickly along the way through surrender and admitting when we are wrong!
Good work….

Feeling Whole – The Real Connection

There was always something about certain attractive women which fit a certain attraction template I had somehow created – which is a bit different for everyone.   That triggered a kind of mystery I wanted resolved – like there was something she had having to do with my feeling whole that I needed to fathom – like this missing element was going to save me.  I am sure the SSA men have some sense of what I am talking about relative to specific men…that a certain man with a certain look and characteristics is going to make all whole.  When I am feeling disconnected, I still experience this… and feel compelled to check to see if that woman in that other car or at the grocery store, etc. has that certain mystery in face or form that could-have-would-have saved me.   It was great to read today in Paul’s writing how we receive a fullness in Jesus and that he completes us (it said complete!).  I totally got that.  It really resonated.  I have loved reading the scriptures as recovery progresses, because it seems like I can, more and more, say – OK that isn’t just a cool doctrinal thought, that is something I understand in my whole soul – something I experience!  

Inflated Emotions

Depression and AnxietyI found in my mid-range recovery that sometimes I would come across a thought or an image that may cause a brief inflated emotion, but that I could say a quick prayer or otherwise wave it off and move on.  However, sometimes the thought or image moved  quickly from head to heart and seemed to kind of linger in my chemistry even after I had physically moved on.   I would always surrender openly with another  person these types of events and their after-effects.  That way they never had a chance to build up.  At one point I started surrendering even the inflated emotions…I would do it by simply typing “i.e.” to a recovery friend.  Soon I found it would rather just avoid looking in the first place where possible than have to surrender the i.e. …I also found that this small temporary denial caused my  emotions to become a lot less inflated and my need to look a lot less compelling.  

Committments

Commitments are different than “things-I-would-also-like-to-do” or goals I have.  So as an Addicted, ADD, commitment-guy-in-training I started with some things I KNEW were possible.  At first that meant what is possible only TODAY.  So at any given time at work,  I never commit to myself or others beyond 1-3  things at a time – things I KNOW I can accomplish before the remainder of the day expires.  In my personal life, that means I only commit to doing one or two small things – like getting to bed on time at 10:00 – for say the next three days – NO MATTER WHAT.   .

I can do that….and  I surrender the ILLUSION of CONTROL beyond that which is immediate and understandably doable in the present.

Once I got in the habit of making and keeping small commitments and felt I could trust myself, I enthusiastically found my capacity for commitment expanding and maybe I could make a commitment for a week then a month’s worth (still surrendering temptations to not follow through one moment and one day at a time – but now I knew how to do this).

Perhaps someday I will know deep in my heart that I can make and keep a significant and difficult new years resolution – but not quite yet!  =)

So I pause when I say to myself “I am going to start getting to bed at 10:00”  and ask myself – is this something I would ‘like to do’ or am I making a COMMITMENT… and if I am making a commitment, how many days can I be sure I can commit myself to it NO MATTER WHAT.  Until I know I know how to surrender temptations to not follow through – I commit for just today  – and I may renew that commitment tomorrow.    We run patiently the race that is before us…line upon line. Of course the sooner something is habit from repeated surrenders to doing the right thing one decision at a time over repeated days, the sooner my life simplifies and I can spend commitment energy somewhere else.

If something I would like to do falls short of being a commitment   I don’t berate myself up when I don’t come through – I just consider whether that should be be a commitment thing instead at one point and try not to stuff too much in.

First get the big weeds out….your addiction behavior with a very few small supportive self-care commitments.  Don’t distract yourself with the thousand small weeds and make them commitments – your addict wants that so you are tempted to say “forget the whole thing.”

In my early recovery I would commit to endure the next 10 minutes lust free and make a phone cal or text in that time as well.  That was as great a commitment as I could keep, and perhaps I could go from there with another 10 minutes if I still needed it.

This is why I make such a big deal up front before taking a new sponsee about their asking themselves whether they are truly really and absolutely ready to do a 100% every-day for 100 days intensive program.  I am not trying to be a rigid dogmatic bonehead – that just goes without saying.  I am in these instances, saying – please, I want you to succeed this time, please you can’t afford to buy in half-way and expect change.

That said, it is NOT better to just start avoiding commitments – life is very dismal that way.  Rather, we just slowly expand our self-perception as a commitment-making and commitment-keeping person.