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.
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!
I 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.
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.
Note to Those Individuals in Recovery:
You are doing well and that should be congratulated – by yourself and others.
I found the path of recovery to be very nurturing and very gentle. Specifically, as I exercised enough confidence to trust the program and do it fully, I found that shifts which seemed so scary, which I had worked on for years, softened. There have consistently been times when I am doing things that have nothing to do with recovery, like when driving or talking to someone, when suddenly I become aware of a sweet shift, however minor. Truly the best description of this is found by saying these concepts or changes ‘distill upon my soul as the dews from heaven.’ Is that not gentle?
So my point being – don’t force yourself to face difficult emotions – just let God do his perfect work – and my full belief is that right now that means staying sober and do the actions of the program – one day at a time – one moment at a time. That will bring you to what you need – it is all structured out. There will be nothing that will be too difficult or too much of a leap. Nothing forced. So far, it appears you are making full room for the program as outlined. If you don’t compromise that, or make it second to anything else, or do things half way, then you can rest assured you are doing all you can do and all that is expected and can expect the blessings.
I honestly think you have a lot of good thoughts about the meetings etc. I resonate with much of them. I also found tremendous relief when I could finally just allow myself to be a part of what it was, as it was….(for me btw SA programs seemed to be more useful than ARP – although I found them both helpful). Perhaps someday there will be meetings – ones that in fact you generate – that are tailored more to your thoughts regarding what is most helpful. But for now the general format is working for countless thousands of people, and there is much to be said about just letting go and joining as just a guy who is, at least currently, new to this process of recovery.
The simple act of surrendering to the process – as imperfect as I found it – was perhaps as important to my feeling a spiritual transformation as anything I actually did or said in the program itself.
For me, when I first got sober, it made me feel better, as they say. I particularly felt anxiety better – but also depression – and more resentment than I ever imagined I possessed. Everything was crashing down on me and I could hardly move my waxy limbs. I did keep the praying sincere and honest and would have small packets of sunshine as tender mercies from God from time to time. In the meantime, the 12 step group where there were guys with long term sobriety was in reality my higher power….it was the first time since high school I was being honest and open with a bunch of guys and I found that this provided “juice” to my soul….like I was a rusty machine and it provided lube and oil to make things move again. This higher power was particularly important because at that time, God was still like a cosmic servant to me – I knew He was there but I wasn’t in relation to Him as his Son. Rather he was more like a guy kinda responsible for both the good – and the mess and would he now please do what He needed to do to clean it up. PLEASE.
Eventually my prayers went more toward “what would you have me do.” and were less self-focused. I started to believe, very slowly and still today with some reluctance, that God in fact knows me personally. Now, more than ever, this belief is turning slowly into something very real and ongoing and mutually communicative. There is some depth and joy to having a real God who cares about me as my higher power – and the 12 step meetings are still important reminders and a kind of affirmation of the peace I feel.
Are you fighting your addiction?
On being tired of controlling and fighting all your lust in its various forms: Don’t fight. Whenever that familiar feeling comes up in any of the forms or manifestations you mentioned, don’t fight them – surrender them openly to another and to God while turning away long enough to where they subside for a time. At first it may seem that this is, in itself, a never-ending fight, but eventually you will better understand this concept of surrender – and instead of feeling battle weary and tired, you will rejoice in the strength that is replacing the weakness and the Spirit that is filling the emptiness.
These small moments are simply battles you cannot fight or mentally wrestle with anymore. You are in a situation where you need to bury your weapons of war deep in the ground – because you have your own form of blood lust and your soul can’t afford to bloody your old sword again – for any cause or reason. Instead you prostrate yourself and be killed, or watch on the sidelines while your brothers are killed for you and around you. But you, with your addiction, can’t afford the risk of engaging in the fight anymore. This is a relief that will grow with your growing trust.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this in regard to your own addiction!
Do you insist on being stuck? Do you resent God for not just healing you sooner?
I appreciate your open expressions regarding lust and its effects in your life. For most of my life I was more unconscious in my resentment toward God than you are, but nevertheless felt alienated from Him and withdrew from Him in subtle emotional ways, given semblance of prayers and rituals – more in my head as thinking-through than talking-through – with a caring Being. It was hard for me to understand how, in spite of all my thought and efforts, I wasn’t getting healing or resolution. And for most of my adult life I felt abandoned to a situation I felt was irreconcilable. Specifically my hope for romantic love seemed like an apparent impossibility if I were to live the commandments and keep my commitments. As I began my recovery work in earnest, some of this resentment became more conscious, and then I couldn’t understand why God couldn’t have led me to the tools and blessings of recovery and sobriety much earlier – why did I need to be in my mid-forties after having lost everything?
I have since felt more and more of God’s goodness and tender love and that His kind presence was always there, stable and sure. In a related way, I could also better see my role in maintaining my conflicts and problems within the context of the raw reality of this difficult mortal experience.
T.V. Series are super fun and give a bit of escape for my wife and I from time-to-time.
In my recovery, I did start noticing that the same emptiness that sometimes invited me to escape into tv – especially when by myself – was the same emptiness that invited me into lust. I wanted a bit of escape from being in my head and have that emptiness filled…again, especially when I was tempted to watch tv all by myself, rather than doing it as a bit of bonding with family or friends. Does that sound familiar?
Now I recognize this emptiness as a God-Hunger, and when I am tempted to watch T.V. or otherwise fill it with media sensation (and even the news is sensation-oriented anymore) I often stop and kneel down and try to connect with God and his will for what he would have me do at the time, and I listen.
Whenever I do this I almost always find a sudden clarity on something important that needs to be done and a motivation and impulse to go that different direction – one that ends up being fulfilling to me and actually helpful to others.
Has any one else experienced this simple transformation to the much more satiating feeling God offers – when otherwise tempted to escape into media?
The term addict can sound pretty scary and that’s because it is. Addiction is a very scary thing and unfortunately it is more common than many of us want to acknowledge. Sexual addiction in particular is becoming more prevalent than any other addiction we know of because pornography is so easily accessible. One can easily access pornographic media on computers, phones, tablets, and televisions. What used to only be accessible in adult bookstores in sketchy parts of town is now in the pocket of most 12 years olds.
So what’s the big deal? It’s normal to have sexual interest and desires, right? Right! It is normal, natural and good to have interest in sex. So what makes porn a problem? In Psychology there is a phenomenon called the Coolidge effect. The Coolidge effect is a phenomenon observed in mammals in which the animal shows increased sexual interest when exposed to a new or novel mate.  When left with the same mate the animal’s desire for and frequency of sex it decreases even if the female is pursuing. Why this happens is that each time a new mate is introduced the brain releases a dose of dopamine, which is a “feel good” chemical in the brain. While humans tend to be more monogamous than other mammals this effect still exists. High-speed internet pornography can trigger the Coolidge effect like nothing else we have ever seen in the history of mankind. No other time on this earth has an individual been able to see as many attractive people in such a short amount of time. Literally we can see hundreds if not thousands of “novel mates” in just 10 minutes. What this does is provides the brain with continual squirts of dopamine; which is what makes it so compelling to go back, it feels good! Soon the viewer becomes dependent on the dopamine in order to feel and function normally. The individual becomes addicted. Nowhere in the real world can someone achieve sexually what we can now achieve on the internet. The problem continues as at some point the novelty of the images are not enough to achieve the same dose of dopamine so people begin seeking more hardcore pornography, and after time may begin chatting, and sometimes this leads to interactions with actual real “novel mates” which once again becomes an easy endeavor due to the internet.
There are some who would try and prove that sexual addiction is not a real thing, that it is just those who have a high libido and that mental health professionals are wrong to call it an addiction  but those who are caught in the middle of compulsive sexual behavior can attest to the development of the cravings in their lives and the unmanageability of their desires. Ultimately, regardless of what we call it, if it is an actual addiction or not, many people have a very hard time with managing their sexual compulsions and need help.
It’s great to know what is going on in the brain but the question you might be asking yourself is “What does sexual addiction look like?” Sex addiction can most easily be defined as an inability to control sexual behavior. But what is sexual behavior? That can be a very complex question. As sex is a very complex part of our lives, in a nutshell, sexual behavior includes anything that arouses sexual feelings within an individual. If you have an inability to control those behaviors or to go without it, you are likely addicted. Some of these behaviors include but are not limited to, pornography use, masturbation, sex with others (which can include a spouse), sexual chatting and video chatting online, the use of “hookup” apps on your phone, and the use of any other items that might be used to create sexual fantasy and excitement within an individual.
Now sex is a normal and natural part of life and can be a very emotionally, relationally, spiritually, and physically healthy; however, it can also be destructive in all those areas. When sexual behavior reaches a point where the individual feels he has no choice but to act on sexual urges it can become a devastating situation. If you relate to the unmanageability of your behaviors or if you feel you might have a compulsive sexual problem, seek help. Any addiction or compulsive behavior can’t be dealt with alone. You will need support and will need to learn tools to help you work through this issue. Reber, A. S. & Reber, E., The Penguin dictionary of psychology (3rd ed.), London: Penguin,
ISBN 0-14-051451-1  Wilson, G. ,Porn, Novelty and the Coolidge Effect. (2011, August 8). Retrieved April 7, 2015, from http://yourbrainonporn.com/porn-novelty-and-the-coolidge-effect  Steele, V. R., Staley, C., Fong, T. & Prause, N., Sexual Deisre, not Hypersexuality, is related to Neurophysiological responses elicited by sexual images. (2013, July 16) Retrieved April 7, 2015, from http://www.socioaffectiveneuroscipsychol.net/index.php/snp/article/view/20770