Category: Sex Addiction

Living in Dignity and Love With Your Wife as You Recover

Dear Sponsee,

My heart often still aches for my ex-wife.   If I could go back and do one thing differently in my marriage, it would be to fully accept my wife when she was rejecting me.  I know that sounds impossible, but I have discovered it is not.  She was hurting and if I had learned then how to stay in the Spirit, I could have heard what she was saying and doing to me as evidence of her pain, not something so personal, and could have been consistently kind to her…and in this state I may have been better able to help her  FOR HER sake – not in order to get her off my back or help her accept me again.   

I never found resentment to be useful regardless of what my wife does or doesn’t do.   The Spirit will help you both feel like a man and be kind and long-suffering at the same time!!!  You will know when and how to set limits, but it will truly come from a perspective of what is good for her – not you.    It also wasn’t helpful for me to do this martyr thing:  like I am this amazing (or beaten down)  man who has to put up with this never-forgiving woman – that also was absent of the Spirit.   

Pray for your current wife as a priority.  Serve her.   Keep surrendering and praying and all will soften.  Pray to know  the truth from God: that you are a good man, a man who desires good, and a desirable man, then you will not get so concerned and make things worse if/when your wife says cruel things out of spite…You can be confident in your manliness and stay in your OWN recovery, even if your wife decided to leave you…but you can make that possibility less in the meantime.  I will send you the Step Two work tomorrow.  Begin to put your trust in God and not in your wife.  It will seem like a much longer journey than you can bear sometimes…..So read and work sufficiently each day to feel the spirit that day!  

First Step Inventory

Dear Sponsee,

My heart goes out to you as you work your first step inventory, and at the same time, I am excited for you as you now get to experience a deeper distance from your past.    Please do a lot of self-care through this time – prayer and scriptures and eating healthy etc.   This is a very important step.  Two things came as a result of this step for me ….First, I saw more clearly how lust had led me to do things that were amazingly dark and destructive and shameful.  This helped me get a very healthy respect the power of lust could have over me and how much I did not want to take the first steps into giving it any power going forward.  Second, it had the amazingly paradoxical effect of helping me be free from an underlying shame that was making me vulnerable to relapse.  I had shared my very worst with a faithful witness who understood the cunning, baffling, powerful nature of lust.  I could now stand on equal footing with any man, and not feel somewhere in me I had some secret that I was hiding.  All had come to the light already.  

Don’t write with shame or triggers, when this happens, step back and see this process as though you were observing history from a place of self-acceptance for who you are today and compassion for who you were then.

I am glad you are willing to do this difficult work.  Recovering men do what those who aren’t recovering are unwilling to do.   

Prayer

Prayer is something that the addict might have not had good experiences with or feels that God hasn’t listened in the past.  Sometimes, our old concepts of prayer  – our approach and attitude and concept of our God etc., need to be modified so we can practice a new kind of connection and reality with our Father.  

I thought I knew how to pray, but have found I learn more and more about it in the  doing of it.    Even when I am not in formal prayer, I make an effort to speak to God and watch for the connection and see what works and what doesn’t in terms of my attitude and approach.  In the meantime, I exercise faith He is hearing me in spite of the imperfection of my communication.   I need a lot of prayer during the day to combat the creeping tendency to resent or feel like a victim.  Prayer helps me connect to a healthier ongoing reality and to love others rather than having a focus on myself.

Self Forgiveness

I struggled with self-forgiveness for a long time. I found I had to learn to trust that God would see to it that I would become stronger and stronger as I simply did my part in following a program of recovery. That in the meantime, God did love me and that I was acceptable to Him in spite of my imperfections….imperfections that He was working on in His time and way. You may find, like me, that when you are doing well, evil is present with you, telling you you are not doing it good enough or that you are lacking. This is a voice to surrender – not believe! Can’t you imagine the devil – seeing you do well and resenting it. Wanting to tell you you are screwing it up…trying to keep you “in your place.” Listen to that still small voice telling you you are good, your efforts are noticed, you are a beloved son – and you don’t have to live beneath your privilege as His own Son anymore!

See and React to our Emotional and Relational Environment

Recovery results in our becoming more flexible and accurate in our thinking – to see and react more effectively and accurately to our emotional and relational environment.  Its physical analogy is like having light on so we can see the opticals and vehicles along our path.  This is a result of walking more and more closely with God.   As one example, I have found a softening in my sense of being separate from others.  

In speaking with many young or immature religious Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, Muslims, the religiously atheistic, strict political conservatives or liberals, or the rich or poor who identify with their class (etc),  I find a common emotion… a sense of not only trusting their in-group, which is fine – but also an elitist sense that they are somehow fundamentally different and separate in their humanity from the non-believing.  

For me as a Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), this elitist tendency found various justifications just as I am sure it does with others who identify strongly with an ideology.  In my recovery I found this tendency toward separateness and elitism softening without my having to abandon the strengths of my beliefs in the least…  

This common emotion among us (with an immaturely developed or understood ideology) makes others less than human, alien.   I have come to not like this feeling. I have discovered in recovery that it has roots in obsessiveness and personal narcissism rather than in God or in my beliefs.  I would rather like to see myself as relatable and in relationship with others – all of whom are on a continuum of progress or regress in all the various issues that I myself am or could be.  

The very obsessive/elitism vs. relatable/connection continuum I speak of here is one of these many issues by which I can connect with others – having compassion, identity, or admiration for them in regard to their place, as I might see it, on this continuum.  To see that we are all tied together as literal spiritual brothers and sisters struggling with various shades of the same issues.  That maybe I can get help from you or you from me on this or other issues.

Do I get frustrated at the judgmental?  
I myself can be judgmental.  

Do I get resentful of the undisciplined and selfish?  
I myself can be undisciplined and selfish.

When I see that whenever I am disturbed, it is a reflection of something in me…I can surrender the  things more easily within me that I do and think –  and stay in peace.   This comes from working the steps which improves our conscious contact with God – making all this wonderful new life possible.  

Depression and Anxiety in Recovery

You may have heard that as we recover we feel better.  We feel resentment better, we feel anxiety better, we feel depression better…..  This is because we are not medicating our emotions and now get to learn to master reality with our Higher Power’s help.  In the meantime, depression and anxiety are bodily/chemical events –  NOT something that has accurate information about who we are  – other than to remind us to seek God.   I find Evil tries to play on the body’s chemical habits and events to tempt us to feel bad about past (depression) or worried about our future (anxiety).  If messages you receive aren’t  from the Spirit of your Higher Power (that you are learning to recognize by praying to Him) they don’t need to be trusted.  It doesn’t help anything to see yourself as less than you hoped for at this point, or to worry what your girlfriend might be thinking, for example.   

Keep up the good work, be sober TODAY.  

Mindfulness in Recovery

Practicing mindfulness is helpful to recovery.   Step 4 and 5 are what REALY helped me to learn mindfulness.  Specifically, as I turned my mind in a calm way to my character weaknesses, systematically inventorying them, and then confessed them to another human being –  it was as though I was stepping outside my sins and weaknesses and observing them as something I DO – not something I AM.  So as result of these steps 4 and 5, I have become more aware when my weaknesses come to knock on my door.  With this awareness, I can slow my reaction down sufficiently to turn to God and allow His Spirit to fill me instead.  This is a mindfulness process – of nonjudgmental observation and compassion for self and others and staying in God’s peace….My peace and sense of self and connection to God can then be like a chessboard – Consistent and unchanging….and emotions and events are simply moving pieces on the chessboard that I am patient with….I am not unduly influenced by the pieces, however full of sound and fury they may strut and fret their little parts.   

Make Calls

One thing I want to emphasize, because it is not easy,  but it makes a big difference and is sometimes critical;  use your telephone to call guys who are also in the program.  Addicts typically hate to make calls.  It is one of those things that those who are recovering do that those who are not recovering neglect.  Lust builds up and by surrendering it to another human being as well as to God, it neutralizes its effects…calls are huge with this as well as teaching us a thousand things about connection that is valuable practice.  

Would you commit to  making at least three phone calls per week to a recovering man, and to continue to text as well, in order to surrender temptation and make connections?   

So many with more than two months of recovery begin to feel slightly complacent – like they perhaps have “got it now.”   Yet it is amazing  how cunning baffling and powerful lust is at getting into the little access holes we can leave for it if we are not careful  watchful and prayerful.   

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.