Recovering Soul

Healing from sexual addiction

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You're not alone

 

I am a child of God recovering from sexual addiction, I have found hope and sobriety through the mercy of God.  Here I will share some experiences from my journey of recovery and tools that have helped me find and maintain sobriety.

 

I will share elements of my story as well as best-practices I learn about in my recovery circles in a blog to create a community of recovering addicts.  Follow me to learn where to find recovery for yourself or to support your friends and family as they work to overcome sexual addiction.  

 

Access great resources to understand how to overcome sexual addiction and use them yourself or share them with loved ones

 

 

 

Posted by admin on March 28, 2016

Daily Lifestyle Changes For Recovering Addicts

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Lifestyle Changes Will Change You

From an excellent and demanding sponsor I learned that real sobriety doesn’t just happen, it requires work (time plus effort), and it requires a change in your lifestyle and your daily routine, and it requires frequent prayer.   When you decide to turn your life over to God–STEP THREE–you will discover that God is also an excellent and demanding sponsor.  Doing the steps, doing your dailies, will seem inconvenient, they will change much of your routine and your life, and if you make those changes, those changes will change you.  God will help you.  Ask Him.

 

Do I use the word “work” too often?  This is a spiritual program.  Spirituality requires prayer and work.   My experience is that those who are willing to pray and work make progress and achieve recovery.  Those who are not willing will fail.

 

STEP THREE IS ABOUT SURRENDER

Surrender means working the steps and doing your dailies.  In addition to the steps, whenever you realize that you are troubled, angry, resentful, fearful, tempted to act out or to act in, or are sexually aroused, surrender means that you immediately stop what you’re doing, offer a focused and honest prayer, and call your sponsor or a recovery partner immediately.   If you attempt to deal with any of those feelings on your own, you are not surrendering, you are still trying to take control, and sooner or later you will relapse.

 

DAILIES

The road to recovery requires discipline, dedication, and work.  That is the proper use of your will   Taking step three (surrendering our addiction to God) is not about some abstract, warm and fuzzy one-day promise.  If you commit to doing step three, you are committing to doing the work.  There is no change without work and prayer.

 

My daily list includes:

    • Step Three Prayer
    • At least twice daily, formally, morning and evening, alone, on your knees
    • Family or couple prayer and prayer at meals as well
    • I pray informally in whispered words or thoughts several times during the day
  • Daily Sobriety Renewal (DSR) call with support people or sponsor
  • Physical exercise of some kind
  • Step work as prescribed by my sponsor
  • Daily recovery reading (Big Book, White Book, etc.)
  • Journaling (blogging)
  • Reaching out to my sponsor or to a recovery partner throughout the day
  • Daily contact with your sponsor, often an end-of-day statement

I plan for half an hour to forty-five minutes every morning for step work.   Sounds like a pretty demanding list doesn’t it?  If it wasn’t demanding it wouldn’t help me recover – my conscious effort at recovery must be at least as demanding as my addiction.

 

STEP-3 PRAYER

“God, I offer myself to thee–to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.  Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.  Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, Thy Way of life.  May I do Thy will always”  [Big Book p. 63;  Step Into Action, p. 84. ]

 

JOURNALING

Most, recovering addicts discover that keeping a journal is a useful recovery tool.  I personally resisted journal writing until an excellent and demanding sponsor required it of me.   Only after being forced to do it, did I discover the value of a recovery journal.  In order to recover you may need to embrace journal writing both as a place to write your reactions to recovery reading, and as a place to record your journey, the daily ups and downs of your recovery.   Some addicts write a journal entry every day; others write entries from time to time as important ideas and events occur. I frequently share my entries with my sponsor and with other recovery partners.

 

DAILY SOBRIETY RENEWAL

The below Dailey Sobriety Renewal is an expanded version of the list on p. 85 of Step Into Action.  I do this DSR nearly every morning with someone.  Once again, I avoided doing a DSR until the same excellent and demanding sponsor demanded it.  Since then, I have done it every morning for with someone.  To be effective, this DSR must be done in the morning.  I Do it just after my morning prayer.  This will take time from your normal morning routine.  Adjust your schedule, get up earlier if necessary to accommodate it.  Don’t make excuses, don’t allow exceptions.

 

Daily Sobriety Renewal Questions

  1. Are you willing to admit, just for today, that you are powerless over lust and sexual acting out?
  2. Do you desire sobriety and freedom for the next 24 hours, and are you willing to do whatever is necessary to protect this desire?
  3. Just for today, do you commit to God, your sponsor, and anyone else you care about that you do not have to have sex with yourself or with anyone else, no matter what?
  4. Describe your conscious contact with God during the past day.
  5. Is there anything in the recent past that has endangered your sobriety–lustful or otherwise–that you need to bring to light?
  6. Is there anything in your plans for the next 24 hours that may lead you into difficulty?
  7. Share something for which you are grateful or proud.
  8. Just for today, are you willing to surrender your will and the care of your life to God?

 

I have learned that we must do all that we can do to be healed from sexual addiction.  I have also learned that we must to all that we can do EVERY DAY – otherwise we cannot expect God to keep us sober.

 

I am a child of God recovering from sexual addiction and today, through the grace of God, I will be sober.

 

-Recovering Soul

Posted by admin on March 25, 2016

Refuge Found in the 12 Steps

Steps

 

Belief and Prayer Are Not Enough

I have attempted to find refuge from my addiction in religion but after immense effort and commitment, I found little lasting relief from my disease.  Refuge came for me in brief intervals – I would do all I could to align myself with my religion and at times I would feel totally sober, but these moments were brief and I would soon return to my addiction.  Working with religious leaders was helpful and inspirational, but it wasn’t until later in my life that I discovered that this is like trying to rappel down a cliff with a rope that is too short.  It’s exactly the right equipment; it’s just not enough.  I now know that I wasn’t alone with these feelings; nearly every addict with a faithful background has this experience.

 

My Prayers Are Answered in the 12 Steps

I prayed for help because I was (and still am) powerless.  God heard me and led me to the 12 steps, a support group, a wonderful sponsor, and accountability partners – a whole program of recovery.  Every step is an answer to my prayers.  I cannot defeat my addiction on my own, but I can work the steps to which God led me.  Notice the verb is “work” the steps.  That is the proper use of our will and energy: working the steps, working the program.  I’ve noticed that many addicts are enthusiastic about recovery until they get to the work part.  They want a miracle, but they don’t want inconvenience or to work for it.  They want to have faith without really having faith – faith sufficient for recovery comes by belief and action, not just belief.

 

 

The 12 Steps Work. Period.

My sponsor once told me that I am special, but no more special than God’s other children.  I am “just another bozo on the bus.”  What works for them will work for me; I am neither so exceptional that the steps will not work for me, nor so exceptional that I don’t have to work them like everyone else.  God may have the power to wipe away my addiction, or perhaps following the steps is some kind of eternal principle of repentance, and the miracle of sobriety can only be accomplished with longsuffering, work, determination, faith and humility.

 

Submitting humbly to God is foundational to recovery.  Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA, wrote the following of his recovery:

“I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost. I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since…. Simple, but not easy; a price had to be paid. It meant destruction of self-centeredness. I must turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all”  (Alcoholics Anonymous page 13-14).

 

 

You and I are “just another bozo on the bus.”  What works for them will work for us; we am neither so exceptional that the steps will not work for us, nor so exceptional that we don’t have to work them like everyone else.

 
I am a child of God recovering from sexual addiction and today, through the grace of God, I will be sober.

 

-Recovering Soul

Posted by admin on March 21, 2016

Surrender – Belief in a Higher Power

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

 

The Nature of Your Higher Power

The ways which we believe in and worship a higher power are as varied as our personalities.  While we need to believe in a higher power to have hope for recovery, the 12 step recovery program doesn’t sustain any particular religion or idea of God other than a power greater than ourselves that can and will restore us to sanity.  I have a strong Christian faith and I believe that it was God who inspired the idea that surrendering to a higher power (even if we have different ideas of who or what that higher power is) is necessary to recovering from addiction.

 

God cares more about us recovering from addiction than he does about us understanding his true nature.  As we surrender to a higher power, engage in the program, get sober, and start living better lives we are brought closer to God and we will come to understand better the true nature of God.

 

We Don’t Give God Enough Credit

We, in our ignorance and pride, often attribute mortal and base characteristics to an immortal and exalted God.  We sometimes have trouble forgiving others or feel that they have not forgiven us – then we assume God has those same characteristics and wonder how he could ever forgive us.  Or maybe our loved ones have treated us poorly when they discovered our addiction – we then ask ourselves if God is also ashamed of us…

 

We need to accept that our understanding of God – even if it based off scripture – could be wrong.  It could be incomplete.  How could it not be incomplete? How could we, who have lived on earth for less than a single lifetime, expect to comprehend fully a God that is timeless?  We sometimes feel that our sins and mistakes are so terrible that God would forsake and abandon us; if we understood the true nature of our loving God we would never feel this way.

 

Faith Necessary for Recovery

I believe that God is our loving Heavenly Father.  I believe that his son, Jesus Christ, willingly gave his soul as a sacrifice for sin that we might be redeemed and saved.  While I hold these beliefs as truth, they are not necessary to recovering from sexual addiction (and I believe it was this God and this Christ that designed it to be this way).  The only faith necessary for me to recover is faith that a power greater than myself can and will restore me to sanity.  As long as we believe that our higher power can lift us from our addiction and restore us to sanity then we are ready to begin the journey of recovery.

 

First we admit our powerlessness.  We admit that lust has control of us – that our lives have become unmanageable.  Then we come to believe that there is a higher power capable of restoring us to sobriety and sanity.  Without these two foundational beliefs any effort spent on recovery is completely futile.

 

My higher power can and will keep me sober and restore me to sanity.

I am a child of God recovering from sexual addiction and today, through the grace of God, I will be sober.

 

-Recovering Soul

Posted by admin on March 18, 2016

Addiction Eliminates Your Ability to Choose

We admitted that we were powerless over lust — that our lives had become unmanageable.

 

Why Can’t You Just Stop!?

Great question – one of my parents used to ask me that whenever we would talk about my addiction.  I would ask myself the same question almost every time.  “Why can’t I just stop? This is destroying my happiness and peace, why do I keep going back to this filth?”  I felt broken, but didn’t want to accept that I was powerless and that my life truly had become unmanageable.  After all, I had been taught that with enough hard work and determination I could do anything or overcome any problem – and that had been true in my life, except for with this problem.

 

Growing up in a very spiritual home was a great blessing.  Looking back now though, I realize that I had incorrect assumptions about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ applied to me and my addiction.  Embracing the Gospel of Jesus Christ (my higher power) is enough to overcome this and any addiction, but that doesn’t mean that the church, right now, has all the answers.  I believe in all truth – truth that has been revealed and truth yet to have been revealed – and it can, not all of that truth must be revealed through the church.  I don’t mean to encourage someone to leave their church or their faith, but to simply be open to learning truth in other areas.

 

Addiction Nullifies Agency

Let me share a few statements from my spiritual leaders that have helped me understand the severity of my problem.  Boyd Packer, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said the following in the October 1989 General Conference: “Addiction serves the design of the prince of darkness, for it disrupts the channel to the holy spirit of truth… Addiction has the capacity to disconnect the human will and nullify moral agency. It can rob one of the power to decide…. I plead with all of you to earnestly pray that somewhere, somehow, the way will be discovered to erase addiction in the human body.”  Even though this statement directly refers to narcotic addiction, I feel it applies equally well to sexual addiction.

 

Addiction destroys the human will and nullifies moral agency – addiction will rob you of your morality and righteous desires.  If you are a sex addict you cannot stop by yourself.  Get help.  Get to a meeting and find a sponsor.  You will never overcome this by yourself.

 

Breaking Out of Addiction

Having a sponsor who has worked through the 12 steps and gained sobriety is vital to your recovery.  My sponsor told shared a few impacting thoughts with me in the beginning of my recovery.  I feel that they are very valuable so I’d like to share them here.

 

“It is very hard to surrender the belief of self-sufficiency in yourself. After all, you’ve been very successful in most other parts of your life, and most of that success has been due to your own hard work, planning, success at work, career management, etc. You are used to the idea that you can succeed. And you can, obviously, in most other parts of your life, but not in this one. Only God can do this one, but you are no different than most addicts: you must experience a great deal of failure before you begin to believe it. I was no different. I acted out far more years than you’ve had of life before I finally believed it. I hope to spare your struggling that long to learn.”

“For all of us addicts, a time comes early on when the lust machinery turns on, you lose all freedom to choose, and it’s too late to choose for yourself. That happens soon and fast. My accountability partner and I call it awakening the dragon. The dragon is lust. Once the dragon is awakened, it WILL have its way. And it is a light sleeper–easily awakened.  In moments like this, when you have lost control you must turn to someone else for the control that you lack. That’s what I and accountability partners are for: to step in when you can no longer control it–which for you, is quite often. Like the proverbial alcoholic, one small drink, and you are lost.  Whenever you have “awakened the dragon” your only hope is to pray for help and tell someone as soon as possible. You will be surprised at how well that works.”

 

There is always Hope

It takes faith, hope, and time to heal from the patterns of self-deception, isolation, and secrecy that nearly always accompany addiction. We can take counsel from an ancient prophet named Nephi to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope” (2 Nephi 31:20) that He can heal—and is healing—us. We need to not give up or decide that because temptations and cravings return, there is no hope in Christ. There is hope in Christ. He is the hope of recovery.

 

In the words of Elder Jeffery Holland: “Don’t give up. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead… You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come… God lives, that He is our Eternal Father, that He loves each of us with a love divine. I testify that Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son in the flesh and, having triumphed in this world, is an heir of eternity, a joint-heir with God, and now stands on the right hand of His Father. I testify that They sustain us in our hour of need—and always will, even if we cannot recognize that intervention. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.

 

God, your higher power, can and will reclaim your broken heart.

I am a child of God recovering from sexual addiction and today, through the grace of God, I will be sober.

 

-Recovering Soul

Posted by admin on March 10, 2016

All Addicts are Liars

Liar-Liar

Lying to Yourself

Even if the addict is truthful and open with their family, every addict lies (at least) to themselves.  We lie to ourselves because if we were honest we would become sober.

 

But isn’t that exactly what we want?  Isn’t that what we pray for and tirelessly work for?

 

Yes… but no at the same time.

 

I’ve observed in myself and my friends in recovery that most of us can control ourselves most of the time – we usually have no desire to engage in our addictive behaviors.  However, at frequent intervals we find ourselves having completely polar desires to what we truly want.  You see, we lie to ourselves and then our brains get hijacked by our internal “addict.”  Our addict is lustful, selfish, and degrading.  When our addicts take control in our minds, our normal, kind, and clean desires for sobriety are replaced with carnality and lust.

 

Lies That Fuel Addiction

Addiction is a disease of denial.  Lying, evasion, deception, manipulation, spinning and other techniques for avoiding or distorting the truth are vital for the addiction to thrive inside of us.

 

Here are some lies that give the addict inside of us control:

  • I can quit anytime I want
  • I’m under a lot of stress, that’s the only reason I’m acting out so much
  • My personal actions are my business; it doesn’t hurt anyone else
  • It’s not really an addiction – it’s just sex
  • I’m not that bad; I know people who are way worse than me
  • I only watch soft porn, not the hard stuff

A few more lies targeted at our feelings:

  • I feel bored – porn will help
  • I feel lonely – porn will help
  • I feel stressed – porn will help
  • I feel tired – porn will help

 

Addict Way Vs. Honest Way

These lies – and an array of others – allow addicts to stay addicted.  When we are honest about our actions and feelings the addict loses power.  To illustrate this I will offer one situation with two ways to respond, the addict way and the honest way.

 

The addict way: My girlfriend broke up with me.  I feel terrible, lonely, and taken advantage of.  I’m pretty upset and I know that I deserve some relaxation.  Porn can help me feel better, numb the pain.  It would be pretty fun for me to go find some new videos.  I’ll just watch a few – enough to get buzzed and then get on with my life.

 

Vs.

 

The honest way: My girlfriend broke up with me.  I feel terrible, lonely, and taken advantage of.  Since I feel this way, I know that I’m going to be vulnerable to act out in my addiction.  Porn would numb the pain, but then it would magnify the pain from the break up and tear apart my self-confidence and self-worth.  I feel vulnerable – I need to reach out to my sponsor and friends in recovery and be honest about how I feel so they can support me.

 

Honesty is Sobriety

True honesty shuts our addict down – I’ve found that honesty is just another term for sobriety.  When I feel tempted to act out I have one choice to make: will I be honest or will I relapse.  When I chose to be honest with myself and reach out to candidly express my feelings to others I have enough clarity and control in the moment to then surrender to my higher power in prayer.

 

“Father, I know that I am completely powerless over this addiction and my sexual desires.  That’s why I contacted my sponsor and that’s why I am now praying to you.  I need you to deliver me from this moment – I committed to sobriety but I cannot be sober by myself, I need you to grant me sobriety.  I surrender my desires to you and ask that you replace them with elevated desires.  Please, help me…”

 

I have never relapsed when I

  1. Recognize how I feel
  2. Reach out to my sponsor
  3. Surrender to God the desire to act out
  4. Go serve someone else

 

Honesty is sobriety.

 

I am a child of God recovering from sexual addiction and today, through the grace of God, I will be sober.

 

-Recovering Soul