Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Call in the Middle of the Night

I was dead asleep last night, and I received a call from a friend in one of my support groups. He had slipped up, and was calling for support. I could feel the pain in his voice as he talked about acting out. I could feel the pain he felt at knowing he had to tell his wife. I could feel his despair.

I've been there, I know the pain. There is so much hopelessness that comes with acting out. I know this friend well, and I know how hard he is working on his recovery. That hard work pays great dividends, but at the moment of the mistake, it can all feel like wasted effort. The thought "Will I ever change?" keeps ringing through the ears.

But the fact that he was picking up the phone, to admit his mistakes and talk about where to go next demonstrates his progress. Rather than sweeping his mistake under the rug, he was standing up as a man to admit he had done wrong. That is absolutely crucial to recovery, and I admire his courage. It's so easy to rationalize not making the call. 'Oh it's the middle of the night' or 'I've already acted out, what's the use'. This man had the courage to pick up the phone and address his weakness.

I feel for his wife too. This morning she is going to be told she has been betrayed again. There will be a lot of pain and a lot of tears in their house this morning.

This is a terrible addiction. It causes immense pain in so many people, and can lead to questioning every belief ever held. The only solution I know of is to turn out right than turn in. Turn to other people, turn to God, turn to unselfishness. Otherwise, it's just all pain.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Just a quick check in to report that I feel good...well wait, part of my recovery work has been identifying emotions beyond just using the words "good" or "fine".  So I'll say I feel...."Optimistic".

I had a bit of a tough day yesterday emotionally and with temptation. Nothing specific brought it on, I just struggled all day with feeling up and down emotions and with some desire to act out. Instead of internalizing all of these feelings (my usual action), I talked to my wife. She was helpful, hopeful, and made me laugh and feel loved.  All of which were a huge help for me.

I also had a good friend in recovery call me to talk about some resentfulness he was trying to get rid of. Being able to listen to someone else, and perhaps provide a little support and compassion, got me away from being focused on myself.

In the end, I went to bed feeling like it was a successful day. I felt peace. So unlike how I feel when I get frustrated and act out.

It was just 24 hours.  But it was 24 hours. And that's how a new life is built.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Web Community

I just wanted to share an online community which has been helpful to me in my recovery. At NPSupport.net you will find several online forums which provide support for addicts, spouses of addicts, and other resources designed to help those trying to over come this very painful addiction.

It's worth a look, I've found both great advice, and stories which have strengthened my hope and my resolve. It's not for the faint of heart, however. The people in the forums tend to be extremely honest. They will call others out if they sense rationalization or a lock of commitment to recovery.

There is no recovery without full commitment to what it takes to recover. The people in the forums have learned that from sad experience, and they try to help others see it as well.

Anyway, give it a try. Go to NPSupport.net, take a look around, learn from others experiences, and share some of your own. There is power in groups of people trying to overcome.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Surrender - Part 1

This is a hard post for me to write, because I'm not sure I understand the concept of surrender entirely. Forgive me as I try to sort through my thoughts in writing.

There seem to be many elements to the concept of "Surrender" in recovery. The big Surrender is step 3:
"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

For me, this step has always seemed attainable yet distant. How exactly do I surrender all to God? I can easily get overwhelmed.

So I begin to break down surrender. WHAT is it I am supposed to surrender? What do I need to give up?

Well, that's a long list...pride, selfishness, lust, resentfulness, self-pity, procrastination, fantasy...we could be here all day.

When these negative emotions or thoughts pop-up into my life, my initial reaction is to fight them.  If a lustful thought pops into my head, everything I've learned in church/life has taught me "Fight it. Yell at the thought to get out. Use your force of will to remove the thought." I can't speak for all, but for this addict, that principle doesn't work. Even the famous "Sing a hymn to remove the thought" is a form of fighting the thought. These methods may work temporarily, but the thought nearly always comes back, and usually with more force.

Is there a better way? A more effective way?


This is how Surrender looks to me in this situation. The lustful thought comes, and rather than screaming at it to leave, I can accept that the thought is in my head. Accept that just because I have a thought does not make me evil, nor does it mean I have to act on that thought. This thinking, immediately removes the power this thought has over me.

Then I can surrender that thought. I can surrender it to God. I can surrender it to my Sponsor or another friend in recovery. I can tell God "I am lusting right now. I know the thought doesn't control or define me, but I don't want this thought in my head. I surrender it to you."

I can then follow this up with a technique that may sound new age, but has proven extremely effective for me. I close my eyes, and focus on my breathing, and then imagine my breath blowing through the thought, dissipating the thought as I breathe deeply.

I should also add, in the spirit of honesty, it has not often been enough for me to just say a prayer. If the thought is persistent, or if I am feeling especially resentful, I need to pick up the phone and tell someone exactly what I'm thinking and feeling. Maybe that's because God manifests himself in the loving ear of another, but that type of surrender is truly effective for me.

I've heard the "Just don't think that, just get ride of the thought" line a million times in a million ways. And I've always wondered why that doesn't work for me.  Am I defective?  Well, I do know I'm an addict, and for an addict it takes Surrender.

 Over and over.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Quote to Keep Me Going

“No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We
shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are already, the towels put out, the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose ones temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is the very sign of His presence (CS Lewis, as quoted in Glaspey, Not a Tame Lion, p. 189.)

Falling down sucks. 

Getting up is not easy.

In fact, there are times I'm not sure I can even get up. I often feel hopeless and defeated.

Yet one mercy the Lord has blessed me with is a knowledge that the only way I truly lose is to give up and stay face down in the mud.

I fell once again 6 days ago. And the pain was exquisite.

Today, thanks to a loving, courageous wife, and a God who loves me, I am at least back to my knees and trying to move forward.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Addiction Recovery Playlist

Music has a powerful impact on me, as I'm sure it does on many of you. Over the last several months I have developed an Addiction Recovery Playlist, with songs that impact me with regards to my recovery from addiction.

It's ended up being a pretty interesting group of songs. You'll find songs of hope, songs of pain, songs of relationships lost, songs to bring out the fighter in me, and songs directly about addiction.

Here's my list:
Today My World Slipped Away - George Strait
I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty
Love the Way You Lie - Eminem
Not Afraid - Eminem
That's Why I'm Here - Kenny Chesney
She's Everything - Brad Paisley
You Were Mine - Dixie Chicks
Not An Addict - K's Choice
You're Not My God - Keith Urban
I'd Like to Have That One Back - George Strait
Fine Again - Seether
Godless - U.P.O.
The Needle and The Damage Done - Neil Young
Don't Damn Me - Guns N' Roses
Peace Train - Cat Stevens
Hallelujah - Rufus Wainwright
Only God Knows Why - Kid Rock
Somewhere I Belong - Linkin Park
No More - Neil Young
Why Me Lord - Johnny Cash
One Day At a Time - Lynda Randle
Save Me - Unwritten Law
Pieces - Sum 41
The Day I Tried to Live - Soundgarden
Breaking the Habit - Linkin Park
Easier to Run - Linkin Park
Clean - Depeche Mode
What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
Thank U - Alanis Morrisette
Whatever it Takes - Lifehouse
I Can See Clearly Now - Jimmy Cliff
With a Little Help From My Friends - Joe Cocker
Walking in Memphis - Marc Cohn
Feeling Good - Michel Buble
The Best Is Yet To Come - Frank Sinatra
You Gotta Be - Des'ree
Tougher Than the Rest - Chris Ledoux
He Must Have Really Hurt You Bad - George Strait
Little Rock - Collin Raye
Somewhere over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Hate Me - Blue October
She Used to be Mine - Brooks & Dunn
The Wrestler - Bruce Springsteen
No Surrender - Bruce Springsteen
Better Days - Bruce Springsteen
Gravity - A Perfect Circle
To Be Alone With You - Sufjan Stevens
Stay Strong - Newsboys
True Life - Lights of Euphoria
How Great Thou Art - Carrie Underwood
Be Still My Soul - David Tolk
I need Thee Every Hour - David Tolk
The Test - Janice Kapp Perry
Hurt - Johnny Cash
No Time to Kill - Clint Black
Mama Tried - Merle Haggard
Don't Know What You Got - Cinderella
Collide - Howie Day
Fix You - Coldplay
When I Call Your Name - Vince Gill
Lost Cause - Beck
My Immortal - Evanescence
I'm Lost Without You - Blink 182
I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt
I Would Change My Life - Robert Earl Keen, Jr.
Ball and Chain - Social Distortion
How a Resurrection Really Feels - The Hold Steady
Amazing Grace - Dropkick Murphy's
If I Needed You - Don Williams
Be Still, My Soul - Eclipse
Weak and Powerless - A perfect Circle
Drinkin' Man - George Strait
Beautiful - Mercyme
Bring the Rain - Mercyme
I Can Only Imagine - Mercyme
Best is Yet To Come - Red
Fight Inside - Red
Take It All Away - Red
My Way to You - James Johnson
High Cost of Living - James Johnson
Into the Sun - The Parlor Mob

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I need connection. I crave connection. Right down to my core I desire the emotional intimacy that comes from a true connection. And yet, the actions of addiction often drive connection from my life. This happens in obvious ways, i.e. a healthy marriage relationship can't survive addictive behavior.  But it happens in more subtle ways as well. Generally sex addicts do not make a good friend. I am generalizing a bit here, but our learned selfishness does not contribute to a positive relationship. In addiction, sex addiction, especially pornography addiction, revels in isolation. Unlike alcoholics, our acting out is often done alone...in fact finding alone time is often one of our key rituals leading to acting out.

All of this to say, there is a reason group work is so effective when dealing with addiction. Groups lead addicts to interact, and hopefully connect, with others.

For me this has become one of the key challenges of my recovery. Yes I crave connection and acceptance, yet I also push it away. But lately I have found myself with some friends from my recovery groups who won't let me push them away. They insist on being a part of my life. They insist on knowing me as I am, and still liking me ( a miracle). They insist on not criticizing me. They come from a place of pain themselves, and because they know the depths I've felt, they come to me with open arms and limitless understanding.

My challenge is to let them in. And I find it's amazing how difficult that simple concept is. I still struggle with the thought that anybody could care for me just as I am. I struggle with the thought that these friends will abandon me too once they "really" know me.

I have to let those guards down and let these good men in. They want to be my friend, not just to help me, but just to be my friend. And I want to be theirs. Why is that a battle?  Likely only other addicts will understand, but my vow is to feel real connection. Allow it into my life, and help others find it in theirs.