Yesterday I had questions that I wasn’t sure how to answer.
I’m grateful that I was willing and able to reach out to a few people to get feedback. I reached out to Mark and Steven and got a call back from Steven fairly quickly.
My question was about how I’m feeling about the LDS group and about tendencies I see that are red-flags.
I don’t want to be prideful. I don’t want to think I’ve got things figured out when it comes to recovery; and I don’t want to shame anyone in any of the meetings for their comments or attitudes. They are doing the best they can – we all are (I hope).
But the feelings are there.
I talked with Becky about them and she made some interesting observations that I hadn’t thought of. One being that it seemed like my journal entry from yesterday wasn’t so much about a question I was dealing with about my own recovery – it was more about proving why I was right and others were wrong.
I feel, in my addictive mindset, I would have argued about that and made a bigger issue; but, by the grace of God, I was able to listen, reflect, and actually see what she was saying clearly and honestly.
I thought about these things and then had a great conversation with Steven. I expressed to him my fears and anxieties about what I hear in the LDS meeting. I talked to him about some of the comments I’ve heard; and he was great to share perspective and experience without making me feel that I was a failure or was missing the mark.
My notes from the meeting that night were a direct reflection of what he’d shared with me. Here they are:
Thanks Jason for talking about the chemical side of this addiction (this is often overlooked or not even talked about in the LDS meetings, possibly because they aren’t really aware that there is a chemical side of this problem)
(I shared my story about why I was late: went to Culvers for desert, kids were all screaming and being crazy – TRIGGER; tried to order while Becky was talking with me – TRIGGER; attendant got the order wrong – TRIGGER; Becky seemed frustrated – TRIGGER; my parents were on the phone – TRIGGER; my parents manipulatively invited themselves to come to Caleb’s game this weekend – BIG TRIGGER; kids screaming more – TRIGGER; we leave the place and forget part of our order – TRIGGER; I turn around and get the stuff but know I’m going to be late to my meeting now – TRIGGER; Becky is bothered by something, I’m not sure what I said to spark the feelings but I’m nervous and can tell somethings wrong – TRIGGER; I drop them off and head to the meeting – listening to the BYU game on the radio as they lose a lead – TRIGGER…All of these feelings are negative and, in the past, I would have buried them, been mad and everyone, blamed, shamed, yelled, probably not have gone to the meeting, and thrown myself a pity party. But today I’m grateful to be aware of those feelings and turn them over to God.)
Negative thoughts are the core of my addiction. I have to be aware always and turn to God.
This isn’t just a bad habit – it won’t just go away, it will only get worse
“Once is too much and a thousand times is never enough.”
Three things I feel are essential to recovery:
1. The surrender process – just like the story of Moses and the fiery serpent, I have had the tendency to say “that’s too simple”
From the manual: Step 2 presented us with an answer we had either never considered or else had discarded–to turn to God and find hope in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
How do I Surrender?
Get on my knees, say a prayer in my heart, write, talk to others too
What does it really mean to turn to God?
2. Working the steps consistently with a sponsor, someone who is in recovery and can give hope and encouragement. It only works when I work it. Coming to the meeting once a week will not help produce long-term recovery. I have to work the steps every day and be aware of my recovery with God’s help.
3. Being a sponsor – This isn’t easy, but it’s step 12. As I work with others, it helps me see things in myself that I’ve never seen before. It also helps me realize what I’m learning about my own recovery and gives me a chance to share my experiences of serenity and hope with others. I can identify with what they’re feeling and give examples of what I’ve done to feel God’s love.
I felt really good after the meeting and then acted on the impression to call my parents back and talk to them about why coming this weekend wouldn’t be a good idea.
I explained to Dad that things have been a bit tough lately due to comments I’ve made that have triggered trauma feelings in Becky. Although we don’t want it to be this way, when they come, it puts additional pressure on all of us to entertain and make sure they are taken care of. Most of this pressure is passed directly to Becky because, when they come, I tend to check out and not want to deal with them too much (a coping mechanism).
The talk went well and he seemed to understand.
I really like these images and want to write about them some:
What is Sexual Addiction?
What is Recovery from Sexual Addiction?
Sexual Addiction runs in a cycle:
- Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, Mental Needs
And the cycle continues.
To fuel that fire, it all starts with being self-absorbed, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. That then leads to dishonesty, pride, unaccountability, and becoming hardhearted.
Then comes all the other negative emotions:
- Feeling like a victim
Recovery, on the other hand, is about connection with God and others on all levels: spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. That connection leads to humility, accountability, willingness to surrender to Him, and honesty.
With those positive behaviors, I am then ready to get more educated about recovery and healing, I seek spiritual guidance, I look for and work with a qualified therapist who can help me understand myself better, and I actively work the 12 steps, both for myself and by helping others.
This is true recovery. This is serenity.
As I looked for an article to read at LDS.org, I found this quote that was ironically relevant to what I’d just written about addiction and recovery:
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said: “Impatience … is a symptom of selfishness. It is a trait of the self-absorbed. It arises from the all-too-prevalent condition called ‘center of the universe’ syndrome, which leads people to believe that the world revolves around them and that all others are just supporting cast in the grand theater of mortality in which only they have the starring role.”7
I’m grateful for this study today.
I feel it had a lot more to do with me than thinking about how I could “fix” others or teach them the “right” way to live in recovery. My job is only to row my own boat and share my experience with others as they ask for it.
I love Becky so much.
I love my kids so much.
I feel happy and connected to them and to God today.
I look forward to a day in recovery.