I had the chance last Saturday to go to my 2nd UCAP Conference (Utah Coalition Against Pornography). I can honestly say that my 2nd one was much better for me than the first: I wasn’t as nervous who I would see, both my wife and I are working our own recovery, and I felt we were both a bit more prepared for what we were going to hear.
In an effort to connect and learn from others, I reached out to my contacts that I saw at the conference and asked them to share their top takeaways from UCAP Conference 2016.
Here’s one response I got from Sean:
Here are my top takeaways.
First, I’m encouraged by the awareness. It was great to see families there, young men’s groups, young adults on their own and in groups. Just positive awareness and it’s encouraging. Makes me feel and gives me hope that we may be able to start talking about these things more openly in our church settings.
Second, how to talk to my kids. I think Meg and I have always had the mindset that making topics like sex, porn, boys, girls, etc. need to be safe and need to open for any and all questions. No shame involved. But I learned some great thing s about not needing to try and cover everything in a formal type setting. No need for “The Talk”. It’s much more about just talking. Do it one on one, but make it real and authentic. Also, if you have trouble saying certain words that you know you’re going to say to your kids, practice saying them to yourself first so they are more natural to you. Funny but I thought it was a great piece of advice.
Third, I was reminded that my wife is going through her own recovery at her pace in her own boat. All positives though. I saw her take genuine interest and also sensed that she was happy that she was a part of it all. I’m encouraged by her growth over the last few months. My wife has to work her own recovery, and this was such a great environment to see some of fruits of that starting to show.
I agree so much about the awareness. There were over 3,300 people at the event. What a miracle. I don’t know how many were there last year, but I’m so hopeful that this topic of sex addiction and recovery can come to light and we can form the army needed to fight this plague.
I’m also grateful for the opportunity going to an event like this gives my wife and I to talk to our kids about what we learned. We bought the book “Good Pictures Bad Pictures” at the event and look forward to reading that with our kids too.
Last year, when my wife and I went, we were in a tough place. It had been about a year since my full disclosure, but we were still on shaky ground. The biggest miracle that happened last year is that we ran into Steven and Rhyll Croshaw. We had recently read Rhyll’s book, “What Can I Do About
Him Me.” To actually meet the authors and find out they lived close to us AND to find out they ran a recovery meeting for the wives of addicts (and for addicts themselves), this was a turning point in our true recovery together as a couple.
I’m so grateful for the example they’ve been, both to me and to my wife, of what true recovery from sexual addiction looks like.
One of my biggest takeaways at this conference was a quote by Geoff Steurrer regarding sponsorship and recovery:
If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.
I’ve been in both places: I just wanted to get through the step work and check this addiction off my list. I’ve had sponsees that I felt were thinking the same – “I’ve done this step before, can I just speed through things a bit more?”
The truth is, recovery is a life-long pursuit and one that I can never expect to succeed at on my own. I loved what Steven said about “graduating from recovery:” he doesn’t know that he’ll ever graduate. There are always things to work on and surrender.
I wrote last night about surrender – What Do I Need to Surrender Today? It was interesting to just start writing. I started in a place of anger, resentment, and anxiety – blaming others for how I was feeling, justifying my anger and resentment, and just not in the best place.
As I wrote, though, I realized that my bigger issue was none of the things I initially wrote about. Instead, it was about my lack of connection with my higher power over the last two days. That was the big thing I was missing.
I’d had the same experiences before that had been triggering negative emotions last night. However, they were more triggering last night because I had no lifeline, no connection with God, no firm foundation. I was trying to do things on my own and, like always, it wasn’t working.
I’m grateful that, today, I want to write first. I want to connect first.
Yes, my day is going to be busy and hectic. But this has to be the first and top priority or all other things become unnecessary and irrelevant.
I noticed something in my study last night that I’d never really noticed before. It was in regard to the serenity prayer. I noticed it’s actually longer:
GOD, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living ONE DAY AT A TIME; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
I love that it talks about ONE DAY AT A TIME and Enjoying one moment at a time. Both these statements remind me of the scripture that says:
I feel I have experienced that change of heart and I have felt to sing the song of redeeming love. But, can I feel so now?
Where am I today?
Am I working this alone and trying to speed through it? Or am I reaching out to God and others for support and as a way to show gratitude and humility?
Today I choose the later.
I was grateful for UCAP 2016 and look forward to reviewing my notes more and hearing from others.
What were some of your top takeaways
from UCAP Conference 2016?
UPDATE: Here is additional feedback from another friend in recovery about what his top takeaways from UCAP Conference 2016.
Healthy guilt is not the same as unhealthy shame. Healthy guilt is about reaching out. Unhealthy shame is about hiding.
A slip happens in the light..a relapse happens in the dark.
You should not be ashamed to tell your own story.
Pornography addiction is the misuse of mind and body to manage pain.
Thanks, Mike, for sharing.
As I looked through my notes again, here are some additional things that stuck out to me in no particular order:
- Pornography is a public health crisis
- Challenge: listen very carefully, share what I’ve learned with 5 friends/relatives/acquaintances
- Watch for the study: The Porn Phenomenon coming out next month
- Most Americans still believe pornography is bad for society
- Pornography is more destructive to the Spirit than to the body
- No real headway can or will be made in the battle until there is a much more deep and fearful concern about the danger of pornography to society
- We must see it as the evil like the epidemic it is. It IS a PLAGUE!
- This is a disease that needs to be eradicated.
- It ought to be seen as a public health crisis, a war.
- Ye are the light of the world is the opposite of what happens when viewing of pornography.
The rule of pornography is that no light should shine: it’s secret, it’s dark, it’s hidden.
- Damage done to the soul
Soul isn’t a synonym for Spirit
The spirit and the body are the soul of man.
The resurrection of the dead is the redemption of the soul.
As we participate in damaging activities like pornography, we damage the SOUL.
- Pornography addiction is similar to cocaine addition – where more is never enough
Modest formula: “Just hold fast!” firm, religious practice of fasting
F: Flee – leave the scene of the crime, put distance between you and the problem – just run!
A: Ask – get rid of pride, embarrassment, fear, punishment. Ask for help: parents, friends, church leaders, other trained professionals. Ask God for help – plead for mercy in grace of the almighty.
S: Strive – strive to constantly win this battle once the help comes. It won’t be easily overcome. It will take work. “I believe in the reward of persistent effort.”
T: Triumph – “I know people can win this war…We have to believe. The victor believed that victory was possible.” No one can live very long without hope. Believe they can be victorious
What to look for in a sponsor
- more experience than you
- not perfect
- not your best friend
- has worked the 4th step inventory at least
- not afraid to cause some pain
- they will ask you to do things that make no sense
What to look for in a therapist
- do more than empathize with you
- they really know you, sometimes better than you do
- they pay close attention to what you’re thinking and saying
- they energize and motivate you to do hard work
- they help you bypass your mental defenses
- they are human and not a replacement for God
- they are a placeholder and help you learn to trust God
- you will most likely place your mentor on a pedestal
- you have to learn that he/she is human
- they don’t do the work for you
- they can’t rescue you from your own choices
“I’ve never worked with anyone who has done this on their own, EVER!”
Going to group is not working the 12 Steps!
Sharing in group is not working the 12 Steps!
Enemies on the journey: internal thoughts, blame, shame, fairness, logic twisted by years of addiction, self-doubt, desire to control the outcome, my former self (the Carnal Nate)
Hope this helps!