On November 15, 2014, I made a decision that has helped me sustain longer recovery from addiction than I can remember.
This decision was to work with a sponsor from ArpSupport.org.
At that time I did have a decent stretch of recovery – I call it recovery because I believe that sobriety, for me, is almost synonymous with white-knuckling it or abstinence. Both are good and both are needed, but for me, living in recovery includes submitting my will to God in relation to lust and how I look at others.
Anyway, ArpSupport.org was introduced to me by one of my friends in the LDS 12 Step Addiction Recovery Program for men working on overcoming their addiction to pornography, masturbation, sex, and lust, amongst other things. I’d had a sponsor in the past and he was very helpful, but the way this man talked about it was pretty strong. He was so grateful to have the help of a sponsor – someone that he could return and report to, someone who empathized with him.
The AA program is all about sponsorship. Although I’ve never been to one of their meetings – I’ve read the “Big Book,” and I’ve heard that they will even assign you a sponsor if you don’t proactively get one (this could be a rumor – comment if you know).
I’ve learned so much from my experience in ArpSupport.org. And I wanted to make a list of some of those things, hopefully to help others who are struggling with overcoming their addictions.
5 Things I’ve Learned from ArpSupport.org (as a sponsee and as a sponsor)
- Mark, the man who got the program started, is direct and to the point: I am seeing this now as a sponsor. Since I’ve been new and sponsoring others, I’ve emailed him with questions and I get quick and straight forward answers, which I appreciate. On more than one occasions he’s told me the sponsees I’ve been assigned probably need to be dropped and need to start the program when they’re really “ready” to find real recovery. I didn’t really understand that at first, but as I’ve thought about it, I really do now:
For nearly my whole life I’ve worked with sponsors, in the form of Bishops, who I’ve met with, confessed, promised I wouldn’t repeat the sin, and then, before you know it, I was in their office again justifying why it happened this time and that I think I have it figured out now. Sound familiar?
A bishop is never going to “drop” you and tell you to come back when you’re “ready.” But for many bishops, they don’t necessarily understand the full scope of addiction and aren’t able to identify with what I’ve needed to overcome my addictions.
Mark, on the other hand, has dealt with a lot of sponsees. He can probably tell from the first few interactions if a person is “ready” for recovery or not.
I’m grateful for his direction and help as I practice step 12 by sharing what I’m learning with others.
- The sponsorship program isn’t for everyone: Not everyone that has a problem with addiction is ready to reveal their deepest secrets with someone they don’t even know. Not everyone is going to answer the deep questions that the sponsorship program answers; but there quite a few who have and who continue to. I’m grateful for the example of my sponsor who has helped me be consistent and work through the steps one day at a time.
- Start of the day, end of the day is a hard habit to get in to: I don’t even have this all figured out, but I know when I’ve done this consistently over time, I feel so much stronger spiritually than I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m grateful for the detailed outline that’s provided in ArpSupport.org once you apply. The key is to commit to the details and then not look back.
- Reading my answers each week to my sponsor really puts things in perspective: I remember a few times, as I read my answers from the previous week out loud, I was almost brought to tears. Who was I even talking about? What was I ever thinking? How did I make the awful mistakes I made? How was my wife and family still with me? I was definitely on the very, very edge of huge disaster. I’m grateful for the Atonement, first and foremost, and for tools like sponsorship, to help me remember, remember.
- The program never ends: if you’re just getting started with the 12 steps or just investigating the ArpSupport.org program, I encourage you to dive in head first. Both of these tools, along with a handful of others, have helped me live in recovery one day at a time. But what you need to know up front is that, once an addict, always an addict. I don’t say that to scare you, I just remind you that if you’re like me, you’ve probably been trying to stop this “bad habit” for most of your life, and you’ve never been able to. I’ve realized that I’ll always have the tendency to look at other women from the chin down – that’s the “natural man” in me, but it’s my choice on how I decide to exercise that agency. And today I’m choosing to keep my chin up, to look at everyone as a son and daughter of God, and to never objectify anyone. There’s a reason that steps 10, 11, and 12 are called “maintenance steps:” it’s because you have to practice them forever if you want to maintain true recovery. And what a blessing that is really. To learn how to recognize when I’m wrong, promptly admit it, ask for forgiveness, do a personal inventory each day, and work on serving others – these are the steps to using the Atonement of Jesus Christ in modern English.
If you have any questions about ArpSupport.org, about recovery, or about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I probably can’t answer many of them, but leaven a comment, ask a question, and hopefully others will be able to provide positive insight.
Good luck in your journey of learning how to submit your life and will to God, take things one day at a time, and live in recovery.