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Why I Happily Married a Pornography Addict

An LDS Perspective

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The following post comes from hopeandhealinglds.com and has been republished with permission. This article is one of a series of posts addressing education on and recovery from pornography addiction and betrayal trauma. For more on this series, including the husband’s perspective in this story, click here.

The man who is now my husband told me he struggled with a pornography addiction even before we started dating. It was a gut-punch to hear him say it, but that commitment to transparency and openness from the beginning was what I kept coming back to when I was terrified it had all been a big mistake.

I hung up the phone saying that I’d let him know.

I didn’t sleep all that night and for days after, I had no idea what I should do. It wasn’t until the following Sunday, at Stake Conference that things became clearer. We’d had a series of great speakers, but none of them seemed to have messages that were relevant to me. Then, as the second to last speaker was concluding, out of the blue she mentioned the topic of pornography. It was only a sentence or two, but she said she believed it could be overcome. Then the last speaker got up. He said he had prepared an entirely different address, but instead wanted to continue with this topic of pornography and how through the Atonement this painful part of so many people’s present could be truly left in the past. The Spirit was so strong and I knew that it would be ok for me to get on a plane and visit my friend.

He became more than my friend not long after my arrival. We connected so incredibly well and I felt so comfortable and secure with him. We could talk about anything, and everything about him impressed me. He was constantly being of service to his family members and every friend in his life that I met would pull me aside and say how much he had inspired them or helped at a critical time or always been there when they needed him. My mind couldn’t even contain the reality that this wonderful person and this terrible chronic behavior could exist in the same being.

You know that phenomenon where you hear a word you’ve never heard of before and then suddenly you see it three different places within a week? The same thing happens when you start dating an addict. I was so happy with him and yet in the months that followed, it seemed like every story I heard was of how so-and-so was getting a divorce because of addiction or how after eight years, this or that person had totally betrayed their partner. I remember especially overhearing a lady at a party saying, “If my daughter was dating someone who had a porn addiction, I don’t care how nice he is, I would tell her to run.”

That voice was still in my head when our relationship began to get a little more serious in terms of planning an ongoing life together. He said he felt it was really important that he tell me absolutely everything so that we could have complete openness between one another and a little part of me thought, “maybe I don’t want to know.” But he insisted and when he told me the full extent of his past transgressions, I was even more devastated than I’d already been. I excused myself from the conversation and went to my room and just wailed. I’ve never cried like that in all my life. I was praying out loud and so totally confused and feeling sick inside but when I began to calm down I found that strangely, I still believed in him. I didn’t understand why, but I had such a strong spiritual impression that all of the good things I knew about him were still genuine and true.

The next morning, I couldn’t sleep so I went outside to watch the sunrise and try to consider what I should do. This new information was worse than I had imagined and I felt like marrying him now would just mean it served me right if he one day cheated on me or something. Like any coming calamity in our marriage, knowing what I knew now, would be inevitable and I would be the idiot that should’ve seen it coming.

I pulled up a random General Conference talk looking for guidance and in a passing sentence, it said explicitly not to discount someone just because of a past sin and in particular pornography. Of all the talks I could’ve chosen, that one came up. To that point, I felt like I could hear a chorus of voices telling me not to proceed and they all strangely sounded like that woman who said I should run, but then the thought struck me: If I took out what anyone else would say in this situation, ignored the advice of random people and it was only between me and the Lord, what would I conclude?

“I believe in him and I believe the Lord can continue to help him recover from this.”

I had some fundamental misunderstandings about pornography addiction. We had set up a system of accountability where we had a weekly check-in. He would send me a screenshot from a tracking app he was using and I would make sure to tell me him I was proud of his progress, because I was. But every time he had a relapse and the count was back to 0, I felt deeply betrayed. Here’s where my misunderstanding comes in. I thought that pornography addiction was all about sex and intimacy, so how could he turn from me to this horrible thing when we had such a good connection even if so much of our relationship was happening from a distance? I thought that continually coming back to porn was some deep perversion and even though I understood addiction involves being out of control of yourself, I thought if he just loved me more than he wouldn’t need to go back to that.

Then one night about two or three in the morning, I snapped awake, filled with fear. I was suddenly aware that this man of mine was deeply in danger. I didn’t know where this feeling was coming from, but it was so real. It was like I could hear his voice calling out to me from inside a burning building. I thought maybe he’d been in a car accident, that he was trapped in a tangle of wreckage on the side of the road somewhere. I was panicking. I was going to try calling him or maybe I should call his parents? I didn’t know what to do, but eventually I began to be calm and the thought that I’d probably sound insane calling in the middle of the night if everything was fine overwhelmed that initial sense of emergency that I’d felt.

The next morning I called him and asked what had happened the night before. He said quietly that he had relapsed. We figured out that it had happened at exactly the time that I’d been shocked awake by the Spirit, thousands of miles away. Suddenly his helpless voice calling out to me in the dark made sense. For the first time I realized fully that his addiction was a prison, it was literally a burning building that he had no desire to be in but from which he was struggling to escape. It had nothing to do with me.

I learned that porn addiction has much more to do with chemicals and coping than it has to do with sex. He’d set a pattern in his brain as a very young teen that the rush (chemical release) of good feelings that these images brought, would help to relieve not just unmet sexual desire, but feelings of loneliness, boredom, stress and inadequacy; things that we all feel and struggle to soothe away. It grew into a coping mechanism for just about anything and then the need grew habitual. Add the shame, continual failure to fully leave it behind, and the constant voice of Satan whispering that he’d never succeed and before long he was waist high in quicksand with no way out.

So many times, I wished that this had just never been a part of his life. He was so perfect for me, if only this other stuff had just never happened.

Then one day as I checked in for a flight somewhere, the lady at the desk said, “you really should’ve printed your boarding pass at home.” I said, “sorry, I don’t have a printer” and she shot back, “still, you’re really supposed to print your own.” I continued to apologize that I didn’t, but no matter what I said she just kept saying, “yea, but you should’ve!” “But I didn’t.” “But you SHOULD’VE.” I felt helpless to please her and in that moment I realized that absolutely nothing productive comes from wishing something had happened differently than it did. No matter how much I wished things in this man’s past (when I wasn’t even in the picture) had happened differently, they didn’t. The past is the past, all you can do is move forward from where you are now and continue to do better and to call upon the grace of Jesus Christ every day.

I became his other partner in the recovery process and eventually the “days since last incident” number began to grow and grow. He got his temple recommend back and we were able to married for time and all eternity in a house of the Lord.

It was the best decision I’ve ever made. Life with him is happier than I could’ve ever imagined.

My partner decided from the beginning that he would always be totally honest with me. He never tried to justify or downplay his actions, he told the truth, fully. He still does. Often the betrayal that the partner of an addict feels is not from a return to the behavior at all, it’s from the lies involved in covering it up. Lying will keep the addiction thriving, but bringing things out in the open and keeping them there cuts the legs off the monster. Many men keep their struggle a secret because they believe they can get over it on their own without others ever knowing it was a problem. This is a myth and a damaging one. Tell the truth. Always tell the truth.

We set up a system of accountability. Porn addiction is a really challenging subject to just bring up in casual conversation. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, and often it’s hard for an addict to find the right way to report a relapse or for a partner to find the right way to ask if everything is still ok. To have a reporting system of some kind already in place makes that so much easier. As I mentioned, while we were dating we just picked a day of the week that he would text me his app update and that was my opportunity to talk about anything that I needed to. I didn’t have to sit around wondering, he didn’t have to worry about when was a good time to say something and we could both feel at ease about it the rest of the time. Having a system of accountability keeps the conversation open.

My partner used all available resources to help in his recovery. As I said, the Atonement is real—I know that now more than ever—but addiction is something that generally cannot just be overcome by continually praying about it. Faith is a principle of action and though involving the Lord and a priesthood leader are essential, that is only a first step. My husband did not find the Church’s 12-step program particularly helpful to him personally, but rather than giving up, he sought other types of help. He worked with a coach and studied the science of addiction in great depth to help to overcome it. Understanding the chemical processes in the brain involved in this addiction, as well as learning the methods by which you can form new neural pathways in your brain and literally leave old habits behind, was essential for him. Mostly what I’m saying is he was determined to recover and did everything in his power to work toward that goal. The Atonement is real, but it can’t help someone who is unwilling to access it.

I’m so glad that I didn’t just dismiss this man because of this problem. His honesty, accountability and determination set him apart as someone who could and would recover even from something as severe and menacing as this. In President Packer’s last Conference message before he passed, he talked at length of sexual transgression and the seriousness thereof. Ultimately though, his closing message on this earth was this:

I am already enjoying the beauty and love that all that heartache has become. Some of the greatest missionaries and prophets in the scriptures started out as the vilest of sinners. This Gospel is a Gospel of transformation and going through the recovery process with the love of my life, transformed me too. He’s now coaching others through their recovery and is continuing to make his life more whole and productive and healthy than it’s ever been before.

Pornography is becoming an epidemic in this generation, but all that means is that we have the opportunity to make this a generation of men and women who understand and trust the reality of the Atonement more than anyone before ever has. If you’re dating someone who struggles with pornography addiction, it’s possible that you shouldn’t just run. Pray. Trust the Lord, and only the Lord, to tell you what to do next.

Myths and Lies of Recovery – Tony Litster

I decided to make a video where I bring up the typical myths and lies about recovery from this issue- and how to avoid getting stuck in that trap.

You will like this video.

Click here to watch it:
http://videos.curethecraving.com/myths-and-lies-of-recovery/

The videos are hosted through Vimeo. If your filter is blocking the videos, you can watch a lower bandwidth version here:
http://www.audioacrobat.com/playv/WR55hV8P

Or download the video here:
http://tonylitster.audioacrobat.com/download/tonylitster-20160329153212-9607.mov

To Your Success,

Tony Litster

Tony can be reached at info@curethecraving.com

What does strength have to do with ADDICTION RECOVERY?

– Joshua David

As a former addict, I’ve learned the hard way that the pathway to true recovery requires infinitely more than white knuckle abstinence and measuring days of sobriety.

FIRST, I had to be willing to replace my old, limited understanding of my addictions by proactively seeking out and embracing higher truth. I learned that my path to freedom was not a fight to hide or cover the darkness but rather a lifelong commitment to accept it, reveal it, and expose it to the light. My first real step toward true recovery was fully accepting that freedom is not a destination of invulnerability, but a journey of absolute vulnerability. My addictions were merely unhealthy bonds and patterns that I was creating in order to manage my pain and cope with my chosen reality. It was time to face my pain, form new patterns and create a more empowering reality. With an understanding of the true nature of addiction, I began the path to real recovery and freedom by not merely disconnecting from all my dependencies but by creating even stronger connections to healthy and wholesome sources of strength, power, and truth.

The Light of true recovery finally shattered the darkness and filled my life with Power when I turned my attention and energy away from measuring double negatives (aka sobriety, quitting the bad, removing the unwanted, etc) and started focusing ALL MY ENERGY on creating positive connections and healthy relationships (with myself, with my body and spirit, with others, and with God). With this empowering higher perspective, mastering my body and using my strength to experience a new reality has become more than just a pastime, it’s a lifeline. I now use my strength to expose my weaknesses, not to hide them. I use my body to feel my pain, not to numb it.
What are you doing in your life to create vulnerability and healthy connections?

Please share…

THE REAL SECRET FOR OVERCOMING ADDICTION

THE REAL SECRET FOR OVERCOMING ADDICTION may be different than what you think… the only real CURE for ADDICTION is SELF-LOVE.

Which is why most programs and approaches to healing addiction do not work, and often make the problem worse.

I know, for over 20 years, from the time I was 14 until a few years ago, I struggled with an addiction that I could not escape.

We all have our own addictions. Mine was porn.

At the heart of any addiction, is a healthy need trying to be filled by an unhealthy habit.

Whether it’s porn, or alcohol, or sex, or food, or tobacco, or drugs, or gambling, underneath the addictive behavior there is a desire for VALIDATION, for CONNECTION, for LOVE.

When we can’t meet our own needs and find the love we are seeking in a healthy way, we act out with these imposters and counterfeits.

When we act out, especially when it is forbidden, there are certain chemicals that are released in the brain including adrenaline, oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine… etc. All of which feel amazing initially to the brain and create anchors which make us want to go back over and over again regardless of whether or not we know it is harmful.

What keeps people stuck in addiction is SHAME.

This is why addiction is so rampant in heavily christian and religious cultures. Somehow when there is such a strong focus on what is wrong and bad, when we make a mistake we misinterpret it to mean that WE are wrong and bad.

The SHAME CYCLE then takes root, and after we act out, there is a deep remorse, some form of shame and self-punishment, an overzealous commitment to never act out again, followed by an often short lived period of intense self discipline, leading to a moment of relapse and weakness, and the cycle begins all over again… and again… and again…

Often the SHAME becomes so intense, that we hit a point of denial, and just believe that it is just who we are, and that it will never change.

We give up.

The greatest danger is when the ADDICTION BECOMES AN IDENTITY… ” I am an Alcoholic…” etc.

Once it becomes an identity, our subconscious has to fight to defend that that is just who we are.

Most addiction recovery programs and churches reinforce the “wrongness” of the action and therefore the wrongness of the individual.

Whatever you focus energy into grows.

Therefore, when we are spending your energy SHAMING YOUR SHADOW it gives the shadow inside of us more power.

It’s like throwing gasoline on a fire trying to put it out.

For me, the healing only took place when I shifted my focus all together…

I had to release the SHAME and FALL DEEPLY IN LOVE WITH MY SHADOW…

This is what most people can’t understand.

I stopped making myself wrong. I stopped hating myself. I stopped trying to hide my addiction from the world and from those that I loved…

I just focused on LOVING ME… every bit of me. Especially those parts of me that I hated.

… The moment I did, everything changed.

The addiction almost magically disappeared.

No longer did I have to fight my shadow, I was a friend who was able to listen, to hear what I was really needing.

I could start hearing what I really needed and found HEALTHY WAYS TO NURTURE MYSELF.

Instead of wanting to act out in a way that I knew would hurt my spirit longterm, I wanted to take care of myself. Sometimes that looked like going for a run, or sometimes taking a hot bath, or sometimes reading a good book….

In order to heal an addiction, you must replace it with something positive that you love even more.

When we SHIFT OUR FOCUS from what we DON’T WANT to what we DO WANT, we have more power to create our lives the way we desire.

When we NURTURE a deep well of SELF LOVE, we come to a point where we would never want to do something that would hurt ourselves.

The thought of tobacco, absolutely repulsive. Pouring alcohol into our system, disgusting. Looking at porn, no way. Gambling, really??

From a metaphysical viewpoint, as we focus on SELF LOVE the VIBRATION and FREQUENCY on which we live and resonate increases so that anything of a LOWER VIBRATION simply fades away and has no appeal.

So…

If I were to give advice to anyone struggling with addiction, here’s what I would recommend.

FIRST AND FOREMOST… Bring GOD onto your team. Build your relationship with Him. Allow him to help you. Have Him help you see yourself through his eyes. With GOD truly all things are possible…

then I would…

1) GET REAL and GET RAW… and GET CLEAR. You need to emotionally get real with what this addiction is costing you in your life emotionally, financially, in your relationships. Write down that cost what will it cost if nothing changes. ALLOW YOURSELF TO REALLY FEEL the pain. And then get clear on what you really want. What would your life feel like if this was no longer a challenge. Write down your version of your ideal future… AND REALLY DECIDE which you are committed to creating.

2) Make friends with your SHADOW… no more SHAMING YOURSELF. You need to listen to what your spirit is really seeking for and stop shaming and hiding those parts of you you do not like.

( I recommend a book by Debbie Ford called ” Dark Side of the Light Chasers” It completely changed my life and gave me an appreciation for my shadow and helped me heal in unexpected ways)

3) STOP HIDING…. Surround yourself with FRIENDS and support that you can be completely authentic and open with. People want to help you, and they will understand and admire you more for your vulnerability.

4) NURTURE SELF LOVE… Make a list of 10 things you can do to build your relationship with yourself. How do you FEEL CONNECTION, VALIDATION and LOVE… and how can you find that within yourself?

5) REMOVE THE TRIGGERS AND REPLACE THE HABITS… There are triggers that are anchored into your system that make you want to act out. Maybe its when you’re stressed and are in front of your computer alone you want to look at porn, or when you’re feeling overwhelmed and you are with certain people you want to smoke… CHANGE SOMETHING… move your computer to a public place, hang out with different friends, … but most importantly recognize when the trigger happens and have a positive way prepared.

6) MENTAL REHEARSAL… listen, you will get triggered. you just will. Especially if the addiction has been there for a long time. Practice in your mind experiencing the trigger, and responding in the way that you want! Practice over and over again, so that when the trigger happens your instinctive response is the healthy one you’ve practiced in your mind.

7) Most importantly.. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. If you do act out, don’t make it a big deal. Don’t return to the shame cycle… Just ask yourself, “hmm… what am I learning? What am I going to do different next time?” and then simply RECOMMIT.

Really, at the end of the day… the only thing you really need to focus on is LOVING YOURSELF… every last bit of you. When you do, everything else comes natural.

And you SHOULD LOVE YOURSELF… you know why? Because you are pretty amazing.

the addiction and your mistakes do not define you, they are here to REFINE YOU…

and the past does not equal the future.

Today is a new beginning.

With love, your brother,

-g

7 Things Mindful People Do Differently and How To Get Started

7 things mindful people do differently infographic

The intention of being more present in our lives is continuing to grow and touch an increasing amount of people. I have friends who I never would have imagined practicing mindfulness who now sit in daily meditation. When I look at the Seattle Seahawks, think of our military veterans or politicians sitting in the “Quiet Caucus” room, I’m filled with a whole lot of hope. When I see an increasing amount of kids and teens being taught mindfulness in their schools I see possibility. My wife and I ran a family retreat at Denim N’ Dirt Ranch and long before the deadline it was sold out showing me an increasing desire of parents wanting to bring mindfulness into their families. As people start to engage mindfulness I’ve noticed a few things they begin to do differently.

Practice Being Curious

One of the essential attitudes of mindfulness is beginner’s mind. This is engaging something as if for the very first time. People who practice mindfulness bring this attitude with them throughout the day. When they take a shower, they might imagine it was the first time feeling the water, smelling the soap, or watching the steam as it shifts and changes before their eyes. Novelty is one of the fastest routes to creating new neural connections.

Even a meal or snack becomes a chance to pause and reflect on how this simple peace of food holds everything in it, the earth, wind, rain and sunshine. All the people from around the world who contributed in making the ingredients and putting them together into what it is in that moment. This simple snack becomes a source of gratitude and a moment of recognizing the interconnection of all things.

Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “Life is routine and routine is resistance to wonder.” Curiosity leads the mindful person to get back in touch with the wonders and possibilities of life.

Forgive Themselves

Life comes with its obstacles and engaging a mindful life is not too different. Throughout the process there are times when we get too tired to practice, feel too busy, find ourselves doubting the process, get caught in avoiding what’s uncomfortable or just feeling too restless.

In practicing mindfulness we come to understand that these are not signs of failing at being mindful. Instead they are opportunities for learning about the hindrances of life, what gets in our way, and understanding two things: 1) What we need in those moments and 2) The fastest route to begin again.

The simple phrase of “forgive and invite” can be enormously helpful. When we get caught in an obstacle, we “forgive” ourselves for the time gone by, investigate the obstacle to learn from it, and then “invite” ourselves to begin again.

Practicing “forgive and invite” over and over again in life becomes an incredible strong vehicle for growth.

Hold their emotions lightly

When you start paying attention to any emotion you start to experience that it is an energy that is “in motion.” It has a certain nature of coming and going and in experiencing this we can naturally hold them more lightly. This enables us to not get so wrapped up in the difficult feelings, but instead hold them with a gentleness and tenderness. Maybe even learning from them as we get better and better at understanding what we need.

When the comfortable emotions are present we also hold those lightly as we know that are not permanent either, but have this same nature of coming and going. With this experience, people who practice mindfulness can be grateful for the good moments and graceful during the more difficult ones.

Practice compassion

Compassion can be defined as noticing suffering with an inclination to want to help in some way. A repeated practice of intentionally paying attention to ourselves with a curious and caring attention sends the implicit message to our brain that we’re worth caring about. As we start to pay attention to difficult emotions we become less afraid of them.

Instead they become our teachers guiding us to get increasingly better at not only understanding what our needs are or the needs of others, but at inclining to help ourselves or another. This act of self-compassion or compassion is the essential healing agent and facilitates connection which is a cornerstone to happiness.

Make peace with imperfection

Many of us are keenly aware of our imperfections and this erupts in a barrage of continuous self-judgment. As we start to practice being present we can’t help but see that we are not the only one who is imperfect. To be imperfect is to be human.

The imperfections that arise become less of a struggle and instead a source of recognizing the common humanity of all people. As Zen priest Dogen Zenji said, “To be in harmony with the wholeness of things is to not have anxiety over our imperfections.” Easier said than done, but mindfulness leans us in that direction.

Embrace vulnerability

Our brain’s default is to guard against vulnerability with ourselves and with others. However, someone who practices mindfulness comes to understand that vulnerability is where the gold is. From embracing vulnerability we develop courage, trust and connection. It takes courage to take the leap and be vulnerable, as we do this we begin to trust ourselves and others and in doing this we cultivate connection which allows us to feel safe and be happy. Of course this doesn’t mean we are vulnerable everywhere and at all times, we can be discerning about this, but slowly we begin to trust ourselves more and more.

Understand that all things come and go

If there is one singular law in life it is that nothing is permanent (except that law of course). When we close our eyes and listen we hear how sounds appear and disappear. When we open our eyes we see how over time the seasons change how nature looks. Food comes in our mouths, the taste is there and then it’s gone. We’re born on this earth, we grow up and eventually pass away. As we practice mindfulness, we come to understand this and in this way, life becomes increasingly precious. We begin to put our phones down more often and open our eyes to the sacred moments all around us. As I continue to hear over and again from any parent, “It all goes by so fast.” May we learn to savor this precious life.

Many people ask the question: “How do you start?”

The 15th century poet Kabir said, “Wherever you are that’s the entry point.” My wife had an interesting experience where she was home alone with our two boys. She wanted to do a meditation, but there was no space for it. A rare occurrence of our two boys playing in their room alone together opened her up to an idea. The entry point for her was to use sounds as her practice.

She sat on the couch, closed her eyes and opened up to listening. She heard the birds chirping, the chimes ringing and the sounds of the boys playing. She had a nice 20-minute meditation.

There are so many ways to begin, begin where you are.

One way to get started, reconnect or deepen your mindfulness practice is to take the 28 Day Challenge with the new online program Basics of Mindfulness Meditation.

Adapted from Mindfulness & Psychotherapy

3 Ways to Begin Recovery From Porn

let-go-web

3 Ways to Begin Recovery From Porn

Every second, approximately 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography worldwide. Closer to home, more
than 40 million Americans claim to be regular visitors to porn sites, with
33% of those users being women and 67% being male. These astounding
statistics highlight the excessive use of pornography and its relation to
the growing number of porn addicts in today’s society. After years of
debate between professionals, porn addiction and sexual compulsivity has
officially been deemed a legitimate issue that often requires the help of
experts to control.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with an overuse of porn or
seeking porn addiction recovery, check out these three ways to get started
in gaining the skills and resources needed to live a happy, porn-free
lifestyle. Resist the inclination to disregard or minimize these
recommendations or to over analyze or question the reasoning behind them.
Just get Started. When you’re further into recovery, you will
understand the benefit of each of the steps and of the “dailies” (as we
call them), but for now just get some good recovery habits in place, which
will often help you replace bad habits.

Please note: This is not a cure. It is not a therapy. It is a way to get
started.

1. Come Out of Hiding

Isolation is one of the most common—most significant—stumbling blocks
faced by addicts, as well as those who live with addicts. When you feel
anger, fear, or any strong emotion, a natural response is to retreat. It
often seems easier to be alone and to isolate yourself from others, either
physically or emotionally, than to seek help. And even though you may be a
social person and spend lots of time with others, you may still be
emotionally isolated or “shut down”, unwilling to let anyone really know
who you are deep down inside.

To come out of hiding, we suggest that you seek out a therapist who has
been trained in and has experience with the treatment of sexual addiction.
In addition to personal therapy, we also strongly recommend that you join
a 12-step or other support group, and that you let out your secret to a
trusted friend, family member, or religious leader.

Most addicts reject this suggestion. It is not your natural instinct to
share with others. “I don’t do that group thing!” is a common response to
this suggestion. Or, “I don’t need anyone else’s help. I can do it
myself.” If you could, you would have. Let someone else help you now so
that can then go on to help others.

2. Develop a Plan of Action

Creating a Plan of Action is a long-term exercise, a written schedule that
will help you stay committed and consistent in your recovery. It is a
method of tools you’ve learned and implementing goals in a regular and
organized daily program. It will help you get into a routine of
consistently following the behaviors that are essential to your recovery.
Eventually, this routine will become a healthy flow, and will replace your
old self-destructive behaviors. Setting up your plan may be a little
tedious in the beginning, but remember, there are no shortcuts. Recovery
is a total lifestyle change.

Your Plan of Action will help you get started creating this new life, but
we caution you to take this step at your own pace. Addiction of any kind
can “rewire” the brain with unhealthy habits and patterns of behavior.
Recovery is a time where the brain can heal from the damage done by
addiction. Sexual addiction recovery is taking steps to replace unhealthy
wiring with new, healthy wiring. Creating a Plan of Action and a treatment
plan is a way whereby you can have a temporary braking system for you
habits and addictions while the brain heals.

3. Self-Care – The Daily Program

Choose at least one (but not more than two) dailies from the each of the
three categories: personal, physical, and spiritual. You may wish to
create a worksheet or find one in the booklet, The First Step.
Fill in the dailies you have chosen, and commit right now that you will
build these positive habits daily. Be conscientious in filling out the
worksheet each day and before long you will be experiencing a positive
ripple effect as you watch these better habits affect every area of your
life.

The following are examples from recovering addicts and how they used their
dailies to improve their lives.

DAILIES

Personal:

– Keep a journal
– Repeat daily affirmations
– Personal Development
Start a new hobby such as gardening, recreational reading, musical
instrument, and so forth.
Take a community education course
Express creativity, such as artwork, writing poetry, and so forth.

Physical:

– Exercise – 30 minutes at least 3 time a week.
(walk, bike, hike, swim, run etc.)
– Nutrition
Learn about nutrition-plan meals in advance
Eat balanced meals
Avoid junk food (including sugar and caffeine)
– Rest and Relaxation:
Get adequate sleep
Limit TV to little or none

Spiritual:

– Prayer
– Meditation
– Scripture or religious reading
– Church service

It is important that you do not overdo these dailies and that you take
them at your own pace. After all, this is your life and your recovery and
no one knows your needs and capabilities better than you do. Start this
program today and evaluate your progress daily. Add or delete activities
as needed to keep a healthy balance in your life.

About the Author: Dan Gray (LCSW, CSAT) is the Clinical Director and
cofounder at Lifestar Therapy. He has a master’s degree in social work and is a CSAT
(Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist). He is also certified as an
addictions counselor with the National Association of Forensic Counselors.
He has co-authored and edited two books: Confronting Pornography: A Guide
to Prevention and Recovery for Individuals, Loved Ones, and Leaders and
Discussing Pornography Problems with a Spouse: Confronting and Disclosing
Secret Behaviors. Dan is married and the father of four.