Friday, July 15, 2016

Have You Met My Drinking Buddies?

20 Days Clean and Sober.
I’m realizing that I have “drinking buddies” that I almost always act out with. Simply put, when I am with my personal “rat pack,” I’m in big trouble.
In chapter 8 of his book, Intimacy Anorexia, Dr. Douglass Weiss explains it this way:
“Like an alcoholic having drinking buddies or the shopaholic having shopping buddies. Addicts, like most people, like to have support for their activities. Unlike other addictions where the addict’s “buddies” are real people, the intimacy anorexic’s buddies are quite different. The intimacy anorexic’s buddies are internal buddies. These buddies are lodged deep in the intimacy anorexic’s heart. For most intimacy anorexics, they are unaware of these buddies and the significant role they play in their lives, until they are pointed out.
Not all intimacy anorexics have each buddy, but most anorexics have more than they think. (Here are their names and identities):
The Victim: This is probably the most common friend of the anorexic. The victim tells the anorexic how they are the victim of their spouse. The victim turns almost any conflict or circumstance and spins it (amazingly quickly) on how they are the victim. This victim is almost a reflexive response so the speed of this buddy is lightening fast. I have actually seen the anorexic’s spouse walk away thinking they really were the problem and accepted the blame repeatedly.
As a spouse, if you see the victim, understand that this is an emotional state, not a rational state. You cannot reason with the victim, you must stay in your reality to survive. As the intimacy anorexic, if you feel the victim emerging, you will usually have to slow down, call a support person and run your thoughts by them before you submit to the victim. This “buddy” will push your spouse away and you might begin acting in. Let me explain how this works from the anorexic’s perspective.
The intimacy anorexic intentionally starves the spouse. The spouse is legitimately angry or critical of this neglect and pain, but the victim says, “you’re being abused by your spouse; he or she disrespects you, and doesn’t appreciate you.” You see, now the anorexic, who is actually the perpetrator, gets to believe and behave as the victim.
Below are some comments from anorexics and their spouses about the victim.
Holly (Spouse): As the anorexic, my husband blames me and plays the victim of neglect.
Ted (Anorexic): Mainly this is played out inside my head. I will tell myself that I am not understood, no one cares about me.
Claire (Spouse): Everything is about how it affects my husband. He’s always the victim and it’s always about him. I have to say, “Wait a minute; we are talking about me right now, not you.”
Abby (Anorexic): He works so hard and deserves to zone out on the computer or TV all night. He leaves me alone mentality.
Miriam (Spouse): He says, “’No one has ever understood me’, ‘Everyone expects too much of me’, ‘I didn’t really tell a lie; I just didn’t tell the truth’ ‘Why are you so upset?’”
Fantasy Person: This is a real trouble-making friend of the intimacy anorexic. This is the fantasy where almost any person other than the spouse will love, appreciate, and unconditionally accept them more than their spouse, while not asking for sex or intimacy. For the most part, this is a fantasy. Sometimes it takes the role of pornography or romantic novel characters.
There is a place for some anorexics where they will recruit real people. They will be nice to them, flirt with them, and have conversations that might be questionable but won’t touch or kiss them.
This is what I call emotional pornography. The intimacy anorexic scans the person’s imagined features then uses them to romanticize or sexualize what life would be like with them. This drives the spouse crazy because they can sense this energy between them. The intimacy anorexic will deny this because “they are good and haven’t done anything wrong.”
The fantasy person plays two roles of support for the addiction to withholding process. Firstly, it’s the role of criticizing the spouse to justify ill treatment of them through withholding. Secondly, it gives the intimacy anorexic a way to be disconnected and less emotionally committed to the real spouse who has flaws as we all do.
Below are some comments from anorexics and their spouses about the fantasy person.
Rachel (Spouse): He has an image in his head and he will not engage in a loving, caring relationship with me.
Claire (Spouse): This one is the hardest for me. We can be out to dinner, the movies, Wal-mart, or watching television and he seems to always be looking. When we are at dinner, I’ve seen him look in a specific direction a lot. I have actually turned around and looked and I can always spot the type he looks at, which is blonde hair for sure. He has to see what each blonde person looks like. He denies it; I know what I see. I’ve even said, “Is there someone you’re looking for?”
Stephanie (Spouse): His fantasy girl is NOT like the person he married. It is more of what he was married to before me e.g.,
tall, athletic, red headed, a little loose acting. I asked why he married me and he says, “…because I couldn’t get a model to move to where we live.” We live in the sticks of a very poor rural area. I thought it was love; what was I thinking?
Abby (Spouse): I tried to always be someone I wasn’t…I tried to be his fantasy girl. I couldn’t begin to try to win! I tried running, dieting, piercing, and lots of different things for attention.
Tamara (Spouse): My husband’s fantasy girl is always sexually available to meet every desire he has. She never speaks or has any value as a human being. She worships him and his manhood.
Sam (Anorexic): This fantasy was all done in my mind as the perfect relationship of all physical and no emotional needs to meet.
Fear of Intimacy: Fear is a great friend. It paralyzes your resources and you can justify this because you’re afraid. I mean, who can hold you guilty because you’re afraid, right? That’s the belief that the fear of intimacy gives the intimacy anorexic. It’s okay to be afraid after all, “you have been hurt before by your spouse or others like them. You know it’s only a matter of time until you will be hurt again, so stay inside yourself. You know it’s not safe, so don’t trust, be afraid and sit down.” These are actual thoughts the friend of fear of intimacy will offer up to help justify the withholding or pushing away of the spouse to create distance. You see, now that there is distance, you don’t need to be afraid. It’s okay, your spouse is effectively pushed away. Fear is a great friend of the anorexic, especially when Fear also brings along the Victim, or some of the other friends of intimacy anorexia.
Below are some comments from anorexics and their spouses about fear of intimacy.
Rachel (Spouse): I know that he is terrified of this, I just don’t know why and he will not tell me. It scares me because I know there must be something really bad that I don’t already know and I know a lot of brutal stuff.
Virginia (Spouse): My spouse doesn’t share anything unless I ask him and then it feels like I am dragging molasses out of a jar.
Tanya (Anorexic): If someone knows my heart, I believed they have the ultimate weapon against me. I have always been punished for letting someone into my heart.
Alison (Spouse): We were having once a week dates and using discussion questions that dig rather deep. It went well for several weeks and then he began sabotaging the dates by saying mean things and blaming me, out of the blue, for things and then acting surprised if I got upset.
Miriam (Spouse): He says: “’I want to become sexually connected with you, just not today.’ ‘I’m working towards it; I just need more time.’ ‘If you’d just waited a few more hours/ days, I was going to initiate it.’” He has many, many excuses: headaches, backaches, always too tired, he’s angry…
Safety: The intimacy anorexic has a high demand for safety. This friend, Safety, is one of the closest friends of intimacy anorexia. This friend supports the addiction to withholding by cheering it on with lines like: “I must be absolutely safe before I come out,” “It must be a promise that you will never, ever hurt me, see a flaw or criticize me in any way,” “I demand safety as a condition to relate.” Well, of course, this friend is probably the most delusional of the lot. When you’re drinking together sometimes you don’t realize how crazy the person you’re talking to really is.
In the real world, all relationships have pain, all spouses definitely give pain and those are the rules of real life. This friend encourages absolutely unrealistic expectations so the spouse is guaranteed to have repeated failure so the intimacy anorexic can justify withholding and creating pain for them. Safety is a strong and non rational friend, much like fear of intimacy. The level of emotion that is felt by the anorexic is so primitive it often cannot be rationalized with while it is in the first stage of the heart. This friend may be difficult to address, but when you do as the anorexic, you are able to risk, be hurt, feel pain and above all feel loved with your flaws.
As a spouse, Safety demands cannot be met; they are not supposed to be met. You, as the spouse, are set up to fail so the addiction to withholding can stay in a strengthened position. Really, until this friend is dismantled, you’re in for some wild rides of irrational experiences and conversations.
Busyness: The friend of Busyness seems to be around the intimacy anorexic much like that cloud around Pig Pen in the Charlie Brown cartoons. There is always something to do: a home project, television, coach a team, exercise, obsess over golf or a sports team, church, PTA or just simply sit in front of the computer for hours.
Busyness often supports the good person box of the intimacy anorexic. You see, these things are productive, helpful, kind, spiritual and just a good thing to do. Busyness allows the anorexic to stay distracted and take a drink of withholding toward the spouse, intentionally, at the same time. It’s like the best of both; I look good and get to withhold. Busyness really assists the intimacy anorexic in their rationalization of avoidance for years or decades at a time.
If you’re the spouse of the intimacy anorexic you know when Busyness is around because your spouse isn’t around. Even if they are home, it’s as if they are not there. They’re lost in a book, newspaper or a hundred other things, including all variations of technology, which leaves you with the “I’m alone again in my marriage feeling.” Granted, it’s nicer than blame, control, or criticism, it’s just so lonely when Busyness and your spouse get together.
Entitlement: This friend is one of the kingpins, of this rat pack, that the anorexic is hanging out with. Entitlement is pure muscle with a tactic that says, “It’s my way or the highway” on its 22 inch arm. This friend is the bouncer of the group. He or she is meaner than any other friend, after all, “I am entitled to push, criticize, yell, make you look stupid, control you because I am important and you have no value to me.” These ugly beliefs are what this friend of entitlement is all about. “It’s all about me, I’m superior, I won’t be questioned, I won’t be told what to do” are songs this friend sings to the easily influenced intimacy anorexic.
When this friend is coaching the intimacy anorexic, it becomes unclear who their spouse is. The good person mark is totally off and there is hell to pay. Any mean thing about you, your character, your past, your weakness is all fair game. This gets you back in your rightful place-submitted to the addiction of withholding.
This friend doesn’t like to be exposed. If you’re the anorexic, you’re in for a fight to let this one go. If you’re a spouse, don’t even engage this one. Your energy makes it grow bigger so leave it alone. You are best to leave or have a plan in place when Entitlement shows up.
Control: This is the balance of the team, which supports the addiction to withholding, which starves the marriage. Control has to do the tight walk of keeping almost everyone believing the intimacy anorexic is wonderful and keeping a blind eye to the withholding behavior toward the spouse. The need for control is important to most addictions but it is the glue that keeps this addiction to withholding intact. Without control there would be flaws, authenticity, and vulnerability. Control, like a hard wax on a car, fills these cracks and all you have is the great shine everyone loves to love.
Control manifests differently for each intimacy anorexic. For some it’s money, sex, time, withholding love or praise or just not connecting, but Control holds the fort down. If the anorexic feels his or her image is under attack, Control, along with the bully, anger, will come out and protect the image and secure the parameter.
If the anorexic has been married long or even a few years, the spouse can probably identify this friend, Control. It’s this friend that stops the spouse cold in their tracks. It’s unbelievably different when this friend finds a new home away from the intimacy anorexia
Below are some comments from anorexics and their spouses about Control.
Rachel (Spouse): He remains in control at all times. He stays silent until I can’t take it anymore (the isolation) and I fall apart and go talk to him.
Pat (Spouse): My husband strives to keep all control. He hates there to be any control out of his hands. He liked me much better as a doormat.
Tanya (Anorexic): As long as I am in control, no one can hurt me. I cannot control a lot of things, but I can control who I let into who I really am deep down.
Rose (Anorexic): I used control to keep myself in what I thought was a “safe” place, but really didn’t allow myself to even dare to make the changes I needed to get more healthy.
Independence: This friend allows the intimacy anorexic to stay in the second stage of development. The first stage of development being dependence which is forced trust, the last stage of development is interdependence which is a choice to trust.
These friends say, “no it’s better to just take care of themselves, don’t trust others, you’ll be in debt to them.” This can be so severe that they won’t’ let others help them, not because they don’t need the help, but because they don’t want to feel indebted or owe that person anything.
Independence is the guy who gives consistent push back when things are getting too close. To trust the spouse is to feel a loss of independence, which can feel like a loss of self to some intimacy anorexics. Independence can also feel like adolescence and rear up with messages of, “don’t tell me what to do, nobody tells me what to do. If I wanted another dad or mom I would have married one. Who do you think you are?”
If you’re the spouse, independence is that bump in the road just when you thought you were getting along. You were looking forward to a night alone, a significant stretch of quality time and bump, “I’m going to go to X first” creating mild distance allowing the intimacy anorexic to regain their equilibrium of distance.
Below are some comments from anorexics and their spouses about Independence.
Rachel (Spouse): We have dated for four years and he has no intention of doing anything else. This lets his emotional needs be met without letting me get too much in his space.
Virginia (Spouse): My spouse comes and goes as he pleases to his men’s meetings without regard for my schedule or our five kids.
Todd (Anorexic): My favorite times are when I am alone and I don’t need to interact with others.
Tanya (Anorexic): I don’t need anyone to meet my needs. I can take care of myself.
Miriam (Spouse): From the beginning of the marriage, we agreed to join our assets. What I learned; however, is that what this really meant was MY money and assets are OURS but HIS are HIS. My salary goes into the family pool for bills; any income he generates is his to spend for whatever he wants, whenever he wants. We have joint checking/savings account, and he has his own separate, individual one.
Selfishness: There’s not an addict alive that doesn’t know selfishness. This friend of the addict is regularly looking out for number one, and in this case it is the intimacy anorexic. This friend makes it difficult to see the team picture and is capitalizing on situations to meet a hypothetical need at best or at worst looking for a way to help the addict withhold having a quick drink.
Selfishness is the jab to the spouse’s weak spot, including glares, the rationalization of keeping every commitment, even the commitment to clean the pool but not the commitment to love, honor or cherish the spouse. Selfishness keeps the intimacy anorexic limited on empathy. Since they can’t see others, it makes it hard at times to feel the pain of others.
The spouse is very aware of this selfish presence. It’s those moments when you feel you have an extra child instead of another adult. It’s when you hope the children really don’t understand why your spouse is committed to do X, when you were earlier agreeing to do Y, and the only reason is because they don’t want to.
Below are some comments from anorexics and their spouses about selfishness.
Rachel (Spouse): When I talk to him about sexuality being a normal, healthy part of a relationship he just says that he doesn’t think it is important. I tell him I do and if he doesn’t want it we need to end the relationship so that I can be with someone else and so can he. He says he doesn’t want to be with anyone else. I feel crazy.
Pat (Spouse): He will eat out or whatever else he wants, but he does not always care if our needs are attended to. He is perfectly fine with solo sex, ignoring all relational needs just as long as he gets what he wants.
Virginia (Spouse): My spouse blew off our 21st anniversary (no card, no gift, and no dinner) because he is a teacher and had progress reports due that week. When I had our second miscarriage, my spouse left me crying at the OB’s parking lot and went back to work. Then he didn’t want to talk about it. Todd (Anorexic): There are certain foods that I buy that are just for me and I get angry when anyone touches them. I rarely share with others.
Tanya (Spouse): No one around him has any value or needs. He has needs that must be met or else. His needs are not only the most important, but they are the only needs.
Rose (Anorexic): I was very selfish because I couldn’t see anyone else’s point of view except my own. That is the only way I seemed to know how to survive.
The Wall: The Wall is probably the friend I often have to explain the most, but after I do, the intimacy anorexic goes “Oh yeah, I got that one too.” The wall is like a thick glass that surrounds the intimacy anorexic. Originally it was designed to keep others out but over time it has grown to keep them in. Even when the intimacy anorexic wants to join, connect or even emote they feel stuck, frozen or unavailable. It’s like they can see what’s going on, and even have the right social queuing to know what would be expected, but they just can’t seem to connect the dots. Stuck behind the glass wall they can see and be seen, it just seems that they can’t touch or be touched.
The spouse experiences this as frozen moments. The best way to describe it is like a skip in a record. The songs playing, you know the melody and then there is a bump, and the moment is missed or not mutually shared.
The Backdoor: The Backdoor is a faceless friend to those addicted to withholding. It’s this friend who just quietly but regularly lets the intimacy anorexic know “You’re not really happy, you’d be happier with someone who is… Really, being alone might even be better. The kids and I would be better without him/ her. I don’t really know why I stay.”
It’s this resignation that somehow the intimacy anorexic has resigned to for settling for less. This backdoor is insidious because it allows them, or should I say, gives them permission to not fully accept, fully engage or fully invest in their spouse.
The backdoor is that quiet but steady lack of enjoyment of the spouse. This friend makes sure that the intimacy anorexic keeps their spouse’s flaws at the forefront of their mind.
The spouse experiences the backdoor as not ever feeling good enough, loved or really often feeling not wanted. It’s like somehow you feel you won second or third place and the winner, well, is not available. The winner is the illusive fantasy which keeps the intimacy anorexic from being present and celebrating you.
These friends probably have felt eerily familiar at times. In recovery, stay aware of these friends so that when they knock at the door of your heart, you don’t let them back in.”
Reading about the descriptions of these “drinking buddies” was a huge eye opener for me. I believe that all of the characters but “Fantasy Person” and “Busyness” manifest themselves in all of my addictions. They are very adept at distracting me from living my recovery, staying sober, and doing my dailies. But I am grateful that I now know them because now I can watch out for their lies and deceit.
Elder Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once said, “The devil is a dirty fighter, and we must be aware of his tactics.” (Ensign, Purity Precedes Power, November 1990).
This is my prayer today:
Dear Father,
Please help me to be wise, to be awake and to be aware of the weapons in Satan’s arsenal. I surrender my safety to Thy care and the care of Thy Son, Jesus Christ. Please come and abide with me. The battle is Thine not mine. Thy will be done, not mine. Light my candle and enlighten my darkness. Show me the path of life. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my Rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer:
my God, my strength in whom I will trust;
my buckler, and the horn of my salvation,
and my high tower.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised:
so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
Psalm 18: 1-3
Go forward in faith. God is in charge!

When I Feel Obsessed...

19 Days Clean and Sober.
What is it like when I'm obsessed with something? Does my thinking follow a pattern?
When I'm obsessed about something I can't stop thinking about it.
Once triggered, my obsessions quickly turn into a desperate thirst to get MORE of WHATEVER I am obsessing about at the time.
The only criterion is that whatever it is, it MUST to make me feel safe/ in control.
I believe that my thinking follows this kind of pattern:
  •  An event triggers my thinking.
  • My need to be in control feels threatened.
  • I think about how I can escape or numb myself in order to feel safe and in control.
  • I obsess and plan out different methods of acting out as soon as I possibly can so I can feel in control.
  • I obsess about the when, where, and how. I obsess about who I must deceive so that I don’t get caught. I have to be in control.
  • I act out on my obsession.
  • I have a feel a momentary sense of comfort, reassurance, relief, or pleasure.
  • Guilt sets in.
  • I feel remorse, shame, guilt, and fear.
  • I tell myself I am going to change, and begin making first order changes.
  • I become discouraged about my progress and fear overtakes me.
  • And the cycle starts all over again.
My most desperate thirst is to TO BE IN CONTROL (my addict’s counterfeit to feeling safe.).
What I am…
What I want to be…
Can you relate? Go forward in faith. God is in charge!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Has My Disease Been Active Recently? In What Way?

576 Days Sober and Still Recovering.
Has my disease been active recently? In what way?
Yes. My disease has been extremely active recently. The following are the ways that I've been acting out:
1. I've discovered that in addition to being a sober, recovering sexaholic,  I'm severely addicted to sexual/intimacy anorexia too.
The SA white book would label me a love cripple, and honestly, there really is no better description. My compulsion to withdraw from my wife spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically have an irresistible magnetic force. True union with her or anyone is impossible because I'm addicted to the unreal. I am afraid of being intimately connected to people. I'm afraid of people seeing me as a broken love cripple and will reject me and abandon me.
For some reason, this terrifies me like nothing else. The fear I feel when I am triggered to withdraw is akin to drowning, suffocating, or falling (some of my worst fears of dying).
My addiction compels me to believe that I am safer making no connection with anyone at all rather than attempting to make an authentic connection and risk the possibility of dying from extreme disappointment, crushing heartache, or utter abandonment.
The anorexia employs every stratagem and capability in its arsenal to convince me that I am better off withdrawing, retreating, and isolating myself from any potential embarrassment, misunderstanding, disappointment, or heartbreak.
Intimacy Anorexia is real and palpable. It makes me feel like the victim, the accused, the judge, and the jury all at once without any hope of freedom. It is the most cunning, baffling, and powerful of all the forms of addiction that I've ever experienced.
Under the influence of intimacy anorexia I am resentful, hateful, rude, condescending, impatient, vengeful, intolerant, childish, arrogant, mentally and emotionally abusive, self deprived, self abused, self righteous, and self centered.
My disease convinces me that I must be in control, but that is exactly when I'm altogether disconnected from the present and I'm severely spiraling out of control.
 2. I'm also addicted to emotional eating. Since my emotions so are so variable, I am constantly craving sugar and unhealthy foods all of the time. My favorite drugs of choice are Mexican and Italian foods, and Chinese take out.
Whenever I'm upset or even unsettled, I retreat to the TV and eat. Retreat and eat. Retreat and eat.
When I'm consciously isolating myself to escape intimacy with my wife and children. I retreat and eat.
I repeatedly steal money from my spouse's purse anticipating the stress of the work day so I have the means to retreat and eat. 
Whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed or suffocated I retreat and eat.
Even if I accomplish something or do something good, an overwhelming feeling of entitlement hits me like a freight train and again and again I retreat and eat. Retreat and eat. 
Multiple times each week I purposely don't take my insulin shots so I can retreat, eat, and then crash into a food coma for 3 or 4 hours. I feel sick and buzzed after waking, but normally I don't care because I've gotten my way. I got what I wanted when I wanted it no matter what harm it caused me or my family.
Eat and retreat is an almost  irresistible combination of acting out.
These are the ways my addiction is currently manifesting itself in my life.
She is a maternal chameleon. She is blood thirsty and she will go to any lengths to kill me mentally, emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually under her guise of, "protecting her baby and keeping him safe."

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Awakening

5 days gratefully clean and sober.

My wife and I separated on June 16, 2014 (Father's Day weekend). We go to mediation this coming Monday, March 9, 2015. Ironically, it is my mother's birthday. I consider it a huge blessing and I am fasting and praying that the veil will be very thin. 
 I am living in a duplex on a peaceful street in my neighborhood about 3 blocks away from my other home where my wife and children live. Currently, my children spend the night with me on Tuesdays and every other weekend (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays). But during the daytime, they are free to drop by and stay for a while whenever they wish. This is the first time in my life I am learning to live responsibly on my own. I am happy to report that we have found a lot of serenity in the home we have created for ourselves.
I found this piece yesterday called, The Awakening by Sonny Carroll. It is exactly what I needed to read as I work through my recovery from addiction and process my divorce from my wife.
~The Awakening~
Written by: Sonny Carroll
There comes a time in your life when you finally get it ... When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out "ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on."
And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes you begin to look at the world from a new perspective.
..........This is your awakening.
You realize that it is time to stop hoping and waiting for something or someone to change, or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon.
You come to terms with the fact that there aren't always fairytale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you. Then a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.
You begin making your way through the "reality of today" rather than holding out for the "promise of tomorrow."
You realize that much of who you are, and the way you navigate through life is, in great part, a result of all the social conditioning you've received over the course of a lifetime. And you begin to sift through all the nonsense you were taught…
Slowly you begin to open up to new worlds and different points of view.
You begin re-assessing and re-defining who you are and what you really believe in.
You begin to discard the doctrines you have outgrown, or should never have practiced to begin with.
You accept the fact that you are not perfect, and that not everyone will love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are... and that's OK... they are entitled to their own views and opinions.
You come to terms with the fact that you will never be…a perfect human being... and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head or agonizing over how you compare.
You take a long look at yourself in the mirror and you make a promise to give yourself the same unconditional love and support you give so freely to others. Then a sense of confidence is born of self-approval.
You stop maneuvering through life merely as a "consumer" hungry for your next fix, looks of approval and admiration from family, friends or even strangers who pass by.
You discover that it is truly in "giving" that we receive, and that the joy and abundance you seek grows out of the giving. You recognize the importance of "creating" and "contributing" rather than "obtaining" and "accumulating."
You give thanks for the simple things you've been blessed with, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about - a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, the freedom of choice and the opportunity to pursue your own dreams.
You begin to love and to care for yourself. You stop engaging in self-destructive behaviors, including participating in dysfunctional relationships.
You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and exercising.
You learn that fatigue drains the spirit and creates doubt and fear. You give yourself permission to rest. And just as food is fuel for the body, laughter is fuel for the spirit. So you make it a point to create time for play.
Then you learn about love and relationships - how to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving, and when to walk away.
You allow only the hands of a lover who truly loves and respects you to glorify you with their touch.
You learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say, intentionally or unintentionally, and that not everyone will always come through... and interestingly enough, it's not always about you.
You stop lashing out and pointing fingers or looking to place blame for the things that were done to you or weren't done for you.
You learn to keep your Ego in check and to acknowledge and redirect the destructive emotions it spawns - anger, jealousy and resentment.
You learn how to say "I was wrong" and to forgive people for their own human frailties.
You learn to build bridges instead of walls and about the healing power of love as it is expressed through a kind word, a warm smile or a friendly gesture.
At the same time, you eliminate any relationships that are hurtful or fail to uplift and edify you.
You stop working so hard at smoothing things over and setting your needs aside.
You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK and that it is your right to want or expect certain things.
You learn the importance of communicating your needs with confidence and grace.
You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that eventually martyrs are burned at the stake.
You learn to distinguish between guilt, and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to Say NO.
You learn that you don't know all the answers, it's not your job to save the world and that sometimes you just need to Let Go.
You learn to look at people as they really are and not as you would want them to be. You are careful not to project your neediness or insecurities onto another.
You learn that you will not be more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the woman on your arm or the child that bears your name.
You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love and relationships, and that that not everyone can always love you the way you would want them to.
You stop appraising your worth by the measure of love you are given. And suddenly you realize that it's wrong to demand that someone live their life or sacrifice their dreams just to serve your needs, ease your insecurities, or meet "your" standards and expectations.
You learn that the only love worth giving and receiving is the love that is given freely without conditions or limitations. You learn what it means to love. You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes.
You learn that "alone" does not mean "lonely" and you begin to discover the joy of spending time "with yourself" and "on yourself."
Then you discover the greatest and most fulfilling love you will ever know - Self Love.
It comes to pass that, through understanding, your heart heals; and now all new things are possible.
You begin to avoid toxic people and conversations.
You stop wasting time and energy rehashing your situation with family and friends.
You learn that talk doesn't change things and that unrequited wishes can only serve to keep you trapped in the past.
You stop lamenting over what could or should have been and you make a decision to leave the past behind.
You begin to invest your time and energy to affect positive change.
You take a personal inventory of all your strengths and weaknesses and the areas you need to improve in order to move forward.
You set your goals and map out a plan of action to see things through.
You learn that life isn't always fair and you don't always get what you think you deserve. You stop personalizing every loss or disappointment. You learn to accept that sometimes bad things happen to good people and that these things are not an act of God... but merely a random act of fate.
You stop looking for guarantees, because you've learned that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected and that whatever happens, you'll learn to deal with it.
You learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time - FEAR itself.
You learn to step right into and through your fears, because to give into fear is to give away the right to live life on your terms.
You learn that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophesy.
You learn to go after what you want and not to squander your life living under a cloud of indecision or feelings of impending doom.
YOU LEARN ABOUT MONEY... the personal power and independence it brings and the options it creates. You recognize the necessity to create your own personal wealth.
Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never ever settle for less than your heart's desire. A sense of power is born of self-reliance.
You live with honor and integrity because you know that these principles are not the outdated ideals of a by-gone era but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build your life.
You make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting and to stay open to every wonderful opportunity and exciting possibility.
You hang a wind chime outside your window to remind yourself what beauty there is in Simplicity.
Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side you take a stand. You take a deep breath and begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.
A word about the Power of Prayer: In some of my darkest, most painful and frightening hours, I have prayed, not for the answers to my prayers or for material things, but for my "God" to help me find the strength, confidence and courage to persevere; to face each day and to do what I must do.
Always Remember: You are an expression of the almighty. The spirit of God resides within you and moves through you.
Open your heart, speak to that spirit and it will heal and empower you.
My "God" has never failed me.
Go forward with faith. God is in charge!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To the Suffering Reader Seeking to Establish Sobriety:

4 hours sober. As your brother in recovery please know that I love you. I believe in you, and I am praying for you. We are stronger than we realize. We are more capable than we can imagine.

President Dieter F. Utchdorf once said: "I give you this promise in the name of the Lord: Rise up and follow in the footsteps of our Redeemer and Savior, and one day you will look back and be filled with eternal gratitude that you chose to trust the Atonement and its power to lift you up and give you strength. matter how many times you have slipped or fallen, rise up! Your destiny is a glorious one! Stand tall and walk in the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! You are stronger than you realize. You are more capable than you can imagine. You can do it now!"

I know for myself that President Utchdorf's testimony is true. Together, we can do what is seemingly impossible and we can do it now!

For several months, I've struggled to maintain white book sobriety. With all of my heart I desire to accept an honest and willing sobriety.

I recently made the decision to stop counting days. I've started counting hours. This has become a great stress reliever for me and has become a major boon for my recovery. It has allowed me to slow down and really focus on Christ by surrendering my powerlessness and unmanageability to him. I would encourage you to give it a try. I have faith that one by one, the hours will add up quickly.

I have a clock on my blog counting my clean and sober time up to the most recent millisecond. I have faith that this tool will motivate me to remain accountable to the people who read this blog, to the newcomer, to my family, to my friends, to my God and to my true nature. It will be a strong relapse deterrent for me. I have faith that it will remind me to think of others before I think of myself. To dedicate my time, my talents, my strength and hold nothing back in my war against lust. THE war against Lucifer and his angels. I testify that together, we never have to use again, we never have to act out again, our last relapse can really be our last. We can do it now.

I am willing to defend my peace of mind, and this hour I am willing to do whatever it takes, all that it takes, for as long as it takes to stay sober. Peace of mind and spirit are the greatest gifts God has given me in my recovery. I testify that the peace and freedom I long for can be mine when I vocally reach out to God and sincerely surrender my lust one hour at a time.
I have discovered that the keys to successful surrender for me are:

1) Deciding to make myself available to God. To reach out to Him as best I can and talk to Him out loud.

2) Deciding each hour and even sometimes moment by moment to be honest and open minded with God, and to willingly surrender my life and my will in his care and to the care of his son, Jesus Christ.

3) Deciding to continually admit my powerlessness and unmanageability to God, asking him earnestly for the capability to discern his will and to do it.

4) Repeat. repeat. repeat! Whatever it takes, all that it takes, for as long as it takes.

Elder Neal A Maxwell taught: “God does not begin by asking us about our ability {to stay sober}, but only about our availability {to talk to him}, and if we then prove our dependability {honestly and with constant surrender}, he will increase our capability {to recovery from our addiction and do all that we admit we cannot do alone}.”(The words in the brackets are mine. Not Elder Maxwell's.)

Wow! What an empowering promise!

What if the promise really were true? How could I know if it were really true? Would I be willing to put it to the test?

I testify that the Book of Mormon provides the answer through the ancient prophet, Moroni.

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.

And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
~ Moroni 10:4-7

Remember Pesident Utchdorf's declaration? "You can do it NOW!"

Right now I commit to you my brother, my sister, my friend, my neighbor, that I will put Elder Maxwell's counsel to the test now. I surrender my life and my will to my Heavenly Father's care and to the care of his son, Jesus Christ. I will be honest, open minded and willing to recieve and follow their direction now. I earnestly plead with God for the capability to discern his will and faithfully do it now.

I invite you to join me and share with me your experience, strength, and hope when you test and receive the promised blessings from Elder Maxwell's counsel.

I testify that Jesus is the Christ and that his atonement is real. His prophets in ancient and latter days testify of him and speak his truth today. I testify that God lives and loves us. Through the atonement of his only begotten son we will be enabled with the ability to do what we know we cannot do alone.

I remember the words of Nephi:

And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen. ~ 2 Nephi 31:19-21.

With unshaken faith in Christ, "relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save." We can do it now.

As we turn to him and surrender ourselves to his will, may God ease our suffering and enable us with the power to establish solid sobriety.

Please reach out and share your experience, strength and hope with me. I would love to read your shares and I invite you to play an active role in my recovery. I need your love and strength.

Keep coming back and go forward with faith! God is truly in charge!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What I Learned From Philip Seymour Hoffman

447 Hours sober.

Dear friend,

This past weekend, I was reminded of why sobriety must come before anything else in my life, even before my family.

I loved watching Philip Seymour Hoffman act in the movies. He was a brilliant actor and I really admired his work.

Recently, I heard in the news that before he relapsed in 2012, he had been sober from alcohol and drugs 23 years. Sober for 23 years!!!! What a heartbreaking tragedy it is that in the end, his heroin addiction killed him.

Although my drug of choice is different than his was (mine is an addiction to lust), Hoffman’s death starkly reminded me that it is no less lethal than any other addiction. In fact, some researchers believe that the effect of pornography addiction on the brain is 5 times more powerful than heroin. If I’m living in my addiction, the consequences of acting out will inevitably turn deadly.

I don’t know all of the reasons why Mr. Hoffman’s tragic death struck a particular chord with me. But I do know the way he died and the reason he died slapped me in the face and woke me up and as a result I was finally able to define my own bottom line for sobriety.

My bottom line is this: Without sobriety as the highest priority in my life, chances are 100% that sooner or later my addiction will literally kill me. Even placing my relationship with my family above sobriety in my life could potentially lead me back to living in active addiction and kill me. I cannot risk taking or doing anything that will rob me or my loved ones of my life. I cannot play carelessly with my life and I cannot play carelessly with my sobriety. If I do, I’m dead. It’s as simple as that.

Hoffman's death was also a powerful reminder of the fact that no matter how much “sobriety time” I ever get, I will always, always, always remain just as allergic and addicted to lust today as I was on the day I last acted out. There is absolutely no exception to that rule!

For me, the only difference between living in addiction and living in recovery lies in my God given right to choose which life to live. Heavenly Father has given me my agency of to either claim chaos and death through my own foolish bull-headed pride, or to claim peace and sobriety through the enabling power of Christ’s atonement.

If I blindly choose to numb myself to my inner pain by acting out, I'm playing Russian roulette with my life, and everything I hold dear. If I consciously choose sobriety each hour, God will empower me to arrest my addiction and remain sober. The outcome of either decision is inevitable; it is only a matter of time.

A few nights ago, I really wanted to act out and at the time, I didn’t even really know why. I was craving to look at images and feel that moment of pleasure. Because I was thinking irrationally I didn't reach out to anyone. "I don't need to reach out to anyone,” I told myself. “I can tolerate this itch. It's not that bad." How stupid! How quickly I was blinded by my own pride!!! 

Thankfully, I thought again of the sad demise of Philip Seymour Hoffman. I stopped in my tracks, and turned off the TV in the downstairs den. I went up stairs and turned on the light in the living room. At that moment I remembered the acronym “H.A.L.T.,” and after a minute or two of introspection, to my surprise I realized that I was feeling every letter in that acronym! I felt Hungry. I felt Angry. I felt Lonely, and I felt very, very Tired! I went to bed thanking the God of my understanding for bringing that acronym to my mind and blessing me with the grace to avoid what could have been a huge disaster.

Here’s an interesting thought. Right now I’ve just realized that I have never once acted out when I have been of a sound mind; thinking clearly! Whenever I acted out, my reasoning and perspective were always horribly distorted every single time! I have never acted out with clear head, it has always occurred in the dark fog of insanity!

“But what about fears? Your poor self esteem?” my addict just now screamed! “What about your crippling mental and emotional pain? They will kill you!”

My response to my addict: “They will if I am unwilling to acknowledge, embrace and love them.”

The little exchange that just barely occurred reminds me of an expression in NA that goes, " addict seeking recovery need ever die from the horrors of addiction." It also reminds me of a quote by Pema Chodron that reads, “…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”

I've realized that if I will allow myself to feel my mental and emotional pain and sit with it (and there is no doubt for me that at times, sobriety is conceived in severe pain), I never have to doubt whether I’ll be able to figure out where I’m stuck. If I can figure out where I am stuck, I can then ask God for His divine assistance to help me get unstuck. Once I’m unstuck, I can learn what to do or not do to avoid the same pitfall in the future.

In my opinion, the pain that comes with withdrawal is a small price to pay for the enabling grace and serenity that attends any sobering addict. God’s grace is real. This moment I choose to protect my sobriety.

If you are reading this post and you’re suffering from the horrors of addiction in this same moment: I want you to know that I believe in you. I love you, and am praying for your success. I don't have to know you personally to do so. All I need to know is that the Steps work, and that you are my brother or my sister and that the sincere prayers of one addict for another makes a difference and works miracles.

Join me right now. Fold your knees and surrender in prayer this cunning and merciless disease of addiction to God as you understand Him for the next 60 minutes. Your prayer doesn’t have to be long or fancy. It just needs to come from the heart. It can be as simple as asking God to reach out His hand to help you get unstuck. If you ask Him sincerely, like you would do with one of your best friends, I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that He will answer that prayer in a way you can understand.

Like I said before, I believe in you. I love you, and am praying for your success. Please pray for mine. I need your strength to stay sober. This very moment, I choose to surrender my right to lust to the God of my understanding and ask I Him to help me stay sober for the next 60 minutes. Join me!

Your brother in recovery,

John D.