Finding my motivation
My motivation came through my oldest daughter. As our first child, she was always very special to me. The year I started my journey to real recovery was the year she was to be baptized. More than anything I had ever desired before, I wanted to be a part of her baptism. The expectation of our church to live morally pure would have prohibited me from baptizing my daughter if I continued my way of living. It was very likely that my precious daughter would look into my eyes and ask, “Why can’t you baptize me, Dad?” That thought caused more pain than I could bear. And the possibility was increasingly more real. I was finally ready to do whatever was needed to overcome my addiction.
Learning what I was really fighting
When I started recovery my focus was on avoiding the behavior that I considered acting out: pornography and masturbation. This initial focus was narrow, but necessary to distance myself enough from my destructive behaviors so that I could begin to see the pain in my life that I was using these behaviors to numb. This discovery was difficult, and it was complicated by withdrawal. I relied heavily on the motivating influences of my daughter and family.
I also learned to tune into myself and slow down enough to notice and explore the negative feelings that would ignite my downward spirals. I learned to recognize my pain, identify the root causes, and find healthy ways to work through these emotions.
Insights into recovery
The real key in transitioning from abstinence and withdrawal to a new healthy living was found in simple behaviors that gave me healthy doses of pleasure. At first it seemed awkward and I had to force myself to engage in simple activities. It seemed to be more work than benefit, but in time I started to find pleasure and relaxation through them. Finding pleasure in reading a book after years of compulsive addiction was similar to eating a fresh peach right after a bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup. At first the peach doesn’t taste sweet at all. Yet, in time, the senses are less overwhelmed from the refined sugar and soon the peach tastes sweet again. I had to relearn to enjoy old hobbies and also picked up some new ones. I also had to learn to deal with stress and deadlines in healthy ways.
For months I worked regularly with my individual therapist and started attending group. I learned more about the biochemistry of addiction as well as the effects that shame and my early relationships had on my ability to connect with others. This understanding really came together for me when I was able to work through my own shame. Perhaps the greatest moment in my recovery was learning to love myself. In order to free myself from shame I had to believe that even though I did things I was embarrassed about, it didn’t change the fact that I am a good person. I always believed these words in my mind, but I needed to know them in my heart.”
TO BE CONTINUED…