LifeSTAR of the Central Valley Recovery Testimony – Part 3 (Conclusion)


Moments of Victory

Today I am finding moments of victory throughout my week. Some seem small, but all give me motivation to move forward. What a sweet day it was not only to baptize my daughter, but to feel like I was a good father. I have had many more positive moments of hope, assurance, and love that make the work of recovery worth all the effort. As I look back over the last 2 years I see that I am a different man than I once was. Especially, I have become stronger than I ever thought I could be.

This summer my wife wanted to travel out of state to see her family. She would take our children and I was to be alone for two weeks. In years past this had proved to be a guaranteed relapse. I once looked forward to this time when I could act out without anyone to stop me. Even when I wanted to stay clean, I was still afraid that my loneliness would cause me to relapse. This time, however, everything was different. I looked at it with new eyes. I had a plan. I wrote it down. I shared it with my wife and with my group. I was a new person. I planned out my days in advance, providing structure, pleasure, anticipating emotional triggers, and even planned all my meals. I spent time with my parents and siblings and reconnected with them. Every day I was accountable to my wife as well as to my group. Of necessity, I swallowed my pride and brought my internet router and modem to my parent’s house to keep them until my wife’s return. I knew my limitations and I didn’t want to fight that battle every night. Instead I committed to only use the internet while at my parents’ home.

When my wife returned it was a beautiful experience. There was no fear, no anxiety, no pain, no anger. I stood tall, proud of my accomplishment, pleased with the safe homecoming I provided for both of us.

Moving forward

Now my recovery looks very different than it did when I started. I don’t fight a daily urge to act out. Instead, I focus on the positive behaviors of healthy living that bring pleasure, structure, and balance to my life. I have found that these behaviors keep me in recovery. Through my experiences, and even through my mistakes, I have learned to look at recovery in terms of personal questions that examine whether my actions are leading me to my goals. These include:

  1. Am I taking time for myself and meeting my personal needs?
    • This usually means recovery work, spiritual connection and making time for hobbies.
  2. Am I reaching out and connecting with others?
    • My most cherished connections are with my children and family.
  3. Am I providing sufficient structure and planning to my day and week?
    • A 3×5 card allows me to plan healthy behaviors for tomorrow.
  4. Am I using recreation, music, hobbies, and connection with God and others to reduce stress?
    • My stress level has become an easy way to gauge if I am meeting my personal needs.
  5. Am I engaged in healthy and positive self-talk?
    • Affirmations and self-compassion are powerful antidotes to negative messages around me.

My experience has taught me that if I engage in these behaviors, I am proactively preventing the unhealthy response to stress and pain that leads to acting out. I heard it said, “Tell me how you spend your time, and I will tell you exactly what is important to you.” I believe that our daily activities tell us where our hearts lie. As I reflect routinely on the depth of my commitment to recovery, answers to the questions above can confirm to me that my actions and my heart are congruent.

Advertisements

About fbenedict

Forest Benedict is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Sexual Addiction Treatment Provider (SATP). Forest loves the work he does as the Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley and the Program Manager/Teacher in the SATP program at Mid-America Nazarene University. He writes numerous articles on the LifeSTAR of the Central Valley blog (https://lifestarcentralvalley.wordpress.com/) and also on his personal blog (http://forestbenedict.com/). He created the Life After Lust VLOG on Youtube, sharing insights about recovery from sexual addiction. Forest also writes and speaks publicly about protecting children from pornography.
This entry was posted in Addiction, Recovery, Sexual Addiction and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s