An LDS sex and pornography addict in recovery shares the evolution of his thought process as he gradually made the transition from addict in denial to addict in recovery.
I am an LDS sex and pornography addict in recovery. By working a recovery program that includes the 12 Steps, I am drawing closer to the Savior and achieving progressive victory over lust. A while ago, as I was reading Step Into Action (one of the books in Sexaholics Anonymous that supplements the White Book), I was reminded of the phrase “My best thinking has got me where I am at!” I started thinking about my “best thinking” prior to recovery. I realized that my best thinking was all about me. My lust was about what I wanted, what I desired, what I thought I needed, what I thought I should have had or what I shouldn’t have had. It was all about what was exciting, interesting or stimulating to me.
I realized my best thinking was obsessive. I obsessed about anything and everything, not just sex. Money, success, leisure activities, what my wife should do, religion, making the right choice, how to “fix” things, how to get away with things and how to hide things. My thinking was obsessive. My addiction–my whole life was one big obsession.
As a pornography addict, my best thinking was extreme. Success or failure, right or wrong, always, never, wonderful or horrible, love or hate, and connect or disconnect. It was going to be done right! Words like big, successful, award winning, money making, attention grabbing, fantasy fulfilling, world changing made sense to me. If a little was good, more was better. I saw everything in the extremes.
As a pornography addict, my best thinking was isolating. “I can do it alone!” “I just need more of what I want.” “I don’t need a sponsor.” “I don’t need a Higher Power.” “No one would understand.” “I don’t need the fellowship.” “If I want it done right, I had better do it myself.” The only person I thought I could trust was myself. “Who am I going to hurt when I am all by myself?” My best thinking told me to keep my addiction a secret.
As a pornography addict, my best thinking was bound up in shame. “People would run if they knew my secret.” “I can never let anyone know.” Prior to recovery I was resigned to the “fact” this secret was going to be a part of my life and I tried to keep it in its cage. I lived in fear of what would happen if the monster escaped.
As a pornography addict, my best thinking protected my ego. I needed to be right. I wanted to look good. I wanted to be accepted. I was trying to do all those things that would make me look good. I tried really hard to believe that I was so much better than I felt on the inside. To protect myself I zeroed in on and pointed out my wife’s weaknesses so I could keep the focus off of me and my insane addictive behaviors. My best thinking was sure she had “big” problems, too!
Prior to recovery, I needed hip boots to wade through the BS of my best thinking. My best thinking and steer manure have a lot in common. They both stink. I had mastered the art of justification and rationalization. Is there any thing wrong with trying to find a good deal on a new winter coat for my wife? Did I forget to mention that it was July, late at night, I was on the internet and my wife doesn’t really need a new coat? I couldn’t find the coat for my wife, but I did find what I was really looking for.
Self-deception and denial prevented me from seeing what was so obvious to others. I believed that I could comfortably afford the price of admission. “There are no hidden costs.” “I can get away with it.” “No one is going to get hurt, nothing bad will happen.” “This ‘little indiscretion’ is more like a hobby.” “It is just a way to let off steam and reduce stress.” “What I do is normal, even healthy and not nearly so bad as….” “My career, my family, my life are all fine.” “I have been able to keep the secret world from impacting them.” What’s that I smell?
I know now that I am only as sick as my secrets. When I hit bottom and the denial and self-deception no longer provided relief from the pain and stench of acting out, I could no longer deny the wreckage, pain, and insanity in my life. Something had to change. I realized that everything I truly loved and valued was in jeopardy. I could not longer “afford” the price of admission.
Somehow, somewhere, my best thinking told me that I was in trouble and needed help. I began to understand that lust was destroying my soul and that I needed to find the true connection. My best thinking got me to my first meeting. My recovery began. My thinking and my behavior began to change. In recovery, my best thinking got me to two meetings last week. My best thinking helped me ask a sponsor for support and then accept his suggestions.
In recovery, my best thinking talked me into making calls so I could get out of the obsession and lust that was pulling me in a direction that I could now recognize as dangerous. My best thinking said “I am going to finish my First Step inventory this week.” My best thinking volunteered me to be chair at the Sexaholics Anonymous meeting and to offer service to others who needed my support. My best thinking brought me to my knees in prayer seeking the guidance, support and the life saving grace of my Higher Power.
In recovery, my best thinking tells me to work the program one day at a time. My best thinking lets me know when I have missed doing my dailies and to do my dailies. My best thinking uses the Grand equation found on page 102 of the White Book every day.
“Thus, the grand equation for getting well and filling the great void at the heart of our lives is Uncover> Discard> Discover.”
Each day in recovery, my best thinking uncovers the lies, self-deception and denial, as I courageously work the Steps. Each day my best thinking identifies what needs to be discarded so I am free to move about unencumbered by the chains of addiction and the underlying character defects. Each day my best thinking supports the healing of hurt relationships.
And each day in recovery, I get to discover that recovery, health and true connection create serenity. Serenity is good. Gratitude is good. Recovery is a beautiful thing. Relying on my Heavenly Father and seeking to do His will have saved me. Maybe my best thinking ain’t so bad. I am a grateful recovering sex and pornography addict.