Huge, huge, HUGE news! A few days ago, Deseret Book started selling Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship on its website. It’s also supposed to be hitting the shelves at several of Deseret Book’s brick-and-mortar stores. The 125-page paperback has a newly designed retail cover featuring–what else–a rowboat, a battleship and lots of fog. Oh, and there is a handful of marbles on the back cover.
“When I first started writing Sitting in a Rowboat…,” recounts Andrew P., the book’s author and the administrator of the LDS-focused addiction recovery website RowboatAndMarbles.org, “it was really just a frantic effort to get a lot of new insights about pornography addiction and recovery out of my head and onto paper in essay form so I wouldn’t forget them.” Pretty soon, he had a ton of content and saw that a website seemed like the best way to get the essays to a broader audience. So he built one.
The new website quickly gained traffic and now, in 2013, gets over 10,000 page views each month. “The essays have resonated with a lot of Mormons,” says Andrew. “They’ve helped Latter-day Saints better understand what’s really at the root of porn addiction and how to overcome it.” Andrew notes he gets emails from LDS men and women telling him that for the first time, another Mormon has finally been able to explain what’s really wrong with them in a way that actually made sense and offered hope.
Andrew laments that
Far too often the advice we’d received from well-meaning but clueless friends or family members was of the ‘pray harder and read your scriptures more’ variety. I need way more than that and so do most addicts. We need the help and strength that Heavenly Father provides through other recovering addicts. That’s been my experience.
Sitting in a Rowboat… is a collection of several of the website’s earliest and still most popular essays. “Before recovery,” Andrew recounts, “my life had descended into chaos, my marriage was imploding, my depression was growing. I knew I had to stop my addictive behavior–and I finally had to admit that it was getting worse, not better.” Andrew now believes that like the alcoholic or the drug addict, many if not most sex and pornography addicts are kept from recovery by their own massive inability to recognize and then admit powerlessness over the addiction and the swath of destruction it has left in its wake. “Before recovery, it’s as if we have blinders on,” he says.
“Most of the recovering addicts I have met are very similar to me,” Andrew observes. “They had been exposed to pornography at an early age. Many had been molested. For much of their lives, they had battled a growing compulsion to consume pornography.” A lot of them had begun to act out in ways that conflicted hugely with their sense of right and wrong. Like Andrew, they were miserable, but had been unable to stop despite their best solo efforts to deal with the problem in secrecy and isolation. “I couldn’t stay stopped,” is how Andrew puts it.
But that all changed one day when he took the frightening step of sharing his problem with an LDS friend. According to Andrew,
My Mormon friend knew exactly what my problem was and he knew just what I needed to do to overcome it–because he was himself a recovering sex and pornography addict. He told me that my brain was broken–and for the first time in my life, I realized and admitted that it really was broken. I needed help. At my friend’s direction, I began to attend almost daily meetings of Sexaholics Anonymous, a 12-Step program based on Alcoholics Anonymous, and at last I began to experience real recovery–a reprieve from the mental obsession with sex and pornography that had been crushing me.
Andrew readily admits that Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship is a long and nebulous book title. It suggests nothing about what’s really inside the cover and that’s intentional. “In a way,” he says, “the title is like addiction–impossible to figure out just by looking superficially at the outside.” In order to overcome addiction, Andrew believes that you have to learn about it, you have to come to understand its power and the insanity it causes, and then you have to be willing to make changes in your life that address the roots of the addiction. The book has already helped thousands of Latter-day Saints do just that.
Today, Andrew strongly believes that
Heavenly Father does his part. So does the Savior Jesus Christ. In the past, they weren’t the weak link in my failed addiction recovery–I was. I had been praying and fasting and then fasting and praying that God would just take this problem away (or give me strength) so I didn’t have to deal with it anymore. I wasn’t willing to admit addiction or learn anything about it or get help from others to overcome it. I wanted God to fix me in secrecy and isolation so I didn’t have to look under the hood and make some serious repairs to the parts of my personality that were defective, causing pain and compelling my impaired brain to act out.
I now understand that while Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ most assuredly do for me what I cannot do for myself, they won’t do for me the things I’m merely unwilling to do for myself. Today, I recognize that Jesus is my Savior, not my shortcut. Other recovering addicts helped me learn this.
Andrew’s most powerful message repeated throughout the book is this:
Recovery from sex and pornography addiction is both possible and wonderful!
Order a copy today and while you’re at it, order copies for your bishop and stake president, too.