Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship | Being LDS and Overcoming Pornography Addiction

So what was the difference this time around? In short, I finally came to understand that I had lost the war, and so I surrendered—not to my addiction, but to God. I gave up and turned it all over to Him. After the last disclosure to my wife, as I was suffering in desperate misery and unsure whether our family would remain together, I was struck by the clear impression that I needed to call a friend in another state to tell him what I had done and enlist his help. I followed the impression and made the call. The friend listened to me patiently and then he told me some things that changed my life.

First, he told me that he knew exactly what I was going through at that moment because he and his wife had been dealing with the same thing since a few years earlier. Second, he told me that my brain was broken, that I had an addiction. He said I needed to quit trying to beat it on my own because it couldn’t be done. Third, he told me that there was hope for recovery and that all was not lost. Fourth, he told me about a 12 Step program called Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). He described it as a collection of admitted sex addicts who met together in small and not-so-small groups all over the country to support each other in their quest for sexual sobriety. He phoned me several times over the next few days, each time suggesting gently that I needed to get to an SA meeting as soon as I could. Finally, he quit suggesting and just told me unequivocally to get myself to a meeting.

I went to my first SA meeting on a Friday night. There were eleven other men in the room when I arrived. I was struck by how happy they all looked. I wondered if I was in the right place. For the next hour, I listened in awe as each of these men articulately shared his struggles with sex addiction, his hopes, his successes or his failures. It was inspiring. When my turn came to share, I was able to talk about everything: the loneliness, the shame and humiliation, the fear that I had destroyed my marriage, the pain I had inflicted on my wife, the desire to change my life, get away from the acting out, and simply live as I knew God wanted me to live.

As I spoke, the other men listened intently, many of them nodding or smiling quietly as I said things that were familiar to them from their experiences. Afterwards, I went to dinner with several of them and they explained to me how SA worked to keep people sober. I went to another meeting on Saturday morning, and another on Monday morning, and another on Tuesday evening, and another on Wednesday evening, and another on Friday evening. I have attended meetings less frequently but regularly ever since.

A remarkable thing about SA is the way it exposes addicts’ secrets to the light of day in a safe way and in a safe place. One of sex addiction’s biggest hooks to control the addict is secrecy. Like an infection, the shame and fear that accompany the addict’s actions, thoughts and behavior remain hidden inside the addict where they fester and grow cankerous. The more miserable and isolated the addict becomes, the more he feels compelled to medicate away his misery by acting out with his drug—even knowing that the fix will only last a short time and that greater misery and isolation will follow.

When I go to SA meetings, those of us attending are able to bring all the  shameful secrets out into the light. We don’t speak in a salacious way, but respectfully and with reverence to the fact that the addiction is bigger and more powerful than we are. We acknowledge repeatedly during the meetings that we are powerless over our addiction, that our lives have become unmanageable, and that only God can restore us to sanity. In between meetings, we call each other on the phone.


Comments

Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship | Being LDS and Overcoming Pornography Addiction — 32 Comments

  1. Andrew,

    Thank you for your book I’ve been sharing it with people since you spoke to a group of us [at a fireside in Utah].

    Your book helped me take the hard step of attending my first ARP meeting and later SA meeting. (I’ve only been to one SA meeting, I didn’t find it to be like you described in your book here in UT)

    I’ve been attending ARP meetings and seeking sobriety for the last 4 years. I was able to have long stretches of sobriety my longest lasting 10 months last year. I’m currently working on 153 days of sobriety, but this time I’ve just finished the arpsupport.org 90 program.

    During the program I was finally able to see the devastation my addiction has caused, and I was able to ask God to take away my lust. Up until the day I offered that prayer I always thought I just needed a little help… I almost have this thing beat… I just need a little more help.

    When I finally prayed and told God “I want to lust, I want to look at pornography, and I want to masturbate, but I hate the devastation these things cause in my life. Wilt thou please take this character weakness away.” God did take it away that day. and everyday since as I pray for him to humbly.

    I’m now sponsoring people in the arpSupport.org program and finding progressive victory over my character weaknesses.

    Thanks for your well written book, I’m glad you had to ability to put into words what I’ve felt.

    • Mike,

      I just wanted to share my experience with SA in Utah briefly.

      I have been to SA meetings in Provo, Pleasant Grove, Lehi, and Sandy. I tried out a lot of meetings because I wanted to meet more guys in real recovery and not just stick with my home group.

      I went to one meeting and I was very off put. It felt like people shuffled in, said stuff, and shuffled out. I really did not intend to ever go back. But it is a very convenient time and location for me so I went back. It was a very good meeting. I felt connected to the other guys and was very glad I went. In the weeks since, that meeting has been one of my favorites.

      One of the meetings I attend has a part of the script- “we recommend you come 4-6 times before you decide if this is for you.” I think that is great for the program, but would suggest 3x minimum on a particular meeting.

      Regardless, I hope things are going well for you.

      • Thanks, Things have been going really well. I’ve been to that same SA meeting twice now. And my second meeting was worse than the first. For me ARP support’s 90 day program and the ARP meetings is working well. I will still plan on visiting the SA meetings in the future. Thanks for your feed back!

      • Post script: a few months later I shuffled into a SA meeting and Michael went out of his way to make my first experience a very good one. Because he stuck it out, and kept going, I am now a regular attendee and beginning recovery in a way I never thought possible.

  2. I am super grateful for all the information on this blog. I am grateful for your courage to share your strength, hope, and wisdom to all of us who struggle with the gripping addiction of lust. I look forward to your posts, it has become a part of my daily meditation and study. Again thank you.
    Will

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