Relapse

A continuous look at our assets and liabilities, and a real desire to learn and grow by this means, are necessities for us. We alcoholics have learned this the hard way. More experienced people, of course, in all times and places have practiced unsparing self-survey and criticism. For the wise have always known that no one can make much of his life until self-searching becomes a regular habit, until he is able to admit and accept what he finds, and until he patiently and persistently tries to correct what is wrong. Twelve and Twelve P. 88

What Happened?

Last week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evening I looked at pornographic pictures and video of gay sex. Afterwards on Friday night, I masturbated. My first feelings afterward were not of guilt or shame. I felt an exhilaration from drinking in lust down to the dregs.

I don’t know why I did not stop after the first night. I believed I was doing what I needed to do when Thursday morning I told my wife I had viewed porn the night before. Where I have felt ashamed in the past when sharing with her, this time she simply thanked me for telling her, and I felt I was off the hook. I also checked in my behavior with a member of the program. My understanding of the incident three days later is that my mistake was that I didn’t go far enough to ask for help from one of my fellows. Merely reporting what happened was not enough.

I also remember waking up Thursday morning hung over from drinking in the images and doing a lot of objectifying and touching myself. As one member told me afterwards, “You filled up the cup until it overflowed.”

In addition, I reported looking at pictures on the internet to my Friday morning group. Why wasn’t I spared from the overwhelming lust wave that rushed over me again Friday night? It was most likely that I minimized the lust I was experiencing. I don’t even think I called what I looked at pornography, let alone that it was for an hour on each of the previous two nights. The lie was omitting important details. I needed to reach out to someone after the meeting to ask for help.

What Happened Leading Up to What Happened?

Why now? I had almost five months of sobriety, my longest since entering the program three years ago. My son had just purchased a house two weeks earlier, and I was spending a lot of time helping him fix it up. I felt the urgency of their move in date of November 15. Although my help was a good and worthwhile endeavor, it supplanted my recovery work. I had put off my amends letter writing and was even warned by my sponsor about waiting too long to get started. I told myself I had worked hard over the last few months on steps 4-7 so I could take some time off. It was a bad decision to move my recovery work after my work on the house. Recovery always needs to be first in my life,

Why didn’t I stop after the first night? As I mentioned earlier, I told my wife and a program fellow the next day. Somehow, instead of slowing my lustful feelings, it put them in neutral ready to re-engage at full speed Thursday night. Also, I was embarrassed and ashamed to be looking at gay porn so I said the very minimum when reporting. A lack of complete honesty was a fatal mistake, one that I have perfected during my fifty years as a sex addict.

When I think back I believe the downward slide actually began with a men’s under ware ad on Facebook. It led me to reinstall Instagram where I saw a link to someone’s Twitter account. A simple click and I was seeing images that I had no idea were on Twitter. I’ve uninstalled Instagram and Twitter from my phone and will also delete them from my iPad.

What resentment(s) we’re behind my acting out? Who or what do I resent?

• I am resentful of my wife’s attitude about my same sex addiction. She is disgusted at the thought of two men naked together. I feel she numbs any feelings she may have toward me physically by the repulsion she expresses. She has told me that she has no feelings toward me. Where once she felt great safety in my embrace, she now experiences nothing when we hug. I resent that we do not have a physical relationship. I am afraid that we may never have sexual relations again. It is humiliating to keep asking for a simple hug and knowing that she does not feel anything from them. In some ways it’s like hugging a brick. I get defensive when I hear my wife talk about how she experiences my same sex attraction. I don’t want to have to continue to take responsibility for how I acted out. It takes every recovery tool I have learned to use to keep from tuning out, hiding the way I feel and isolating. I know God wants me to take responsibility and to be fully present and responsive to my wife’s trauma and her need for safety.

• There are times when I resent SA recovery work. I resent having to be so vulnerable. Coming out of hiding takes courage and very hard work. I’m often emotionally and physically exhausted after a phone call in which I have been completely honest about my lusting thoughts and actions. I’m embarrassed to talk about the ways I objectify myself and others. I’ve scrutinized my precursors to masturbation such as spending too much time in the shower and not dressing right after toweling off. I resent knowing that there will always be the next lust behavior that I need to monitor and regulate. It’s humiliating and exhausting. I don’t feel up to the task of staying sober. I realize I’m powerless over lust. I feel inadequate, small and disconnected. God wants me to show up differently. He wants me to know that I am loved and accepted by Him and by others who struggle with sex addiction. I’m committed to receive God’s grace in my life and His provision for the courage and strength I need to stay sober as I lean into the difficult work of recovery. I surrender my limitations while asking that He eliminate the humiliation I experience. I pray that He will turn my humiliation into humility.

What was happening to me internally?

• Selfish (attitudes): I deserve to feel good. I was ashamed and it kept me from going the next right thing. It’s like shame is a two sided coin and one side is “insecurity and poor self esteem” and the opposite side is “the inability to ask for help.”

• Self-seeking (behavior): I wanted to experience the feeling of an organism. I like to masturbate. I like the rush I feel when looking at porn.

• Dishonest (w/self or others): I don’t tell the full truth. I minimize what happened and leave out key facts. I tell myself that it wasn’t that big of a deal. I don’t come clean right away and have to talk myself into being completely honest.

• Frightened (where have I been afraid?): I’m afraid that people won’t like me when they find out what I did. I’m afraid that Carol will over react and judge me with disgust. I’m afraid of being embarrassed and rejected for having same sex attraction.

What Happened the Three Days After Losing My Sobriety?

For the last three days I have been irritable, discouraged and upset. I wasn’t specific with my sponsor Monday morning when we talked about what I did. I made it seem like I had told my wife everything when I had only told her about the first night of viewing porn. I was still I’m minimizing mode, telling half truths and convincing myself and others that it was the whole truth. My sponsor asked me to write about what happened and this detailed summary is the result.

I told my wife the full story Monday morning after going for a walk and talking to my sponsor. I was comforted that she was clam and supportive. She even suggested that it must be hard for me to be the one doing all the confessing. This makes the relationship seem a bit one sided. She wondered if there were things she should tell me and said she’d ask Eric what he thinks.

I called another SA member and talked about writing and sharing a tenth step at an SA meeting. He sent me a template and I’ve been using parts of it as I write this document. He also encouraged me to share it at a meeting.

What Will I Do Next?

  • Eliminate Twitter (already done) and Facebook (for the ads) from my phon
  • Unsubscribe to email ad accounts for men’s clothing
  • Share this tenth step with my PBH group, my SA sponsor, and, if my sponsor thinks it’s a good idea, to an SA group next Monday.
  • Listen to the advice of other
  • Keep SA Recovery the first priority in my life
  • Ask for help earlier, i.e. The time I texted my PBH group that I was lusting after football players on TV and then immediately turned off my phone until the next morning.
  • My plan to deal with the times I am tempted to look at pornography:

1.When I experience the first pull towards porn, turn off the device I am using, and admit
to God I’m powerless over lust and surrender my will to Him.

2. Keep the device off for a minimum of 15 minutes. Go for a walk or do some other physical exercise.

3. If the temptation has subsided, talk about the lust hit during my next phone call or meeting.

4. If the temptation does not go away after 15 minutes, call another SA member to talk in detail about what I’m experiencing.

What are the costs to me of engaging in this behavior?

The possible costs of continuing to watch pornography and masturbating include:

• Separation from my wife.

• My family withdrawing from me and the loss of the privilege of being around my
grandkids.

• Lust gradually overtaking my recovery and leading to more devastating ways of acting
out.

• A decrease of self awareness and self-esteem that erases my ability to recognize lust when it comes into my presence. This is the opposite of how my lust detector has gradually become more fine tuned as I have gained a more significant length of sobriety.

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