«Battleship Andrew P. [↘Advance to Table of Contents] I see addiction in a different way. “It takes an addict to help an addict.” “For the ...»
Sitting in a
[↘Advance to Table of Contents]
I see addiction in a different way...
“It takes an addict to help an addict.”
“For the first time in my life, I am happy without an asterisk
next to the word „happy.‟”
“Heavenly Father changed me on the inside when I was unable
to change myself.”
“When I say I am an addict in recovery, the emphasis is on
recovery. It means that I no longer act out on my addiction—at all— ever.” “This is where I always wanted to be.” “Heavenly Father promises shelter and rest to those who seek Him. He hasn‟t let me down.” “We want other people to have what we have—or simply to know that it is even possible. We want to see LDS husbands and wives with confidence in each other. We want to see Latter-day Saint women who trust their husbands, who don‟t cry themselves to sleep at night, who don‟t wonder what happened to their „happily ever after.‟” “We want to see Mormon men worthy of the priesthood they bear, worthy to lay their hands on their children‟s heads and utter blessings that are too wonderful to describe, worthy to attend the temple with their wives and feel the presence of angels, worthy to stand as disciples of Christ having felt the full redemptive power of His Atonement. We want to see our people enjoying peace and love in this life with no secrets gnawing away at their insides.” Recovery is possible and it is wonderful!
www.RowboatAndMarbles.org Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship Essays of Hope About Recovery from Sex and Pornography Addiction from the LDS Perspective Andrew P.
© 2011 Andrew P. and The Rowboat and Marbles Recovery Committee 9/19/11 Table of Contents Acknowledgments
1. Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship: A personal story of recovery from sex and pornography addiction.............. 1
2. A Letter to the Wives: What every LDS woman needs to know about sex and pornography addiction.
3. The ABCs of Addiction: The real reasons why so many LDS men can‟t kick the pornography problem.
4. Muck Fires in My Brain: Why merely stopping the porn binging isn‟t enough.
5. Another Letter to the Wife Who Suffers in Silence: How LDS women can know if their husbands are sexually sober and what to do if they‟re not.
6. Getting on the Same Page: Twelve changes Latter-day Saints should make right now to their thinking about sex and pornography addiction
7. A Letter to Theo: Why a sponsor is vital to an addict‟s recovery.... 61
8. The Silent Seventy Percent: Seeing the sex and pornography crisis among Latter-day Saints as it really is.
9. Is Recovery from Sex and Pornography Addiction Even Possible? The short answer is a resounding Yes!
10. This is What Recovery Feels Like! Ever wonder what goes on in the mind of a recovering sex addict? Read this!
Acknowledgments I OWE A HUGE DEBT of gratitude to the many individuals who were directly and indirectly involved in the writing of this book.
Thanks to the men of Sexaholics Anonymous who have befriended, supported and encouraged me in my recovery. Thanks for showing me what unconditional love looks like, sounds like and feels like. Thanks for teaching me patience and forgiveness. Thank you for allowing me to see how the Master has changed your lives and made you into new men.
Thanks most of all for telling me and then demonstrating to me that recovery is possible and fabulous.
Thanks to my sponsors, men of God with hearts of gold and the wisdom of Solomon. You have reminded me that so much of the good in the world emanates from Rome—not all of it comes from Salt Lake City.
Thanks also to those I have sponsored. I hope that I have been able to teach you just a fraction of what you have taught me. Thanks especially to the guys who have stuck with it, confirming to me that honesty, humility and hard work lead to sobriety, serenity and lasting recovery.
My wife and I will be forever grateful to our friends C.T. and G.T. Thanks for fighting for us, for being there for us, and for being patient with us. We apologize for being such high-maintenance friends.
We can‟t imagine the last thirteen years without you and your family.
Likewise, we lack words to express our love for J. and J. for saving us. It‟s evident that God put you in our lives twenty years ago with the year 2010 clearly on His mind. Thank you for walking the path ahead of us and for being ready to share your experience, strength and hope so we could begin our recovery after two days instead of two years.
I express thanks to N.S., an inspired and inspiring counselor.
Thanks for patiently and gently taking me to the parts of my mind, life
vii Essays of Hope from the LDS Perspective
and history that I had spent a lifetime trying to forget, all so that I could find understanding, forgiveness and healing.
I regret that Roy K. passed away before I had a chance to shake his hand and tell him thanks. In answer to his favorite question, “Where‟s the sobriety?,” I would have told him with an enthusiastic smile, “It‟s right here!” Thanks to Paul the Apostle, who told me to grow up and be a man. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” I think that I have finally begun to put away those childish things that kept me from understanding the addiction that was killing me.
To my kids, I express my love and gratitude by way of living amends. I now hope to be the father you always needed me to be.
Lastly, my love to Jennifer. Thanks for staying. Thanks for doing hard things. No man has ever loved a woman as much as I love you. You are more important to me than breathing!
IntroductionI AM A RECOVERING sex and pornography addict. When I say I am an addict in recovery, the emphasis is on recovery. It means that I no longer act out on my addiction—at all—ever. Through involvement in a recovery process including therapy and 12 Step meetings, I‟ve regained the ability to make choices. That‟s the miracle of recovery from addiction—once again being able to make choices.
Heavenly Father promises shelter and rest to those who seek Him. He hasn‟t let me down.
There are several reasons for which this book came into being.
When I first began writing these essays, I wanted to record the miracle of my recovery from addiction. The healing experiences were coming so quickly and with such force that I had begun to panic at the thought that no one around me could possibly know all of what I was going through. I had to write down as much as I could.
I wanted my wife to understand what I had learned: not only that complete and lasting recovery was indeed possible, but also why recovery was possible this time around—after the ten million failures that had preceded it. I also wanted my bishop and stake president to read the details of a repentance and recovery experience made possible because I was finally able to truly forsake the sin. In addition, I wanted my wife‟s family to know what we knew so they wouldn‟t think she was crazy for staying. That‟s how it started.
As my ideas and understanding of true recovery evolved, I began to seek out other LDS men whose experiences mirrored my own, who had finally found sexual sobriety and recovery from addiction, and who were looking to share it. To my dismay, I couldn‟t find very many.
Most of the forums and blogs out there seemed to recount stories of
ix Essays of Hope from the LDS Perspective
failed recovery from the viewpoint of the devastated wife. The pain was plentiful; the hope was scarce.
The few men who did venture to share their “recovery” experiences made it clear by their vagueness and self-absorption that “recovery” for them meant binging or “slipping up” less often now than they had in the past. Although they were still acting out, they seemed to be suggesting to everyone that this was “as good as it gets,” something I knew from my own experience to be false, misleading and frankly selfserving to the active addict. They were effectively grooming shockingly low expectations in their wives and others. Someone had to take a stand and say that periodic binging on porn and masturbation is not sobriety and that those who binge are not in recovery.
The lone voice of true sobriety calling from the wilderness was Steven Croshaw at SALifeline.org. Steven and his wife Rhyll courageously went public to tell their story of redemption, recovery and forgiveness with an emphasis on complete and lasting sobriety. Steven was kind enough to read many of my essays and assure me that they added value to the effort to educate the LDS population about real recovery from sex and pornography addiction. Steven also reminded me repeatedly to bridle my usually sharp tongue so as not to muddy up the message with my unresolved resentments.
The grand question that eventually loomed in my mind was:
Why weren‟t more of the LDS men who were in complete recovery sharing their experience, strength and hope with those who were still suffering? I finally concluded (with feelings approaching despair) that we don‟t hear from very many of these guys because there simply aren’t very many of them. Those Latter-day Saint men who were at one time acting out with porn and masturbation several times a week and have now succeeded in reducing their binging to once every three to six months are relatively pleased with their progress. Still, they don‟t want to go shouting that story from the rooftops. I don‟t blame them. I wouldn‟t either.
My personal experiences with the Church‟s Pornography Addiction Support Group (PASG) suggested to me that too many LDS men simply did not know that it‟s even possible to stop completely and permanently the binging on porn and masturbation. Often, the men with whom I interacted at those meetings seemed resigned to a life of white-knuckle struggling against the compulsions, accompanied from time to time by the inevitable “slips.” Other LDS men who also have achieved long-term recovery have since recounted to me similar experiences with PASG. The hopeful message of complete sobriety and true recovery simply was not getting out there to those who most needed to hear it. I wanted to change that.
The latest questions for me have been: How can I best explain the roots of addiction in a simple way so that Latter-day Saints can quickly see and understand that this is not just a “little problem”? How can I help Latter-day Saints understand that addiction cannot be overcome in isolation? How can I help Latter-day Saint members and leaders realize that the LDS men out there in long-term recovery from their addiction are hands-down the best resource to help those now suffering in silence?
Further, how can I can encourage Latter-day Saints to learn from the recovering addicts how to stop the binging once and for all, and how to stand up and be the men God intended them to be, the men their wives wish they were, and the men their children think they are? How can I instill in these men a hope that they can regain their integrity and actually soon be happier than they have ever been? How can I help LDS women understand that this is not their fault, they didn‟t cause it, and they can‟t cure or even control their husbands‟ sickness? How can I promise hope for complete recovery to those men who become willing to do whatever it takes? These essays contain the answers I found to those questions. They talk about doing whatever it takes because Recovery is possible and it is wonderful!
Note: Most of the essays in this compilation were originally written so they could each be read and understood independently of the others. For this reason, there is some occasional overlap and repetition of material.
Also note: As will be evident, this is not a book specifically about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I believe in the Atonement. It is at the core of my faith and recovery. I have repeatedly experienced the healing balm of the Atonement in my life. Nevertheless, there are so many other voices out there infinitely more authoritative on that topic than mine. This book simply recounts how I was finally able to recover from the addiction that was destroying me, forsake the sin that was damning me, and at long last kneel before the Lord to ask for forgiveness, knowing that I now had the solution that would allow me never to be dragged back down into the hell of my addiction again. I believe it is one of the beautiful conundrums of the Gospel that Heavenly Father had to heal me first before he could forgive me.
MY FIRST EXPERIENCE with pornography was at age six.
Six-year-olds don‟t have the strength or capacity to say no to an older person looking to expose them to pornography. I certainly didn‟t. This was especially true after I heard the enticing description of the pictures I would find in the magazine hidden out in the cherry orchard. This older person, a teenage boy in the neighborhood where my family had recently moved, understood that the pornography he showed me became a secret we shared. He formed a covert bond with me and then used that bond to coax me to an isolated place so he could molest me. These experiences, coupled with an increasingly compulsive desire to flee into fantasy to escape the difficulty of living with a mentally ill parent, flipped a switch in me at a young age and I became a sex addict.
I think a lot of people have a pretty hazy idea of what a sex addict looks like. We imagine a pudgy, middle-aged guy in a trench coat with greasy hair and twitching, crazy eyes who sneaks around and peeps at women through their bedroom windows because he can‟t control his sex urges. The reality, however, is that in much the same way that there is a broad spectrum of alcoholics—from apparently able and functioning members of society at one extreme to the poor inebriate passed out in the gutter in some large city at the other—there is a broad spectrum of sex addicts.