Thoughts on Step 1 from the 12 Steps of AA or ARP

One of my last posts was on the power of the 10th step.  It’s still one of my favorites and I use it all of the time.  But all of the steps are powerful and they have deep meaning for me.  Overcoming an addiction is a literal battle.  But not one fought person to person.  Rather it’s one you fight within yourself and with the help of caring friends and ultimately a loving God — or a higher power according to your own understanding.  I’m going to write about each of the steps and thought I’d go back to the beginning and start at one.  Which was the beginning of my journey to true sobriety as well. Continue reading

The power of a 10th step – my favorite step!

I’ve wanted to start a series on what each step from the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous mean to me.  Believe me when I say they mean the world to me!  I can’t imagine my life without them.  Just last night at our support group gathering after our ARP (Addiction Recovery Program) meeting I mentioned, “I wouldn’t trade my addiction and the things I’ve learned through recovery for anything — especially the relationship I now have with God.”  I got several head nods and smiles of agreement from the rest of the group.  Those of us that have worked the steps and continue to work the steps know how wonderful and valuable the steps are — especially when we’re helping others with their own steps.  I’d like to share what the 10th step means to me. Continue reading

To spouses, families, and addicts: There is Hope!!

Last night I had the honor of speaking to a group of women called the Relief Society.  It is a group within the Church of Jesus Christ whose purpose is to help prepare women for the blessings of eternal life as they: Increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement; Strengthen individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants; and Work in unity to help those in need.  It is a group filled with charity for each other and for those in need.  Last night that charity was about helping the wives of pornography addicts and concerned parents or grandparents wanting to protect their children from the harms of pornography, or to help those who have fallen prey to its addictive powers and cannot help themselves any longer.  They sent me a list of questions to answer that were heartfelt.  I felt the heaviness of the burden of answering those sometimes wrenching questions.  I immediately turned to God in prayer to ask Him what message I should share with them the most.  There was only one answer and it stood out to me like a beacon of light:  “Tell them how much I love them!”  I was blown away by the power of that answer and I felt that power again when I shared that love with those women and their husbands (who were invited to attend as well). Continue reading

Confessions from counseling

I wanted to share with you the value I find in working with a trusted professional counselor as you overcome not only the addiction itself, but more importantly, as you work to unwind the damage done by the tornado of your life that negatively impacted those around you.  If you’re early in your recovery this may not make a lot of sense just yet, but if you can trust me enough to read on and believe that there is something of value in the experiences I’ve had walking this road for 3-1/2 years now, you may find yourself in a better starting point when you work with your own counselor someday.  And if you’re saying to yourself, “There’s no way I’ll ever talk to a counselor!”  Then allow me to begin with the day I turned to the window of my counselor’s office and literally thought to myself, “I wonder how bad it will hurt to jump through that window and run away?” Continue reading

The Power of Support

One of the most important things I stress to new people who come to our 12 step program for the first time is to join our support group afterwards — you’ll make friends, you’ll be able to ask questions and get answers, you’ll get contact info, and be able to text or call each other throughout the week.  Most importantly though, you’ll stop feeling alone because you’ll no longer be alone!  Having our support group has made all of the difference in the world for each one of us. Continue reading

Over the hills and through the woods…

My family and I are headed on a vacation for the next week or so. This is a great thing! I love to recharge, I love to visit new places, and I love to be with my family. I’m really looking forward to the time off from work and the other responsibilities of every day life. However, there’s always a tricky part to traveling as an addict. I’m out of my element. I’m outside my normal habits and patterns. It’s easy to get my studying in every morning at home because I get up at 6:00am every day, exercise, study, and then go about my day. Nothing to worry about, I’m usually in complete autopilot mode. But as soon as I leave home and go on vacation all of my daily habits seem to get thrown out the window.  In the past I never really noticed the change nor did I notice the negative impact it had on my wellbeing. For example, although I would be having the time of my life I would often feel triggered which would make me irritable and eventually I’d start taking out my frustration with my mood on my family. Not a good combination. But then one of my sponsors mentioned to me, “You know, you can be triggered from high positive emotions as easily as low difficult ones, right?” I did not know that. But it made sense. All the years I used, I primarily used to relieve myself of stress and other difficult emotions. As a result I was not used to feelings the emotional highs and lows. I had been numbing them out for years. Now that I was feeling those strong emotions again it was foreign to me and my brain wanted to get rid of it and looked for ways to do it that were like my old ways.

The good news is that was a long time ago. I’m a completely different person today, thankfully. In large part because of the 12-steps and the transformative power that God has to heal us when we turn our lives over to Him and quit trying to run the show ourselves.

What that means today is that I recognize that I need to put extra effort into doing my daily studies. I also need to make sure that I spend time in mediation — keeping my mind in a nice, level, healthy place. A good example is that this morning we were up at 3:25am and went straight to the airport. No time to study there, nor was I awake enough to really get anything out of it. I slept on the plane and now we’re in the airport waiting for our next connection. I should be reading but my body says, “Nah, you’re on vacation, take a break!” But my mind just smirks a knowing smile and says, “How about I handle this one? Time to study.” So as soon as I’m done posting this entry I’ll be off to my studies and then I’ll know I’ll have a great day. AND I’ll be sure to look for an opportunity to help other people. The more I can make it about others, the less I make it about me and I more easily avoid the trap of selfishness. 

To help me stay sober during our vacation I’ll try to drop a line from time to time via a blog entry to just check in. Should be fun. 

I hope everyone is having a great Christmas season and if you are able to spend time with family I hope it is uplifting and energizing. Remember the little things — they make all of the difference. I pray that God will light your way forward. I pray that your fellowship will help lift you. I pray that your sponsor will be honest with you and that you’ll have the courage to follow his or her suggestions. I pray that you stay sober — one day at a time :

My name is Mike

The most hope filled 12 step meeting I’ve attended!

This last Sunday evening at my LDS Addiciton Recovery 12 step Meeting we had a visiting leader as the normal leader was out of town.  At the close of the meeting the leader will usually share a thought he has prepared for the night.  What set this time apart from the others is the visiting leader was a recovered pornography addict himself.  You could have heard a pin drop in the room it was so silent.  We hung on every single word he uttered!  It was amazing.  He had us all with his first line, “Brethren, I don’t know if you know this or not, but you are the cream of the crop!  You truly are.” Continue reading

Advice to those wanting to stop masturbating

If you are struggling with pornography addiction and are in the process of quitting you most likely are also struggling with masturbation.  If you would also like to quit masturbating, take heart — it can be done!  I’m not here to tell you that you should — that’s a decision for you to make, not me.  However, I will say that when you consider the root of any addiction is selfishness, I find it hard to imagine someone being successful at eliminating their selfish behaviors if they are masturbating — especially if it is combined with sexual fantasy.  In any case, if you’re interested here is what worked for me, some advice I received from my bishop, and additional tips I found on the web (as well as links to those websites for more info). Continue reading

Sometimes I just want to be normal

Every now and again I have a bit of a pity party.  It’s the one that goes like this, “Why did this happen to me?  Why can’t I be like normal people?  Why do I have to work the 12 steps the rest of my life?”

Can you hear the baby crying in the background?  Because I can.  I don’t know how often this happens, and I would say that it’s happening less and less, but it still happens.  Usually around the same time I start softening my bottom lines, quit doing daily study and meditation, or stop calling a friend to do 10th steps.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Continue reading

Backstory: Along came mobile…

 

I almost don’t want to share this part of my story.  It was a dark time for me.  I really got sucked down the rabbit hole and was afraid I would never make it back out.  However, it was also a time when a trusted spiritual leader encouraged me to seek professional help.  It also was when one of my best friends invited me to join him at a 12 step meeting.  It was the darkest of times but it was also the catalyst for my journey to freedom.  I would not trade those experiences for anything.  They have propelled me to a place of peace, freedom, and joyous opportunities to help others. Continue reading