Betrayal Trauma Resource: The Heart of a Woman Retreat

Last year I posted about my top-secret recovery resource: The Wild at Heart Retreat. This retreat is a game changer! I hope that you have taken the chance to listen to my post with Dorothy Maryon, CMHC about Betrayal Trauma and understanding our wife’s experience. Our wives get put through the ringer with our addiction and recovery and it’s not their fault. If only there was a top secret resource for their healing too…turns out there is!  

For this podcast I sat down with the founder and two members of the prayer team for the Heart of a Woman Retreat, the sister retreat to Wild at Heart for men. Here they describe the retreat. I strongly encourage you to listen to this one and feel the spirit of the experience this retreat can be for the women in our lives. To the women: you deserve this. To the men: show this to your woman and let her know you’re sorry for hurting her, you support her finding healing and recovery, and you are more than happy to take the kids for a weekend. Battle for her heart men! Here is a way you can! 

 Come join us October 11-13, 2018                                                       Register at                                                 Use the code UNASHAMED and get $25 off!

“ I showed up. I remember saying the prayer, ‘I am giving you all I can right now and that’s not a lot, but I need you to show up for me.’ …He showed up for me every way possible. I’ve never felt more accepted and loved by God in my life, right where I’m at.” –Lindsay

The Heart of a Woman Retreat  “cracks the code” for many women looking to restore their trust in God, connect to Him in deeper ways, see themselves as they were created to be, and heal their battered and wounded hearts. This three-day retreat is designed especially for women who are exhausted, numb, and overwhelmed. You unplug from the world for three glorious days and plug into God’s messages for you—you are enough, you are loved, you are beautiful, you are important.

Held each fall in the mountains near Wanship, Utah, the Heart of a Woman Retreat is a faith based, Christian women’s retreat based on Stacy and John Eldredge’s book Captivating – the sister book to Wild at Heart. Women of all ages and places in their spiritual journey find hope, peace, and acceptance as they are immersed and enlarged in learning how God loves them, have time alone with God, enjoy some amazing adventure, and make friendships that last a lifetime.

“It was huge for me to disconnect from my roles back home. I got to matter for three days and that was really powerful for me. It was so important for me to reconnect with me as a person and connect with other women.” – Anarie

At the retreat, many women learn how God really sees them and loves them for the first time in their lives. This is not therapy, self-disclosure, advice giving, or sensitivity-groups. This has nothing to do with your husband’s addiction, but everything to do with the restoration of your own heart.

Come join us October 11-13, 2018. Register at using the code UNASHAMED and get $25 off.

James & Kristy's Recovery Story

It’s time for another couple’s journey through all the difficulty that addiction is and finding hope and healing. James and Kristy took 14 years to finally start their real journey with God, but it was worth it. As you read and listen I hope that there are parts of their story that resonate and that you can relate to. Their story is a great example of becoming unashamed about who they are and the mistakes they’ve made and unafraid of really connecting with God and seeing the life He has for them. 

James first found pornography at 8 years old. In a more typical type of experience he knew it was wrong, but as he went through his adolescence and teenage years it kept coming up.

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“He spoke to me ‘Neither do I condemn thee’, I was the woman in the story, and it lifted all that shame and self-condemnation away from me. All that judgment, self-hatred, and loathing started to be lifted and healed within me. For the first, time I could start to accept myself, even with my weaknesses.”                                                                                  - James  

James’ father was an alcoholic who he mostly remembers as drunk. Then had a stepfather that was very strict and not emotionally available. He describes his childhood as holding a lot of shame and that he didn’t have a safe place or person to talk to. He did have one friend whom he did talk to about his masturbation issue, but also other friends who helped him find pornography.

            Addiction really took off for James when the Internet came out, which happened right when James got back from his LDS Mission in England. Working at a tech company, pornography addiction started to “sink its teeth in.” During this time, it was happening on a daily and weekly basis. For a while he was working the “try harder” gospel on one side of the dual life and addiction on the other. He was in this state when he met Kristy.

“Sex was how I gauged if I was loved or accepted.”                 -James

            Kristy was brought up in the Mormon Church but her family wasn’t really that into God. As she became a teenager she started to move away from a life with God. When she and James met she had started on a path of making changes in her life to get closer to God. When they got married she disclosed her own past and gave James the opportunity to be honest about his demons. To James’ credit he was honest about his pornography addiction (although at the time he didn’t really know it was an addiction.) They both figured after they got married it wouldn’t be a problem anymore. Like the rest of us, crossing marriage didn’t make the difference.

            James and Kristy spent the next 14 years on the rollercoaster of addiction. Sometimes James would tell the truth sometimes he wouldn’t. Even though James was only viewing pornography around every 3 months they talked about how it really damaged their emotional intimacy. Having an alcoholic father who was a mess it was hard for James to think of himself as an addict. His dad was the picture of an addict, not him. They both had shame around seeing this "Occasional" porn use as an addiction.

“The once every three months...the part that sucked about that was it was long enough to make you feel like you did not have that much of a problem with it, but it was often enough to remind you that you had a problem with it.” - James 

“Anyone that is a liar knows what a heavy burden that lying is.” - James

            One day James felt the temptation coming on and asked God to help him avoid it this time, but again he slipped. This really made him downward spiral. Then he was reading about pornography in a book. On the back of the book was a question asking, “If you have told yourself that you are never going to look at pornography again, and you go back to it, you’re probably an addict.” This was a light blub moment because James believed if he was an addict that meant he could get help. This was the start of their recovery. James and Kristy did group and individual therapy at LifeSTAR. Kristy was not happy about it at first, but found her own journey in healing and self-discovery.            

“At some point, when you’ve been hurt repeatedly by the person who is supposed to be the one who loves you the most, it shuts you down emotionally.” -Kristy  

            James has had some great sobriety and found some big changes in his life with Kristy and his relationship with God. One of the first things that was big for James was embracing full transparency both with Kristy and with himself about his past and who he is now. Honesty is so hard to start doing, but James talked about the heavy the burden of living a lie was. The next big thing for James was working on understanding how much shame he had. Working to recognize and heal from shame was another burden lifted. The other big “ah-ha” moment is when James was really able to reconnect with God on a personal level. For him, he felt his experience with God was like the woman taken in adultery. He finally felt God’s love and acceptance and this was a huge part of removing shame and self-hatred. These experiences also helped him have a greater capacity to love others. He still had some anger with God, asking, “Why did you take so long?” In our post on the Wild at Heart Retreat, James talks about how he was able to get past this anger with God and how God really showed up for him there.

“Wanting not only her to know me, but to start to fully know myself and to start not hiding from my own demons and my past.” - James 

“God told me, “I love you right where you are at.” And that was unbelievable to me.”                                - James

Both James and Kristy have made big changes in recovery and seen some big miracles. They have changes in their happiness, intimacy, and relationship with God. They both talked about how a lot of these changes aren’t easy, but so worth it! They have a new way of life with God that has passion and joy and purpose. I hope you take the opportunity to listen to their story.     

“The most beautiful and wonderful things that happen to the human heart are a result of the brokenness. It is the broken heart that God can take and fix. The one that thinks it’s whole, God can’t do a lot with that.” - Kristy

Anonymous Questions Answered Ep: 3


We are back with our third edition of answering anonymous questions. I want to give large props to those who submit these questions. Also, so sorry it took us so long to get this one out! I hope our answers are helpful. To answer this episodes question I was able to catch up with Brian Murdock, LCMHC of Brian Murdock Counseling. Brian has been in the mental health field since 1992. In private practice he currently works with sexual addiction and traumas connected to those addictions.

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Your Question: I'm grateful I found this site. My life situation is such that I don't have any "safe" people I can talk to besides my wife, who is amazingly supportive and understanding. There limits though to how much she can help. So my question for you is, what do you define as "being sober." I find for drug addicts and alcoholics, it's easy. You can want to drink. Think about drinking. But as long as you don't drink, you're "sober" and thus "worthy" in the eyes of a bishop. I feel with any form of SA, there's such a continuum. My brain and emotions have been broken for so long that phrases like "do your best" "when you feel worthy" "when you feel forgiven" "when you no longer want it" are of no help. I want to be sober and past this so badly. But I don't even know what that is other than "not having any arousing thought about anything except my wife," which seems impossible. Thank you.

Answer: To get to the first part of your question about defining sobriety. It sounds like you are asking ‘When do I finally know I am ok?!’. I’ve asked myself these questions a lot. I can also relate to feeling like you are on a merry-go-round that you can’t get off. The first thing is understanding the difference between sobriety and recovery.

“You can have those same thoughts and not be acting on those behaviors, which Steve just defined, and that’s being sober. That’s not recovery in my mind; recovery is what I think you're craving and what you want. In recovery, I felt there was almost a physical change in my brain.” – Brian 

Sounds like you get sobriety. When you start working on recovery Brian described it as a lifestyle change. Having more awareness around your emotions and thoughts.  “I don’t have to constantly be on guard. I don’t have to constantly be fighting those thoughts. And it is absolutely possible to get there.” Recovery is a little different for everyone but some themes are honesty, self-compassion, and connection with God. Brian also talked about how the work of real lifestyle change just seems like a lot of work upfront, but we can tell you, it’s worth it. I’d recommend listening to Chris & Autumn’s story and Mack & Melissa’s story. The idea that you’ll always be fighting this just isn’t true. With sobriety and recovery, you can be free.

“One of the biggest things we have to remember is self-compassion and self-care. We know that God loves and always will no matter what. If we can take that knowledge that he loves us and have that be our core versus “I’m bad” then we can move forward…Just because we’ve made a bad decision (or decisions) doesn’t mean we are bad.” - Brian

Lastly, you talked about how you feel alone. Haven’t we all! I highly recommend connecting and participating in a 12-step group (ex: SALifeLine), group therapy (ex: LifeSTAR), or retreat (ex: Wild at Heart). “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection” – Johann Hari. In my experience, I have not found any men that find recovery without having connections with some other men where they can talk about the addiction out loud. If you have men that are organically in your life (bothers, friends, etc) all the better and I promise there are men close to you that also struggle with sexual addiction.

We hope these answers have been helpful! Thank you for having the courage to ask and be an Outsider. By doing so you give other men courage to reach out and connect as well.   



Anonymous Questions Answered – Episode 2

We are back with our second edition of answering anonymous questions. I want to give large props to those who submitted these questions. I hope our answers are helpful. This Episode I sat down with both Chris and Todd Olson, LCSW, one of the Co-Founders of LifeSTAR, to help answer these questions.

Question:  I am wanting information on sexual addiction and marriage.

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Answer: Aren't we all! Our resources page can be a great place to start (click here). If you are an addict, I recommend 12 Steps as a first stop. They are free and very de-shaming and hopeful meeting.Todd mentioned LifeSTAR St. George, which has some really great blog posts (click here). I would recommend, which is a good resource to find information if you are a spouse or family member (click here).   

Question: I will try to be concise, and thanks in advance for your open site and welcoming energy. You probably hear from a lot of guys and I am wondering if I can leverage that experience and advice. 

I am coming here tonight because I gave in to pornography and masturbation. I was clean for many months in 2017. But how many is enough? Only forever is enough. I had 1 slip in December and now 2 in January 2018. I have my life's score in my mind right now. It is probably faulty logic to think that way, but how else to measure? My slate has been wiped clean many times and then I mark it up again. Coming up on 4 decades of life. Decade 2 seemed to sow the worst seeds. Media addiction to numb from work /job; I probably had 15 severe indulgences to pornography videos, and half that number again in masturbation. The sins made me shake in my soul sometimes praying for forgiveness in the very act. But not yet shaken enough to be free. And the monster returns to feed.

2017 had so much momentum with 11 months of clean and free. I felt free, I felt clean. I had lost much of the desire for any media and therefore built up time and space against my opposition. But now, I worry the gains I had been blessed with in 2017 are evaporating. Am I an addict and do I need to confess to my wife? I have never told her. Maybe she knows in her soul already. I am terrified to open up to her to confess I have let in monsters. But I am more terrified of failing to my sacred and divine purposes and privileges.

My #1 question for you is this: Can it be just Christ and me? Working it out until I am free?

I know about afflicting and unclean spirits and that I succumb to the natural man that I am. But I believe in Christ who believes in me to overcome it and to change and no more be influenced by it. I know the Lord. Even if tonight it is as a wretch. Yet still, he has been free to me with love and grace. I have promises from him I trust. If I say I have not sinned then I am a liar, but can I say I will not sin in this thing anymore and be true? I believe it is possible.

Answer: First off, yes we believe being 100% healed is possible! This is not something you need to struggle with your whole life. Second, you are not alone in your story. 

-  I have my life's score in my mind right now. It is probably faulty logic to think that way, but how else to measure? -

Chris says, "Sobriety and recovery are two different things, but they go hand in hand." He's right. We can also understand your frustrations of relapse and wanting to get off the merry-go-round. "I kept thinking why do I keep slipping? This is terrible I'm never gonna stop! But then I started looking at it as, 'today I'm going to be sober,’ instead of looking at it as I need 5 years of sobriety or 10 years of sobriety. That's when I really started seeing sobriety when I focused on recovery."

Todd shared, "I think he thinks that just stopping is enough and it's just way bigger than that...sexual addiction is more of an intimacy (emotional, spiritual, and sexual) and attachment problem. He is kind of missing the boat if he thinks if he just stops that will fix he is seeking some knowledge and I think he'll figure it out." 

In my experience, Todd and Chris are right on. If you can change your focus to recovery you'll see your life and sobriety take off. 

- Can it be just Christ and me? (asking, should I disclose to my wife) -

"What I see is an avoidance of telling wife is a way of managing to make sure the marriage works and that's not what intimacy is. Intimacy is that we have each other's backs and that we can talk about anything with each other. 'And we are not just talking about sexual intimacy we are talking about'[Chris]...relational, emotional, closeness and connecting. so how close am I? If I'm not telling her because I'm afraid of what will happen, that's just managing outcome...aren't we supposed to talk to those that we are close to?"  - Todd Honestly, I don't know how to say it better than that. This also goes along with the earlier answer about recovery vs. just sobriety. It's about you gaining a great relationship, and you and your wife being happy. 

Next is the how do you tell your wife. We all HIGHLY recommend doing a full-disclosure. Meaning you don't keep it all, nor do you let little pieces out slowly. However, we recommend that you go to a counselor first and do full disclosure with them and then with your wife. "That's how addiction feeds by isolating yourself. You not disclosing that information to your wife makes it so that addiction can still breed and allow the monster to come back. You're trying to do it on your own and I don't know anyone who has ever done it on their own." - Chris. LifeSTAR has a great workbook for you to fill out and one for your wife. I'd also do the actual disclosure with you, your wife, and a counselor in the room. To give you a ray of hope I asked Todd how many couples stay together after a full disclosure. You ready?...(drum roll)...80%. Ps. the national average is 50%, right? Full Disclosure is worth it. "If you do your disclosure our of fear, you'll leave some stuff out. If you do your disclosure out of guilt or shame, you'll leave some stuff out. If you do it out of vulnerability in that 'I'm choosing to share all of me with you, and show all of me to you, to give you (wife) a choice as to whether you want me or not' and it's really respectful." - Todd. It may take you a little time to get to that vulnerable place and really be ready to disclose, so start the process today! 

"Trust and safety don't come from sobriety. Trust and safety come from, [the wife saying] 'this guy has changed. He's different. He does life differently and he's honest. That's what I trust.' It's not just the sobriety." - Todd. Chris talked about how his relationship is so different as he focused on recovery and did full disclosure. He gave Autumn (his wife) the choice to stay or leave. And if you listen to their story (click here) she talks about how she saw him become a different man, not just sober. Chris is coming up on 10 years of total sobriety and 20 years of marriage. I highly recommend you listen to his story.       

Brother, we are with you and can very much relate to your questions. Thank you so much for your courage and we know you can find sobriety and a recovery life that is full of happiness and fulfilling relationships. Jesus heals and we know it! Chris and I are just some regular dudes who have done some super messed up stuff but have seen the miracles of Christ's atonement. As we always invite all, come be an Outsider with us and see what God has for you!   


AMCAP Presentation—Training for Leaders and Family

I hope you have listened to our post, Why Trying Harder Never Works: Trauma. I believe this is one of the least understood parts of sexual addiction. So, if you haven’t listened to it, I strongly encourage you to.

I did this post with Angela Russell, LCSW, who specializes in trauma work. In May 2017, Kayla and I presented with Angela at AMCAP (Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists) in Virginia. AMCAP does events to help train therapists and lay church leaders on various issues. This post is the recording of our presentation with Angela.


The first part of the presentation goes over addiction basics and the definitions of terms, such as shame, trauma, etc. The second part is a discussion of these terms in the context of our addiction recovery story. The last part is an open and anonymous Q&A, which I think is very insightful and helpful. Below is the handout we gave out at the presentation. To date, this is the longest podcast we have done, but well worth it; as a large portion is the Q&A at the end.

Hope you enjoy and find it helpful!      

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Anonymous Questions Answered - Episode 1

This post has been a long time coming and I apologize to everyone that we have taken so long. With that said…drum roll…here is Anonymous Questions Answered Episode 1! We encourage anyone who has any question(s) about sexual addiction recovery to submit questions and we will get therapists, men in recovery or whoever is needed to get a real effective answer. I give huge props to those who had the courage and were unashamed and unafraid enough to submit these questions. Thank you for helping us built a larger open conversation around sexual addiction recovery!   

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Question: Hi Steve! Thank you so much for coming and sharing your story with your wife at AMCAP in Virginia this past weekend. Do you have a recording somewhere of you and your wife sharing on your website? I want to share your story with leadership in my stake and hope a video exists somewhere. Wishing you and your family well. Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story with others...I was so touched and inspired! Caitlin

Answer: Thank you for your kind comments and glad you were able to be with us! Our next post will be the audio from that AMCAP presentation. I will also do a later post of two different audios of just Kayla and I sharing our story. 

Question: So what do you do about wanting to have a temple marriage when it will deprive you of seeing your girl in lingerie? Temple garments mean no girl in undies and most secular guys wouldn't make such a sacrifice I think.

Answer: Chris talks about how the church does not have any guidelines against women wearing lingerie. Chris, Duane, and Rocky talk about their own experience. I think it was best expressed by Rocky’s unofficial “three S's” “You have your three S’s right? Sports, Sex, and Swimming which are all areas where active garments wearing members often do not wear them. We did a post with Corey from LifeSTAR on Healthy Sex. The men talked about how sex, which is about safety and connection, is the best sex, so we recommend not forcing the issue on any woman who is not comfortable.

Question: Is there help for women who have sexual addiction? This isn't a gender-isolated addiction. It runs the same gamut as for men, but there is very little help available. Is there an online group?

Answer: Excellent question! Yes, there are a lot of resources. and are two that you can go to to find meetings for women. Lots of the SA meetings are for men and women, which Rocky, Duane, and Chris all have been to and talk about how it wasn’t really weird with woman there. Don’t worry: I had the same initial reaction you did! Also, you can go to any CSAT (Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist) and they will be able to help you.

Question: I know I need to start somewhere I am just too fearful of the effects it's going to have on my wife.

Answer: Haven’t we all been there! The first thing the group brought up was to do a full disclosure. Chris makes a great statement on this: “When you decide to do disclosure, do full disclosure so you’re not leaving anything out. (This is KEY) Try not to control the outcome by minimizing what you're doing. Nothing was more freeing to me than letting my wife know everything.” I recommend having a counselor in the room. Rocky commented that this is key for her and that she needs help to deal with all the aftermath. Duane brought up a good thing: “It sounds like you’ve got some fears that it is going to harm her. I can promise you, in the long-run you will bless her life immensely by being in recovery.” I would also recommend having some recovery plans in place for when you disclose. So you can say, "Here is what I’ve done and now here is what I’m going to do about it to change". This will help you create safety. Also, realize if this is all new to her she will likely need sometime to digest the disclosure and deal with it. Be patient and let her be hurt, mad, etc. But remember that Duane is right, and that this group of men all have different marriage scenarios and disclosure timing. Yet these principles have worked for all of us. Rocky also made this great comment: “It’s okay to recognize that you don’t know how to do this and tell her that you need to learn. [For example, you say,} 'So here is my plan, but I don’t know how to do this and I need to find some help.'”  

Question: Listened to your podcast on Leading LDS this morning. It was excellent. Wow! What a ride you've been on. I have much respect for your desire to reach out and help others. My question is, do you know of any software that will monitor the words your kids type into their computer and if a bad word is detected, immediately send a TEXT to the parent? I know many of the monitoring software’s send emails, but I haven't found any that send immediate texts. 

Answer: Chris talked about which monitors texts and all social media. I think Duane summarized our thoughts well: “There has to be a balance and you have to be careful to not be too controlling as well. Remember to not let co-dependency creep in, because that will foster your own addiction if you are trying to control everyone in your life. ‘My kids will…’ It’s just going to create problems for your kids down the road if you’re too controlling. You need to have open dialogue…if do it in the right way to where your kids are willing to share with you.” We recommend monitoring/accountability software (I like, EverAccountable). Most importantly have an ongoing open conversation about pornography and sexuality. However, this doesn’t mean you should not have boundaries and attempt to create safety. Chris, Rocky, and Duane all talked about how their kids aren’t allowed to have devices in their rooms or at night, etc. But you won’t be able to stop your kids from making mistakes fully. Yet if you have a relationship where they are willing to be open with you, that will make the biggest difference.   

Question: I have just learned that my husband of 15 years has a "sexual addiction"…says that he feels dead inside, and as he doesn't even recognize the heartbreak this is causing…I am heartsick for him and us. I just am not sure how to proceed. Does he need to be the one to see that this is an addiction?...He said that there are things in his past that he will not talk about that is between him and God., and Satan was right there too. He says that he is ashamed and used to have integrity. He will then say that "this is just the way I am". What am I to do to help him/us? I love my husband…He wants to tell me everything, but I don't feel that he is emotionally connected, and doesn't understand the depth of pain that this is. Advice please.

Answer: Chris starts by saying, “Love him for who he is, but this doesn’t mean you have to stay with him.” He also gives the advice that you need to pray and decide how long and to what extent you are willing to be with someone who actively chooses not to be in recovery. That is a personal choice for you. I would add that God wants you to be happy. That path is different for everyone, but if you feel “it is what it is” “this is my lot”, “I’m stuck in this”, or “I just have to deal with this forever” then that’s not the answer God has for you. He wants you to be happy and emotionally connected and there is a path to that. Duane said, “Be careful to not get into a place of co-dependence, because the addiction is his battle to fight (and his problem that he need to be accountable for)” There are a lot of resources out there for women who have experienced betrayal trauma (psst this is you) and you need to find healing and recovery for yourself. No matter what he chooses to do with his recovery, you can get health and start on your recovery today. I recommend listening to our post with Dorothy at LifeSTAR about betrayal trauma and go to Bloom, and (join the forum). All of these will be helpful.

Question: Hi, I am 21 years old and I have been addicted to pornography and masturbation since I was about ten. Like you, I spoke with my bishop and also shared most of my issues I was having. I felt forgiven and went on my mission. I acted up on my mission with pornography, spoke to my mission president, felt forgiven and kept serving. As soon as I came back, it started again. I've been home for a year and I've had the issue for a while. I even had sex with a few different girls. Of course, I'm keeping it hidden as I also go to church weekly. You seem to have a similar experience, so I was really hoping to hear what you have to say. I know what I'm doing is wrong, but the issue is I have no desire to change. I'm currently single if that helps. Any advice? Thanks

Answer: There are a lot of things we could talk about around this, but my largest recommendation is to listen to all of the men’s stories here at UnashamedUnafraid. All of our stories are different, but each describes how in addiction, we were living in denial and that when we could see through our denial we could easily see how the addiction had huge negative effects. Not just on others but for ourselves. I have yet to find a man who having worked through real recovery and had any regrets about it. Also, statistically the odd of you getting married and not having your addiction come up in a major way and disrupt the relationship is a virtual zero. I’ll end with the quote that inspired the name of the site and invite you to come join us in recovery, “I said there's plenty people like me, all outsiders like me, and all unashamed and all unafraid to live out what they supposed to be.” -Lecrae

Question: My wife has always been sexually .... shy, I guess. Reluctant to try new things, and always seemed bothered by the suggestions. Recently, I found out she had been sext-ing a coworker, but not before I noticed she was easing into more pornographic sex…Should I worry? If so, why? If not, why?

Answer: This sounds very much like addictive behavior. Duane talks about how addicts act in denial. Ask the questions you need to ask and if she is defensive than it is likely that you have addiction going on. “You got to have open dialogue and talk to your spouse about this stuff and it needs to go both ways” - Chris. If her risky behavior is affecting your safety, that’s obviously a problem, but if you are fine with the risky behavior it is likely that you both might be struggling with sexual addiction behavior. I would seek as many resources as possible to start working on sexual addiction recovery. We have outlined many resources throughout this post and here on the resources page. 

My Best Recovery Resource: Wild at Heart Retreat - Boot Camp

Wild at Heart. If you are a man, and I know you or have met you it’s likely that I’ve given you a copy of this book or recommended it. I feel like it creates a great outline for men to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This book was BIG for my recovery and just finding my heart as a man and coming alive. However, the real magic sauce was in attending the Wild at Heart Retreat, which they call Boot Camp. (Website here)

No matter what your Christian background is or where you are at in your relationship with God this is for you! I have been to Boot Camp several times and each one has been life-changing. In this post, I talked with Chris, James, and Lee who are on the volunteer staff for the retreat. They answer a lot of questions about the retreat and talk about their first time going and how it has affected them. I also want to point out that it is a great way to better the relationship with your wife and children. Often times telling your wife you’re going to be gone for 3 days doesn’t seem helpful, but I promise it will be.


If you have read Wild at Heart and the message in any way resonated with you, come! I want to add here that I have no doubt there will be opposition, fear, and doubt to you coming. There always is. If you're worried about coming alone, don't be, come! John Eldredge actually holds some retreats in Colorado at different times. This is the Utah chapter of that same experience. The next retreat is November 30th –December 2nd (Thu-Sat) this year. If you sign up by the end of October the cost is $350 instead of $400. The Utah Chapter holds one in the spring and one in the fall every year. 

I strongly encourage you out of all my posts to listen to this one. If in listening to Chris, James, and Lee you feel this might be a good thing follow it and come! This is a great way to start the recovery journey or help you break free if you feel stuck. If you are the wife of someone who struggles with sexual addiction, make them come! I can make this promise: If you come you won’t regret it. Hope and pray to see you there!  

Sign up at the Website:

“[At the retreat you learn] how to battle for the hearts of those around you, ‘and yourself’.”


“It would be a very personal journey with God and yourself” - Lee

“I was at a place where I was really angry at God, so this didn’t sound really appealing to me.”

- James

“Being at camp got me way closer to God. Closer than I ever thought I could be.” – Lee

“We’ve all tried doing it alone and it doesn’t work…it is a whole new level of connection I thought I would ever achieve or knew was available.” – Chris

“It has had huge positive ripple effects in my life and in the lives of the women around me.” - James

“Going up to boot camp changed the spiritual trajectory of my life.” – James

“It completely changed my view of myself...I’ve seen it heal and change relationships” – Chris

“This was a life-changing experience.” – Lee

"COME!" - Me 

Rob's Recovery Story

Nothing gives me more hope in recovery than hearing men who have become warriors in recovery. Rob is one of those warriors. I first met Rob in 2014 at the Wild at Heart retreat. Rob’s story, like all men in recovery, has a theme of honesty and faith. The largest thing for me was hearing how Rob’s core beliefs about himself changed and how his relationship with God helped him come alive. His story is definitely worth a listen.   

“It was all shame-based at that point…it wasn’t really about the excitement of pornography or the excitement of the release of masturbation. It was all shame-based and trying to cope.”


“It’s not about the sex. It’s not about the fantasy or the depictions that are portrayed in pornography it’s not about that at all.”

“There was the hope, but there was also the fear that my motivations were more out of fear than out of hope. It was fear of losing everything…fear of being discovered as a complete fraud…Doing recovery that way is bull shit.”

“I would feel the weight of what’s happened. It would become more and more clear to me that I can’t keep this up…I’m exhausted.”

“All the things that I feared, all the things that I was using my addiction to cope with, because of the fear, came true. It just left me with absolutely nothing. But looking back on that experience now, that was exactly what I needed. It stripped me of everything that I thought made me me.”

“It was in that state that for me real recovery happened. I started to have some real key experiences that changed the dialog in my head.”

“Slowly line upon line, just putting one foot in front of the other I was able to start coming out of that darkness.”  

“For the first time in my life, I was more connected to God than ever. On a very deep and personal level, I had gotten a relationship with God.”

“I know without a doubt that God loves me and that I have a purpose in this life, and that it doesn’t really matter what I do. I will always be loved because I’m his, and because of that one abiding principal and assurance in my life it motivates me in everything that I do.”

“I’m alive.”

Betrayal Trauma– Understanding The Wife's Experience

This is a post that I have been wanting to do for a while. I was able to sit down with Dorothy Maryon, CMHC (Clinical Mental Health Councilor), and talk about Betrayal Trauma, or our wife’s experience. Dorothy has been working with wives for over 18 years. I asked her to share with me what we needed to know, as addicts, about Betrayal Trauma, and how we can help to restore trust and heal the relationship.  

Whether we drop the bomb all at once (my story) or it comes out gradually, Betrayal Trauma happens. I think we as addicts want to isolate our addiction as just one piece of the relationship, but Dorothy explains the impact this way:

“[from the wife’s view] I have no place in my world to make sense that the person I love and care for the most has gone outside the relationship…‘whatever it was it wasn’t me,’  And it feels betraying and it is a betrayal.”

The other big revelation for my recovery was how we handle our wife’s trauma responses coming up.

“Addicts tend to respond to betrayal in mistaken ways.”

Dorothy uses a good analogy of us handing our wife a big rock of pain. Here are the ways not to respond:

- She is triggered back into the betrayal trauma, so it’s not about the facts. Trying to explain that the situation is a 2 when her reaction is a 10.

- Defensive/Blaming – Whacking her with the rock. If you weren’t so mean I wouldn’t act out.

 - Victim – Wake myself with the rock. I’m a loser. I’ll never be good enough for you, etc.  

- Reasoning/Logic – The rock that your holding is not really a rock. Denying the reality. This isn’t a big deal, don’t worry about it so much, why do you get so bent out of shape over this, etc.

- Ignore the rock – Withdraw, leave, and avoid. I see she is triggered, so I go walk the dog or run to be with the kids to avoid talking with her.

“Your #1 job is to become an honest man. And her job is to learn how to be around an honest man, even thought it’s painful. Because sometimes, your honesty will be painful.”

“What creates safety is honesty.”

“You are not going to heal betrayal trauma if there is continual deception.”

I have two big take a ways:

1- It doesn’t matter where my wife is in her recovery, if I continue to be honest and move forward with my recovery the relationship will get better. My recovery is not contingent on her changing or her acceptance.

“You can’t fix this quietly. You can’t do it the old way, you can’t just medicate this and go on.”

“If you change you, it will change the relationship.”

2- Her healing will take time, so when those big trauma response moments come up don’t freak out and think you’re back at square one. It just takes time, but healing will happen.   

“If you think about it, most addicts are dealing with a life long addiction; it’s been 10 or 15 years. And yet you get frustrated because your wife isn’t over it in 6 months.”

“If you can, get a bigger perspective and say, ‘regardless of the outcome, my job is to be honest and work at creating safety with [my wife],’ and that will give her time to create safety for you.”

“I see people do it. I see people get better all the time. It’s doable.”



The Stumbling Block of Denial

When you sin, you feel guilty. You can do one of three things with that guilt:

1.     Get real and repent - change

2.     Lie to yourself and others - denial

3.     Live in open rebellion against God’s laws

Realizing you have been in denial and changing is gut-wrenching. God will help you, and while it may be painful now, your life will get better. It may be helpful to discuss your denial openly with a group, or a friend(s). Recognizing you’re in denial is a huge step in the right direction.

Here are a few forms of denial:

Rationalizing – Making up reasons why my addiction is OK.  God knows I’m trying to do better, so it’s fine that I still slip sometimes.

Minimizing – Telling myself my sins aren’t as big of a deal as they are.  Viewing porn isn’t really hurting my marriage.

Comparing – At least I’m not as bad as my friend. I’d never cheat on my wife, so the fact that I look at porn sometimes isn’t that big of a deal.

Uniqueness – Making up reasons why I’m special, why the rules don’t apply to me. I have a lot of pressure at work, so it’s ok that I look at porn sometimes.

Creating a Distraction – Avoiding my problems by creating a different persona or posing. A couple examples are being the center of attention or using anger to intimidate.

Omitting - Admitting to small parts of my problem. Admitting you’ve viewed pornography, but leaving out how often you view it and that you masturbate.

Blaming – Putting the responsibility of my actions on others. If my wife and I had better sex this wouldn’t be a problem.

Compliance – Acting like I want to stop to pacify others, but deep down I’m not getting real about what needs to change. Agreeing to meet with a church leader or therapist, but never following up and actually scheduling the appointment.

Intellectualizing - Getting lost in irrelevant details as a way to take the focus off the behavior. When I’m confronted about my behavior, I talk fast or ask tangential questions to confuse my partner and avoid being direct.

Helplessness – I don’t really believe I’ll ever stop my addiction, so why try? I’m never going to be happy in my marriage anyways, so who cares if I view porn.

Compartmentalizing – I live a dual life. I sin on the side, but this doesn’t affect my real life, family or kids. I view porn at work, but never at home. When I am at home I act like I would never do that and can talk about how bad it is. At work I continue to preoccupy about my addiction and act out.

These forms of denial are general guideposts to point you in the right direction. You are likely experiencing more than one of these and often the lines between them can be blurred. For all of us in recovery there are a lot of similarities, but each person’s experience is different. Working through your denial is always a part of overcoming addiction. Although painful, we know you can win and overcome your denial.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.” – Paul (Phil. 4:13).

Extra Motivation: The Truth About Pornography

It’s difficult to change. Our purpose in sharing this video is to show the reality of what pornography is. Shelley Lubben was a Porn Actress who found Christ and got out of the sex industry and shares her story. We hope that understanding what actually happens in the production of pornography will provide you additional motivation to change. We found seeing and knowing what really is can help us break our denial and strengthen recovery.

A few things that stuck out to us were:

·       Porn stars don’t actually like the sex they’re portraying

·       They hate men

·       They use men for money and want to ruin their lives

·       90% of them are on drugs

·       Most of them have been sexually abused

·       Human trafficking, rape, physical abuse, and STDs are the norm in pornography production.  

Where Do I Start?

When starting the battle of recovery and being clean you may wonder where to start. At UnashamedUnafraid we have a lot of different resources. Most people who are clean have some things in common, such as the points below.  

First Things First

you need to stop your addiction. When you clean your mind it becomes clearer and easier to allow God to be a bigger part of your life. I know I wondered why I had to stop or if somehow God could make an exception for me. I don’t think anyone starting the battle has a clear vision of why they need to stop, or how their life will be better.

That’s where faith and hope come in, “for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it”. I promise you that your life will be better without your addiction. The best advice I can give to someone starting out is to identify times, emotions and situations where you give into temptation and then commit to avoiding those situations. Also, it’s important that you reach out for help, find at least one supportive person that you can be honest with, even more is better. You cannot do it alone. 


After a period of being clean, you’ll become stable enough to where you can deal with unresolved painful experiences or trauma. If you start digging into trauma at the beginning, you may make your addiction worse. Trauma seems to surface on its own when God knows you’re ready to deal with it. You’ll need to find ways to process your painful experiences. Many men work this out in groups or by reading books, to fully experience the emotion of what happened to them earlier. 


Your life will gradually get better as you start to overcome your addiction. You’ll experience ups and downs and sometimes you may even feel like your life has gotten worse. Like the children of Israel after the exodus from Egypt. But I promise you that being clean is better than being a slave to your addiction, no matter what it seems like in the moment. This is when you’ll truly experience peace, joy and stability in your life that was absent during your time of addiction. Becoming clean involves changing your lifestyle permanently, not just stopping a habit. You’ll start to become who God wants you to be and you’ll live for a purpose outside of yourself.

Mack & Melissa's Recovery Story

Every story of recovery I hear gives me greater hope. We share similarities, but each is so unique and inspiring. Mack and Melissa have a passion for life that is infectious! But life wasn’t always that way. Melissa was blindsided like my wife was and Mack walked without God.   

 “Now looking back I didn’t realize the lost that existed in the moment [I discovered his addiction].” –Melissa

“I was really trying to break pornography on my own. It’s like I was drowning, but not asking for a life jacket” – Mack

 “I would cry out to the Lord every morning, ‘either kill him or fix him. I don’t care which one you do’ but I can’t keep going like this.” – Melissa

Their story shows how God is always reaching out for us. As they both connected with God in their personal journey, recovery started. Mack and Melissa do such a good job of describing the changes in their mindset and actions.

From anger and despair to hope and happiness. As I sat with Mack and Melissa in their home listening to their story I could feel the hope. I could feel the change and it made me want to reach for God in faith more. I know as you listen to their story you can feel of that same hope.

“I started down this spiritual walk with God again and through that is where the healing came in. I’ll never forget the first men’s group that I was involved in. I realized other people did {porn} too. I wasn’t alone.” – Mack

“Do I feel completely healed? Absolutely. We can sit around and say I’m an addict, but that’s an identity. You are owning that you are an addict. You can also say I am a child of God, I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God. That’s what you want to own.” - Mack

“The closer I got with God and I saw how much more he loved me the last thing I wanted to do is look at porn.” – Mack   

“Everyone who is there [porn], is looking for life in a dead place.” – Melissa



Reach Your Heart, Not Your Mind


In June Derek did a post about the small and simple things. In my recovery I have been surprised by the biggest small thing for me: Music. As I started listening to music that focused on the hopeful messages God has for us about his love, forgiveness, and power it has made a HUGE difference.

Now I know there are a whole bunch of eye rolls here from skeptics and non-music listeners alike. But God tell us, “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.”

I have found a lot of men in recovery who listen to hip-hop and rock/heavy metal. One friend in recovery told me why he listened to it. He said it was relatable because they talked about depression and anger, things he felt. That is what rap was for me a voice, a message and that felt empowering to me.

These three songs have meant a lot to me in my recovery journey. I invite you to find a quiet moment, a place where you can feel God, and give them a listen. I know listening to music that contains our Father’s messages greatly helps combat the constant shame messages we are getting from the other side.








"Then You look at this prisoner and say to me 'son
stop fighting a fight that's already been won' " - Big Daddy Weave

"And I know that I was meant to be, More than just a melody, I know that you had hopes for me, I hope you still believe in me." - The Film Grace Unplugged

"This one thing remains. 'Cause your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me." - Kristian Stanfill with Passion

Attachment - Our Need to Connect

Todd Olson (LCSW, CSAT)* is a founder of LifeSTAR Network with over 25 years of experience with Sexual Addiction. He explains that we are wired to connect (see Still Face Video). 

"Everything I can get from an Addiction is what I wish I could get from my secure attachment person. It is either in my mind as a hopeful someone down the road or the one I'm in a relationship with right now that I wish was different."

Attachment is our ability to make emotional connection with others attachment links to addiction because if we have negative attachment (every style except secure attachment) we are most likely turning to our addiction when conflict, rejection, or negative emotions arises.

"You are at high risk to numb out [the emotional pain] with addiction if you have attachment issues."

If you don’t have secure attachment there is hope! Chris and Autumn’s story is a good example of changing from insecure to secure attachment. Our attachment style is often times linked to trauma.  

“You’ve got to learn to regulation your emotions. You’ve got to learn to regulate your thoughts and feels and stuff that comes to your system, so you can live in that balance.” 

Secure – If you relate positively to yourself and other people. No fear or anxiety. “You feel accepted and loved and respond to other peoples needs.”

Anxious – You experience anxiety about what other people think of you and make decision based on eagerness to please other people. “You’re kind of worried and you want to make sure things work out. They often doubt their value in relationships.”

Avoidant – “If you’re uncomfortable with close relationships, even though you desire them.” You just don’t trust them. You’re not good with conflict and want to avoid that. “When you are faced with rejection you’re more likely to just turn away from the relationship”.

Fearful – “If you think you aren’t capable of meeting needs. You are uncomfortable with closeness and building intimacy with other people.” It’s too scary to get close, so I make sure I’ll stay away.   

*LCSW=Licensed Clinical Social Worked CSAT= Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist. 

Feeling Stuck?

Sometimes we forget that God is all-powerful. He keeps His promises 100% of the time every time! (1 Kings 8:56). He parted the Red Sea, raised the dead, showed up the priests of Baal (1 kings 8:22-40) and maybe more importantly has the power to forgive us (Mosiah 26:30) and turn our lives around (Psalms 40:2).

He wants us to be happy. The nature of God is fixed and unchanging (Hebrews 13:8). He wants you to overcome your addiction. If we have an addiction, something is wrong with us. If we’re humble and allow God to help us change we will become clean. It works 100% of the time because God is who He is and will never change.

To take an oversimplified approach, if you’re struggling with addiction you’re most likely struggling with one of the four subjects below. The intent of this blog post is to point you in the right direction, we won’t discuss how to fix what’s wrong.

Healthy Life Habits – This includes things like keeping a structured schedule, not staying up too late, and exercising. For example, if I know I get bored and tempted while I watch TV late at night, disciplining myself to avoid that situation will help in avoiding the temptation itself and the struggles associated with it.

Spirituality – How is your relationship with God? Are you praying regularly, reading the scriptures, attending church, serving others? Also, are you being real about your worship or just going through the motions?

Emotional Health –We all go through moments where we feel misunderstood, rejected, excluded, alone or insecure. An example may be not feeling loved or appreciated by your family or friends. How do we respond in those moments?

Unhealed Wounds – These wounds can be from childhood or could happen while we’re adults. For example, if your spouse left you before, now, every time something negative happens in a relationship, you feel like you will be alone for the rest of your life.

If you’re reading this and thinking that none of these four sections apply to you then you’re most likely in denial. Denial can include blaming, minimizing, rationalizing or making excuses. I would encourage you to get real with yourself and figure out what’s missing in your life

Steve's Recovery Story

“As long as I was living a dual life Satan had a firm grasp on me.”

 “The good Lord spoon-fed me along the way until I finally had the courage and the strength to shove the last of the secrets out the trap door and close it. That was the hardest thing for me. My life has changed today. I’m a different person. I lead a different life than I did before. I’m a happier person.”

I first met Steve at the Warrior Heart Weekend retreat and Steve is indeed a warrior. All of our stories vary and each story of recovery that I’ve heard has brought me hope in a new way. Steve’s story is no exception and gives me an immense amount of hope. I love how he describes how change and true recovery came about in his life after many failed attempts. I know that as you listen to him you will feel his passion and healing and sense his authenticity.  

You can e-mail Steve ( if you have any question about recovery or his story.  Also you can comment here and he will respond.  

“My addiction started at a very early age, somewhere around 9 or 10, when I found pornography under my father’s bed…that began a process in my life of secrecy and shame.”

“In terms of a dual life, I was the ultimate hypocrite.”

“I found myself embedded with this secret so deep down that if I ever told anyone about it would just completely blow my cover in terms of that dual lifestyle.  So I just worked really hard to keep it under wraps.”

“I was looking for the perfect sexual experience, I never found it, because it doesn’t exist.”

“In July of 2012 I was arrested for solicitation of prostitution.”

“I was able to truly admit to myself and recognize, ‘hey I’m a sex addict.’ I’m not going to be able to fix this the old fashion way.”

“For the first time in my life I came forward without being caught.”

“My wife had an inspired thought and that was for us to move to Utah for 3-6 months so I could work my recovery from addiction and she could work her recovery from trauma…I went to a therapy, or 12-step meeting, every day for 12 weeks ”

“(Steven) You’ve tried to recover a lot of different times. What was it that changed this time for real recovery? (Steve) 10 weeks in I did a full disclosure and shared my entire sexual history with my wife…Until I was able to do that and get that out of my secret box, Satan still had a hold on me.”

“My recovery will end when I become my own customer, and just so you know, I’m in the funeral business. I’m happy to do that because it’s a huge blessing in my life.”




Derek's Story: Blessings of Being Clean

When I was in the middle of my addiction I didn’t realize what it was costing me. I didn’t think it was affecting my life negatively. I just thought it was something I had to stop doing because God said so. I wished God’s commandments would change or somehow He would make an exception for me. Looking back I can see that my life was negatively affected by my addiction.

-        Insecure. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but rationalized it anyways. I especially rationalized things that were in the grey area, things that “weren’t technically evil”, but I knew would lead me down a wrong path. Because I rationalized this part of my life I began questioning myself in all aspects of my life. With things as simple as saying something wrong in a group of friends or being afraid if I made a mistake at work. Also whenever I would make a decision and try to move forward I would have a ton of doubt associated with that decision and constantly be looking back.

-        Blamed Myself. I knew what I was doing was wrong, so I thought that anything bad that happened was a result of my disobedience. This messed me up pretty good, and definitely led me to have pharisitical tendencies. Even after being clean for years I thought anything bad that happened was associated with my disobedience. I went through a phase where I was super uptight about keeping the commandments. For instance, if I didn’t read my scriptures one day I would assume that that day would be horrible and there was nothing I could do to have a good day. I beat myself up a lot.

-        Time. This one is super practical, but when I was actively fighting against addiction Satan didn’t start out tempting me to do the addiction. He started out small, with things that weren’t technically evil but were even good in other situations. For instance, it would start out with me watching TV or playing video games, then I would get bored, start dabbling in things I shouldn’t then eventually go to things that I was addicted to. For me this process took hours each time I fell. Looking at the situation from a purely practical standpoint, if I would of either worked or hung out with friends instead of repeating this cycle. I would have had way more friends and way more money.

-        Godly Sorrow. I knew I was capable of being better it was sad to me that I failed so often. Especially after thinking I was over my addiction so many times. I definitely had feelings of guilt and knew I needed to change.

When I started to stop my addiction my life “immediately got better” each time. I would notice that things seemed to “magically” get better. I think that there are practical reasons for this (like time mentioned above) but also God does bless us for obedience. A couple things I would notice were getting more sales at work or having more friends.

-        Peace of Mind. Possibly the best thing I got from being clean was peace of mind. I knew I had been forgiven and I wasn’t worried about the judgement of God coming down on me. I also felt more confident that I could fulfill God’s plan for me and now was able to help people come back to him the way I knew he wanted me to. From a practical standpoint it freed up a lot of mental energy I spent worrying that now could be focused on positive productive things.

-        Confidence. It took me years to realize how my addiction hammered in my insecurities and how Satan twisted my addiction to make me blame myself when bad things happened. It took a dramatic life event, after years of being clean, to wake me up from the negative thought processes I had been living in. This is why prevention is always better than redemption, but thank God redemption is always possible.

 I now spend a lot less time worrying about what other people think, less time worrying that I will fail and realize that “the Lord sendeth rain on the just and unjust”. So when bad things happen I now have the confidence to know that all things will work together for the good of them that love and serve God.   Also that I live in mortality a time of being tested and tried, that trial and challenges are part of the plan and no one is exempt.  

-        God’s Plan. I always knew that God wanted me to help lift other people, but during my addiction I wasn’t capable of doing so. My confidence “has waxed strong in front of God” D&C 121:45 knowing that I am worthy to receive inspiration to help others in sometimes dramatic and urgent situations. I’m at peace knowing that my addiction isn’t inhibiting me from fulfilling God’s plan for me.

These are just a few ways that I’ve noticed my life get better after being clean. There is definitely an increased amount of confidence after years of being clean. I’ve felt closer to God, confident I’m where he wants me to be in life and more settled. Life still does have its ups and downs, it’s not like everything automatically goes your way once you decide to be obedient. For instance I’ve been clean for 8 years, and am now in my upper 20’s and am still single. This definitely isn’t what I planned for or intended and it has been challenging for me.

Everybody is different, people experience addiction in different ways, so logically will experience different benefits from being clean. However you are experiencing addiction, no matter how deep in denial you are and no matter how little you think it’s affecting your life. I can promise you without hesitation that your life will indefinitely and undeniably be better when your clean.

In a previous post I shared my addiction story which you can read here (click here).



How to Have Healthy Connective Sex - Part 3

This is the last segment of our 3-part series with Corey Holmgren (AMFT) on healthy sex. As before, we recommend that you listen to all 3 posts in order; as it’s all one long message. I learned a lot as I walked through this model with Corey, especially about how sex goes WAY beyond just the physical act. As I’ve reflected on my feelings on this subject, I’ve recognized that it does run deeper than just my physical “needs” or urges. I hope this message will help you reflect on your intimacy and give you hope that greater connection lies ahead.

“The opposite of what we see in porn is actually what healthy sex is. We gotta do a complete 180 and I hope that this is what I’ve been able to show.”

“The whole purpose is to create safety and a level of relaxation so that you can create complete connection with each other.”

“Try to listen to each others’ bodies and stay connected.”

“Don’t make orgasm the goal. Just make connection, relaxation, and safety the goal. If that’s it, you are always going to be pleased with the outcome.”


Derek's Recovery Story

Where My Addiction Started

I can’t remember the first time I masturbated. It was just something I always did. I believe the first memory I have of masturbating was when I was 5 or so. There were a couple pornographic images that were just around when I was growing up; I never gave much thought to them. I remember being exposed to more graphic porn when I was around 12. I didn’t start actively seeking out porn until I was 13 or 14, around the time my family got our first computer.

The Battle

For me my addiction was always associated with being bored. I would get bored, start watching TV or playing video games, get bored of that, then start dabbling in things I shouldn’t have. I don’t remember the first time I realized that masturbating was wrong. By the time I was a teenager I definitely knew it was wrong and was trying to stop. I always knew porn was wrong and that was relatively easy for me to stop. Masturbating, however, was extremely difficult to stop and I often times wondered if I could stop or if God really even wanted me to stop because it was so difficult.

The battle for me consisted of sheer grit and determination. My strategy was to simply increase my will-power enough to fight temptation the next time it came around (I highly recommend not battling addiction this way). I really didn’t have access to alternative ways of battling addiction, like establishing healthy habits, reaching out for help, or different ways to handle emotional setbacks. I would only talk to church leaders about it after I had gone a while with being clean. I hardly ever had the courage to talk to them while I was struggling.

Throughout my teenage years I would go for long periods of being clean. I believe the longest time period was about a year. I loved being clean and no part of me wanted to slip back into addiction but inevitably I would eventually get super bored, super tempted, and fall again. I just figured I was horny, I didn’t see the link between my unhealthy life style and my actions.

The Victory

I had always wanted to serve a mission. While I was on vacation I talked to someone who told me about how they left to serve a mission, weren’t worthy, came back, repented and left again. I decided that didn’t sound like a good idea. So I got real. I decided no more rationalizing. I was going to get worthy.

My church leaders established that I had to be clean for one year before I could serve a mission. Some people view this as harsh, a little over the top and even somewhat unrealistic. For me the goal of being clean for a year set the expectation that winning was not only possible but it was expected. It was the first time I felt like someone really believed and knew that I could win (because I certainly didn’t believe I could). I will forever be grateful to my church leaders for establishing that expectation. If they would have been more “lenient”, I’m not sure I would have won. I will also be forever grateful to one church leader in particular. He had a young family, and I’m sure plenty of other things on his plate, but he was always there for me, spent a lot of time with me, and helped me much more than he knows.

With the goal of one year of sobriety in mind I found the increased amount of will-power I needed. I eventually left, served my mission, and have been clean ever since! As of right now I have been clean for a little over seven years!

Lessons I Learned

I believe my path to recovery was different than most men in that I didn’t really realize what was contributing to my addiction until years after I was clean. I believe it was only the grace of Jesus Christ that kept me clean until I realized the contributing factors to my addiction. On my mission I was busy doing missionary work, I can only remember one time of being super tempted. When I got home I immediately went to college and also had a hefty workload so I didn’t really have time for my addiction. I can only remember one time during a break between semesters where I was super tempted and could have gone either way. So essentially for years I was “too busy” for my addiction (again I wouldn’t suggest this path for anybody).

I started to notice that the times I was most tempted was right before I went to bed and when I woke up. So gradually over time I established the habit of going to the gym right when I woke up (like out the door in less than ten minutes). This does a few things for me: 1- it helps me be less tempted 2- it helps me wake up (I’m supper groggy in the mornings and life seems hard until I start working out) & 3- it just helps me feel better about life. Then I study the scriptures and go to work. I also read, usually something spiritual, as I fall asleep. This helps stave away temptation. I know I’ve been healed and am not just running away from being bored. I’ve had significant health challenges that have required me to rest a lot. Yet even with that much downtime, I have not fallen.

When I was battling addiction I didn’t understand the link between my daily habits and my addiction, I thought I just had to try harder. Church leaders tried to help by giving me a schedule, and I would have won a lot quicker if I would have listened, but I just didn’t have the faith to believe that it would really help. It wasn’t until years of sobriety that I could see the link between my daily habits, my lifestyle, and my addiction.  

My path to recovery consisted of countless times of being clean and then falling into temptation again. This was super discouraging. I wondered if God even wanted me to win. I know that God wants you to win and He wants to help. He has His arms outstretched to us continually, and He will help us fix what is wrong in our life and become 100% clean and at peace.