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.
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 HopeandHealinglds.org, 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 it...here 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!
Unashamed & Unafraid
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