Sunday, December 29, 2013

Step 6 Continued, ReCommitting
My past attitude about self gratification was that it wasn't any big deal.  I was mistakenly trying to make my marriage better.  But before then, even, when I struggled during my single life, it was because I couldn't give up the pleasurable feelings and I didn't see how it was impeding me.  I never knew better, though, because I never went without it.  It was a constant since my tiny childhood years.  My feelings were unrepentant because I denied how detrimental my behavior was.

I feel that now I have given it up completely, but I still have rationalized my media addiction.  It's a little harder to differentiate and pinpoint when there is a problem, because the problem is only present when I'm getting a high from the use of media.  If I'm escaping reality or numbing myself through that immersion into another world.  The biggest clue is if I lose the spirit's companionship.

I need to realize my dependence upon the Lord for everything and show my acceptance of this dependence by dedicating my time to prayer and strengthening my connection to Him every single day.  By doing that, I can be led by His will in my everyday choices, so I can remain free from the binds of addiction.

I have now made a list of my weaknesses with the strengths they can become written next to them.  It's interesting to look at this list and feel hopeful that one day I might be completely humble but confident, without the "better than" or "worse than" attitude that I have had.  Someday I can become completely in ownership of myself and who I am.  My likes and dislikes will become evident realities of my identity and I will no longer chameleon other people's.  It will be a time when I can no longer feel sexually inadequate, but have a healthy relationship with my husband and the Lord.  A time when I am ever present in my own life and no longer lost in another world of fantasies or dreams.  I will be the kind of person who allows others to make mistakes without trying to be their savior or rescuer.  I will serve others while also providing healthy boundaries by the guidance of the spirit in my life.

I have never lost the desire to participate in church activities.  It is what saved me in my youth and when I lost my way in college.  I always attended church anyway.  I believe my life could have gotten much harder if I hadn't.  But at the same time, I felt somehow that I did not belong.  I saw the world in a different way from how these people at church saw the world.  I felt alone.  But as I try to allow the Savior to strengthen me now and dwell within me always, I can see how everyone at church is really much like myself.  We are all striving to allow the Savior's power to heal our hearts and guide our lives.  Knowing this helps me to feel more unified with the members of my ward at church.

My recovery began in a sneaky way, with me pointing fingers at my husband and then having my hand turned to point at myself.  Over and over again.
I would say "it" (all my unhappy circumstances wrapped up with a big frowny-face bowtie) was because of one of his obnoxious qualities, and then because of his addictions, and then I would get a nice surprise.  Something about myself would get revealed to me and I would realize I was guilty.

How self righteous, how proud, how blinded I was.  I'm thankful those baby steps provided by the Addiction Recovery Program have slowly given me the chance to open my eyes and own my faults, little by little.  How far I've come.  How far I have yet to go.

It's so sad how evil tries to justify itself.  It's constantly making excuses.  Every abuser, every sinner, makes some kind of excuse to alleviate their conscience so they don't have to feel the pain of guilt.  But then it only puts them in Satan's hands when they - I - when I refuse to feel Godly Sorrow for my wrongs.  The steps help me get there.

I have learned that being perfect is impossible.  But that's ok!  I've learned that my Savior is there for this very reason.  In taking upon His name, I am made clean and whole. "Perfect" in the scriptures is defined also as "complete".  I know I can only be made complete in the Savior, if I am daily placing myself in His hands.

Recovery is ongoing.
It is never finished.
Always needed.
Always repeated.
I need to be patient with myself because the Lord is patient with me, as His child.
I need Him every single hour.  I know that my Redeemer lives.

YLDS Radio helps.  I need to play it every day.  Music brings the spirit into my heart better then anything else.  Today I've been sitting and listening to it as I have read and it has brought the sweetest spirit into my heart that I never want to let go.  It's made me recommit myself to keeping it with me, and doing what it takes to keep this feeling with me always.  I must commit to maintaining a healthy balance in my home with every form of media or technology, so that balance can keep the spirit in my home.  I want my kids to feel that difference.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Step 6: Change of Heart


Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.

Step 6 Reading

Unlike what it says in the first couple paragraphs of this step, for me personally, it feels as though my temptations are just as strong as before, or even stronger at times.  But the difference here is that I feel stronger because I have withstood them.  I still haven't acted out on my self-gratification addiction since before I began step one this time around.  But when it comes to my other addictions I feel I can do better.  I think that's one of the things that has held me back from that happy place I found around this time last year.

Last year before Christmas I was on a spiritual high!  But two things happened.  I got an IUD in, and I got really sick.  The IUD's hormones blocked me from being able to feel God's love for me and I started a road into depression.  And being really sick, I skipped church one day and binged on television big time!  I began my addiction to Vampire Diaries.  I think I could have kept myself from being completely addicted if I had paced myself better, but I didn't.  I watched almost two seasons in one day, I think.  It was ridiculous.  I was feeding on it and it was not good for me.  The spirit left.

And then a year went by and I'm here still grasping for it to return.  The happiness I had last year was so awesome.  I was beating my desire to "get high" on fantasies.  I hardly ever turned the television ON let alone watched it.  When I did, it was for my kids to watch a show and I told myself I had better things to do then sit there.  I was in such a happy place.

The hardest part about losing that desire is that at first when I give it up, I miss it.  I miss that high terribly.  I know the Lord has helped me before because I have been able to watch movies without getting the high.  I don't lose myself in them.  I'm still sitting there with my family, and the movie is just a story.

This is much more healthy, but in a way I really miss that immersion into the story - the high - because it was my escape.  But what then?  The movie ends and I'm plunged back into life and it's low.  Not better.  Not at all.  So I must lose that desire to go there.

I think one of the reasons why I have obsessed over fixing other people's problems is because I hadn't figured out how to fix my own.  Releasing this has helped to free me from my codependency issues too.  Now that I am honestly acknowledging my issues and am actively working on them, my desire to fix other people is not so obsessive.  I still feel I could offer other people help, but I don't feel like it's something I hunger for like I did before.  I guess that hunger was really to help myself!

I want to be accountable now.  Completely accountable for myself.  I'm going to grow into a new me, from inside out.  I will be the kind of person that is compassionate but not overbearing.  I will first look to change myself before passing any information on, and when I do I will wait until moved by the spirit, NOT by my heavy addicted urges.

When I think of someone I could perhaps share this program with, instead of rushing to do in right now, I need to be thoughtful and prayerful about it and ask the Lord to help me to approach the subject in the right way.  I must believe the Lord will help reveal it to me when I should speak and when I shouldn't.  The key is shutting my mouth when I feel the heaviness in my chest that says, "Just stop."  Too often I have spoken right through it when that has happened.  I need to stop it.

Sheesh.  I feel like finally reading my inventory has opened the flood gates.  Here we go! :)

I Am Not My Addiction

You know, whoever coined the phrase "I am an addict" really did us all a huge disservice!  Because I am not my addiction.  Labeling myself only makes it seem that much more impossible to overcome because it's WHO I AM.  But it's not who I am.  The correct thing to say would be "I have addictions."  Because these things do not define me.

It feels so good to begin step 6!  I'm also so happy to have a new sponsor from the addiction recovery group for females.  As much as I love my support in recovery group ladies, I really felt like I needed to join a group where women could really understand where I stood.

After reading out my step 5 aloud, I'll have to say I feel so much less alone!  I didn't realize how alone I felt before, but I did!  I felt like I was completely alone in how I felt.  Even after two years attending meetings, I felt different and apart from everyone else.  But reading and spilling out my step 5 helped me see that my sponsor and many of these other women are really just like me!  Of course, we have our differences, but we think the same way because of our similarities, rationalizations, and trying to stay on top of our addictions every single day!

It was so refreshing to sit and talk to someone who understood completely!  Especially about media addiction.  Most people shrug it off, saying "Awe, it's just a tv show." But they don't understand how detrimental "just" a tv show can be to me, when I'm not just watching it, I'm getting a high that I have to come back down off.  I get so attached to the characters that I painstakingly fantasize over them, wish with all my heart that my world could collide with theirs, and I begin to value this fantasy world over my own life!  Yeah...there's something wrong with that!  It felt so good to have someone sit next to me and say, yes, it's the same for me.

Another thing that reading my inventory out loud did for me was that now I have more courage to speak out about my addiction if I am moved upon by the spirit.  I feel I will open myself up to the women in my support group meeting this week and let them know that I can identify with their addicted loved ones at a different level.  I think opening up may help someone because there is bound to be someone else like me coming to our meetings since the only ones available are a drive away from here.  There may be women who are addicts and not allowing their conscious mind to see it (like I used to be!).

My new sponsor also helped me to correlate more of my weaknesses with my addictions.  I hadn't realized that my tendencies to chameleon other people's likes is actually not an uncommon trait among those who struggle in addiction.  Because addiction can blur with who a person is, making it hard to identify ourselves outside the addictions.  Time isn't spent on thinking about these other good things we like, like favorite music, hobbies, even my favorite color was hard to choose.  Our bad habits become our hobbies and we can't share them with anyone so we are left in isolation.  It's a sad way to live.

It reminded me of the movie with Julia Roberts, Runaway Bride.  I always identified so deeply with her character's inability to choose a favorite kind of eggs, among other things, and how it was destroying her life.   I couldn't understand why both of us did that, so I felt like it was some romantic mystery.  I remember watching the movie and feeling so connected because I was just like that.  Now I think it's because she was addicted to something too.  Addiction handicapped my ability to define myself.  It's so freeing to separate myself from my addictions because now I am free to see the opportunities for all the many things I can like and be.  I can stop doing things because someone else likes to do them, and do them because I like it.

I just have to figure out now what I like most.

I like red and purple.
I like indie music that is uplifting and upbeat.
I like singing and playing piano.
I like writing.
I like spirituality.
I like being artistic and creative.

We have a start.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Another Trusted Person


In step 5 it reads:

"We also selected another trusted person to whom we could disclose the exact nature of our wrongs.  We tried to select someone who had gone through steps 4 and 5 and who was well-grounded in the gospel.  We began the meeting with prayer to invite the Spirit, and then we read our inventories aloud.  The individuals who listened to our inventories often helped us see lingering areas of self-deception.  They helped us put our lives into perspective and avoid exaggerating or minimizing our accountability...We started to understand our tendencies..."

I have done it.

Over this past week, I had a conflict planned for the usual time I attend PASG meetings.  Because of this, I decided it was an opportunity for me to attend the woman's group for addicts.  I usually attend the support group for loved ones of the addict, but I knew I needed to attend a group for actual addicts at some point because of my specific situation.  However, it was a little drive to get to the meetings.  There aren't as many of these available.

So I did.  I went to the meeting the day before my usual time, and although it was a little different and I felt sort of out of place, I know it was what I needed to do and where I needed to be.  I plan to attend this meeting on occasion, because it offers up a different perspective that I really need.

At this meeting, I met a new Facilitator who I felt I could share my inventory with.  By this weekend, I had set up a time and on Saturday I was able to meet with her and lay it all out.  It took a little over three hours.  But it felt so good to just let out everything I wished I could say out loud to somebody and have them listen reflectively.  I could have tried to do this with my husband but I'm sure at some point his eyes might have glazed over.

I feel so much better after having this experience.  Now I feel like I truly have been able to be completely honest about everything.  I was able to also pin-point how my addictions to media or fantasy are also correlated with my addiction to self gratification and I hadn't made that connection yet.  I also have a new sense of determination to tackle my media addiction...right now I'm completely overcome by watching Vampire Diaries.  At least it's only once a week, but I know that when I watch it, I get a high and have to come back to reality...and that's where the problem really is in that.

So here I am, willing and able to move forward to Step 6.  Finally!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

When I See a "Trigger Warning"...and Choosing Someone

Here's a quick tip: If something says "Trigger Warning" don't read it and don't go to it.  Just move on.

I recently got caught up in reading a webpage that had a "Trigger Warning" on it.  It wasn't pornographic by definition, and was actually meant to be a supportive awareness-type page.  It had pictures of victims of sexual abuse holding a hand-written sign in front of them with the phrases their abusers used against them.  Many of the phrases were demeaning or manipulative, some were excuses.  It was supposed to be a way to free these victims from the abuse they had experienced by speaking up about what they had gone through.  But for me, I guess it was a trigger.

I couldn't stop reading.  I couldn't stop going to the next photo to see what the next abuser had said.  I don't know why it became so hard for me to stop.  It got me in a bad place, and I felt Satan's angels around me tempting me to self-gratify.

I didn't.

But I wasn't happy because of the spirit that it had brought into my heart.  My husband got home from work while I was on my phone and he was annoyed because he thought I was on Facebook again (one of my other addictions) and so the rest of the evening went horribly.

I know it was because I hadn't stopped to begin with.  I hadn't realized that "Trigger Warning" was for me.  I didn't realize that I had a trigger like that.  But the fantasies that overcome me sometimes are caused by things like this and I need to realize it, acknowledge it, and so now I can avoid it.

Progress?  Well, I still haven't read my Step 5 to anyone.  But I think I need to continue because this stagnant stage I have gotten myself into is not helping me one bit!  But I am going to continue on to Step 6 keeping in mind that at any moment I will return to Step 5 to read my inventory aloud to someone because I know I need to do it.  I just don't know when or who, and I feel that it is a decision I need to make very carefully.

Which is odd, because I naturally have always been the type of person that spilled my soul out to whoever was passing by just because I never felt the need to keep my own secrets.  But I think finally I've worked the steps deep enough to get to those shameful nitty-gritty details that I just can't confide to just anybody.

Maybe I need to choose my old friend and confidant...she hadn't come to mind until just now because I don't think she has worked the steps or gone through the program.  But she is a social worker now, with a Masters.  Perhaps she is my best choice.  Time and distance have created a sort of rift between us lately.  Maybe I'll bridge the gap by being incredibly personal all of a sudden.  I'll pray about it.  Wish me luck.