Letter from a Recovering Sex Addict

I work with some young men who struggle with sexual issues.  This particular young man has addressed his issues with an uncommon resolve.  His focus and fight are extraordinary.  I asked him to write an anonomous letter about his journey.

(left photo by bethan, feature photo by Linda Cronin )

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The following is strictly an explanation of how I became a sexual addict…not an excuse.  I take full responsibility for my actions.  Each thing I’ve ever done, was done by a choice.  A choice made by me, and me alone.  Admitting that I was a sexual addict was hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever had to accept in my life.   Before that day, I had it in my head that I truly was Superman.  I was invincible.  I had some sort of super power that others were somehow lacking.  Somehow, I had it in my head that God had wired me completely different, with a separate set of rules or guidelines.  It was a day that I’ll never forget.  Because, it was a day that forever changed my life.

Before I get into this, let me say upfront that I attended church nearly every Sunday as a child.  I not only went to every youth group meeting, but was a pillar student leader.  I went to church camp every summer from 3rd grade to my senior year in high school.  I went on 3 mission trips while in high school and considered Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.  I was a Boy Scout and remained in the troop until I earned the ranking of Eagle Scout.  I’ve only ever stole one thing- a piece of candy from the grocery store when I was 5 years old.  My mom caught me and made me go back into the store and return it to the owner.  I was MORTIFIED and haven’t stolen a thing ever since. I’ve never been one for gossip or much for lying.  My parents did a great job with raising me with morals….well, for the most part.   I tried my best to live a life that would make Him proud…except for when it involved girls.  With all of that…it still wasn’t enough.  When it came to girls…it was all about me.  God could take a back seat, because I could handle this.  In my head…I was the man.  I’ve always been completely girl crazy.  I never had sexual intercourse in high school.  That’s how I justified all the crap I was doing. “Hey, at least I’m not having sex!” I would say when other kids I my youth group tried to confront me about making out or messing around with various girls.  I was walking a fine line….one that was much finer than I thought.

 

To properly explain the situation, I must go back in time a bit.  Growing up, I was raised in a home where things were joked about that shouldn’t be joked about.  Things were taken lightly that should have been taken with great caution.  I’m talking about the “little things” that society takes as a joke or not a big deal.  I can remember getting a T-shirt with Buckwheat on the front surrounded by 3 sexy women in bikini’s with their rear ends right by Buckwheat’s smiling face and him saying, “OTAY”.  Not a huge deal right?  I was in the 3rd  grade.  I can also remember my uncle getting a birthday cake that was designed in the shape of two very large breasts.  Granted they were “covered” in a bikini top…but as a 5th or 6th grader I remember undressing that cake in my mind.  How pathetic…right?  I can remember seeing family members that I hadn’t seen for a while and instead of asking me about my grades or hobbies, they asked me about my girlfriend. I remember camping with the family and my parents not having a problem with me riding my bike across he campgrounds.  I went with the sole purpose of scoping out for chicks.  I saw my first hardcore porno in the 5th grade at my uncle’s house.  In high school, I would write dirty notes back and forth to girls who were willing.  I would do just about anything to “win” a girl over, for the simple pleasure of making out with her.   Little did I know, I was doing all the prep work for becoming a full blown sex addict.

 

I continued attending church.  Getting involved.  Helping Youth. Leading Worship.  I was giving God 99% of my life.  Literally…those on the outside could look at my life and say, “DANG…that boy is DEVOTED!”  I would receive props, pats on the back, and applause for the great work I was doing for the Kingdom. I took this as a blessing from God. He must be OK with what I was doing with the other 1% of my life. The very few friends that DID know about what I was doing behind closed doors didn’t do or say anything other than- I’m praying for ya man.  What can I do?—then did nothing.  Soon, my “circle of possibilities” were becoming limited, so I turned to internet chat rooms.  Within minutes, I could not only find a woman who was interested in talking dirty with me…but was begging me to come to her house.  Sometimes, when masturbation had lost its pizzazz, I would take them up on the offer.  I went go to their house, make out, mess around but never have sex.  You see, I was still delusional about the whole concept of sex.  I had it in my head that it was 100% body….no mind, no soul, no spirit.  Strictly body.  When I would fool around with these women, and my needs were met, I was done.  I would make some excuse of how I left something in my car or had a phone call…and I would leave- never to see or talk to them ever again.  Before too long, “fooling around” wasn’t enough.  I gave into the temptation of sexual intercourse and unleashed an animal that could never again be leashed.

 

Time went on.  I married.  However, my “habits” didn’t stop.  I quote habits, because they really weren’t habits- it was a lifestyle.  I remained “faithful” by the world standards but not by God’s standards.  My mind was muddled with the misconception of what God had intended for me.  You see, this was effecting my marriage. It was effecting my career.  It was effecting my friendships.  And I didn’t even know it.  I stopped visiting women, but didn’t stop talking to them online.  Eventually, that caught up with me as well.  I started to meet women again.

 

To make a long story short- I got caught.  Busted.  No way out.  My wife left with the kids for four days with the serious possibility of never returning.

I can vividly remember sitting on my couch when I felt God speak to me.  I say felt, because no audible voice was heard.  Only one other time in my life can I say that this feeling had ever struck me so deeply.  I felt God was saying, OK…you have a choice here.  You can change or you can continue to live this life the way you have been.  What’s it going to be?

 

I chose to change.  I chose to SLAY this sin in my life.  I knew that God would forgive me…but I didn’t know or think my family would. Regardless if they did or not…this change was mandatory.  It was a scary realization…but one that had to happen.

I took the following steps to make this choice a reality.

 

CONFESSION:
 
I sat with my wife and confessed everything. EVERYTHING.
I met with my parents and confessed. EVERYTHING.
I met with my wife’s parents and confessed. EVERYTHING.
I met with my pastor and confessed. EVERYTHING.
I met with 5 of my closest friends and confessed. EVERYTHING.

 

COUNSELING
 
I attended professional counseling.
I attended with my wife and by myself.
I cried.
I didn’t receive advice…I received tools to make this change.

 

ACCOUNTABLITY/LIVING TRANSPARENTLY
 
I deleted my e-mail account and started a new one.

I deleted any female on my account that wasn’t directly related or approved by my wife.  I started with well over 1,100 friends.  After deleted all females, I was left with only 300+ friends on Facebook.
This meant I wasn’t allowed to be friends with people I was friends with before.  At least not for a while.  I’m sure many of them didn’t understand…and for now, they don’t need to understand.
To this day, I do not add Facebook requests without first consulting with my wife.

I confided in 5 of my closest friends with whom I begged them to call me out and keep in check with me. ESPECIALLY in the beginning.  I leaned on these 5 men more than I thought I would.  We e-mailed, called, texted, Facebooked.  I checked in with each of them every week for the first several months.  I made a deal with each of them that I would be 100% honest.  If they found out I was lying…it was over.

I gave my best friend my username/password for my Facebook account and e-mail.  They randomly would check my accounts.  I was allowed to delete messages, but never to empty the trash.

My wife checks e-mail daily.

Occasionally my wife and I will sit face to face and she’ll ask me some tough questions:
How are things?
How are you dealing with your struggles?
What can I do to help?

 

LIFE JOURNALING/BIBLE STUDY
 
I started Life Journaling again.  This is a practice I had once been rather consistent with….but had died off.  I journaled very day and attended the Saturday session at the Coffee Grounds when I could.

I would send e-mails/texts to a couple friends over things I was journaling about.  This proved I was doing what I was saying I was doing, but also got my mind filled with Godly things rather than smut.  Garbage in- Garbage out.

Started a bible study over e-mail with my best friend.  Bible study was spring-boarded from the book, “Every Man’s Battle”

 

BOOKS/PODCASTS/APPS
 
Books I read and suggest:
Every Man’s Battle  by Arterbum and Stoeker
Healing the Wounds of a Sex Addict by Laser
Wild at Heart by Eldridge
Just like Jesus by Lucado
My wife read, “Shattered Vows”  This gave her great perception of the situation from the eyes of a woman whose husband went through much of the same stuff.  This was written by the wife of the “Healing the Wounds of a Sex Addict” book mentioned above.

Podcasts I listen suggest/recommend:
 
Andy Stanley, North Point Ministries- Radical Love
Mark Houck- Manly Minutes
APPS
Youversion Bible
Hope for One: PSA Support (Contains many podcasts, chats, news, videos, resources for sexual addicts)
365 Devotions.   Just another resource to help give you a daily dose of scripture. NOT A REPLACEMENT

 

DYING DAILY
 
With each day, I must kill my old self.  For the longest time, this required me to literally look in the mirror each morning and tell myself to DIE.  I would say this out loud.  It helped, make it real.

I have been made into a new creation.  I simply need to remind myself every day of this truth.  THEN ensure my actions support that truth.

With each attractive female I see at Walmart, the mall, running along the side of the road, or on TV I do my best to divert my eyes as quickly as possible and repeat a chant, “That’s not yours. You have no right. I rebuke these thoughts by the power, the blood, and the love of Jesus Christ.”  I repeat that chant until she has passed and/or my thoughts have moved on.

With each conversation with a woman I have, I try my best to start off with a silent prayer to myself.

Each time I get a thought of reverting…I go back to that moment on the couch when my wife left, my child kissed me goodbye and I felt the voice of God shaking my very bones.  That memory rattles me back into reality and resets my priorities.

 

RELAPS
 
I would love to say to you that I have not slipped up since this journey began.  The truth is…. I have.  But with each slip up- I immediately notify the people needed and get right back on that horse.  I give no time for pity parties, no time for any of Satan’s lies to take root.  With each slip up, I rebounded with greater force, with greater aggressiveness, with greater intention of killing this sin in my life.

I’ll probably have this sin hovering me like a vulture my entire life.  Simply waiting for me to slip up, let my guard down, or give in.  I will do everything in my power for that moment to never come.  With God’s help…I will succeed in my journey.

Another quote I need to remind myself of occasionally: “God loves us, just the way we are, but he refuses to leave us that way.  He desires us to be more.  More like Him.”

I’ll end with a quote from the great Greenbay Packers Coach, Vince Lombardi

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

 

Today, I sit at this computer feeling pure.  I can’t tell you the last time I masturbated, spoke to a woman inappropriately in person on online, or undressed random women with my eyes.  I never let a day go by without telling my wife that I love her.  I never let a day go by without attempting to show her by my actions at home.  I’ve vowed to be more helpful around the house, more considerate, and an overall better husband.  I still miss the mark on this one sometimes, but my intentions never drop.  I choose to be the man God has called me to be.   I choose to be the husband God has called me to be.  I choose to be the daddy God has called me to be.  I choose God’s way…not my way.

 

Because of this time of healing.  This transformation.  I feel closer to God than I have my entire life.  I feel more solid in my faith.  I love/respect my wife more than I did before.  I love my kids more richly.  I feel more confident in my manhood.  In short, I feel free.  Free from being enslaved to sin.  With each new day I am blessed to walk this Earth…I pray that I’m more like Jesus.  I pray that I’m closer to my wife than I was the previous day.  I pray that my children grow to see a daddy they can love, respect, and admire.  I pray that when people see me or hear me…they are seeing and hearing Christ Jesus.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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