Sharing Your Step One Inventories

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All daily inspirations can be found in the book Sex and Porn Addiction Healing and Recovery. Used here with permission of the author. Click the book cover image to purchase the book on Amazon.

Letting go of secrets gives you the freedom to move forward with a different, better life.

For most recovering sex and porn addicts, creating powerlessness and unmanageability inventories is the easy part of working Step 1. The more difficult part is sharing these inventories with other recovering sex and porn addicts – usually as part of a 12-Step sexual recovery meeting. Telling the truth is unnatural for sex and porn addicts, and we usually do not want to do it. However, sharing our addiction history and its consequences lifts the burden of compartmentalizing our behaviors and carrying around the heavy burden of internalized shame.

Task for Today
Share a secret about your addiction with someone you trust.

How Do We Best Define Cheating?

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All daily inspirations can be found in the book Sex and Porn Addiction Healing and Recovery. Used here with permission of the author. Click the book cover image to purchase the book on Amazon.

Infidelity is the most piercing of betrayals.

When we are active in our sex or porn addiction, our definition of infidelity likely does not match our partner’s definition. We find all sorts of reasons for why our behavior isn’t really cheating, even though we know that our significant other, if he or she knew what we were up to, would strongly disagree. To clarify what does and does not constitute infidelity, sex addiction therapist and author Dr. Robert Weiss states:

Infidelity (cheating) is the breaking of trust that occurs when you keep intimate, meaningful secrets from your primary romantic partner.

Interestingly, this definition does not talk about affairs, porn, strip clubs, hookup apps, or any other specific sexual or romantic act. Instead, it focuses on what matters most to our partners: the loss of relationship trust. For our partners, it’s not any specific sexual or romantic act that causes the most pain. Instead, it’s the lying, the secret-keeping, the lies of omission, the manipulation, and the fact that he or she can no longer trust a single thing we say or do (or anything that we’ve said and done in the past). It’s the loss of trust that defines cheating.

Task for Today
View your sexual behaviors through the lens of Dr. Rob’s infidelity definition.

Triggers

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All daily inspirations can be found in the book Sex and Porn Addiction Healing and Recovery. Used here with permission of the author. Click the book cover image to purchase the book on Amazon.

Our biggest crises can be triggered by the smallest things.

Triggers are catalysts that drive our need/desire to act out sexually. Most often, triggers involve some sort of ‘pain agent,’ like emotional or psychology discomfort (stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, shame, boredom, anger, etc.) Positive feelings can also be triggers. So, if we get fired from our job, we want to act out, and when we get a great new job, we also want to act out. Triggers can also be visual (seeing a sexy image on a billboard), auditory (hearing a noise that reminds us of sexual activity), olfactory (smelling the perfume of a past sexual partner), or even touch or taste-related.

Task for Today
Make a list of your most potent triggers. Then make a list of healthy ways to handle these triggers.

Recognizing the Virtue of Adversity

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You must never limit your challenges. Instead, you must challenge your limits.

Sometimes recovering addicts are happy just getting by. We’re sober for now, semi-comfortable, paying the bills, and maybe even keeping up with the Joneses. But are we happy with that? Or are we bored? Most likely it’s the latter, because an easy life is no life at all. If we want a great life, we should not wish for an easy life, we should wish for a difficult and challenging life and the strength to live it. In the words of Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Of all the virtues we can learn, no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life, than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.” If we can accept that idea and live it, life’s little difficulties will no longer phase us, and we’ll have a better and more successful life.

Task for Today
Embrace the difficulties in your life, asking your Higher Power for the strength to deal with them.

Sex vs. Love vs. Affection

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All daily inspirations can be found in the book Sex and Porn Addiction Healing and Recovery. Used here with permission of the author. Click the book cover image to purchase the book on Amazon.

Sex without love is as hollow and ridiculous as love without sex.

Sex and porn addicts share certain characteristics. One of these common traits is that we are unable to differentiate between sex, love, and affection. Typically, this is the result of a dysfunctional childhood – abusive, neglectful, or inconsistent parenting. Because we did not get the healthy attention, emotional regulation, and relationship modeling we needed, our ideas about sex, love, and affection are jumbled and confused. Any attention, especially sexual attention, feels like love. But affection and sex are not the same thing as love. As part of our longer-term sobriety and recovery, we must reparent ourselves as to the feelings and meanings of affection, love, and sexual behavior.

Just for Today
Think of three ways to integrate sex, love, and affection. Share these ideas in a meeting and ask for feedback.

Tolerance and Escalation

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All daily inspirations can be found in the book Sex and Porn Addiction Healing and Recovery. Used here with permission of the author. Click the book cover image to purchase the book on Amazon.

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of your addiction.

Addicts of all types typically experience an increasing tolerance to the mood-altering effects of their addictive substance or behavior of choice. (Basically, the brain adjusts to excessive dopamine levels caused by continued use of an addictive substance or behavior by producing less dopamine and/or reducing the number of dopamine receptors in the brain.) As a result, addicts must, over time, use more of the addictive substance/behavior or a more intense substance/behavior to achieve and maintain the desired neurochemical high. That is why addictions (and their consequences) escalate over time.

Task for Today
Think about the ways in which your addiction has escalated over time. Were you aware of this as it happened, or did you only notice this in retrospect?