Facing Fear In Sex Addiction Recovery

Fear plays a very active role in the destruction of the sex or porn addict. The prominent place of fear in an addicts life is often not evident when he or she first comes into Sexaholics Anonymous. That was certainly the case for me. Heck, I was only conscious of one problem when I first entered SA’s doors: masturbation and pornography. If I could only stop my sexual acting out, I told myself, the real, admirable me would be free to flourish. But I had misdiagnosed my problem. And my core problem included fear. And recovery from porn addiction has meant facing fear.

Masturbation and Porn Bring Comfort

My personal go to drug, pornography and masturbation, was the solution to a problem I had. It was the salve that soothed my wounds. I was not consciously aware that I had wounds that needed soothing, but in truth I did. Addicts are “restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks.” For me, and many addicts, fear is a chief cause of restlessness, irritableness, and discontentedness. Fear causes me to feel these things, and I know exactly where to find comfort. It’s like the commute home from work: I do it every day and don’t even think about it. “How did I get here?”  And so if I’m going to recover from my sex addiction, I have to facing fears rather than hiding from them through sex.

Facing Fear: What Does That Mean

Fear is on my mind here recently: Financial and job fears. Expenses at home are continuing to rise. This past month, my bank account has twice gone negative. Credit has too often needed to come to the rescue. That’s not sustainable. We’re working to economize and cut expenses, but that will only get us part of the way. I’ve known for a long time that I need to get a better paying job. That stirs up its own set of fears: Am I good enough? Will they want me? If they don’t want me, am I worthless? What if I don’t get a better job? And then I’m back to financial fears.

This morning I woke early and my mind quickly latched on to the problem and my heart started racing and my mind started running here and there. “What’s the solution?” “What’s going to happen?” My mind didn’t turn to lust, the near-relation of my masturbation and porn addiction, but I know that if I don’t face this fear, my troubled mind will soon be kindly suggesting that as a reasonable option.

I did think about lust and pornography. I thought, if I was not in recovery right now and if I didn’t have some good sobriety, what would I do? How would I meet this fear challenge? I know what I would do. I would start fantasizing about some past or some made up sexual encounter. I would roll around in that warm blanket for a while. I might add some masturbation. I would plot to find a place and opportunity to find porn, and if possible, I would binge. An all day binge would be just what the doctor ordered. And it would be so wonderful and comfortable. And then it wouldn’t be. Finances would still be a mess. I’d still need a new job, but now less confident than before that I could get one. Yeah, that’s not a good idea.

I Need a New Drug?

I’m determined not to act out today. As one of our members like to say, I don’t have to act out today if my ass falls off. But if I don’t face this fear, tomorrow, I’ll likely have less resolve to work my 12-step program, and less and less.

So as my heart continued to pound in my chest, I found myself longing, praying, that God would be my drug. Why is it that I can’t get the same rush from God that I do from lust and sex? Faced with fear, why can’t I just melt into the love of my God? We’re assured in our literature (the SA White Book and AA Big Book), that if we’ve turned our “will and our lives” over to the care of God, that he’s running the show now.

For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves… (AA p. 68)

As we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn. (AA p. 63)

Sounds like a wonderful mystical experience! An escape from the worries of life! But is it? Is that what the Big Book is describing?

God As An Escape

I think there can be something of “peace that passes understanding”. I think it is possible to be in a situation where things are really very crappy yet be at peace. Prayer and meditation (step 11) can bring that into my life. But I think the longing that I had this morning was not a good one. I wanted to escape into God’s arms from the trouble and fear just as before I wanted to escape into porn. Just make it all go away please.  That’s what I wanted this morning. Just make it go away.

A Call To Action

My heart was still doing double time. Breathing exercises weren’t helping. I was still feeling quite afraid. But then my thoughts began to turn in another direction. I was fearful and wanted to hide, whether in God or porn didn’t really matter, I wanted to hide. But what if I were to choose to act like a man, an adult? What would an adult do in my situation? I know what a child would do. I’ve lived the stunted life of a child most of my adult life. A child in danger would hide.

Facing fear in sex and porn addiction recovery

But what do adults do? What would a mature person do when faced with danger of this kind? I think he or she would act. Right? Isn’t that what adults do?  Here’s a problem. Hiding won’t help and will probably make it worse. Here’s a reasonable thing that might actually help. Get out of the damn bed and act!

Here’s something I hadn’t noticed before in the Big Book.  The quote from earlier:

For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves… (AA p. 68)

Notice the ellipsis (dot dot dot). I put that there because here’s what follows:

We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.

So “trusting and relying” on God is not simply slipping into the forgetfulness of God. It is action. God’s action.

My Role In The World, Right Now

Do I want serenity right now? Do I want peace in the midst of my financial and job search stresses? Pray? Yes. Meditatate? Definitely. Get up off my duff and act? Most assuredly! In step 11 we are advised in our prayers to seek only for “a knowledge of his will for us, and the power to carry that out.”  In the 3rd step prayer we offer ourselves to the God of our understanding to “build with me and do with me” as he wills.

So that’s my prayer this morning. God, what role do you have for me today? How do you choose to use me in my world today? What do you want to build with me today? When I have an inkling of what that might be, God, give me courage to act. And then I get up and act.

In acting positively in this way, I can “match calamity with serenity.” In my case this morning, simply realizing that I can act in this way brough immediate peace. My heart beat began to calm perceptibly.  A powerless victim runs and hides from danger. I am not a powerless victim. I am a man loved by and empowered by God. I can act today. Get up baby! Get up!


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