Pornography Addiction Recovery: Moving in Two Directions
Recovery from an addiction like pornography or sex requires movement in two directions simultaneously:
- Movement away from use of the “drug” (in our case, pornography, sex, lust, or relationships)
- Movement toward healthy living
Well, they are actually movements in the same direction. None of us addicts is ever standing still. We are always moving toward some point. For decades I was moving toward destruction and misery, one step at a time. Every time I took looked at pornography or masturbated or looked lustfully at another person, I was moving toward a dark end. In recovery, every time I make a healthy choice I am moving closer to health and happiness. Big or small, each step takes me closer. And big or small, each step is creating momentum toward some end, good or bad.
I thought of this when someone pointed me to a science video discussing the physics of falling dominoes. Of course, we all know one thing leads to another. One domino falling starts off a chain reaction. But what I learned in this video was that a small domino can knock down a much larger, heavier domino. Watch:
Small Steps Become Large
What this video illustrates is what I’ve discovered in my addiction to pornography and sex and in my recovery:
When I take small steps in any direction, the later larger steps take a minimum of effort.
Moving Away from Health
When active in my addiction, this principle was working against me and was quickly moving me through misery to a destructive end. I would expend a great deal of logistical and mental effort to not look at pornography, or engage in unhealthy sexual behavior. But I was undermined by my little choices and compromises. “I won’t look at pornography!” But I will take a second glance at that woman. “I won’t engage in problematic sexual behavior!” But I will recall and re-live in my head a potent sexual encounter from my youth. What I never realized was that each of those little concessions was leading to a little larger concession, and then larger, until the “big” boundary I had erected had no chance of standing. It would fall with a huge crash and I would fall with it. And the cycle would start again.
Moving Toward Health
On the positive side, in recovery, I’ve found that small healthy steps necessarily lead to large healthy steps. For me the small steps are found in the twelve steps of Sexaholics Anonymous. And they are shaped by the insight that lust is at the core of my addiction. Because it is at the core, because a lust hit is a “first sip” (compare with the alcoholic), a “small” but necessary step for me is to treat any lust-hit as toxic and as a first step toward a slip. Because of this each time I refuse a second-look, or even a first-look, I am increasing my ability to take the bigger life-giving steps later, steps like serving my spouse and children. Steps like helping a sexaholic who is still suffering. Steps like making a positive contribution to my community.
Another “small” momentum-building step is found in Step 10:
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
This one Step is made up of innumerable micro-steps. Rather than letting small wrongs build up in a negative direction, I can strengthen my recovery and health by letting fresh admissions of wrong build up. Each time I do so, it makes it easier to live in a big way that consists of caring for others and not taking from them.
Learning From Physics
Physics has a lot to teach us about healthy living. Don’t walk in front of a moving bus comes to mind. I can now add to that: don’t tip a domino in the wrong direction. I don’t want to be crushed by the Empire State Building sized domino at the end. I want to be catapulted to a fulfilling new life!
Long to be happy and free? Click to find a meeting!