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Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

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Step.

Another step taken.

Another step taken in this journey.

Another step in this journey of steps.

One journey.

Twelve steps.

Repeat.

The Turtle has been away .. away from blogging … away from the journey … on sabbatical.

The Turtle has been away because it is hard to find time to blog when there is no access to blogging while at work. The Turtle has been away because the journey is difficult and it is not always easy to recognize progress. The Turtle has been away because he is going through a dry spell. Spiritual dryness.

But there is reason to celebrate! After going through the pain of knee surgery and the loss of running as a source of exercise and meditation, I have returned to health. The return to running reached its culmination with this past Sunday’s Twin Cities Marathon. I not only was able to participate and finish, I actually set a personal best time!!!

So now I feel like it’s time to return to blogging and participating more actively in this journey of steps that we all “recovery.” I am a sex addict who struggles with internet pornography and this blog is a tool I use to journal for my own development and to share my story with others.

It has been month’s since I have been on this blog. What has happened? Have I abandoned the Battle for Purity? Have I relapsed? Or has my recovery become complete?

No … no … and no.

Generally speaking, the journey has continued. I continue to struggle for purity and I continue to have ups and downs in that struggle. I can look back over the past year and see progress … but not perfection. The frequency of acting out with pornography has been declining. But I am nowhere close to the goal of purity to which I aspire.

That’s what makes this road so difficult. I want to be better … I want to no longer have the urge to act out. Anything less than purity or sobriety is a great disappointment to me. But I cannot let this disappointment turn into despair. I cannot let the absence of perfection lead to a willingness to give up altogether. Jesus came to this world, took on the form of humanity, and surrendered his life that I might be restored. My job is to keep fighting to be the man He calls me to be … especially when it is hard.

So here I am. A Turtle in recovery. A Turtle who seems to be always short of the goal. But a Turtle who will keep moving toward the goal.

One step at a time.

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Step Four:    Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

 

I have to admit up front that I do not feel up to this task.  As I have turned a corner in my life in recent years, it seems that my memories of what happened before have dimmed, they have become less clear and maybe less important.  I have approached this step with the intent of making my inventory a searching one and I have been open to my memories.  But I have not been fearless.  This step intimidates me.  I have done the Fourth Step in the past – it intimidated me then and it still intimidates me now.

Why am I afraid?  I think it comes down to selfishness and control.  I selfishly want to preserve certain behaviors in my life.  I am jealous of my time and want to preserve the use of it any way I please.  And I am afraid that if I make an inventory and admit that a certain type of behavior is wrong, then I will have to give it up.  If I don’t examine it, then maybe I can keep it.

The Fourth Step also scares me because I am not sure if I will “get it right.”  I place a lot of pride in my intelligence.  I feel as if I should always be able to figure things out and master them – without help from anyone else.  I don’t want to look foolish.  Being a man means getting it right – the first time.

So the Fourth Step presents a dilemma:  I can get it right and expose all my flaws (proving that I am weak and not self-sufficient) or I can miss getting it right (proving that I am weak and not self-sufficient).

I started my Fourth Step work by making a list of resentments:  What are the things, events, or people with whom I am angry?  I am not sure how this contributes to a moral inventory, but it was the path suggested by my former sponsor and it is the path outlined by several on-line resources.  So it is the path that I am taking.

I started by listing out the resentments.  Then I made a table with four columns.  I put the resentments in the first column.  In the second column I listed what happened – what has caused me to carry unresolved anger?  The third column calls for some self-reflection.  In this column I list my own role in the event that has lead to resentment.  What was my contribution?  In the final column I listed the character defects that were reflected by my role in the event.  These defects included selfishness, pride, envy, control, dishonesty, anger, sloth, fear, and entitlement.  And so the moral inventory begins.

So what have I learned?

Let me share with you one of my resentments.  I resent having gone through life with undiagnosed depression.  I suffered from depression during college, graduate school, and even into law school.  I was not diagnosed until in graduate school and even then did not get fully treated.  While I was still trying to get my depression under control, I failed out of graduate school and missed an opportunity to get one of the “top jobs” out of law school.  After reflecting on these things, I have acknowledged that depression contributed to these events, but that I also contributed through pride, selfishness, and feelings of entitlement.

As I review my list of resentments and the other observations I have made, I see these character flaws as a theme.

Pride – I tend to believe myself to be better than others and rely on my own judgments and insights rather than listening to others.  I rely on myself rather than surrendering to the wisdom of the twelve steps or surrendering to my higher power.

Selfishness – I have a strong tendency to focus on what I want or what I need, and I do so to the detriment of others.  I do not give freely of my time and I resent people and things that interrupt what I am doing.

Entitlement – I have a strong sense of entitlement.   Tend to believe that I deserve to get certain things (grades, jobs, bonuses) just because of who I am.  I don’t acknowledge how hard others work for the same things nor do I always give my full effort.  This sense of entitlement leads to disappointment and resentment when things don’t go my way.

As I see these character defects, I feel a sense of shame.  This is not the person I want to be.  And I fear that I could end up a very lonely man.  Why should others give to me when I am so unwilling to give to them?

I am a very blessed and fortunate man to have the family and friends that I do.  And I want to start sharing myself with them as they have shared themselves with me.  I may not yet have completed my inventory, nor have I shared it yet with another, but I am starting to think ahead to Step 6.  I am ready to have God remove these defects of character.

Dear God,

I am ready for Your help in removing from me the defects of character which I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery.

Help me to continue being honest with myself and others.

Guide me toward physical, spiritual, and mental health.

Amen.

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Yesterday I acted out. I viewed pornography while at work. Despite my increased vigilance about bouncing my eyes, I acted out. Satan did an end-around — I skipped lusting with my eyes and engaged in fantasy about a woman in my mind. Immediately the floodgates were opened and I ran to my mistress — the computer.

Aaaaaaaagh!!!!

How can I claim to love God or love my wife when I act this way?

Well … fortunately it doesn’t end there. The question is what am I gonna do about it?

I have been engaging in a new — short — morning devotional during the season of Lent. I start by reading a chapter of scripture and then I do some short prayer around the acronym ACTS: (i) Adoration, (ii) Confession, (iii) Thanksgiving, (iv) Supplication. I have really been focusing on the daily confession portion of this devotional and it helps me to be more accountable for my daily shortcomings.

As I went through the confession this morning, I felt a bit cheap. I knew that God knew all about my acting out and I also knew that I had made a conscious choice to engage in this sinful behavior. Confession just didn’t seem complete. I began to think about repentance and how it builds on confession. Repentance focuses on changing the sinful behavior. Of course, that is exactly what I have been trying to do for some time now. So does that mean repentance is out of reach?

I did want to make something genuine out of this morning’s confession, however, so I kept thinking about it. I focused on my daily prayer in which I make a covenant with my eyes not to look at a woman with lust (Job 31:1). How can this covenant be made more real?

Then it occurred to me that most legal covenants are made in the presence of witnesses. So I decided to share my covenant with my SALT Brothers and made my oath to Christ regarding this covenant in their presence (at least over the phone).

I have felt some movement in my heart since this morning. I am feeling some of the buoyancy of forgiveness. I know that feeling the forgiveness doesn’t make it more real — the forgiveness of Christ purchased by his blood on the cross is as real as any fact in this world. But I have some peace from these feelings anyway.

I think this is another start. A Brand New Day!

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