Posts Tagged ‘twelve steps’



Another step taken.

Another step taken in this journey.

Another step in this journey of steps.

One journey.

Twelve steps.


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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I wrote the following a year ago. After a relapse this weekend, the words feel true again today.

Lord, have mercy on me.

It’s cold now in Minnesota. Currently it is 1 degree (-17c) with a forecast high in the teens. But it is colder still as the wind blows across our frozen landscape. Windchills today are below zero. It’s cold and lonely on the Minnesota landscape.

It’s cold now in the addict’s heart. As the addict goes through another relapse in acting out, the heart becomes colder. And the winds which blow through the addict’s heart make it colder yet. These are the days when the addict acts out but does not know why. Acting out is followed by denial, resentment, justification, and rationalizing. And the addict isolates and becomes colder. Cold and lonely.

Today’s reflection from Hazelden was on point for the addict:

“A [life of acting out] isn’t a happy life. [Acting out] cuts you off from other people and from God. One of the worst things about [acting out] is the loneliness. And one of the best things about [recovery] is the fellowship. [Acting out] cuts you off from other people, at least from the people who really matter to you, your family, your co-workers, and your real friends. No matter how much you love them, you build up a wall between you and them by your drinking. You’re cut off from any real companionship with them. As a result, you’re terribly lonely. Have I got rid of my loneliness?”

So why has the addict returned to acting out? Why be blown into this life of loneliness? Does the addict even have a choice?

Times like these fill the addict with doubt. Despite belief in a Higher Power the addict wonders, can I ever escape this sickness? Maybe the twelve steps can work for others but not for me. Maybe I’m the exception.

Cold and lonely …

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As an addict I am constantly being reminded to trust and use the tools of recovery:

“Work the steps”

“Make calls”

“Attend meetings regularly”

“Third-Step Prayer”

“Daily inventory”

Sometimes these reminders are frustrating. Why do I have to keep working the steps? Why should I make phone calls when everything is ok? Why does my life have to be reduced to a set of practices that constantly reminds me of what I am trying to escape from?



“Spatial disorientation” is what an aircraft pilot experiences when he flies into weather conditions that prevent him from being able see the horizon or the ground. Points of reference that guide his senses disappear. His perceptions become unreliable. He no longer is sure which way is up or down. It can be deadly.

The only way a pilot can overcome spatial disorientation is to be trained to read and trust his cockpit instruments to tell him what is real. That’s why flight instructors force student pilots to learn to fly planes by the instruments alone.

As an addict I have to recognize that my spirit suffers from spatial disorientation. My twisted perceptions keep me from recognizing what is really happening in my world. I do not know where the horizon lies and cannot recognize temptation when it crosses my field of vision.

As an addict, I have spent a life of trusting only myself to navigate life’s hazards. I have trusted myself and I have failed miserably.

To attain freedom, I must learn to trust in Christ. But I am stubborn. I am resistant to turn to anyone but myself. I may agree with Christ, but only after I have relied on my own thinking to reach that agreement. If this keeps up, I will never escape spatial disorientation.

So recovery brings a new set of tools: the 12 steps, meetings, sponsors, accountability partners, phone calls, daily prayer. If I cannot immediately learn to trust Christ, then I must learn to at least turn my trust to something other than myself. The tools of recovery are my flight instruments. I must learn to trust them even when I cannot see the horizon or the world around me. And to learn to trust them, I must practice using them every day – both good days and bad days.

So, yes, in some ways my life has been reduced to daily application of a set of spiritual tools. And, yes, this can be frustrating. But as an addict, I must remember that I am subject to spatial disorientation. I need to use and trust these tools or I will crash and burn!

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When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.

For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD “—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.

+ Psalm 32:3-5

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

+ The 5th Step, AA, SAA

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We are men on a mission — we are engaged in a Holy War.

We are warriors in the Battle for Purity.

No one man can succeed in battle by himself. We all need brothers who will march by our sides. We need accountability. To avoid stumbling alone in the darkness, we must constantly hold ourselves out to the light.

A crucial weapon in the Battle for Purity is using a program of daily accountability. Each of us should have a primary accountability partner (or “sponsor”) to whom we can give an account of our progress in executing our Battle plans.

I would suggest an accountability program that includes the following:


Phone Call

Call your accountability partner at least 5 days a week.

Feelings Check-In

Tell your accountability partner how you are feeling that day (glad, sad, mad, afraid, lonely, hurt, guilty, ashamed)

Acknowledge Temptations

Report any lustful thoughts or temptations you have experienced.

  • Any thoughts of pornography viewed in the past?
  • Any sexual fantasies or dreams?


Confess any violations of purity including pornography, masturbation, or lustful thoughts.

  • Internet pornography
  • Videos
  • Magazines
  • Inappropriate television
  • Other

Accountability / Rear Guard

Ask for specific accountability about an area or issue as needed. Discuss fences that may be needed around certain activities or events.

  • Will you be traveling?
  • Will your wife be away from home?
  • Are you going to be placed in any situations that have proved harmful in the past?



Try to meet face-to-face with your accountability partner once a week, if possible.


Work through assignments from relevant workbooks, work through the twelve steps of SAA, or do other assignments agreed to with your accountability partner.


Keep track of your purity date and celebrate milestones together!


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“First Step:

We admitted we were powerless over addictive sexual behavior–that our lives had become unmanageable.”

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The first step in recovery, as most people know, is to admit the problem. In 12-Step language:

“We admitted we were powerless over our addictive behavior — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

The second step is to believe.

“We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

But what does it mean to believe? This is a problem that has troubled the addict both in recovery and in his pilgrimage of faith. What does it mean to believe?

Many addicts have trouble with the second step because they don’t want to believe in a higher power. They don’t want to be religious, don’t want to be Christians, Muslims, Jews, or anything else. They don’t believe in God and they don’t want to believe in God. For these addicts, the struggle is one of how to live a spiritual life in an agnostic world. Where do they locate their higher power?

For this addict, however, the problem has been quite different. You see, this addict was a believer long before he was an addict. This addict has been a Christian since high school and has always held firmly to the belief that he is saved in Christ Jesus.

But if this is the case, why addiction? How could he stumble so poorly along the way as to have to be confronted with the second step, “came to believe”? If the believer has become an addict, was he ever really a believer?

What does it mean to believe?

The addict is slowly coming to understand that belief is something more than knowledge or intellectual assent. Belief is an act. Belief is trust.

Consider the following story:

A man steps off a cliff and plummets towards the earth below. In the course of his fall he manages to reach out and grab a branch (the proverbial cliff-hanger). The distance below him is too great to drop and the distance above is too great to climb. Then an angel appears above him. He calls out to the angel, “Save me!”

“Do you believe I can save you?” the angel asks.

Seeing the angels great wings and powerful arms, the man answers, “Yes, I believe you can save me.”

“Do you believe I WILL save you?” asks the angel.

“Yes,” answers the man.

“Then,” the angel says, “LET GO!”

Would you let go? Could you let go?

Here is where the addict keeps stumbling. The addict has believed for many years that Christ CAN and WILL redeem him. But the addict has not acted in a manner consitent with that belief. The addict relies on his intellect, his status, his money to get him through adversity. When the chips are down, the addict relies on himself. The addict has yet to turn his belief in Christ from intellectual assent to trusting faith. And, sadly, the addict isn’t even sure if he knows how to do this. The addict has spent his whole life relying on his own ability to take care of himself and face problems. How do you let go of the only thing you’ve ever known?

But then we come back to the first step: “We admitted that we were powerless over our addictive behavior …”

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