If you ask and honestly answer each of the 21 Questions, they have the power to bail you out of the addictive cycle of pornography. The only limit to the power of these Questions is your willingness to be honest with yourself.
21 Questions – Question 1: “Have I called my ‘Fab Five’ to alert them to the fact that I am in the addictive cycle?”
Question 1 starts where the “8 Steps to Freedom From Pornography” left off: Making a phone call. “Fab Five” is a super-cool name that describes five people who you are accountable to with regard to pornography. These are people you can call to reach out for help. Recovery groups and accountability groups usually supply a person’s “Fab Five” because these people already know about your struggles with pornography and will listen to you without judgment. Incidentally, your spouse does not qualify as a potential member of your “Fab Five”.
In Step 8 of the “8 Steps to Freedom From Pornography” I discussed how making at least one phone call to a trusted friend every day is crucial to staying away from pornography. Making a pre-emptive phone call allows you to ‘ground’ your feelings and any ‘triggers’ you may have encountered throughout the day. One phone call is usually enough to keep you out of the addictive cycle…on good days.
But what happens when the ‘stuff’ hits the fan and you encounter an overwhelming trigger that you are not prepared for? In these situations it is likely that one phone call will not be enough to keep you out of the addictive cycle. In fact, in these situations you will probably enter the addictive cycle quicker than you can possibly imagine.
Let me give you a personal example. A few weeks ago I was working quietly at my old desk (I moved after this incident) going blind on Excel, and I took a visual break and looked out the window. At that exact moment a woman in an apartment across the street decided to walk in front of her living room window completely naked.
In the instant I saw the woman across the street my mind went into the addictive cycle: My adrenaline glands released a major rush, dopamine kicked in, my vision and focus changed, my heart began racing, and I entered the fantasy segment of the Cycle…it was surreal. I shot up from my desk, found a quiet room, and called my friend Mark. He didn’t answer so I left him a voicemail with the basics of the situation (without being ‘triggering’) and hung up. After I left that voicemail for Mark I asked myself, “What now?” The answer: “Have I called my ‘Fab Five’? No? Make another phone call.” I called another friend, repeated the story, and alerted him that I had entered the addictive cycle. Then I called yet another friend and went through the same drill. By the time the third phone call was completed I was starting to feel sane again: My heart rate had returned to normal, and the adrenaline and dopamine were cycling out of my system.
This process describes what I mean by calling your ‘Fab Five’. If I had stopped after my first phone call to Mark I can almost guarantee you that I would have ended up acting out. Making phone calls 2, 3, and so on allowed me to process my feelings in a healthy way, and they bought me time while my physiology returned to normal. People who don’t make the phone calls don’t want to stay sober; they want to act out. If you are serious about staying sober ask yourself Question 1 the next time you enter the addictive cycle; Have I called everyone in my ‘Fab Five’? If the answer is no, pick up the phone. Don’t let yourself rationalize reasons why you don’t need to call all five people; that is the enemy trying to sabotage your efforts to stay free of pornography.
Today’s challenge: Get the names and numbers of five people you can call in an emergency. Carry them with you everywhere you go (a small card in your wallet or purse is perfect). Make calls as needed.