A few weeks ago I blogged about the 8 Steps to Freedom From Pornography; the 8 Steps are critical to keeping out of the Addiction Cycle. But there are some days when you can do all 8 Steps correctly and still find yourself in the Addiction Cycle, usually because you get surprised by a triggering event you could not have prepared for.
Question 5: “Have I called my mentor to ‘map out’ my day.”
I have consulted a GPS for directions, a financial advisor for retirement savings advice, and a doctor for health maintenance tips. In each case I knew that the system or person I was consulting had a much better idea of how I should get where I wanted to go than I did. Question 5 reminds me that when I’m in the Addiction Cycle I need the same kind of guidance and advice. When I’m in the Cycle there is a part of me that wants to act out; that part of me does not want to reach out and ask for help. That part of me can’t stand Question 5, because it knows that mapping out my day is a sure way of maintaining sobriety. When I call my mentor to map out my day I’m really doing two things: First, I’m being accountable for my time that day with another human being. Second, I am using that other person to check my thinking and to help me avoid any pitfalls in my day.
I had to ask myself Question 5 a lot when I first entered recovery. I had been self-medicating with pornography for so long that in the first few weeks without it I didn’t know what to do when I started feeling badly about anything; I had no other coping mechanism. For example, anytime my wife left me alone at the house was a very dangerous time for me. I would feel very lonely, and loneliness was by far my greatest triggering emotion (it still is). I would also be triggered by conditioning; time alone at the house was my ‘happy time’ and the force of habit was hard to fight early on. So I would call my mentor and say something like, “Mark, my wife just left the house and she will be gone for a few hours. I’m feeling lonely and I’m afraid I might act out because there’s no one around to monitor my activity.”
My mentor would respond, “OK, so what are you going to do for the next few hours?”
We would work out a plan that kept me busy, out of the house and away from the television and computer as much as possible. If I had to work on the computer my mentor would help me see that I needed to take myself to the library or somewhere else public. I was always required to call my mentor after the ‘danger time’ passed to give a follow-up report on how I had done, to keep me accountable for my time. I’m sure this sounds very simplistic to a lot of folks, and maybe it is. But when I have entered the Addiction Cycle it is hard to think rationally, because a part of me wants to act irrationally. I need someone else to help me ‘map out’ my day and think things through with me.
Today’s Challenge: Even if you’re not in a formal recovery program, find someone today whom you can call to ‘map out’ your day the next time you’re in the Addiction Cycle. You need to find someone you can trust to tell you when you ‘map’ sucks and help you fix it.