Question 6: “Have I reviewed the ‘8 Steps to Freedom From Pornography’ today?”
Some cars are damaged in accidents, while others are damaged through poor maintenance. Failing to regularly change a car’s oil and filter over a long period of time can be just as damaging to its engine as a frontal collision.
My recovery program works the same way. Sometimes I have a ‘collision’ when I run into a triggering situation I could not have anticipated; these situations have the potential to immediately send me into the Addiction Cycle. At other times I am lazy with the daily ‘maintenance’ of my recovery and this laxity is just as dangerous to my program.
The purpose of the 8 Steps is to keep a person out of the Addiction Cycle. If I faithfully and diligently work the 8 Steps all day, every day, I will have a very high rate of success in my program. If I stop working the 8 Steps my recovery will break down.
Here are the 8 Steps, in order:
- Pray at the beginning of the day for at least 15 minutes
- Bounce your eyes
- Ignore triggers
- Get the Word in you
- Surrender your right to lust
- Flee the situation, if necessary
- Pray for the trigger
- Make a phone call
Let me give you an example of a day when I forgot Question 6. It all started with those 15 minutes of prayer. Even though I was unemployed at the time I found a way to get too busy to pray that morning. For me, skipping prayer and Bible meditation is like asking for trouble. I need that time to center myself on God and to prepare myself mentally and spiritually for the day.
After dropping my daughter off at school I went to the gym for my daily workout (which was the only thing keeping me sane during my prolonged job search). Without my morning prayers the gym was converted to a “target rich” environment: Yoga pants and tank tops were everywhere. Instead of ‘bouncing’ my eyes, I let them linger. Instead of ignoring the triggers I was double-checking to confirm they were a trigger. I didn’t want to surrender my right to lust or pray for the triggers because I was ‘enjoying myself’ too much. And I couldn’t flee the situation because I was working out! I had a right to be at the gym (Note: When you catch yourself thinking about your rights in a recovery situation you are using ‘entitlement thinking’…this is bad. Don’t do it.)
I was doing just about everything wrong…until I got home and realized what a fantastic mess I had made of myself. I couldn’t stop fantasizing about the women at the gym. I was being pulled strongly toward the computer and the urge to act out. I was feeling scared, alone, angry and resentful. So I finally did something right: I called my mentor. My feelings erupted in a panicked flurry of words, to which my mentor calmly responded: “When’s the last time you reviewed the 8 Steps?”
Even after a year of sobriety it is hard for me to remember all 8 Steps, and that’s on a good day. On a bad day, in the grip of the Addiction Cycle, it’s virtually impossible. That’s why I need Question 6: To remind me to review my Steps.
Today’s Challenge: If you haven’t already done so, read through my posts on the 8 Steps. Write the Steps down in sequential order on a 3×5 card and carry the card with you. The next time you feel yourself slipping into the Addiction Cycle, remember to ask yourself: “Have I reviewed the 8 Steps today?”