Dear friends, my name is Jeff and I am a recovering sex addict. After working through Steps 4 and 5 I was feeling pretty good about myself. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could now move forward. Looking back, I had some residual pride that I could now keep going in recovery myself and that there wasn’t a lot more to fix. I had the idea in my head that I was a pretty good guy that tried to do the right thing most of the time and if I could just fix the addiction problem, then everything else would be good. I was wrong! At this point in recovery, I had learned that some addicts felt free from their addictions – I did not. While the temptations came less often and they were less intense, I still felt temptations daily either through returning thoughts and images or from seeing advertising and immodesty around me as I went about daily life. Also, I became aware that I had more character weaknesses than just my addiction to pornography. I struggle with eating, my temper, sarcasm, justification, pride – and the list goes on. In addition, my relationship with Susan was improving very slowly and not at the pace that I had hoped and selfishly I thought it should. There were still dramatic ups and downs which added to my stress level. I felt overwhelmed and several times was ready to give up. It was all I could do just to keep going through my daily routing and going to a recovery meeting – and be annoyed that I had to still be there because I wanted the immediate healing so I could get on with my life. A friend helped me recognize that I was sliding backwards and on a path to relapse. I remembered the good feelings I had at the end of step 5 and was resolved that no matter what happened with my marriage, I wanted to stay clean for me and not be pulled back to my addition. So I kept trying.
Step 6 in the Addiction Recovery Program is Change of Heart with the key principle to “Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.” I wanted to stay in recovery for me and that required that I trust my Savior and to do things His way. My prayers took on a new focus in turning my will and my life over to the Savior again. I asked for help to recognize which character weakness he wanted me to work on each day. This is a slow and continuous process for me and one that was hard for me to define success. With my addiction, I have a clear definition of relapse and a defined consequence and recovery plan. Defining success and failure helps motivate me and allows me to see my progress. I was not able to do this with my character weakness and I found it much more challenging to feel successful. For example, I would work on not responding with anger but I seemed to quickly fall back into old habits. I had to learn that this was a process of improving and not an immediate change. When I took small, daily measures of success on a specific character weakness I began to see progress. I began to see that this is the process the Savior has in mind for me. I began to see the tender mercies of the Lord helping me remember the character weakness I was working on during the day and feeling the spirit as I quickly repented with each failure. I began to trust that this was a process I would continue to do for a lifetime – and enjoy the process of becoming more like my Savior.
President Marion G. Romney taught that “In one who is really wholly converted, the desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died. And substituted therefore is a love of God, with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments.” Initially, I felt like I must not be wholly converted to the gospel because I was experiencing temptations every day. I still do. What I learned to see is that my desire each day is to do the Lord’s will and to obey every commandment. I live in a fallen world and am a natural man and will have opposition and experience temptations every day. But this does not mean I am a failure or that I am not converted. My faith in my Savior and conversion to His gospel helps me recognize temptations faster and to deal with them appropriately rather than linger on them until they turn into carnal desires. My desire is to do the Lord’s will and dismiss temptation as quickly as possible. As I continue to work through this process and repent daily, I find that I have the companionship of the Holy Ghost more consistently and can receive daily confirmation that I am clean and forgiven. Repeating this process has brought peace and the spirit back into my life and gives me the encouragement I need to keep trying again each day and commit to another 24 hours of sobriety.