Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Small Successes

Ever since I started writing again, I think I've been a little too worried about what I was saying, or how I was saying it because I knew that more people (meaning more than 0 people) were going to be reading it. When I started, it was kind of just a place for me to throw my thoughts out to the interwebs and I just hoped they'd find and help someone. Now I think too much about it, and honestly, it keeps me from writing a lot.

So I'm done with thinking too much. I'm done thinking about people who will be reading it. I am just going to write as if nobody's looking, and throw it to literally everybody, and the same time, to absolutely nobody. This is the joy of the internet. If it happens to find someone and it helps them. Great. If not, who cares. At least I'm writing and it's helping me and it's making me happy. Is that selfish? Probably. But I don't care.

So I just wanted to share with everybody/nobody that I had a small success this week. And I'm kind of proud of myself. I feel like lately I've been having anxiety about a lot of things. At least I think it is anxiety. Maybe it's not, but it's what I assume anxiety feels like.. Anyway, I think I sometimes will feel anxious in a moment, but right now there are a lot of things, all at the same time, that are causing a lot of anxious feelings. My chest gets really tight, my mind is consumed with irrational thoughts, it disables me, and I just can't shake it. It can be quite debilitating and I have a really tough time doing whatever it is I need to be doing. It's been bad lately.

Here's where the small success comes in. When I've felt like this in the past, it typically is a trigger for me. And sure enough, these feelings were again a trigger for me. But even though this was more anxiety than I've felt in a long time, maybe ever, this time I was able to navigate my way through it! It wasn't easy, but I'm so happy about what I've learned!

It started with recognizing what was going on. I first recognized that I was feeling quite anxious. Then when the urge to find pornography came, I stopped myself and asked why I was having this urge. I realized it was because I was feeling anxious, and I wanted to just disconnect from my life. I wanted to escape. Recognizing why I was being tempted helped me see a bigger picture. I needed to let myself experience all of these feelings, and find my way through them, rather than just push them out as quickly as I could. I let myself feel the anxiety. I let myself feel the temptation to view pornography. I let myself think about why. And I figured it out.

I didn't try to suppress my temptation, rather I put my focus and energy in trying to get over the debilitating anxiety. I worked on thinking rationally, and taking control of the situation, even though I just wanted to run and hide. I was able to act, and eventually I realized it wasn't all that bad, and my whole world wasn't going to fall apart.

I've been thinking about the Atonement lately, and about the strength that it gives me. I know I don't recognize it enough, or give it the credit it deserves, or really even understand it at all. But I know that it is what got me through this one. It gave me the strength to not only avoid a slip up, but also to overcome these anxious feelings. Anyway, that's my story for tonight. Thanks for listening. :)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Opposite of Addiction is Connection

I found this Ted Talk, and I had to write about it. It's called "Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong". I have lots of thoughts on it, and I'd love to hear what other people think as well. If you don't want to watch it, I'll give you some of the highlights. But there's a lot more. So you should watch it.

Johann Hari discusses how rats that are isolated in a cage with nothing to do, prefer water laced with heroin over pure water. These rats will use the heroin until they eventually overdose and it kills them. However, rats in a cage set up like a "rat park" where they have fun things to do and other rats to socialize with, prefer the pure water over the heroin laced water.

Johann raises some questions about this phenomenon. "What if addiction isn't about your chemical hooks? What if addiction is about your "cage"? What if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?

"Maybe we should call it bonding. When we're happy and healthy we bond and connect with each other. But if you can't do that because you're traumatized, or isolated, or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief. Now that might be gambling. That might be pornography. That might be cocaine. That might be cannabis. But you will bond and connect with something. Because that's our nature. That's what we want as human beings."

As I listened to this, I reflected on when I first got involved with pornography. I was at a point where I felt more alone than I ever had before. I was miserable in my "cage". I could see no good in my environment. I was like the lone rat, I felt completely alone and had nothing to do. So I found something to bond with, and that something was pornography. Throughout the years that followed, I have definitely used pornography as an escape from life. As Johann puts it, "A core part of addiction...is about not being able to bear to be present if your life." It became my go-to coping mechanism. So when I needed an escape from the guilt and shame of using pornography to cope, where did I turn? Yep. Usually I turned to more pornography. It is a viscous cycle.

Later, Johann talks about recovery and how it is best accomplished when real connections with real people are made. He says that he tries to "say to the addicts in my life that I want to deepen the connection with them. I love you whether you are using or not. I love you whatever state you're in. And if you need me, I'll come and sit with you because I love you. And I don't want you to be alone, or to feel alone."

I guess Johann's words are exactly what I want to tell other women who struggle with pornography. I love you. I love you whether or not you are "using" pornography. I know what it's like, and if you need me, I'll come sit with you. Because I get it. And I don't want you to be alone, or feel alone. And believe that if you can feel that, you will can also begin to understand that God loves you even more than I do.

"The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection." If you haven't made a connection with someone, if you feel totally alone, lean on me. Let's connect. I may need it just as much as you. And hopefully together we can strengthen our faith in Christ, and learn more of just how much he loves us.