Monthly Archives: September 2016
I used to think that people who went to see psychologists and attended therapy groups were the kind of people who had serious mental illnesses or other adjustment problems. I didn ́t consider myself to be one of those ́types`. It took me until I was thirty four years old before I realised that I needed therapy myself. I began by attending a weekly Journey support group and meeting with a therapist every other week.
The main reason I believed that I didn ́t need support was, I believed that all I needed was a “touch from God,” a miracle or some dramatic event that would cause me to turn away from unwanted and habitual behaviours. At that time, I did not understand that what God wanted was to bring about change in my life, but only as I would learn to trust other people. Learning to trust and depend on others was an important part of my healing journey.
I had grown-up in a strict religious community, where I developed quite rigid views about how healing would happen. I tended to think of spiritual disciplines like prayer, giving, fasting, Bible study and church activities as the way to receive healing. While these disciplines were good and helpful, they did not in themselves bring about the changes that I hoped for. I had underestimated the importance of things like:
- open and honest sharing with trusted people
- asking for help from those who knew more than I did
- being accountable to someone for my faults
- spending time, patiently working through specific problems
- learning emotional skills and developing relational competencies
These turned out to be essential constituents of my recovery and growth. Back then, I really thought that I was being open and honest with God in my prayers. I would tell the issues of my life to Him privately. I did not realise, then, that much of this, so called prayer, was private only because I was, actually too afraid to share my weaknesses with anyone else. I was ashamed of the fact that I couldn`t control my thoughts and actions at certain times, particularly with my emotions and sexuality. I thought that God was angry with me and that there was something wrong with me. Much of my thinking was distorted. Each time I prayed, I was in reality, only recycling old complaints about my addictive behaviours in His presence. I was not really conversing with God about it, I was simply moaning about it.
Perhaps the strongest reasons I had for avoiding therapists and support groups were that I thought that I could handle my problems myself; I didn ́t need other people ́s help; my problems were not so severe and that I would eventually overcome them.
I was a pastor of a newly established church and I was just too proud to admit that I was at the same time struggling with habitual patterns of pornography use and other habitual behaviours. I would much rather that people think of me as the spiritual guy. The kind, compassionate and gifted one. Not as someone with a pornography addiction who needed therapy. I was genuinely ashamed of myself and the double-life that I lived. On the one hand I enjoyed those hidden sexual activities, but on the other hand, I really did not want anyone to know about it. I simply lived as though the problem did not exist.
For me denial was about keeping things hidden and secret. I learned that growth, change and healing begins when we disclose our secrets to trustworthy people and we come out from our denial.
- not just sorry saying sorry for one´s own sins but it is being sorry for the damage and the hurt that we have caused others
- not something that can be forced. It is about voluntarily disclosing weaknesses and vulnerabilities to trusted and supportive people.
- not about being punished for wrong-doing it is about getting the perspective of your consultants who “been there before”.
For those of us that have been working on our healing and growth for sometime, there comes a point when we begin to take responsibility for our own actions. Sooner or later we come to realise that there really is no excuse for our choices and our behaviour. It can be very difficult to be honest with oneself and even harder to be honest with others. Staying in denial and blaming others seems much easier, except for the fact that it almost certainly guarantees that our old destructive behaviour patterns will continue unabated.
When we begin to accept responsibility for our behaviours and their consequences, we start to get a glimmer of what healing is really all about.
- Denial creates anxiety and depression. Honesty and accountability brings to peace and freedom.
When we are living in denial, we say that we did not hurt anybody; accountability is facing the fact that we actually did hurt others.
For example if we act out with compulsive masturbation, we might not recognise any damage to others. Yet we may have:
- been sexually unavailable to our partners.
- neglected to spend quality time with our kids, preferring the television or computer.
- spent much of our work time in fantasy and obsession when we should have been concentrating on our work.
As you can see the impact and the damage is very real
We recommend that each person look for consultants to whom you can become accountable. There are many possibilities. They can be supervisors, pastors, partners, local co-ordinator, counsellors or more experienced EV friends. The journey towards growth and healing requires honesty and openness. You will need consultants along the way.
I encourage you to build your support network and learn to become accountable. It´s fruit is peace and freedom.