The Brass Tacks of My Recovery *

What worked for me? In a word, 'dailies'. I'm not saying everyone's recipe is the same, I'm saying here is the recipe that led me to success in recovery.

I'd always been looking for a solution for about as much time as I'd been addicted to pornography (+- 10 years), and each domino had individually failed. Thus, it's a little hard to fully express the distress I felt just before accepting this plan of action, which was kind of like all the dominoes in a row.

I wish I could give you a walk through my mind, but I can't. So, because of that, If you're intending to scrutinize the "recipe" that worked for me, just know, you're only getting half the story. The other portion was my attitude, and motivation, and willingness to do all that was necessary to recover.

I should also preface this with another note, I had adopted a 'zero electronics' policy. Meaning, I had nothing with a screen capable of viewing pictures, much less an internet connection. I had no cell phone, not even a dumb phone (yes I found a way to relapse on a dumb phone), I had no cell phone. and this was 2011, there were smartphones back then lol. I bought a used landline phone and signed up for a VOIP account.

I was also consuming little to no "worldly"-type media like radio, television, movies, etc.  Music that I would listen to was very light, very acoustic-y if that. Oftentimes I would listen to just Mormon Tabernacle Choir or primary songs. For the most part, I was living the missionary handbook, just no companion (so its completely not the same lol ;). There was a crappy desktop computer to my name, which was kept at my parents' house (more on that later, for emailing my sponsor).

​​And there was a computer at work which I utilized, also more on that later. I was single, not dating anyone, and at the start I had no temple recommend. The following outline is going to sound very rigid and technical, and that's because that's the way I was seeing life at that time. I had to break everything around me down into black or white; "gray" just always proved to be the root cause of relapse in the past.

Every Morning - I observed this strictly (except Sunday was just a walk):

  • Arise 6:30 a.m., pray (sometimes postpone prayer until jogging time > 1 min., to resist falling back asleep),
  • Dress running clothes, grab cheapo MP3 player, get out the door FAST.
  • Run 3 - 5 miles (distance, not time, I had several pre-planned routes I knew from Google Maps which highlighted a number of miles. 3, 4, 5, etc., I chose a route based on what I felt like that morning, but I wasn't meandering as I ran, there was an exact route I already knew by heart).
  • While running, listen to shuffle playlist of MP3 tracks (all pre-loaded beforehand):
    • Favorite/inspiring conference talks (mostly from priesthood)
    • Favorite/Inspiring Mormon Tabernacle Choir pieces
    • Chapters/verses from Scriptures on tape.
  • Come back to my house, drink some water, get right to my desk
  • Pray
  • Read B.O.M. for 20 minutes. (as in, I had an egg timer, and I set it, and worked off of it).
  • Read A.A. the Big Book for 20 minutes.
  • Read Clean Hands, Pure Heart for 20 minutes.
  • Journal writing was part of each of these steps, utilizing the idea of 'capturing' in the appendix of Clean Hands, Pure Heart. Many studies went past 60 minutes, which was totally fine for me. They just couldn't be less than 60 minutes.
  • Shower (before hopping in the shower, I'd get on my knees in the bathroom and say a prayer asking for protection from temptation to masturbate)
  • Dress, eat breakfast, leave for work.
  • At work, I'd take 5 minutes before getting started, and I'd read one question from the manual and email my sponsor both the question and my response to it. I secured a sponsor (or support person) sixty days into my recovery.
  • At night, I'd email my sponsor again, including 3 things in the nightly email. How many days had I been sober from lust, pornography, and masturbation? What was I grateful for? These were very brief emails and it was instructed to me to email as close to the time I woke up, and as close to the time as I went to bed. Most of the point was just the practice of checking in, and so my sponsor could see what time I was getting up and going to bed. He made an exception for me, since I had no internet at my residence, So I'd email him as soon as I got the chance at work.
  • In bed by 10:30 p.m. Brush teeth starting at 10:15, pray and get in bed. That prayer began being more meaningful as I went through the steps, especially step 10.

Every Week:

  • 3 - 4 meetings per week. Including 2 lunch time (noon) meetings Mon, Friday; And a Wednesday night meeting, and a Saturday morning meeting.
  • Three-hour Church block. Served in a calling. For a while, it was just bless and pass the sacrament (which was foreign to me by that time in my life) or going with the elders quorum president Sunday afternoons and visiting people, he always had a long list to get through.
  • Weekly meeting with bishop, in his office each Sunday during/after church. He worked with me from week to week, giving my privileges back step by step, incredibly helpful. (i.e. take sacrament again after 2 weeks sober, then bless and pass sacrament, then limited-use temple recommend, etc.)
  • Weekly meeting with sponsor, we'd get together and read A.A., relating the word "alcoholic" to "addict" and other such substitutions.
  • Once a week volunteer service. (D.I. for the most part) This wasn't strictly a weekly activity. Sometimes every other week.
  • Weekly Wednesday morning study with my father, following the conclusion of my morning study.
  • Priesthood blessing from my father, many times on Sunday nights.
  • Visit to the temple. Until I was endowed, it was baptisms for the dead. And before that, it was a visit to the temple in a white shirt and tie in anticipation of going in.
  • Fasts as I desired to know the Book of Mormon was true. And for added spiritual strength. (not weekly, but at times more often than once a month)

Every Temptation:

  • Recognize a lustful thought
  • (P) Pray- Begin prayer immediately (If alone, pray out-loud/vocally. Continually pray asking for the temptation to be removed. Do this until it passes.)
  • (M) Move- In conjunction with prayer, if I have control over my exposure to the temptation, remove myself from that exposure. (i.e. I'm sitting at my desk at work, close browser, get up out of chair and walk away from desk, praying the whole time). (i.e. Standing in line at Walmart, immodest girl in front of me, Move eyes to the ceiling and begin praying in mind continually, looking like some kind of delusional person. "Lord, I surrender my lust to thee, I can't take it, I can't deal with it, please remove it from me") <--- Many people in addition to me have also testified that this works.
  • (S) Savior/Support/Service- depending on the severity of the wave of temptation, I believe the Lord wanted me to learn to turn outwardly. I would oftentimes reach out and text or call someone from a meeting after praying and moving and praying some more. I can remember being alone at my house with nothing scheduled, a temptation hit me very strongly and I felt to get out and walk around, as I continually prayed. I ended up walking to the DI and signing up for a volunteer shift. This proved to be the solution in that moment. I survived another wave where I thought relapse was imminent.

What was I learning about in all these studies? How to rely on God and not man for my strength. I was learning He had the power to deliver me, and that He could and would, so long as I stayed daily in fit spiritual condition, and continually submitted to His will. Did I want to go do service in that moment? No. I wanted to lay down and nap and watch pornography, and that's the point. Hence, following God's will, and not my own.

So that's it. To the best of my knowledge, that is the solution for me. It is a lot of stuff. That is a lot of time up there. This was a costly and inconvenient solution, and I had to make quite a few sacrifices. But it worked.

Dailies were and are my lifeblood. A complete lifestyle change is what was required of me. I always knew (through previous attempts to quit) that I had to match my cravings with real, positive, wholesome things, not just enduring an empty void in my life where pornography used to be from white knuckling it. I knew I had to stay busy. After a while, I came to the understanding and acceptance that this was my new lifestyle. Maybe I would never own a real phone again? I was okay with that. It proved to be so simplifying and cleansing, and therapeutic. I thought of myself as being in detox, and eventually, I preferred that lifestyle.

I should also mention that I had a "full time" sponsor for about 30 days.

If you doubt that I did any of these things you wouldn't be the first. :) But I know that's what I did, and I testify that I was not alone. If I had the surveillance tapes of my life, I'd be happy to furnish a copy for you. They say addicts finally become willing to abstain when the cost of the solution becomes cheaper than the cost of continuing with the problem, that's the way it was for me as well​. I ​also have a new respect for the idiom, "If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead."

* This post was contributed by Mike, a facilitator in the 12 step program.
   See Mike's other post: "Mike's Story"


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