It’s Grateful Heart Monday, where I begin my week writing about an important piece of gratitude in my life to start things off on a positive note, which for today is for how I recently handled something that could have triggered me straight back into the worst addiction I ever succumbed to.
Everyone knows how easy it is to come across explicit images on the Internet these days. It doesn’t take much to mistype the URL of a website you might normally go, one that’s definitely far from anything X-rated, when suddenly pornographic images start popping up all over your screen. To make matters worse, places like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and even Reddit seem to be allowing content these days that is NC-17 or worse. For a guy like me, someone who’s recovering from a sex and love addiction for a number of years now, it’s almost as if I have to navigate a mine field on a daily basis just to do any research on the web for my writing. Thankfully, I’ve been able to steer pretty clear from it all, because I’m no longer out there specifically looking for it and any time those images happen to pop up on my screen accidentally due to a mistype, I’m strong enough now to quickly close the window.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any other temptations that come my way, as one actually did a few weeks back that I never saw coming. I was having a discussion through Facebook Messenger with a friend who’s partnered that I thought was in a monogamous relationship. Quite abruptly, in the midst of a very healthy conversation, I received a picture of him with his pants down far enough to see very noticeable and rather excited genitalia showing. I was appalled and shocked to say the least, chiefly because the person is someone I was just getting to know and also someone that although I found attractive, I had been keeping very healthy recovery boundaries in place. Nevertheless, I quickly deleted the picture and was about to respond irately, when I received an apology and was told the picture had been meant for someone else he was talking to. Regrettably, the trigger was still out there and gnawing at me to engage, where my old self would have asked to see more and probably ended up in a cyber sexual conversation. But, the strength of my program and connection to my Higher Power was strong enough to accept his apology and end the conversation shortly thereafter. Later, I’d make a few phone calls to friends in recovery from this addiction to help remove any lingering unhealthy thoughts surrounding this. Ironically, a number of those I called wondered if maybe that X-rated picture wasn’t an accident and was more of a come-on.
Regardless, things like this can happen in recovery for any addiction and may set a person down a very dark road all over again if they don’t have a strong spiritual program in place. I’m grateful that I did and my sobriety and recovery is still intact. I truly feel God helped me through an incident I’m not sure I would have been able to remain sober earlier on in my sobriety from this addiction. This is why my recovery from sex and love addiction is so extremely important to me, given how much it used to control my very existence. In the end, I have much gratitude to God and all the 12 Step programs for this addiction that have helped me to build my recovery up as much as they have for me to continue remaining clean and sober, even when such a triggering event came my way.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson