Audiobook News: The Ripple Effects of Life After Lust

AudiobookNews

I recently received my first report outlining how many copies of the Life After Lust audiobook were purchased. I am grateful to announce that there are currently a total of 199 copies of the audiobook circulating in the US, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Denmark, the UK, Ireland, & Japan! I am delighted that the message of recovery is reaching across the globe! As I dream up future recovery resources to reach the world, I am grateful that this audiobook continues to make a difference in online stores, libraries, and beyond.

If you contributed to the audiobook Kickstarter, you made this possible! I am forever grateful for you.

In Gratitude,

Forest

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

 

 

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Warrior

_Often the wounded make the mightiest warriors._

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

My Magic Formula

MY Magic formula

A friend of mine recently questioned how everything keeps working out for me, asking what my secret was, as if there was some magical formula. The more I thought about it, I realized in some funny way there is a formula I am living out right now.

In the past, my magic formula was Say Yes to Everything + Try to Impress Everyone = Burnout & Resentment.

Today’s formula is more like Do What I Love + Work on Myself + Be Visible + Believe in Something Bigger + Be Consistent + Surround Myself With the Right People + Relentless Optimism + Synchronicity + Waiting = The Next Right Invitation (SO SIMPLE, RIGHT?!)

Right now, this is working out in mind-blowing ways and I can’t help but laugh! Really, it is quite unbelievable how this is all playing out. I have not been pounding the pavement looking for places to speak and teach and publish like I have in the past. I’ve just practiced the above formula and really cool things are happening. Here’s a sample of some of the upcoming opportunities on the table:

  • October – Finishing a chapter for a major contribution to my field (I’ll tell you more when I’m allowed to – wait, I should be writing now!)
  • November 9-10 – Co-facilitating a Phase 1 recovery Intensive in Sacramento
  • November 14 – Being interviewed by Clay Olsen for Fortify (join us!)
  • November/December – Possible webinar with a big online Christian sex addiction event
  • February – Speaking at the Life After Lust Retreat in Northern California
  • March – Webinar with the Center for Healthy Sex

After that….we’ll just have to wait and see!

I share these things not only to invite you to participate in them but also to invite you into your own purposeful path. Is there anything more meaningful than living the life we were designed to live? The more freedom we experience, the more perspective we gain and the more we can live out our purpose.

Based on your life experience, what is your magic formula? What are the keys to a meaningful life?

Ok, that’s all for now…I need to get back to my other writing. Thanks for reading!

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

Finish Strong

Finish Strong FemaleFinish Strong

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

The Greatest Hits of Life After Lust: Top 10 Most Popular Passages

LAL Top 10

When you write a book, you never know what’s going to resonate most deeply with readers. I certainly didn’t know. But I recently learned what passages were most highlighted in my ebook and now I know. The results are somewhat surprising and certainly fascinating. I’d love to share them with you.

After compiling the top 10 passages from Life After Lust, it is astonishing that 7 out of the 10 were from the same place – Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust! (Ironically, I had a recent dream about Chapter 4). This was clearly people’s favorite chapter. This discovery delighted me because I wrote that chapter specifically for this book, knowing there was a need for a clear definition of lust.

Two of the 10 most popular passages were from Chapter 3: Don’t Be a Victim to Sexual Addiction. This is meaningful to me because I took an article I published through XXXChurch, based on thousands of dollars of personal growth classes and experience, and very thoughtfully, with the guidance of others, crafted it into what it is today. Personally, I believe this is the most powerful chapter, with the most life-changing implications.

One more thing…I thought it would be fun to create quote pictures to represent these popular passages. These will be posted here, in my newsletter, on my Facebook page, and on Twitter. Will you please share them on those platforms, Pinterest, Instagram, etc to help spread the hopeful message of Life After Lust? Also, I would love to hear what your favorite quotes were from the book. It would make my day if you shared those with me.

Without further ado, here are the greatest hits of Life After Lust (in reverse order, to heighten anticipation), based on reader’s highlights. I hope you have as much fun reading these as I did creating them.

#10 with 14 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

10 Popular LAL Quote

#9 with 22 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

9 Popular LAL Quote

#8 with 24 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

8 Popular LAL Quote

#7 with 30 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

7 Popular LAL Quote

#6 with 35 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

6 Popular LAL Quote

#5 with 41 highlights from Chapter 3: Don’t Be a Victim to Sexual Addiction

5 Popular LAL Quote

#4 with 43 highlights from the Introduction

4 Popular LAL Quote

#3 with 44 highlights from Chapter 3: Don’t Be a Victim to Sexual Addiction

3 Popular Quote

#2 with 46 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

2 Popular LAL Quote

Drum roll…..

And #1, with 54 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

1 Popular LAL Quote

May these reminders strengthen your resolve to let go of the lie of lust and grab hold of a life of love.

If this post inspired you, please share it with someone you know.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Joe Saavedra & The Evil Genius

Evil Genius Quote

As a teacher, this is a proud moment for me. One of my SATP students is wasting no time at making waves in the world. Joe Saavedra, LMFT, SATP (student) just landed a writing gig on Rob Weiss’ Sex & Relationship Healing blog! You may know that Rob Weiss is one of the most prominent leaders in the sex addiction treatment field (I will forever be gratefully shocked that he endorsed Life After Lust). So, I am incredibly proud of Joe for playing big with his life and using his expertise and recovery story to impact others.

If that wasn’t enough, you know what Joe went ahead and did in his newly published post called The Question of Identity? He quoted Life After Lust, introducing a character in my book called The Evil Genius. I feel deeply honored by Joe’s generosity in doing this and hope that this exposure will help more people experience healing.

I invite you to read Joe’s article, subscribe to Rob’s blog, and think about what place the Evil Genius has in your life and recovery.

Watch out world! Joe Saavedra is equipped, skilled, and more passionate than me about sexual addiction recovery. He is making an impact and, trust me, this is only the beginning.

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Female Sex, Love, & Relationship Addiction Training Program with Staci Sprout (Starting Soon)

Staci Pilot Program

Do you have a heart for helping female love, sex, and relationship addicts? If so, I have an unprecedented and amazing new training opportunity to share with you. Author and female sex addiction specialist Staci Sprout has created a female addiction training program for clinicians, coaches, and pastoral counselors. This is a much-needed resource! Only 20 people can participate in the pilot version of this program. Will you be one of them? I know I’ll be sharing this opportunity far and wide.

For more information, here is a message from Staci Sprout:

I want to invite you to join me in a new project I’m developing, an online class to support therapists, coaches and pastoral counselors who are working with female sex and love addicts. To this end, I am offering a six week Zoom PILOT training program to clinicians, coaches, and pastoral counselors based on my experience working with women love, sex and relationship addicts in individual and group therapy since 2006 (and what I’ve learned from my own recovery journey and sponsoring women since 2001).

The course is called “Shadows of the Heart for Professionals: Best Practices in Individual Treatment of Women with Love, Sex and Relationship Addiction,” and you are most welcome to participate! You can find out more details and sign up HERE.

This inaugural pilot program will eventually form the basis for a more in-depth Shadows of the Heart for Professionals training program, including online education on Individual and Group Treatment, an Instructor’s Guide, and more. The larger course will be fine-tuned based on the experience and feedback of the pioneers who will be taking this PILOT training course with me. And all who complete the PILOT will get 1/2 off the final course on individual treatment, which will be 24 hours, learn-at-your-pace, plus much additional expanded content.

The PILOT price is $497 for 12 total hours ($41/hr), 2hrs/week for 6 weeks. If that is a hardship and you are interested, email me and we can talk about installment payments. I really want this to be accessible. 🙂

There are several spots still open; I am accepting up to 20 participants – I don’t want the class to be too large.

I hope this will be a great addition to what we’re all already doing – I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, great learning (for me too!), and getting to know each other better in service of helping women heal. Women, men and those with non-binary gender ID are encouraged to participate.

*Applications will be processed in the order they are received, with the exception of a priority of those currently in my consultation program, and inclusion of multi-disciplinary, ethnically diverse, and LGBTQI helping professionals. We need all the diverse perspectives we can get for female-informed care, so please let me know if this applies to you!

In gratitude,

Staci Sprout, LICSW, CSAT

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Re-Imagining Sex in Recovery: A Paradigm Shift is Possible

Re-Imagining Sex in recovery

Today I am thrilled to share with you two excellent resources related to sexual addiction recovery and sexual health. First, I want to share with you a chapter from Life After Lust called Connected Sex: A Paradigm Shift for the Sexually Addicted. This is the first time I have publicly shared this chapter in its entirely. I hope you find it mind-expanding and life-altering.

Second, skilled and knowledgeable specialist in sexual addiction treatment, Valerie Hamaker, has created a valuable online course series on healthy sexuality and  sexual addiction recovery. I highly recommend this series! It is a great resource for recovering individuals and couples, as well as professionals. I recently added her first two lessons on Healthy Sexuality to my Introduction to Sexual Addiction Treatment class in the SATP program. It is high-quality content that is well worth the investment. Will you help me spread the word about this excellent resource? (Click here to learn more).

May these resources help you experience deeper healing and increased sexual health.

Chapter 22

Connected Sex:
A Paradigm Shift for the Sexually Addicted

From Life After Lust, Copyright © 2017 by Forest Benedict

Skill to Master #21: Learning to emotionally connect with my partner

Skill to Master #22: Practicing a healthy, connected sexuality

It may go without saying but sex is a significant topic for recovering sex addicts. As a sex addiction therapist, I tell my clients that successful recovery necessitates a new view of sexuality. Rather than seeing sex as a numbing agent, instead, sex in recovery is a connecting agent. This transition in thinking and practice is difficult, since sex addicts inherently have a dysfunctional relationship with sex, rooted in an intimacy disorder.

A Sex Addict’s Sex Life

There are many ways in which a sex addict’s perception of sex is distorted and unhealthy. In her TEDx Talk on Sex and Intimacy, Dr. Sue Johnson superbly explained the dynamics of connected and disconnected sex. Her explanation of sealed off sex is characteristic of the sex addict’s experience because it lacks emotional intimacy, is solely sensation and performance focused, and leaves individuals feeling lonely. Sex addicts may also seek out solace sex, where the focus is on reassurance rather than sexual passion. The significance of both of these sex styles is that they are rooted in insecure attachment patterns, which are common among sex addicts. Dr. Linda Hatch similarly describes the sex life of sex addicts, writing:

Even when the sex addict is having sex with a partner or spouse, it is often the case that the addict is not “all there.” He or she may be lost in fantasy or just going through the motions. Many addicts feel they are having satisfying sex with their partners when in fact they are not really able to be present.

I often describe this dynamic to my clients as “using your partner to masturbate.” Sex for the sex addict is an experience of emotional disconnection. The sex addict sees sex as a drug and distraction, not a profound point of connection. The sex addict hijacks sexuality to get their self-focused high. This distorts the very purpose of the sexual experience.

Sex for the sex addict is lust-driven, not love-driven. Regardless of whether a sex addict objectifies a stranger or their partner, connection never results.

Another pattern that some sex addicts experience is called sexual anorexia, which occurs when a person avoids sex and emotional connection completely. Alexandra Katehakis explains that “where sex addicts ‘act out’ or ‘binge’ through promiscuity or high-risk behavior, sexual anorexics starve themselves by ‘acting in,’ denying themselves the pleasure of relationships, dating, loving touch, and genuine connection with others.” Sometimes, both acting out and acting in dynamics are at play, creating a sexual bulimic like cycle of sexual binging and purging.

As you can see, there are many potential scenarios that explain the sex addict’s misguided use of sex. Difficulties ensue when sex is used solely for coping, not connecting.

All About Intimacy

In their book The Couple’s Guide to Intimacy, Drs. Bill and Ginger Bercaw explain that “one of the greatest challenges facing couples in recovery is learning how to be emotionally and sexually intimate after the relationship has absorbed a direct hit.” A couple reeling from this type of relational trauma has a lot of hard work ahead.

As recovery progresses, sex addicts have the opportunity to see sex with new eyes. They can learn to appreciate a depth to sex they never knew before, experiencing what Katehakis describes as the “sensuality of connected closeness.” Connected sex, or synchrony sex, is a bonding experience that includes openness, play, and sexual passion. As connected sex becomes a new ideal, the addict will find that this transformation requires something quite unexpected: a foundation of emotional connection. This is the key to a quality sexual relationship.

The core of good sex is safety and connection, but these are two areas in which sex addicts experience extreme deficiencies. Most couples working toward fostering emotional intimacy will need extensive work with an attachment-based sex addiction therapist. Learning to deeply connect with their partner is an essential skill for sexual addicts in recovery.

This type of learning requires guidance, work, and a plethora of patience, but with the right help there is hope. Active recovery is necessary for any couple working toward increased connection. If the addict is engaging in their acting-out behaviors, the addiction becomes a competing attachment, hindering the couple’s closeness. Thus, sobriety is a starting line for the couple’s successful connection journey.

Often recovering sex addicts, whether in a relationship or single, abstain from masturbation as part of their sobriety. This makes more sense when sex is seen as a connecting experience rather than a solo act. When masturbation is lust-driven, compulsive, or sought out for emotional comfort, this behavior plays a key role in the addictive cycle. Still, there are varying views on the topic of masturbation in recovery, which is another reason why seeking guidance from a sex addiction therapist is recommended.

In early recovery, it is common for sex addiction therapists to prescribe a period of sexual celibacy from all expressions of sexuality, including with their partner. This orchestrated season of abstinence can have many benefits for the addict, partner, and couple, including taking the “sexual pressure off of the relationship so the couple can work on play and communication.” This period can offer a detox from unhealthy and unhelpful beliefs about sex, clearing the way for other forms of connection.

On the pathway to connected sexuality, there may be many detours. Sexual abuse, sexual dysfunction, medical issues, distrust, trauma, and other factors may complicate the couple’s sexual experience, requiring additional help from a sex therapist, doctor, or other professional. Patterns of sexual avoidance grounded in a partner’s lack of emotional safety or using sex as an attempt to control the addict’s behavior should be addressed with a sex addiction therapist.

The Powerful Potential of Connected Sex

When a sex addict learns to experience sex as the “potent bonding activity” it can be, this is a massive mental shift for them. Instead of using sex as a drug: to escape, numb, or avoid, sex can become a source of satisfaction. Healing from a shame-based sexuality will be part of the process. Learning how to leave lust and objectification out of the bedroom are additional aims of recovery.

The truth is, all connection work in recovery, whether emotional or sexual, will require the help of those who know the way. The Bercaws’ book is an excellent resource for couples impacted by sex addiction. I love the vision they cast of what a recovered sex life can look like:

You can know for perhaps the first time in your entire life what it feels like to embrace a passionate and fully satisfying sex life while retaining your integrity and while being more fully present.

Katehakis casts a similar vision of healthy sexuality, calling it “a profoundly new experience. It has the ring of innocence and simplicity, devoid of addictive adrenalized and dopaminergic intensity. For the first time, the psyche and body do not melt in disarray afterward. Healthy sex can make amends to the self and to the partner. When partners join in an open-hearted and present way, sex becomes a genuine act of love in the moment and leaves both parties feeling good afterward.”

Imagine that: A shame-free sexuality. A satisfying experience of secret-free sex based on love. This is what lust always promised but never delivered.

Dr. Mark Laaser tells a story of one recovering couple who experienced non-addictive sex for the first time. Their time together ended in a loving embrace and joyful tears. This is the prospect of connected sexuality.

As we grow in our willingness to challenge and change our distorted views of sex, we can learn to experience a more fulfilling, connected, and healthy sexuality. A paradigm shift is possible.

 

References:

Benedict, F. (2016, October 20). Connected Sex: A Paradigm Shift for the Sexually Addicted.

Bercaw, B., & Bercaw, G. (2010). The Couple’s Guide to Intimacy: How Sexual Reintegration Therapy Can Help Your Relationship Heal. California Center for Healing. 7, 11.

Hatch, L. (2012, February 15). Why is Sex Addiction Called an Intimacy Disorder? Retrieved from http://www.sexaddictionscounseling.com/why-is-sex-addiction-called- an-intimacy-disorder/

Johnson, S. (2015, July 28). The New Frontier of Sex & Intimacy. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiVijMLH2-k

Johnson, S. (2017). Three Kinds of Sex. Retrieved from http://www.drsuejohnson.com/attachment-sex/three-kinds-sex/#more-185

Katehakis, A. (2014, August 12). The Devastating Pain of ‘Sexual Anorexics’ Retrieved from https://www.psychologytodahttps://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex- lies-trauma/201408/the-devastating-pain-sexual-anorexics

Katehakis, A., & Schore, A. N. (2016). Sex addiction as affect dysregulation: a neurobiologically informed holistic treatment. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Laaser, M. R. (2004). Healing the wounds of sexual addiction. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 182.

Reid, R. C., & Woolley, S. R. (2006). Using Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples to Resolve Attachment Ruptures Created by Hypersexual Behavior. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 13(2-3), 219-239.

Sexaholics Anonymous. (1989-2002). Sexaholics Anonymous. SA Literature. 40-42. Elements Behavioral Health. (2013, November 15). Sexual Anorexia Within Sexual Addiction. Retrieved from http://www.hypersexualdisorders.com/sex-addiction/sexual- anorexia-within-sexual-addiction/

Weiss, R. (n.d.). Sex Addicts and “Sexual Sobriety”. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2012/08/sexual-sobriety/

Zapf, J. L., Greiner, J., & Carroll, J. (2008). Attachment Styles and Male Sex Addiction. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 15(2), 158-175.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!