Covenant Eyes Publishes “Called to Rise” (A Chapter from Life After Lust)

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Today Covenant Eyes published one of my favorite chapters from Life After Lust – Called to Rise. This is my first publication with Covenant Eyes and it is SUCH an honor. I have appreciated Covenant Eyes for years, using and promoting their porn-protecting products.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect….or ironic.

PERFECT because I just finished my free book promotion which added many new 5 star reviews to the Amazon book listing.

IRONIC because I just started my hiatus from Facebook so I’ll be relying on others to share this within their networks (my blog does auto-post to Facebook).

When I read my chapter in the Covenant Eyes blog this morning, it brought me to tears. This is a powerful chapter, challenging and inviting readers to rise up and live out life after lust. I hope and pray that many will be impacted and the ripple effects will be eternal.

TO READ “CALLED TO RISE: OVERCOMING SEXUAL ADDICTION” CLICK HERE

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, subscribe to my Youtube channel, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Free Father’s Day Promotion – Life After Lust (Kindle)

life after lust free father's day promotionJune 14-18

Help me get Life After Lust into the hands of all father’s (and mothers)…for details on this exciting promotion check out my recent VLOG.

WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING ABOUT LIFE AFTER LUST:

“Life After Lust is an honest and helpful read for those trapped in the fear and pain of pornography addiction. This book challenges men and women to take responsibility for their behavior, providing practical tools and next steps on their healing journey.” 
CRAIG GROSS, Founder of XXXchurch.com

“Life After Lust is an excellent resource for those wanting freedom from pornography addiction. This book also prepares men and women to fight for love in their personal relationships while working to change the world we live in.” 
CLAY OLSEN, CEO and Co-Founder of Fight the New Drug

“Forest Benedict is a skilled writer whose lyrical phrases delight and uplift this intense topic. Addiction-savvy and trauma-informed, Benedict never lets up on his fierce, loving message: Yes, you can do this! You will have to work hard to beat sex addiction, but I’ve done it, it’s worth it, and I’m right here with you! Life After Lust is a must-read for any man, woman or loving family member who needs unrelenting optimism and cutting-edge strategies that really work on the road to healthy sexuality.”

STACI SPROUT, LICSW, CSAT, author of Naked in Public: A Memoir of Recovery From Sex Addiction and Other Temporary Insanities

“Forest Benedict’s Life After Lust is a personalized and important contribution to the field of sexual health. He shares his personal story of recovery from porn addiction in a way that both educates and motivates the reader.” 
ROBERT WEISS, LCSW, CSAT-S, Intimacy Disorder Specialist, Author of Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship-Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating 
One man who heard me on a recent podcast shared that he has never had anything speak to him so clearly and so deeply as my book. It is an honor knowing that Life After Lust is impacting people and helping them heal.

Will you help me get the word out about this free promotion? May Life After Lust continue being a catalyst of change in the lives of many.

Gratefully,
Forest

Permission to Rest – Life After Lust VLOG

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In my newest VLOG episode I shared some insights about the importance of resting well. This is a significant challenge for me and I know I am not alone. Those of us in recovery are especially vulnerable to choosing to numb-out when non-addictive relaxation is what we really need. If you also struggle in this area, I invite you to check out the video and consider how you can increase rest and decrease numbing-out behaviors. I believe this is the path to much-needed physical, spiritual, and mental renewal. Resting effectively is an essential recovery skill.

Click HERE for Permission to Rest VLOG Episode 

If you found this video helpful, I invite you to check out my other videos and SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube channel. Thanks!

PS: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the mothers out there!

Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Forest Benedict on the Upcoming Carol the Coach Sex Addiction Radio Show

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I have the privilege of being interviewed in the upcoming Sexual Addiction: Strength, Hope, Recovery with Carol the Coach radio show, talking about my recovery and my new book Life After Lust! Click this link to listen on Monday at 6pm PST. I’ve been on this show in the past and it will be great to visit with Carol again. Please share this free listening opportunity with others.

Gratefully,
Forest
Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Celebrating 13 Years Free From Porn Addiction (With 2 Gifts For You)

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Today I celebrate 13 years free from pornography addiction. It is been a amazing journey and I am so grateful for it. For this reason, I am excited to share two gifts for those seeking long-term recovery.

First, my story. My Path Out of Porn Addiction: A Therapist’s Journey is the first chapter of my new book Life After Lust. May my story give you a renewed vision for recovery as you pursue your path from pain to purpose.

Second, I have temporarily dropped the cost of my Kindle book. If you are inspired by my story, I invite you to grab your copy of this inspirational and practical book, endorsed by many leaders in the sex addiction recovery field.

Here’s my story…

 Chapter 1: My Path Our of Porn Addiction: A Therapist’s Journey*

Essential Mindset #1: Recovery from sexual addiction is difficult, possible, and worth the effort.

Essential Mindset #2: Past pain that made me vulnerable to addiction must be addressed for healing to occur.

I came into the world surrounded by love. Kind to animals and humans alike, I was a caring, imaginative, and gentle child.

Living with my loving parents and sister, none could’ve predicted the pain that was to come. Much of my oncoming anguish would arrive through interactions with my alcoholic, bipolar father. At times he was creative, affectionate, and fun. Other times he inflicted psychological and religious abuse. There were seasons of both attention and absence. I felt abandoned.

Through the years, our relationship was turbulent. I longed for my father and fought for his attention. Looking back, I see he never gave me what he had never received — a secure, connected, and healthy relationship. I was primed to seek comfort outside of connection. I was a victim who was vulnerable to the allurement of addiction.

Sexual curiosity came at a young age, as did sexual self-soothing. Then, at age 12, an unexpected exposure to pornography at a friend’s house changed the course of my young life. The image I viewed that night is forever burned in my brain.

I was a shy yet ambitious adolescent, excelling in school, service, and scouting. My newfound interest in pornography first developed into a habit, growing gradually into a self-destructive force that bound me with secrecy and shame. I mastered sneakiness. Like any addict, I was skilled at finding my drug and covering my tracks. Some of my sexual excursions were at the expense of others. Those memories are laden with lasting shame.

In my late teen years, my addiction escalated, paralleling increased internal pain. I didn’t know it then but those were traumatizing times for me. After acquiring an undeserved inheritance from his deceased parents, my dad’s deepest downfall began. He was hostile, manipulative, and suicidal. Eventually he lost it all and I sought to save him from the horrors of homelessness.

At times my dad would just disappear. I found myself overcome with fear, scouring the streets until I found him dazed with drunkenness. Our deepest connections came on those long drives to Detox. I believed he would die if I didn’t save him. In the end, I never did. He was devoured by the dangers of the streets; a victim of violence, he would never be the same.

The advent of the internet opened Pandora’s Box for all porn addicts. I was no exception. I shared my struggles with my closest friends yet could not shake my shameful double life. When I finally told my mom about a dominating addiction that required professional treatment, she was shocked. I was 24 years old.

March 16, 2004 was the night of my last hurrah, my final fling with pornography and masturbation. The next day, I drove out of town for four days of intensive sexual addiction treatment at an Every Man’s Battle workshop. While I attended, I sought spiritual strength. I read John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart, cementing my fighting commitment. When I left, I was equipped with tools and a tenacious attitude. I took responsibility for my healing. I steadfastly applied what I learned. I trained my eyes to evade lust. I began using boundaries to minimize triggers. Faithfully attending my recovery group, I learned the art of accountability calls.

I started practicing healthy habits and attending personal therapy. My therapist focused on my father-related pain more than my porn use. Confused at the time, I later realized why I needed this. Together, we courageously walked into my wounds. Deep healing required attending to the driving force of my addiction, the hurts in my heart. Without going back, I could not go forward.

Though it was one of the toughest tasks of my life, I took the risk of trusting God and others. This marked a new path in my recovery journey.

Opportunities to help others opened up. Deciding to make a career and calling out of sexual addiction work, I moved to Fresno, California, where I earned my Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. My senior paper was entitled Protecting Children from the Path of Pornography. After graduation, I became certified as a Sexual Addiction Treatment Provider (SATP) and went on to work with a local LifeSTAR outpatient treatment program. Once licensed, I became the program’s Clinical Director.

There I have the opportunity to help sexual addicts, their partners, and young people as they recover from sexual addiction and its detrimental effects. I now train therapists to do sexual addiction treatment through the SATP program from which I graduated. I aim to be a voice for those silently struggling, yet too ashamed to speak up. Sometimes this means talking to parents about the threats of the internet and teaching teens about the pains of porn addiction. I have grown through these experiences and I am grateful. This is all part of my purposeful path.

In recovery, I realize that the love I sought through lust was always around me. I enjoy deepening connections with God, family, and friends. I have a caring and beautiful bride of 11 years. I get to re-define the meaning of fatherhood, giving to my boys that which I never received. I’m growing to trust a Divine Daddy so different from my own. I’m increasing in affection for my pained self inside. The long line of generational addiction in my family of origin can end with me. Learning to love and be loved is the challenge of my lifetime.

My story has come full circle. I have not indulged in pornography or masturbation in over 12 years, since that fateful March evening. More importantly, I have experienced deeper healing. While this may sound like a flawless recovery, I assure you it is far from that. I have fought and failed in many ways. I still wrestle with resentment. When feeling weakened, visual lust remains my Achilles heel. Still, I do not excuse myself from this fervent fight.

Sometimes I seek out “lesser evils,” soothing myself with sugar, drowning myself in distraction, working harder to win a sense of worth, and seeking attention over connection. I am aware of the ways I am vulnerable to addiction. I remain an adult child of an alcoholic, with wounds that demand both my time and attention. To maintain momentum, I must work my recovery. I continue to pursue healing for past pain, a shame-based identity, and a victim mentality. I remain accountable to many. I contend to care for myself. I, like all humans, am a person in progress. As it was in the beginning, so it remains; recovery is a one-day-at-a-time process.

Stepping into the Stigma

Sexual addicts are socially stigmatized. It seems that “those people” are labeled as lower down the ladder than other types of addicts. This judgment of how we’ve coped with our pain only shames us into silence and deeper isolation.

For this generation to stand a chance, we must begin bold conversations about this uncomfortable topic. I hope someday the stigma is silenced and that hooked and hurting individuals from all walks of life will feel safe enough to come forward, giving their wounds the attention that’s warranted.

Leading with vulnerability, I willingly, publicly, step into the stigma. My desire is that those who read this will experience boosted belief in the hope of healing.

Reaching For You

I was once addicted to pornography. It does not define me but it does remind me. When I look at my life, my family, my friends, and my work, I’m amazed at where recovery has led me. The gifts are worth the grief. This has been the most difficult yet most rewarding path of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

With the help of others, I have climbed up the steep path and out of the valley. I will continue extending my hand down to anyone brave enough to grab hold of it. I will continue using my life lessons, the science I’ve studied, and the strategies that have strengthened others to help anyone ready to rise up.

Will you have the boldness to believe in the hope of recovery?

Will you reach out and take this recovering rebel’s hand?

When you do, your life will never be the same. Nobody can predict what adventures lie ahead for you. I can only imagine the depth of meaning and connection waiting on your personal horizon. Such is the steep path out of sexual addiction:

Frightening.

Exhilarating.

Possible.

I can attest with certainty that the view from the top is astounding, satisfying beyond words, and worth every grueling step.

***Click here to sign up for the Life After Lust Newsletter for future resources and announcements.

*** Click here to get your copy of Life After Lust, joining me on the path from pain to purpose.

*** Click here to enter to win a copy of Life After Lust (Winners’ names may be made public)

*** Click here for additional resources and information about Life After Lust

Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

*Benedict, F. (2015). My path out of porn addiction: a therapist’s journey. Retrieved from https://lifestarcentralvalley.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/my-path-out-of-porn-addiction-a-therapists-journey/

*Benedict, F. (2015). My path out of porn addiction: a therapist’s journey. Retrieved from http://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article20947515.html

Please Vote for Your Favorite Book Cover (Forest Benedict’s Upcoming Book)

 

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I am excited to share some possible covers for my upcoming book “Life After Lust”! Would you please take a minute to browse through the 5 images below and comment on which one is your favorite and what you like about it?

Also,  which cover (or combination of covers) would be the best fit for my intended audience –  male and female sex & pornography addicts of all (or no) religious backgrounds?

Also, please let me know if you prefer the subtitle on these covers or this one: “Stories & Strategies for Sex & Porn Addiction Recovery”.

The more people who vote, the better, so please share this post with others.

Thank you for your feedback and for sharing this exciting news!

For updates on my book release, I invite you to follow me on this blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Gratefully,

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

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What’s Your Recovery Anthem? Here’s Mine

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What’s your recovery anthem? You know, “your” song that inspires you to rise higher and fight harder?

recovery anthem is highly personal. The song that speaks to you may not speak to me. Some songs stir us more deeply than others, based on our beliefs and backgrounds. Oftentimes, our anthem finds us when we are most desperate for reassurance and strength.

For me, a song worthy to be hailed as a “recovery anthem” must be one that courses through my veins, stirs up emotion, calls me to action, increases my passion, and raises my intention to both battle and heal. I have created playlists of such songs in the past.

Yesterday, I found my newest recovery anthem. How did I know this was MY song? One hint was that it repeatedly brought me to tears. It also gave me a wider perspective and increased the intensity of my commitment.

I would like to share my anthem with you. Maybe it will profoundly speak to you. Maybe not. Regardless, my hope is that it will inspire you to find your own recovery anthem.

My Recovery Anthem

My new recovery anthem is Switchfoot’s recent song “If the House Burns Down Tonight.” The lyrics resonate deeply with me, as I think about the prospect of fighting for love and letting everything else burn away. In it, Jon Foreman writes:

“Ashes from the flames
The truth is what remains
The truth is what you save
From the fire
And you fight for what you love
Don’t matter if it hurts
You find out what it’s worth
And you let the rest burn”

To me, this means passionately pursuing  my relationship with my Divine Abba. This means deepening my loyal love for my bride. This means daily communicating my affection to my kids. This means prioritizing the love of my family and friends. This means holding onto love while letting all of the distractions, addictions, and meaningless attempts to impress anyone or prove anything burn away [TWEET THIS]. This means loving like that and letting others love me in the same way.

In real recovery we find the commitment and courage to fiercely hold onto those things we value the most, abandoning everything that competes for life’s most precious virtue -love.

I invite you to invest a few minutes in listening to the above song. Imagine the love you want to pursue and what you’re willing to give up to get it.

Find Your Anthem

Then, start looking for your personal recovery anthem. Our recovery anthem sparks strength in us when we feel depleted and ignites hope within when we feel defeated [TWEET THIS]. We can listen to them daily and in times of urgent need.

The recovery anthem is a powerful tool for those seeking recovery from anything.

What’s your recovery anthem? I would love to hear it.

(Please comment below with the title of your recovery anthem and share this post with others)

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C originally posted here

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK!

Giving Us All Permission to Rest

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As a person in recovery, I find it very hard to give myself the rest and relaxation I need. What comes naturally for me is overcommitment and overachievement. I too often prioritize productivity over caring for myself responsibly. I know I am not alone in this. Flores writes that addicts “demonstrate an almost complete inability to relax and enjoy themselves” (Flores, 2004). Learning the lifestyle of effective self-care takes continuous effort. For me, it is a journey of constant course correction.

Thankfully, my body tells me when I am maxing out my resources and my capacity for productivity. I have learned to see addictive cravings as signals that something is not right inside of me. When those signals go off, it is time to act. If I do not respond with attention, curiosity, and care, I know I am on the road to relapse.

In her book Running On Empty, Dr Jonice Webb shares that “adults who were emotionally neglected as children often don’t know what their needs are. Their own wants, needs, and feelings are not only irrelevant to the emotionally neglected, they’re invisible.” Since nearly 100% of sexual addicts were emotionally neglected in early life, it makes sense how we learned to neglect ourselves.

Dr Webb recommends finding “healthy self-soothing strategies”that fit each individual’s needs.  They could range from going for a walk in the woods, praying or meditating, writing or journaling, exercising, playing with a pet, taking a bath, reading in a hammock, or gardening. The possibilities are endless (for more ideas click here). We can seek and find the non-addictive and non-stressful activities that meet our deepest needs.

We can learn how to love ourselves in many ways, as part of our daily rituals and in times of heightened stress. We can seek the support we need and remind ourselves that today is a great day to begin again. This self-compassionate and self-supportive approach will help us get off of the hamster-wheel of performance and pay attention to the things that are most needed.

May we all learn to tune in to the needs of our body, mind, and soul, investing in the much needed care that will soothe our wounds and wholly rejuvenate us.

I officially give us all permission to rest.

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C originally published here

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK!

The 4 Secrets of a Successful Summer Vacation (In Recovery)

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Summer is often a season of travel and time away from regular responsibilities. For those of us in recovery, vacations can be filled with new temptations and triggers. When we neglect our recovery routines and indulge in everything our eyes desire, we dance with danger. For me, late nights and lack of structure can quickly lead to lust binges and weakened self-control. I can also slip into states of disconnect and self-neglect when I do not remain intentional in my recovery work. For those who experience similar vulnerabilities on vacation, here are 4 secrets for a successful summer:

  1. Scan & Plan – With new environments come new temptations and triggers. Scan new scenery for situations that could take you out. Alert your accountability partners to emerging challenges, communicating your proactive plan to evade them. Rather than being a victim to vulnerable circumstances, remain responsible, mindful, and vigilant.
  2. Stay Connected – Avoid behaviors and experiences that disconnect you from those you love, including yourself. Stay connected to your feelings, your values, your accountability, God, and those around you. Celebrate in such a way that your future self will thank you, not resent you.
  3. Care for Yourself – Remain faithful to your self-care structures, remembering that “while there is an obvious vacation from regular schedules and responsibilities, there is never a vacation from essential recovery routines.”. Self-care may include seeking solitude and healthy self-soothing when triggered or over-stimulated.
  4. Make Meaningful Memories– Recovery is not just about avoiding self-destruction but also about the construction of a full life. This too takes intentionality, since addicts “demonstrate an almost complete inability to relax and enjoy themselves” (Flores, 2004). Learning how to have fun without lust, excessive sugar, and other “drugs” of choice is a significant challenge of recovery. Investing in guilt-free memories with those we love will lay the foundation of a new and meaningful life.

    May all who of us on the road to healing enjoy a summer strengthened by solid recovery.

    I wish all readers a summer of celebration and an incredible Independence Day!

    For additional articles on this topic, check out the following links:

Recovery on the Road: Preparing for The Temptations of Travel

Holiday Recipes for Relapse & Recovery (Revised)

Are We Having Fun Yet?

The Neuroscience of Self-Care

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK!

Are You Being a Victim to Your Sexual Addiction?

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Today XXXChurch published my newest article called “Don’t Be a Victim to Your Porn Addiction“. This article provides a challenging and brutally honest perspective about the attitude change necessary to beat sexual addiction. In it I shared my experience:

“The “secret sauce” of my success is taking personal responsibility for my recovery. I don’t always succeed but almost every time I remind myself that I am choosing most of my circumstances and all of my responses, I regain my power. Fighting against victim mentality is a daily battle. I believe this is some of the most significant work for anyone in active recovery.”

The article highlights common factors blamed for recovery failure and provides 8 questions individuals can ask themselves to regain a sense of power against their addiction. It is my hope that those who read this piece will take an honest look at their choices and re-evaluate what they are willing to do to experience successful recovery.

This article could be a milestone for those who feel stuck in their addiction. This is a life-changing message for those who choose to make it so.

“Will you take responsibility for your recovery?

When you do, the possibilities are endless.”

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK!