Sex is on my mind a lot these days. The reason for this is I’m preparing to teach a Human Sexuality class at Fresno State this weekend. I look forward to my time with future therapists, as we explore how sex can go both wrong and right.
It may go without saying but sex is an important topic in sexual addiction recovery. As a sexual addiction therapist, I tell my clients that successful recovery necessitates a different view of sexuality. The old perspective on sex must be thrown away and replaced with a new one. Rather than using sex as a numbing agent, sex must become a connecting agent. Still, this transition in thinking and practice is difficult. It requires learning, direction, and work.
In her video on Sex & Intimacy, Sue Johnson superbly explains the dynamics of connected and disconnected sex. I believe many sexual addicts experience “sealed off sex”, which she describes as a sexual experience that is lacking emotional intimacy, is solely sensation focused, and leaves individuals feeling lonely. In recovery, we have the opportunity to see sex in an entirely new way. In recovery, we can learn to experience sex as the “potent bonding activity” it is meant to be. This usually requires the guidance of a trained professional and a plethora of patience. But as a couple does the hard work of recovery, experiences healing, and is willing to humbly learn new ways of relating, connected sex can become a wonderful reality.
CLICK HERE to finish the article and to see Johnson’s excellent video on connected sex.
-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C
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Over a decade ago I checked into a treatment program hoping to heal from a serious sexual addiction. A transformed life was Plan A. Plan B was a secret plot to escape to Las Vegas and drown myself in addictive self-destruction. My contingency plan never materialized because Plan A became my life’s mission. Ironically, my recovery path led me back to Las Vegas last weekend. I was not there to indulge an addiction but to train therapists to treat those who do. This is one of many mind-blowing miracles I’ve savored in my recovery. Out of my past pain has come my present purpose. This is the hope of healing.
When we are deep in addiction and trauma, we are blind to future hope. We cannot imagine living in the light when we feel lost in the night. It takes a bold imagination to take steps forward in recovery when we can’t predict where that path leads.
I cannot tell you where your recovery path will take you but I can promise you one thing: Through your recovery you’ll connect with your purpose. Healing is about far more than just managing triggers, but about stepping into a meaningful life. When we are no longer handcuffed by our impulses, we are free to love and live fully.
Are you willing to do the deep and difficult work of recovery today, holding tightly to the belief that you will benefit tomorrow?
Are you willing to postpone present pleasure and persevere through present pain for the promise of future satisfaction?
If you answer “yes” then I welcome you to a courageous journey of faith. Here we begin to believe in the unseen. We imagine a different future while persistently pursuing it. When our purposeful future find us, we will truly see that we’ve sacrificed nothing and gained everything. We wrestled for our recovery and it was worth it. We were healed for a purpose.
-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C
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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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Four days ago I published the powerful piece entitled “What My Wife is Worth“. It inspired many, steadily rising to over 800 views in this short time. Today, I was honored when a blogger who writes to betrayed partners reflected on how my post impacted her. She said:
“My work is to believe that I am truly worth everything on this remarkable list. I need to live and act in a way that others can see that I know my true value. I can do this by maintaining my personal boundaries, practicing self-care, and having faith in my ability to forgive. I need to know that I am enough and that my worth is “innate and can’t be tarnished.” I think I will read this list and replace the words “she deserves” with “I deserve” and change other words, as needed, to make this a message for me.”
She then shared two downloadable resources that she created based on my work.
To download the PDF for husbands to print and display, click here: What My Wife Is Worth
To download the PDF for wives to print and display, click here: What I Am Worth
I am thankful that Avalon Vic created these PDF documents for others to use. It is my hope that those who print and post them will find daily strength as they remind themselves of their innate and infinite worth.
–By Forest Benedict
Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my upcoming BOOK.