You Gotta Have This

The psalmist said, “Passion for God’s house will consume me” (Psalm 69:9). I love that word passion. You can’t achieve anything meaningful without passion. Vincent Van Gosh said, “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” I agree. What is passion, exactly? I recently came across this definition: the degree of difficulty one will…

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Emotional Abuse

It has long been my observation that virtually all addicts have in their past a combination of the following: (a) abuse, (b) trauma, and (c) isolation. Let’s talk about that first one – abuse. Specifically, emotional abuse. Jill Bley, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist, estimates that 85-90 percent of sex addicts have suffered from…

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Premeditated Resentments

A friend recently sent me this quote: “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” That is powerful. Said another way, we can’t tie our self-perception to the perception of others. Here’s the thing – not everyone will understand your journey, and that’s fine, because it isn’t their journey to understand. I stopped explaining myself when I realized people…

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Cognitive Bliss

Every person who has ever lived (except Jesus) has suffered from the same flaw – cognitive bias. Cognitive bias is defined as “the systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion.” Because we all have cognitive bias, James said,…

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Faith

Mark Twain said, “October is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.” The Bible says, “We have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining…

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Depression

Many addicts suffer with depression. They aren’t alone. Major depressive disorder affects 17.3 million American adults (National Institute of Mental Health, 2017). If you struggle with depression, repeat this at least 20 times every day: “Depression lies. It tells you you’ve always felt this way, and you always will. But you haven’t, and you won’t”…

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Purpose

In his classic book, The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “Not all who wander are lost.” Let’s talk about purpose. Sometimes, we must wander until we find it. And finding that purpose is critical for addiction recovery. In his best-selling book Unwanted, Jay Stringer concludes, “In the research I completed for my book,…

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Try This Fast

Israel’s first king died a tragic death. When David heard about it, he responded in a way many of us would not understand. “Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. They mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for…

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Pleasure

Acting out is to delve into one’s pleasures at all costs. With no regard for the consequences, we return to the thrill – over and over. Recovery, on the other hand, is about self-denial. And self-denial is counterintuitive 100 percent of the time. For many, there is no greater pleasure than sex. Perhaps you can…

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The Mysteries of Life

Al McGuire once mused, “The only mystery of life is why the kamikaze pilots wore helmets.” There are other great mysteries of life. For example, why do cows always face north or south while eating? Why does lemonade have artificial flavoring, but furniture polish contains real lemon juice? Why do we believe someone when they…

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Some Scary Facts

In case there was any doubt about the problem of addiction in America, here are a few numbers. 1. Cost to the economy – $600 billion/year. 2. Addiction is the leading cause of youth suicide. 3. Alcohol contributes to over 200 diseases and health conditions. 4. In the last ten years, 48,000 women died from…

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A Sad Death

The following obituary told the story of a dear church member’s unexpected death. “Our church was saddened to learn this week of the death of one of our most valued members – Someone Else. Someone’s passing creates a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Else always did more than his share of the work.…

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Forgive

Pick one – sobriety or bitterness. You can have one, but you can’t have both. You have been wounded deeply by someone who matters a great deal to you. I know that because you are a member of the fallen race. Now you have a decision to make. To forgive or not forgive – that…

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The Sabbath

The Jews took the Sabbath Day seriously. This command was central to their being: “Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Henry Ward Beecher said, “A world without a Sabbath would be like a summer without flowers. It is the most joyous day of the week.” The Jews took the principles of the…

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Abe Lincoln’s Son

The date was April 14, 1865. It was 10:15 p.m. President Lincoln was enjoying a play with his wife Mary. Then with one bullet fired from the derringer of John Wilkes Booth, everything changed. The President was declared dead nine hours later. Among his survivors was Mary. She lived the rest of her life in…

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The Parrot

Three sons left home and prospered. Each was proud of the gift he was able to give their mother. The first bought her a big house. The second son bought her a new Mercedes. And the third bought their mother a parrot that was able to recite Scripture and keep her company. A few weeks…

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No More Excuses

There’s a reason Step 1 comes first. Until we quit making excuses for our addiction, we will never get well. Dr. Elizabeth Hartney offers seven common justifications for one’s addiction. Denial: “It’s not a problem.” Minimization: “I have already cut down.” Comparisons: “Uncle Ted is worse than I am.” Defiance: “I’d rather live a short…

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Sleep On It

If you are seeking real, lasting sobriety, try this – take a nap. Seriously, one of your problems may be that you aren’t getting enough sleep. Jenna Fletcher offers several health benefits from simply getting enough sleep: Better productivity and concentration Lower weight gain risk Better calorie regulation Greater athletic performance Lower risk of heart…

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Hope

Hope is an indispensable ingredient of recovery. Thomas Carlyle said, “He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope has everything.” Dr. Dale Archer writes, “The power of hope defines the psychological victim and psychological survivor. As long as a patient, individual, or victim has hope, they can recover from anything and everything.…

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Two Old Golfers

Two old golfers had a problem: one could still hit the ball, but could not see; the other could still see, but could not hit the ball. They came up with the perfect solution. The one who could hit would tee off, while the other golfer would tell him where the ball had gone. After…

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The Moral of Humpty Dumpty

Comedian Ricky Gervais said, “I’ve never worked out what the moral of Humpty Dumpty is. I can only think of this – don’t sit on a wall if you’re an egg.” Application: If you struggle with sexually compulsive temptations, get off the fence (or wall). Put up some boundaries. This means living within predetermined guardrails.…

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Losing Your Mind

From the comic strip, Blackadder, we read the following dialogue. Edmund Blackadder: “Baldrick, your brain is like the four-headed, man-eating haddock/fish/beast of Aberdeen.” Baldrick: “In what way?” Edmund Blackadder: “It doesn’t exist.” Porn has the same effect on the brain. In an extensive article, “Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction” (2015), four authors state the conclusion…

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Chicken Little

Mrs. Johnson went to the butcher shop to buy a chicken. The butcher had just one scrawny chicken left. He put it on the scale. “Three pounds,” he said. “That’s too small,” said Mrs. Johnson. “Don’t you have something bigger?” The butcher didn’t want to lose the sale, so he pretended to rummage about, as…

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Mr. Potato Head

It was the first toy advertised on television. On April 30, 1952, Hasbro, Inc. bought ad space to promote Mr. Potato Head. It apparently worked, as the sales of the three-year-old product went through the roof. At a cost of $0.98, the original Mr. Potato Head did not come with a potato “body,” so parents…

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The Pooh Speaks

The great theologian, Winnie the Pooh, opined, “I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I have been.” While there is no empirical evidence that Winnie was a recovering sex addict, this one quote is quite revealing. But let’s talk about you. What are you walking away from? The problem is…

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The Need for Speed

Addicts are adrenaline junkies. We can all relate to my double – Tom Cruise. He famously said, “I feel the need – the need for speed!” (Top Gun, 1986). Carey Mulligan said, “Sex addiction is a subject that should be discussed.” So let’s discuss it. We all like to pretend our addiction is only the…

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Become Who You Are

For each of us there comes a time when we need to decide who we’re going to be. The choices are clear: addiction or recovery, insanity or peace, death or life. Paulo Coelho said, “Stop being who you were and become who you are.” The Bible promises, “If any man be in Christ, he is…

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Sad Songs

Paul felt sorry for his friend’s son Julian. Paul’s friend, John, had left his wife for another woman, which Julian took really hard. To offer comfort, Paul wrote the boy a song. To conceal Julian’s identity, Paul changed his name to “Jude” for the song, which he released on this date – August 26, 1968.…

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Ralph Lifshitz

Ralph Lifshitz was a shy boy, who was constantly ridiculed because of his last name. By the age of 16, he was relegated to the back of every classroom, picked last on every sports team, and without a hint of a first date. Tired of the ridicule, by the age of 30, Ralph did something…

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Hiccups

Charles Osborne spent 68 consecutive years hiccupping. He finally found a cure, then died within a year. Don’t feel too sorry for Charles. A lot of us die before we find a cure, rather than after. I suggest you start chasing after your dreams now; there is no good reason to wait. But first, you…

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Great Advice

Letter to advice columnist: “The other day, as I drove off to work, my car made a horrible noise, and then the engine began to smoke. The car died about three miles from my house. I had forgotten my cell phone, so I walked home, which took me three hours. When I got home, I…

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The Best of Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Though Charles Dickens wrote those words in the 19th century, they could have been written this week. 2020 has been a year for the record books. In many ways, these are the best of times; in others, they are the worst of times.…

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The Enemy

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” (The Godfather: Part II). It’s usually pretty easy to spot a friend. That is the person who loves you more because of your addiction, not despite your addiction. What’s not so easy to spot is an enemy. Let me help. An enemy is someone who . .…

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Which Is Not Right?

Which of these is not correct? Babies have 100 more bones than adults. The Eiffel Tower can be 15 cm taller during the summer. 20% of Earth’s oxygen comes from the Amazon rainforest. In 2.3 billion years it will be too hot to live on Earth. It takes 8 minutes, 19 seconds for light to…

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Running Your Day

Ours is a society of lists. We make a list each day, of all the things we want to accomplish that day. And that’s a good thing. But then our lists can become our god. And that’s a bad thing. Jim Rohn said, “Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” “The fruit…

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Listen to Your Feelings?

Can a sex addict trust his feelings? Maybe not. Writer Mignon McLaughlin said, “Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have isn’t permanent.” Jeremiah 17:9 goes even further: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” And Solomon wrote, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is…

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Raising Heroes

After tucking three-year-old Jimmy into bed, his parents heard sobbing coming from his bedroom. Rushing back in, they found their son crying hysterically. After they calmed him down a bit, Jimmy managed to tell them what had heppened. He said he had swallowed a penny and was afraid he would die. His parents were unable…

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Roger Rabbit

I love this line from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” Every addict can relate. No one asks for sex addiction. Addicts were “drawn that way” through abuse, trauma, and isolation. So far today, I have heard men tell me of the following abuse: (a) physical abuse by a…

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Healed at 40

Most of us are familiar with the story of Acts, chapter 2. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the Church. This would change everything. But it is what happened next that I want to talk about. In Acts 3, we read about a 40-year-old man who had been crippled from birth.…

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Beauty Is Pancreas Deep

Today’s topic – beauty. Author Jean Kerr wrote, “I’m tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin deep. That’s deep enough! What do you want – an adorable pancreas?” King Solomon praised the beauty of his wife. You can read about it in Song of Solomon, chapter 4. Solomon was smitten with his…

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Wheelbarrows

A strong young man at the construction site was bragging that he could outdo anyone in a feat of strength. He made a special case of making fun of Morris, one of the older workmen. After several minutes, Morris had enough. “Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is?” he said. “I will…

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Is It Really Relapse?

I have heard dozens of addicts confess to a relapse to sex addiction – every few days. Here’s the hard question: If you continue to have relapses, is it really a relapse? Poet Pablo Neruda offered an interesting perspective. “He who returns never left.” I believe there is a danger in saying, “I have had…

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The Day Olajuwon Scored 100

It’s a record for which the NBA legend is little known – the day he scored 100. During his Hall-of-Fame career, the two-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star averaged about 25 points per game. But on one very special day, “The Dream” scored 100 – chicken nuggets. Hakeem was shooting an ad for McDonald’s, promoting…

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75 Years Ago Today

It happened August 6, 1945 (75 years ago today). The U.S. B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb code-named “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Japan, resulting in an estimated 140,000 deaths. Three days later, the United States dropped a second nuclear device over Nagasaki. Five days later, Imperial Japan surrendered. The atomic bomb represented the…

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There Is No Try

Vince Lombardi famously said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” I like this quote from Bobby Knight even more. “The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. The key is the will to prepare to win.” In recovery, it’s what we do before the temptation hits that will determine our response.…

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Keep Learning

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), an estimated 2.2 million new books are published worldwide each year. That comes to 6,027 books per day, or one new book every 15 seconds. President John Adams was right: “The more one reads, the more one sees he has to read.” There is…

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Go Too Far

Recovery is a journey that knows no end, makes incredible promises, and whose freedom is only limited by your refusal to engage the process. T.S. Eliot said, “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.” Here’s my challenge for today. In recovery, risk going too…

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Get A Shovel

In the fable of Hercules and the Wagoner, first recorded by Babrius in the first century AD, the story is told of a wagon that fell into a ravine. When the driver appealed to Hercules for help, he was told to fix it himself. This, and other similar stories, gave birth to the common teaching,…

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Does Your Spouse Complete You?

In the movie bearing his name, Jerry Maguire offered an impassioned speech to Dorothy, concluding with this memorable line: “You complete me.” Many a young romantic has fallen into that same trap. We marry someone, expecting them to “complete us.” And we are invariably disappointed. Why? Because we are never made “complete” by another human…

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Eggs and Cake

Recovery is all about making wise decisions. So let’s talk about it – wisdom. We often mistake knowledge for wisdom. But if you have to pick one, take wisdom every time. Knowledge is the accumulation of facts; wisdom tells you what to do with those facts. President Coolidge said it like this: “Knowledge comes, but…

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Minimizing Dumb Mistakes

Sometimes, recovery is about doing the next right thing. Other times, it is about avoiding the next wrong thing. Here are a few mistakes I see people make, which lead them down the road to relapse. Shame game Comparison trap Unrealistic expectations Fantasy island Premature disclosure No one ever said recovery would be easy. Or…

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The Minefield of Recovery

Humorist Michael O’Donoghue said, “Life is one big minefield, and the only place that isn’t a minefield is the place they make the mines.” In recovery, you have probably discovered a few mines along the way: Temptations Triggers Trials Tests We all walk through the minefields. Jesus said it like this: “It rains on the…

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The Answer to Relapse

Sadly, we all know that relapse is all too common among recovering addicts of all kinds. One study (cited by Clinical Psychology in 2007, “Relapse and Relapse Prevention”) found that 85 percent of addicts relapse within the first year of sobriety. Yale University conducted a one-year study on 878 patients entering clinical recovery. They identified…

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The Price of Success

Today’s subject is something you probably aren’t going to like. If you will risk it all – your reputation, time, and secrets – in order to chase after recovery, you will find it. Otherwise, you probably won’t. Seneca said, “It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not…

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Working Girl

In the 1988 movie, Working Girl, Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) stated her acute dilemma: “I have a head for business and a bod for sin.” That speaks to the inner battle each of us faces. Paul said it like this: “I do not do the good I want to do, Instead, I keep doing what…

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B x 6

Maya Angelou was right when he said, “All great achievements require time.” Solomon wrote, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Proverbs 6:8). Anything worthwhile takes time to achieve. This is especially true of recovery from any addiction. There are early wins that you can achieve quickly. Others will take…

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The Road to Authenticity

A great aspiration for any man or woman would be a life of authenticity. Socrates offered great advice to all of us. He said, “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” J.B. Cachila wrote an article for Christian Post, “Three Ways to Be Authentic.” He…

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Dreaming into Action

“This isn’t a dream! This is really happening!” (Bette Davis, Rosemary’s Baby, 1968). That’s the funny thing about dreams. Sometimes, they do happen. Daniel was a dreamer – way back in Old Testament times. He spoke truth to power one day. “There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known…

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Mind Games

Stephen King wrote, “The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn’t real. I know that, and I also know that if I’m careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle.” Yogi Berra said, “The problem with my mind is that sometimes it gets…

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Cool Hand Luke

In Paul Newman’s classic 1967 movie, Cool Hand Luke, the cruel prison warden justified his beating of Luke with this classic line: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” A failure to communicate has been at the root of many failed relationships, especially in marriage. Author Julie Baumgardner offers several keys to good…

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Addicted to Virginia

Beth, Heidi (our 14-year-old Westie), and I are planning our next vacation. Destination – Virginia. The more I plan, the more excited I become. We are plotting every day, in order to see as much as possible. The more I look at pictures and think about the historical places we will see, the more hyped…

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The #1 Commonality of Sex Addiction

In his groundbreaking book, TINSA (Trauma Induced Sexual Addiction), Dr. Michael Barta contends, “In my findings, the single commonality that sex addicts share is that they were all subjected to developmental trauma.” He further states that “most addicts suffer from abandonment and neglect.” Barta concludes, “The TINSA model theorizes that episodes of past trauma are…

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Can Medicine Help My Addiction?

It’s a reasonable question. Is there medicine I can take that will help reduce my sexual urges, and thereby help with my addiction? The short answer is yes. In their incredible book, Real Hope, True Freedom, Dr. Milton Magness and Marsha Means report the following data. Naltrexone, a medication primarily used to treat addictions to…

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Over/Under

Two ways we get into big trouble are by underestimating God and overestimating ourselves. Oscar Wilde said it well: “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” Jesus said it even better: “Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Step 1 says we are powerless over our addiction. Coming to grips with…

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Time to Get Started

Eddie Van Halen said, “There’s a plaque on our wall that says we’ve sold over 65 million albums, and I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything. I feel like I’m just getting started.” The rock legend continues to travel the world and perform before enormous crowds, 48 years since he got started. Now 65, Van…

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3 Ways to Avoid a Relapse

We all acted like we hadn’t heard it. To a man, the 15 of us just listened and nodded. But what we heard shook many in the group to their core. “I’ve had a relapse.” “Jeff” had been sober for five years – no slips and no relapses. Jeff is an active member of our…

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Six Pitfalls in Early Sobriety

Marcus Tullius Cicero said, “Everything has a small beginning.” We see an example of this in the 1991 movie, What About Bob? Richard Dreyfus plays a psychiatrist who has written a book called Baby Steps, which Bill Murray’s character takes to heart and uses to help him step out of his neurotic life. Robert Taibbi…

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Pulling the Trigger

It was a good day. We were in the Christmas season and I was excited about, what was for me, a creative gift idea for my husband. My plan was to gather some pictures of a recent vacation and put together a photo album to commemorate a fresh start with new memories. Creative and inexpensive!…

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Secrets

For most of its 15-year run, from 1952 to 1967, it was rated among the top 20 shows on television. It was called “I’ve Got a Secret.” Millions of Americans tuned in to watch celebrities try to guess another person’s secret. We love seeing secrets exposed – unless they are our own. As I work…

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Self-Care

The Bible offers us a wonderful story about self-care. We read about a man named Elijah, one of the most prominent figures of the Old Testament. “Elijah was afraid…Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have…

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Nine Ways to Stop Lusting

There is a line in the SA “white book” that defines sobriety as “progressive victory over lust.” Note, the goal is not to (a) quit masturbation, (b) quit porn, or (c) quit any behavior. The goal is to quit lust. So what’s the big deal about lust? It’s simple. When we lust, we tend to…

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Security Screening

Recently I traveled by plane, requiring me to go through airport security screening. My ID was checked to verify that I was the person I reported to be. I was instructed to remove any objects from my pockets, my shoes, and electronics from my bag. All of my items were x-rayed and scrutinized and I…

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Good Grief

Who among us has not witnessed the all too familiar scene at the grocery store check-out line of the parent trying to control the hysterical child who is screaming and crying for the now forbidden candy or toy that has been strategically displayed in his sight? In the child’s defense, millions of dollars have gone…

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Rigorous Honesty

In Chapter Five of the AA “Big Book,” we read, “Those who do not recover are incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.” Nothing matters more to recovery than that – rigorous honesty. Ben Franklin famously said, “Honesty is the best policy.” William Shakespeare commented, “No legacy is so…

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Betrayal

Betrayal – With its discovery comes an unbelievable pain that reaches to the core of our being, bringing suffering that feels like our hearts are literally shattering into a million pieces. There is this realization that life as we’ve known it is over. Often, many tears follow, but not the polite, respectable kind like in…

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I’ve Had a Slip – Now What?

The shortest distance between addiction and recovery is rarely a straight line. Let me explain. Recovery is like boxing. Before a fight one night, Mike Tyson told his opponent, “Your game plan will work perfectly – until you get punched in the face.” If you are just entering recovery, get ready to get punched in…

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