Many addicts struggle with frequent slips. You may have a few days of success and then bam, you are blindsided by temptations to act out and you give in to it. I have come to discover if I am truly honest with myself these blindside temptations are caused by my behaviors preceding them. I would like to mention two behaviors that can lead to these blindside temptations eventually leading to acting out. One behavior is lack of surrender to God. One way to identify this lack of surrender is to look at your discipline of prayer and work in the preceding days leading up to the slip. My spiritual director always asked me to examine my prayer life every time I was giving into lust temptations. Why did he ask me to examine my prayer life? It is quite simple. Prayer is my conscious contact with God, and he has the power to take away the lust temptation. The second behavior is my internal dialogue with myself. As addicts, we are prone to go to the extremes. One extreme is to beat ourselves up, saying to myself I am beyond help, and I am a bad person. The other extreme is stay stuck in our own goodness, and perhaps using God’s forgiveness to give us permission to act again. Either extreme is prideful and blocks God’s ability to save us. I offer two tips to help you better develop prayer in your life and to improve your self dialogue.
Tip#1 Commit to daily prayer and make it a priority in your life.
Prayer allows us to become more like Jesus, meek and humble of heart. I am reminded of Jesus being pleased with Mary because she chose the better part, by sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening for His will. He was not pleased with Martha for being a busy body, concerned only with work and taking other people’s inventory. Be honest with yourself, are you more like Mary or Martha, right now? By establishing a daily prayer life you find the balance of prayer and work. My spiritual director always reminded me that when my prayer life is in order, and I am making daily conscious contact with my Creator, my whole life will become balanced.
Tip#2 Be gentle with yourself.
Toxic shame (i.e. saying I am a bad person and not loveable) blocks us from receiving and accepting God’s love and mercy, showing others mercy, and praying to Him for strength and wisdom. If you are struggling with toxic shame, I suggest committing to weekly confession. The grace of the sacrament along with the counsel from the priest is very helpful in overcoming toxic shame. Consider committing to listening to podcasts from Integrity Restored. They come out weekly. It will help if you read and listen to things on a daily basis that will help you understand the addiction and how to overcome it. These podcasts in particular may prove useful for you to help with accepting love and forgiving yourself:https://integrityrestored.com/episode-17-porn-and-gods-love-with-keith-nester/
If you are struggling with being convinced of your greatness and believe God will forgive me no matter what, then I suggest you start to pray for humility. The litany of humility is a very powerful prayer to use daily. Humility os the remedy to pride. It will also be imperative that you do a 4th step inventory so you may identify specific situations where your defect of pride rears its ugly head. I suggest you work with a sponsor with this inventory. Attending regular confession will also be very helpful. I find that it is helpful to find the same confessor to help you to develop intimacy. That priest will get to know you and will be better able to provide you counsel.
Finally, attend support meetings on a regular basis so you can be with others that are experiencing the same challenges. You can receive encouragement in these meetings along with finding good role models for living with chastity and integrity. You can find online meetings through Saint Joseph Men of Integrity at https://stjmenofintegrity.org/contact-2/.