A few days ago I had the opportunity to talk with someone about his inner craving and desire to engage in behavior that we know of and call an addiction. As we talked about how the past two weeks were for him, we validated and affirmed the actions he had taken to create safety and peace for his mind and body, and we also discussed and brainstormed about the other moments during the week that were not so successful for him.
At some point in our conversation, I mentioned to him that his craving and desire were a natural and normal reflection of who he is, and were a necessary and valuable part of him that he intends to enjoy with the woman he will wed in six months. I reminded him that although he has experienced problems in the sexual domain of his life, his sexual passion that he wants to be intentional with is never something to be pathologized. Like a powerful river, his sexuality is a beautiful part of who he is and is to be respected, honored and celebrated, per the values he and his fiancé have for themselves.
As we continued to talk, we likened his current struggle to him trying to navigate a raft on a white water rafting experience. On his daily trip, we spoke of him being able to honor the power of the water (his sexual desire) while also being able to avoid the rocks and other elements (addictive triggers) that are unpredictable in appearance and perilous to the journey and would definitely impede his effort to arrive safely at the destinations in life that were important to him.
As we stayed with this analogy, we spoke of how progress was made when he was aware of and working in any of the 7 Core Areas of his life (His Spirituality, Cognitions, Emotions, Physical/Biological, Sexuality, Social/Relationships and Environmental).
His spirituality helped him when he engaged in prayer, study and reflection, which helped him to experience peace while also enhancing his clarity and focus when he needed it the most. This helped him to make better decisions regarding simple things like eating and sleeping (exercising good self-care) while also helping him to regularly stay in contact with people in his recovery system for guidance, encouragement and skill enhancement as he applied the tools that were necessary to successfully navigate the river.
By “living in consultation” he listened to and practiced what he heard from his guides (a very safe practice to employ during the rafting experience) and subsequently he reduced the slippery and challenging spots where he could have experienced self-harm had he not integrated the counsel. In short, he was able to navigate the power of the water and arrive safely to and through his daily checkpoints when he intentionally used the tools that were available to him.
Later this afternoon, tonight or sometime during the new year each of us will be faced with choices regarding how we will navigate our own personal river, which is simultaneously natural and powerful yet could be perilous at the same time. On a day like today (New Year’s Eve) or on any day, my hope is that you will consider what tools you will employ to help you to arrive safely to the destination(s) that are important to you and to those who love you. Have a safe but enjoyable New Year and above all, arrive safely!
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