How can a person fully describe the places their sexual brokenness has taken them? There is the spiritual reality of sexual brokenness; a reality that speaks of the condition of our soul; a condition wrought by another's sexual brokenness or by our own; even the condition of a soul as it learns to allow the Almighty to mend their brokenness. There is also the physical reality of this brokenness. For many this reality comes in the form of the strange beds they find themselves waking up in -- strange places in even stranger situations. For me, it is a reality of which I am far too easily reminded every waking moment as I sit where I sit -- concrete walls, steel bars, and razor wire.
My name is Dennis and by invitation of Be Broken Ministries I share my story. It is a story that, when my world first started crumbling, I thought was unique. I felt alone, singled out, and scared. It is also a story that, as I become more involved in healing and connecting with other broken people, I see is far more common than I first could have imagined and is becoming more common every day.
If you and I had met between 2005 to 2007 you might have walked away thinking to yourself, "Now there is a young man who has got it together. He's got a beautiful, smart wife, a lovely home, a promising career, a sprouting music ministry, and a very bright future." If you had asked me, I would have only confirmed your thought and added, "Yes, I'm living my life-plan exactly as I have planned it. Life is good!"
And life was good -- at least on the surface. I was a young 30-something. I had married my college sweetheart. I was an established professional musician and private instructor. I had started a career as a public school teacher and real estate agent. I was living in a new home my wife and I were purchasing. On the surface I was a pillar of the community, a future leader. Yes, I would have told you, "Life is good." The world was my oyster and I thought I held the pearl of great price. My curriculum vitae had been established and I was living it. Today, I scarcely can remember what that life-plan was.
Late in 2007 the "good life" ended for me. My sexual brokenness had come to a breaking point, my sin laid out in front of me, my family, and the world. It started wit the FBI banging on my front door at 6:00am in the morning and by the end of 2008 I was indicted on child pornography charges. I lost my career, my home, my wife, my reputation, my very freedom.
I remember during this process crying out, "I am a broken man!" I was financially broken, socially broken, emotionally broken. All caused by my sexual brokenness. I had been content to ignore my sexual brokenness -- up until the breaking point. I was busy living my life-plan. But God had a different plan for me.
In 2010 I reported to a Federal Correctional Institute to surrender myself for a 100-month sentence. For 100 months I will sit in my physical reality: concrete walls, steel bars, and razor wire. Yet I rejoice because my spiritual reality, though once broken, is on the mend.
I still struggle to surrender all the world tells me is good. I struggle against the temptation to write for myself a life-plan that is outside what the Gospel tells me my life should be. But I recognize my brokenness. I pray that your brokenness never brings you to such a place as my current physical reality, but that instead you allow it to show you where your spiritual reality is deficient and begin, by the grace of God, the process of healing.
For me the first step in healing was saying, "I am a broken man." In recognizing and embracing my brokenness I also recognize and embrace the One who can mend me and make me whole.
Be broken, but be encouraged...
For help in your own struggle with sexual brokenness,
Visit Starting Point
I have been hearing from more and more people lately who are sharing of their terrible battle with withdrawals as they begin their recovery from sexual addiction. Unfortunately, many of these individuals have bought into the mainstream cultural view of sexual addiction as something that shouldn't be classified as an addiction at all. Our society at large is becoming so oversexualized that a type of normalcy is being attached to unhealthy sexual compulsions. And all these individuals experiencing headaches, cold sweats, inability to concentrate, and panic attacks in the early days of their recovery are left wondering what is wrong with them.
I'm not going to make a long argument for the validity of sexual addiction as a compulsive disorder. That's for other people smarter than I am to hash out. But I'm not going to ignore the real physical symptoms of people trying to break free from sexually addictive patterns; partly because there are a substantial number of these individuals out there, but also because I suffered the same symptoms.
When I started my recovery in 1999 from a life of porn, masturbation, illicit affairs, and prostitution, I never expected the physical difficulties I would have in the early stages of the recovery process. The first three weeks were hell on earth, and not just because I was now trying to not act out sexually for the first time in 13 years. I was in physical pain during those weeks. My body had become so "conditioned" to my sexual behaviors that me "putting on the brakes" felt like the equivalent of driving a car going 100mph into a brick wall. It was agonizing.
The worst for me was the headaches and chills, which would occur most regularly in the evenings (not coincidentally, most of my acting out was done at night). Around 4pm I would start feeling a headache and mild dizziness. Oftentimes, by 9pm I would be curled up on my bed freezing, yet sweating - and no fever. And though these symptoms didn't last extremely long when they came on (usually a couple hours), they were very uncomfortable and confused me greatly. I wondered why it "just so happened" that I started "feeling sick" at the same time I started pursuing recovery.
Thankfully, I had some good counselors who helped me through that season and assured my I wasn't crazy, and that these symptoms were normal for someone who was seeking to so drastically change how they lived their life. Over time the symptoms lessened and clarity began to replace confusion. The cloud lifted, both physically and emotionally. But I don't know if I would have made it without the encouragement and support of counselors and group. Through them I learned what it would take to press on and not give up.
If you, or someone you love, is struggling with the detox process, let me encourage you to focus on the following guidelines for making it through.
1. Withdrawals are normal.
It might feel shocking and overwhelming when you experience that first headache or emotional outburst or cold sweat. It's okay. This is normal. You aren't crazy, you are just experiencing the effects of what happens when a body that has been operating one way makes a 180 degree turn. Take a deep breath and be careful of letting the lies of shame drown you. You are still a priceless child of God who is worth recovery.
2. Withdrawals are temporary.
I remember the first couple days in recovery and the painful headaches and dizziness. I doubted whether I made the right choice to quit. Pain has a way of making everything seem urgent (just ask a mother in labor!). But it also has a way of clouding our vision of the bigger picture. Withdrawal symptoms are not permanent, they will pass in time. Take another deep breath and remind yourself that this will pass.
3. Withdrawals are deceptive.
When you experience withdrawal symptoms you will be tempted to return to your old ways of coping with pain: sexual lust. But that's not answer! It may provide immediate relief for your physical pain, but it will drown your soul to a deeper level of sorrow and darkness. Be careful of making decisions based on the momentary pain of your symptoms. Remember, it is the truth that sets us free! (John 8:32)
4. Withdrawals are opportunities to receive help.
No one recovers from sexual addiction without help. No one! And while the addiction teaches a person to isolate and disconnect from others, withdrawal symptoms can be a great (and powerful!) reminder that help is needed. Plug into a support group, connect with a counselor, and just start reaching out for help. You have been drowning too long; let others help you to the surface.
If you would like more help with your recovery journey, please visit Starting Point or call us toll free at 1-800-49-PURITY.