Finances and Recovery

How would you answer the question, “Am I doing all I can in my recovery today?” If you strongly respond in the affirmative, then skip down to the closing paragraph, you are probably due a reward. On the other hand, if you find yourself reframing the question”Am I doing what others perceive as my trying (whether or not it is the most I can do)?” Then read on, you are probably struggling to maintain sobriety. I pray these thoughts will help.

Intention, no matter how good, misleads an individual to think he is on the right path when he really is not. Personal finance is an area that is not openly discussed; yet most acting out behaviors take money. Without this resource a sexually compulsive man can not purchase the means to feed his addiction. But expanding recovery behaviors around finances can play a large role in the journey to health.

Just think of the full amount your acting out behaviors cost you. The purchase of pornography, phone sex and prostitutes constitutes a direct type of expense. But don’t overlook the indirect costs like guilt offerings, (remember the stone Kobe Bryant bought his wife) legal fees, and child support. If you add the time lost while acting out, as an earning opportunity, the overall cost is phenomenal. One member of a therapy group estimated his cost to be half a million dollars!

Now, using adjusted thinking to put the most into your recovery let me suggest two proactive paths for your journey. First, set up financial accountability with a peer in recovery. Here are some suggestions:

  • Only use checks or a credit card and have your accountability partner review the bank or credit company statement each month
  • Disclose to both your spouse (if married) and accountability partner all sources of your income
  • Delete any hiding places for extra cash
  • Do not carry much cash with you

Being open and honest with your financials could save your sobriety. Second, budget for recovery by establishing a line item in your planned expenditures. Things to consider can include:

  • Counseling for individual, group and/or couples therapy
  • Literature to gain understanding of sexual addiction and stay abreast of sobriety techniques
  • Workshops for support and connection with the larger recovering community
  • Giving to help others in their journey of recovery

You spent money on the illness. Why not use your resources, now, for your health?

Doing whatever it takes with your finances will kick your structure into high gear. The money you both earn and save will be a blessing as you will be able to reward your sobriety with appropriate gifts at significant milestones. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “God (has given) us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Are you doing the best you can today for Him today?

Bob Damrau, MS, LPC

For more help please see Every Man’s Battle.
And if you are married, please join us for our next New Life Weekend with your spouse.

Tiredness in Recovery: Don’t Let It Get You Lying Down

Martin Fierro

You have worked a long day, feeling a cold coming on or is it the spring time allergies, you did not have one solid meal, did not sleep well the night before, stuck in traffic, late for an appointment, forgot to call your wife back, that home project needs to be completed, the car engine light just went on AND it is only Monday. When the last hour seemed hard enough to get through to remain sexually pure in heart, mind and soul, here comes the next hour to press through.

Taking it one day at a time really can come down to a minute to minute per the environment our mind is entertaining. Part of what can make a tempting situation worse is the condition of ones mental and physical state when such life stressors occur. And it is common that tempting situations will occur with more intensity at the early onset of sexual sobriety along with when you are physically/mentally drained (the enemy does not want you to win). And sobriety can seem more intense because for the first time in your life maintaining sexually integrity, to not sexually acting out, is the healthiest option irregardless to what has occurred on any particular day of the week.

‘Well, what do I do now? I am exhausted; feel disconnected, lonely and angry. So now I sit in a lonely house with no one, what I can get myself into? This is boring; I need something to make me feel good about myself. I am so tired of going through this on my own. No one has my problems.’

Should we call the ‘whaaamm-bulance?’

Self pity not only can be a trigger to acting out, but also a key that you are physically and mentally needing rest and recovery.

Don’t let temptations catch you lying down and don’t under-estimate your tiredness in your recovery process. And the reality is that you are going to have tired days, tired of working recovery days, and both.

Let this be of encouragement to you. You are not alone. God has not abandoned you and there are others out there who want to be supportive to you as you seek sexual integrity and sobriety from the addictive behavior. But in a tired emotional and cognitive state of being we begin to believe that this cave of our emotional struggles is to be kept inside that cave, keeping our feelings in the dark.

Just the opposite is true for health and sobriety. Bring the feelings to the light. Seeking support from other brothers who are in ‘the battle’ is a great step. And when asked by that brother in arms ‘how are you doing?’ Not answering ‘fine.’ Those of you who have participated in a 12 step program know what that acronym for FINE is (we’ll just say ‘Faking it,’ Insecure, Negative and Evasive).

Here are some options to consider to help when you are tired of fighting this fight and want to just give up because of life stressors:

1. ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Ground yourself spiritually. Do not rush through the prayer of ‘okay okay okay, I am sitting’..waiting’.. ahhh’.okay, waiting waiting’ um, where are you God?’ Quiet you inner talk and LISTEN. Let me encourage you to first turn off the television and/or radio. Then go and sit down somewhere comfortable, uncross you arms and take some deep breathes for at least 5 minutes while focusing on nothing but your breathing. Clear your mind.

2. Have an officer in arms/sponsor. Pick up that 600 pound phone and connect with a brother in arms. Be open and honest. Saying what is going on is not weakness. It can mentally beneficial to say it out loud (take some power away from it).

3. Remain on alert. When you become tired you can convince yourself, ‘I can handle things now, in this part of my recovery.’ Don’t open that door to temptations; keep your Armor of God on. There is a spiritual war going on with your mind and the enemy knows the best way to get you is by brainwashing (convincing) you to believe and behave otherwise.

4. Exercise. It cannot be said enough: go for a simple bike ride, swim or walk. Observe the creation of the earth, take in the splendor that is before you (watch your eyes and where you look, of course!).

5. Eat well, diet appropriately per what your doctor would recommend for you stage in life.

6. Pick up that God given gift, talent ,or skill and put it to use for others benefit.

Recovery & Stewardship: Is ‘What’s in your wallet?’ affecting your bottom-line?

Bob Parkins

Many men in recovery find they need to set limits on their spending habits; often men will include financial accountability as part of their commitment to recovery in general. Although sexual addictions have dramatic effects on some men’s finances, for many more its influence is more subtle and may lie ‘under the radar.’ For these men financial issues often surface when they begin to gain some control over their recovery by maintaining longer periods of sexual sobriety. While men begin to feel victorious over their addictions they will often increase their spending on gadgets, hobbies or other compulsive purchases. Not unlike their increased desire for sexual experiences outside biblical boundaries, they now find an increase in thirst for money or material goods that is unquenchable (Ecc 5:10).

When men enter recovery their relationship with God must become a primary focus in his life. If men have been pursuing materialism ‘under the radar,’ these financial idols will then come into conflict with their spiritual walk (Lk 16:13). As it did with lust or sexually acting out, these two passions cannot dwell together for long without consequences.

There are many emotional connections between sexual addictions and finances.

Just as in the manner people handle finances reveals their true values, so does it reveal how they manages their lives. I frequently speak about money with others in recovery as a ‘secondary addiction.’ Whether it is money, television, hobbies, alcohol, etc., there is almost always a secondary addiction underneath the more visible primary addiction. Sexually addicted men have not developed the same ability to tolerate frustration, other negative emotions, or delay gratification to the same degree as other adults. Sexually acting out is how men cope with the uncomfortable realities of life and resulting emotional pain.

Unfortunately, simply removing the method of coping [acting out sexually] does not give a person the necessary skills to cope in a fallen world. Not only does this make sexual sobriety increasingly difficult, it leaves a men feeling even more powerless and ultimately sets them up for relapse. Sexually acting out is not the only coping behavior addicts employ, there is a whole dynamic that drives many behaviors and the way they relate to others. For instance, these patterns may include avoidance, procrastination or explosive anger.

Men who systematically avoid pain may not only do so by acting out, but avoid conflict in general. Behind virtually every decision they make is the mantra of ‘avoid pain at all cost.’ If a man’s primary defense has been sexually acting out and that is no longer an option he will continue to seek avenues of avoidance. It is this dynamic that is often referred to by the term ‘dry addict.’ The ‘drug’ may not be there but the life patterns remain. In the absence of sex, he may act out with money.

Recovery is not just about abstaining from sexually acting out; it is a complete healing of the heart. Not only do men need to learn sobriety, they also needs to learn to cope with old triggers in healthy ways. Knowing this makes facing recovery more manageable as it helps to refocus on the actual issues. It empowers by causing men to seek new ways of relating. These changes are best made through ‘baby steps.’

In my own recovery I started practicing assertiveness with the phone company. It is too overwhelming to tackle some issues head-on without first preparing, practicing and gaining confidence in new skills. I gained new skills at confrontation by fighting to have bogus charges removed from my phone bill. When I began to curb my spending habits I began to closer assess my motivation for spending each time I made a compulsive purchase. Soon I began to feel uncomfortable with purchases I knew where compulsive. The first day I returned a compulsive purchase I began to feel a bit of power over it.

Ultimately men must address the triggering needs or emotions. When they can refocus on the actual problem they regain power and may no longer feel the need to spend or engage in other unhealthy secondary coping behaviors. I encourage you to own your choices, choose to view pain as an opportunity for growth and enter into the uncomfortable realms that you have avoided for years. You will slowly feel your heart stretching as you begin to tolerate more and more of what once felt intolerable. In retrospect, you may someday be amazed at the men you have grown up to be.

See Every Man’s Battle for more help.