Facing the Truth About Shame

Let’s face it: talking with someone about your addiction to pornography is difficult. Sometimes, it feels downright impossible.

How ironic is it that living in such a sex-saturated culture, we still find it awkward to be vulnerable and transparent about the sexual issues we’re having? I believe the reason for this lies not necessarily within the subject of sex, but in within the subject of shame.

Could it be that shame is really what we’re addicted to? The deep seated belief that we are the problem. That we’re unworthy. We’re unlovable.  This is the lie that addiction really sells us. We’re ushered in with feelings of pleasure and control. And before long we find that we’re not allowed to leave. We can’t escape because we feel trapped.

I’m convinced today this was the sole reason that I struggled for so many years without freedom. I not only felt shame. I believed what shame had to say to me.

There’s a fantastic new book being released in February from Carl Thomas, CEO of XXXchurch.com and founder of Small Groups Online. It’s entitled “When Shame Gets Real: A New Way to Talk About Sex, Porn, and Masturbation.” In the book, Carl shares how shame is the real threat to us. Shame has the ability to cripple a person for life. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Carl shares how living in shame prevents us from being fully present to our pain, our needs, and the real desires we have inside. And what we have to realize is that shame isn’t something to be ignored, but to be confronted. The more we ignore, the more we stuff, the more we pretend like something doesn’t affect us, the more we will spiral into our unwanted sexual behaviors. Why? Because we haven’t learned to confront shame.

Here are some common lies that shame tries to tell us:

LIE #1: Shame says you’re alone.

Please understand, NOTHING could be further from the truth. We as human beings not only live in a broken world…but we were born into brokenness and sin. We’re in need of rescue. And God did just that in His son Jesus. First and foremost, Christ is our rescue, our salvation, and our healing. I don’t know where I would be today without the saving power of Jesus in my life. But I also know that in my years of addiction, I wasn’t alone. In my recovery, I’m not alone. Because there are a countless number of other men who also share a similar story as me. Don’t allow shame to convince you you’re all by yourself and you have no hope of freedom.

LIE #2: Shame says you’re unlovable.

WRONG!!! This is one of the biggest whoppers out there. Unfortunately, so many of us have believed it at some point that our secrets stay hidden and we devolve even more. We believe that if people really knew us and our secret lives, they wouldn’t want anything to do with us. And it’s true, some may not. But those people who are safe and healthy will be able to see someone who’s in need of healing. For the longest time, I lived as a person who felt unlovable. I was afraid if people really knew the real me, I would lose everything. So I pretended, lied, and covered up the truth of my porn addiction, which only made things worse. Know this truth: You are loved — first and foremost by the One who created you and by so many others who are helping men and women find freedom every day.

LIE #3: Shame says you have no future.

I and millions of others are living proof that this is a lie. Today, I’m freer and healthier than I’ve ever been. What I didn’t realize for the 13 years that I was addicted was that my life was on a destructive path. And it wasn’t because of some kind of failure in God’s will and plans for my life, it was because of my unhealthy choices. choices. Shame attempts to call this out and direct our attention to it. Make us focus on it. Sell us the lie that we have no future. It took some pretty serious consequences in my life to unfold for me to realize the path I was on. I was living a truly diminished life. I wasn’t become the man God created me to be. But as I embraced the pain I was dealing with and the lies I was believing about myself, I began to find freedom. I did have a future…a very beautiful one at that.

Perhaps the title of this post confused you: “Facing the Truth about Shame”. Well actually, there isn’t any truth connected to shame at all, only the lies as described above. And it isn’t until we identify those lies that shame tries to convince us of that our eyes can be opened.

Small Groups Online is an excellent opportunity for you to confront shame with the help of other men and women who are doing the same! Remember, you are not alone! SGO offers you a weekly safe, secure, online meeting via Zoom which will help build healthy community in your life.

We also want to encourage you to check out Carl Thomas’ new book, “When Shame Gets Real: A New Way to Talk About Sex, Porn, and Masturbation”, which will be released in February.

Recovery Wisdom from Mister Rogers

Fred Rogers will forever go down as one of the most extraordinary human beings that ever lived.

I’m 38 years old…a child of the 80’s and it’s rare I’ve ever come across someone who hasn’t heard of Mr. Rogers. Or who didn’t grow up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. The way he captured his audience with a genuine sense of love and care was uncanny. The conversations he cultivated with his young viewers was incredible.

Countless documentaries and most recently, an incredible movie depicting his impact starring Tom Hanks was released. While I haven’t seen the movie yet, I caught a really interesting quote from the movie. I wondered if it actually came from Fred Rogers. Turns out that it did:

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”

BOOM 🤯 Where do you even begin with such wisdom? “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.“

I don’t know if he knew how significant those words could be to so many people stuck in lifestyles of pain and brokenness. In addiction recovery, we’re learning how to become whole again. How to heal. How to find the “whys” behind our compulsive behaviors. Only in doing so will we ever find substantial long-term success.

But until we allow those things to see the light of day, we will be confined to our own secrets and shame. In his own way, I think Mr. Rogers knew this truth. All of us, from the time we were born, we’re broken in some way. We were born with a sinful nature. In need of rescue and redemption.

The more we allow others to see inside of us, the more we talk about hard feelings, triggering emotions, the less power our addictions have over us.

The last part of his quote is huge: “The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”

Again…BOOM 🤯. So simple yet so profound.

In order for shame to leave us, we have to choose to KNOW people and be KNOWN by people. That is the starting place for transformation. For healing. For recovery.

Fred Rogers totally hit the nail on the head. Thanks Mr. Rogers.

Perhaps you’re wondering how you can start your journey to freedom from a compulsive sexual addiction that you feel has pretty much owned your life. I work for an online organization called Small Groups Online, which offers weekly online support groups through Zoom, making it incredibly easy to meet others who share the same or a similar story as you. Picking the right group and time for you is also easy.

Trust me, you will NEVER regret finding community for the struggles you face. You can’t afford to live without it!

Remember: Anything that is mentionable is more manageable.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn Proofing Today’s Young Kids

This week, Frank shares an incredible resource for parents to help them begin having healthy conversations with their kids about pornography. If you’re a parent, you’ll definitely want to have this tool in your arsenal. “Good Pictures Bad Pictures” is a ground-breaking guide for parents to have open, honest, and really helpful conversations about pornography in a non-shameful, non-awkward way. In this podcast, Frank shares his thoughts on the book and how he’s using it with his kids too. Go here to grab a copy of the book for yourself.


Podcast:


If you and your spouse are struggling and would like help on your journey, please feel free to contact us! Or, if you’re a wife and need some extra help from another wife who’s walked through what you have, head on over to the “Support for Wives” section and shoot Tracey a message by filling out the contact form. All communication is strictly confidential.

The Single Greatest Reason You Will Fail in Recovery

Podcast:


Transcript:

That sounds hopeful, doesn’t it?

Picture this with me: What if there was something more detrimental to a person in recovery than a relapse into their sexually compulsive behavior? Believe it or not, there is.

What if I told you that long-lasting freedom from porn addiction doesn’t only hinge on abstaining from watching anymore porn? Sure, this helps break a pattern of addiction, but it’s not number one on the list.

Are you ready for it?

The single greatest reason a person will fail in recovery from a sexual addiction is their unwillingness to know and be known by others in healthy accountability relationships.

Simply put: Recovery cannot become a solo act. Once it does, your chances of becoming a man or woman of sexual integrity instantly disappear. I know, I’m really riding the hope train today! But it’s the truth. Your recovery journey is one that is meant to be shared with others who also struggle the same way you do. There is so much power in knowing and being known by others who are also walking this path!

Here’s something I often need to remind myself: Whether or not I realize I need people in my life, the truth is that I need them. I’m not even the most social person either. I prefer small groups, quiet moments, and experiences that don’t involve a lot of people. But as it relates especially to my relationship with the Lord and my recovery journey, I cannot grow in isolation.

Think with me for a moment about the physical body: God created the body to include everything it needed on the inside and outside to function — two eyes, two ears, two feet, etc. But also for the inside to function correctly with the outside — without the brain, we cannot make complex decisions. Without lungs, we cannot effectively breathe and move. It all was designed to work together. You see my point.

But somehow we don’t think that applies to our own lives as it relates to our own addictions & behaviors. We depend upon others for so many reasons. When it comes to our recovery, we live as remote islands.

​I remember especially in the early part of my recovery — it wasn’t a matter of IF I was going to slip, but WHEN. The reality is that slips and relapses happen even in recovery. I needed healthy people in my life not just to confess what I had done but to hear THEIR stories too! So that I didn’t think I was the problem and I was weird for messing up.

Accountability reminds us that we’re not alone.

Accountability requires you to invite feedback, correction, discipline, and confrontation into your life. It invites others to see the real you and step in when they see an issue that could be harmful for your life. They have complete access because you’re unwilling to hide anything.

I believe there a couple reasons why many individuals don’t seek out healthy accountability for their lives:

  1. SHAME — If you’ve been in recovery for any length of time, I’m sure you understand that one of your greatest enemies to progress is shame. Shame causes us to hide, to bury, & to isolate from people who love us and care for us. I believe this to be the number one reason why so many don’t find long-lasting success in recovery. If the enemy can convince you that you’re worthless and you will never change, why seek help from anyone? That’s what shame does.
  1. PROCRASTINATION — “I’ll call ***** tomorrow.” “I’ll meet with ***** next week.” The constant pushing off what should take priority gets replaced by other demands in our lives.  We allow our schedules to dictate us instead of being the ones who dictate our scheudles. When you don’t make something as important as your recovery journey a priority, don’t be surprised at the level of your struggle. Establishing safe, healthy accountability sources takes work. It takes time. And it’s worth every second. Stop putting it off.

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of why people avoid accountability in their lives, but I believe these are two of the greatest reasons.

Looking back upon the last 12 years in my recovery journey, I will NEVER regret all the meetings, phone calls, text messages, groups, workshops, and other points of contact I made with people who cared about my heart. The value that all these interactions carried in my life were beyond words. Granted, at the end of the day, my recovery journey is totally my responsibility. If I wanted to, I could fall back into my former lifestyle at any moment. But that’s just it: I don’t want it anymore. And I haven’t for a long time.

While I own all of the decisions I’ve made on this journey, much of the credit for the success I’ve attained goes to those I invited into my life. The counselors, pastors, friends, and yes even my wife (most importantly) who knew they could challenge me and ask me the tough questions becuase they loved me. I’m so thankful for all of them! They are the people who helped me become the person I am today.

If you’re unsure how to find those kind of life giving relationships, Small Groups Online is the perfect place to begin! SGO helps you to find a weekly, online Zoom group where you will meet with others who share many of the same struggles you do. There are many days and times to choose from so finding a group to fit your schedule is really easy.

If you’re trying to do recovery on your own, you’re doing it the wrong way. Do it the right way by signing up for Small Groups Online today.


If you and your spouse are struggling and would like help on your journey, please feel free to contact us! Or, if you’re a wife and need some extra help from another wife who’s walked through what you have, head on over to the “Support for Wives” section and shoot Tracey a message by filling out the contact form. All communication is strictly confidential.