by Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT candidate
One of the more challenging aspects of sexual addiction is isolation. Wives of sex addicts also feel the impact of this challenge. When addicts begin to experience strong emotional discomfort, their natural tendency is to pull away and isolate. This might be a physical escape like leaving a social event or sitting alone in the bedroom. It might also be an emotional retreat like when someone simply stops talking or begins to bottle up true feelings or needs.
Even though addicts may be social people, or perhaps spend many hours with friends or family, they still can isolate themselves in elusive ways. Most addicts seem to “shut down,” and protect their inner world of feelings, thoughts, needs and emotions.
The “Phone-a-Friend” tool is a very simple exercise that helps addicts come out of the isolation. When the isolation is reduced the addiction cycle will be compromised. In other words, the compulsive cycle will be disrupted when reaching out. Even if you end up slipping, you’ll need to interrupt the cycle if you want long-term recovery.
I suggest to my clients that they carry a list of phone numbers at all times. You can also set up this list on your smart phone so the names can be immediately accessed when needed. Ideally, place five or six names on the list of trusted support people. It may take conversations ahead of time so you can explain: “There may be times I need support. Would you be available to talk to me at those time?” This gives your support people a heads-up helps to be mentally prepared. Additionally, tell them if there’s something you want them to ask you during a call. For example, “Whenever I check in will you always ask me how strong my temptations have been?” Another example, “When I check in will you please NOT give me advice? I’ll ask for advice when I need it.”
This tools sounds easy but is often the hardest to do. It feels awkward to be vulnerable. But as the addict stops isolation and begins building trusting supportive relationships, the tool gets easier to use. I suggest in the beginning that clients set up specific days and times to call their list and talk with support. They need to learn how to make this a regular daily routine. It’s embarrassing, but has to be done anyway. They’ll get used to it and find that recovery begins to gain momentum.
If you need help with sexual addiction and would like a free 15-minute consultation, give us a call. We have specialty programs for sexual addiction in Mesa Arizona. (480) 668-8301.