Well, usually it is his. However, sometimes it could be hers.
I don’t want to turn this into a discussion about nuclear reactors except to make a point of understanding what is meant by “critical mass” and “core meltdown” in a relationship. If you find yourself having to read this as a matter of “damage control” as opposed to wanting to read it, your relationship is in peril; at critical mass.
To put it into perspective, the three worst nuclear accidents ever recorded were Chernobyl (1986), Kyshtym (1957), and Three Mile Island (1979). The first two resulted in reaching critical mass, which is the point where control of the nuclear reaction is unsustainable. It is the point of no return. As a result, a core meltdown occurs. Inhabitants near Three Mile Island were lucky. The core temperature reached 4,000° (5,000° would have resulted in a core meltdown). The other two were not so lucky, and many people died, notwithstanding the fact that the locations in question will remain dangerously uninhabitable for the next several thousand years.
When you reach critical mass, and a core meltdown in your relationship occurs, the damage is done and is too far gone to recover. You can rebuild, but not recover. And what you need to understand is that you have no control over it anymore. Your partner does. And the sad part is, like the three nuclear accidents in question, all three could have been avoided if not for the arrogance of man.
So, the first question you have to ask yourself, albeit those around and closest to you probably already know the answer is “am I really addicted to [just fill in the blank] (drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, food, pornography, sex, sugar, etc.)?” “I’m not addicted to [blank]”, “I only do it because I want to”, and “I can quit any time I want to” are some of the ridiculous responses when confronted with it. How many of these apply to you?
- You find yourself needing and wanting to keep your activities secret from others.
- You’ve tried to stop before but can’t seem to quit even semi-permanently.
- You find yourself easily triggered and urged to repeat and continue it.
- You prioritize it over your other important responsibilities in life.
- You continue in spite of the collateral damage you cause to others you love and care about in your life.
- You engage in risqué behavior more so than you would otherwise rationalize as acceptable.
- You isolate and avoid social interaction with others.
- You spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing over and about it.
- You find that engaging in it yields a euphoria you cannot obtain otherwise.
- You find yourself forever increasing, escalating, it in magnitude, frequency, and duration of the behavior and actions.
Still not convinced? Well, how about this then. This is the real test, and it only works if you are 100% honest with yourself. Quit! That’s right, just quit! If it isn’t an uncontrollable necessity, compulsive behavior, or an addiction, just quit. Simple enough, right? If you can stop right here, right now, and abstain for a period of at least 90 days without engaging in it, exhibiting any of the signs and symptoms listed above, then it’s probably safe to say that you aren’t addicted. On the other hand, if you cannot, can you at least admit “I have a problem”?
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s assume we have resigned ourselves to the fact you are indeed an addict. Now what?
But before we go there, let’s address this because it is important. Sexual Addiction & Pornography Addiction treatment facilities where individuals are treated as both inpatients and outpatients (aka “Sex Camp” as it is affectionately called by those who participate in it), it is a very common theme that “our best decisions are what brought us here.”
Now, I want to preface this by saying that those who spoke these words are some very highly intelligent professionals in their respective fields. So much so, many are nationally recognized, so when speaking of their own best decisions, they’re acknowledging that their own decisions were the worst they could possibly have ever made. And here is why this is important. Your brain has become spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and yes, physically, and sometimes sexually, compromised. As such, now is the time to relinquish control of your own decisions, and provide and grant power and authority for someone else to temporarily make those decisions on our behalf. Addicts are control freaks, so to come to this conclusion, is quite a hurdle, but a necessary one. So to proceed into recovery, it is imperative and paramount to surrender control and authority to someone else until such time your brain has healed sufficiently to retake control yourself. This requires a tremendous amount of faith, trust, and determination on the part of an addict.
Spirituality and religion play a pivotal role in recovery for many people. Throughout history, religion has played a huge role in the lives of man. By the numbers, Christianity (2.2 billion), Islam (1.8 billion), Hinduism (1.15 billion), Buddhism (521 million), and Chinese traditional religion (394 million) representing 6 billion of the world population. Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist (1.2 billion) and all remaining religions comprise the rest. Whatever your religion, or none at all, fall back on it and accept that a power greater than your own is ultimately in control, and make the decision to accept the fact and resolve and resign yourself to submit to whatever that power is that has control over you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be addicted. Pine Grove for example, a treatment facility in Hattiesburg, MS, has this as an integral component of their treatment program. They also have a Medicine Wheel and a Labyrinth on premises.
Here are the top 10 things you need to do right now to jump-start, kick-start, your addiction recovery:
One: 12-Step Group
It really should come as no surprise to you that the first one on the list is a 12-Step program. Now, before you go off on a tangent, may I remind you of several important details about the 12-Step programs.
First, all of them, in some variation of one another, have the same exact 12-Steps, the first of which is that “we admitted that we were powerless over our actions and behaviors (aka addictions) and that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Second, the original authors of the 12-Step program, while making reference to “God”, also made clear that “God” was subject to our own interpretation and understanding of it, or none at all, for there are 12-Step programs written exclusively for those who have other religions, spiritualities, or none at all, including but not limited to, “An Alternative to the 12-Steps” (suitable for atheists), “The White Bison 12-Steps (Native American based on the Medicine Wheel)”, and Hindus, Buddhists, and Humanists programs.
Last, every reputable addiction treatment facility in the world utilizes 12-Step programs as an integral component and part of their treatment program. Interestingly, it really doesn’t matter which 12-Step program you attend, they all provide the same level of treatment for your own addiction. So, whatever your excuse du jour is for not participating in a 12-Step program, isn’t much of one as you find yourself in mixed company with much in common, judgment-free, and peer leadership guidance in the form sponsorship to help you walk through the program and your recovery.
This one is simple. Adequate rest, sleep, is not only incredibly important to your recovery, but overall general health and well being as well. It is a primary need. “I can’t fall asleep”, “my sleep pattern is such that, at most, I can only sleep for a couple of hours at a time”, and “I wake up in the middle of the night, and just can’t go back to sleep” are all common complaints in addiction.
It’s along the same story lines parents use when they claim that their child won’t go to sleep when they lay them down or rock them to sleep. Just as you’ve enabled, programmed, and conditioned your child to create a sleep pattern, etched into their brain, you too have done the same to your own. I assure you, if you lay your child down to go to sleep, you may have a few rough nights, even for a week, but eventually, when they get tired enough, they will fall asleep. You will too. The rocking chair never was for the child’s benefit anyway. It was for the parent’s no matter their argument to the contrary. Turn off the TV, leave the phone on the kitchen counter, and go to bed. If background noise is a problem, create your own. Get some sleep.
This one is also simple. Take a bath. Seriously, either that or a shower. Hygiene and cleanliness are often problematic for addicts. Addicts will forego that for their own addiction. They won’t take the time, energy, or effort to wash their body, their hair, brush their teeth, or even put on deodorant. The overwhelming scent of body odor is often overwhelming. Additionally, dirty dishes everywhere, uneaten food lying around, and general filth and uncleanliness are consistent problems for addicts. They simply don’t have it within them to do these things because it’s not a priority. The addiction is. Cleanliness and hygiene are simple action items to complete every day.
Four: You Are What You Eat
In Disney’s animated movie, Atlantis, Cookie (Jim Varney) tells Helga (Claudia Christian) “I’ve got your four basic food groups; beans, bacon, whiskey, and lard.” Though humorous, diet is fuel for your body, has a huge impact on your brain, and is often overlooked. “You are what you eat” is a great self-reflection of that.
If your body suffers from anything you consume, you can rest assured, your brain is equally impacted, if not more so. It is not immune to your body’s overwhelming attempts to cleanse all the toxic materials saturating your body. Dr. Ralph E. Carson geniusly speaks extensively about the importance of it in his book, The Brain Fix: What’s the Matter with Your Gray Matter: Improve Your Memory, Moods, and Mind (affiliate).
First things first, ditch all of the sugar as it is also an addictive substance that provides no medicinal value, including but not limited to, soft drinks, sweet fruity drinks, cappuccinos, etc. as what I affectionately, or perhaps confectionately[sic], call “liquid garbage.”
Replace it with water; 15.5 cups (3.7 liters)/day for men and 11.5 cups (2.7 liters)/day for women (not the mythical eight 8 ounce cups). Hydration cannot be stressed enough. Simply eat a healthy diet that is rich with fresh fruits and vegetables (including fiber) comprising at least 50% of a balanced diet, the remainder of which should be 25% protein and 25% carbohydrates. Want more improvement? Remove as many processed foods as possible which also means you must make time for food preparation (see Structure), forego simple carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates, and eat in moderation as you only need about 2,500 calories/day (2,000 for women). Then, when you’ve been good about it, there is no guilt for any indulgence once in a while; even the “liquid garbage.” Then you can enjoy your piece of cake or a slice of pie too.
Coupled with Diet, include Exercise and Yoga. A good cardio workout goes a long way toward helping feed and fuel your brain and flush and cleanse your body. A simple 30-minute workout each day is sufficient.
Don’t start out by trying to do it all at once; a complete workout the first day. Gradually work your way up to it, starting out first 5, then 10, 15, 20, and then 30 minutes. If you try to jump into it day one, you will likely get bored, frustrated, and fail. As such, you’ll just quit. Work your way into an exercise program. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with a good cardio workout, consider migrating, escalating, and graduating over to a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) regiment. I am a big advocate and proponent of HIIT because it is effective, efficient, and it kills two birds with one stone.
You must learn to crawl before you can walk. And speaking of a walk, if exercise is a problem for you, then at least walk every day. Also, men often misogynistically look down on Yoga because “that’s for women.” One of the most healthy and fit men I’ve ever known, became so because of it. My skepticism removed, if you have an opportunity to do Yoga, I would highly recommend it.
Journaling is very important. Many women kept a diary at one time or another in their life. These are their very own personal and private, unique and intimate thoughts. A lot of people just quit keeping journals because they just don’t see the value in it, and perceive it as yet another waste of their time. Journaling accomplishes several things.
First of all, it is a fundamental component of mental health treatment. It helps with managing anxiety, reducing stress, and coping just to name a few benefits. It also helps you track your own progress and changes as you have the ability to look back and reflect on where your mind was, where it is now, and where you are headed. When journaling, it is strongly recommended to keep it short, sweet, and simple (3 – 5 lines) such that you unload what’s on your mind and also limit the amount that you unload. You may write one line today, and ten tomorrow, but try to maintain this as your average target.
Meditation is not about sitting around for 15 – 30 minutes while everything just randomly races through your mind. It is “clearing your head” of all that you have racing through it and fogging your mind. Make yourself comfortable. If you are uncomfortable, it makes it difficult to meditate.
Breathe in (through your nose); breathe out (through your mouth). Embrace the senses (sounds, smells, sights, if you have your eyes open, sensations such as hot, cold, dry, wet, and taste if your mouth is open, albeit that’s a stretch). If or when your mind wanders outside of the present and presence, refocus on your senses, and reign it back it. Clearing your head paves the way for mindfulness. Spend some time meditating, either quietly or in guided meditation.
Affirmations are where you deliberately tell yourself things, that which you may not initially believe to be true, but want to believe about yourself. It is this pursuit that fuels self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. You need affirmation for yourself, that you aren’t quite the monster that you, and others, have once made you out to be. It’s “I am a lovable and worthwhile human being”, “I am beautiful in body, mind, and spirit”, and “God loves me unconditionally”. They are intended to overcome the embarrassment, guilt, and shame that often accompanies addiction.
Pick a half-dozen or so affirmations that you want to define you. Stand in front of a mirror, alone, naked (this has been determined to be most helpful to overcome the body shaming that often accompanies addiction), and recite them to your reflection in the mirror aloud. You may not believe them initially. You may even struggle with them. But you will begin to believe them after about 30 days, you will begin to solidify them in 45 days, and you will really believe them in 60 days. It affects your overall self-worth, and it only cost you 5 minutes out of your day
Structure is also fundamentally important. Often times, addictive behavior occurs out of boredom. If you structure all of your time, you have little time to get bored. Create, and set up a calendar, and schedule every minute of your day from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed (including food preparation). I once had a young lady who created the most remarkable colorful filled calendar that I had ever seen produced by an addict.
I’m a fan of Google calendars because of their cross-platform presence and accessibility, they are well laid out and very scalable to any environment, and most incredibly, you can overlay them. Instead of keeping up with populating multiple calendars with the same content, so you don’t have to worry about making changes on multiple calendars, you change it on the one calendar that is affected by it. For each calendar, you simply create it and share with all of those who the calendar has an influence or impact on.
Ten: Emotional Wakening
Empathize, understand, and validate your Partner. No matter how you dice it and slice it, you did this to them, and thus to yourself. Consider it a natural consequence, that which you must endure. You can choose to fight and defend it (which is gaslighting by the way) or you can choose to embrace your responsibility and hold yourself accountable for it. You would be well advised to take the latter.
That means, as your Partner rides the roller coaster of emotions they must endure, you too can take a ride with them. Your partner is entitled to the ride. You’re not. Betrayal has tentacles that run deep like cancer cells, each having to be removed and destroyed.
You can adopt any one of these or none of them at all. Of course, if you adopt none at all, then we all understand where your heart, mind, and soul is, and you just simply aren’t ready to face your own demons as I like to call it and the reality of your situation. It’s the difference between having a desire to recover or a desire to continue. Either way, the decision is entirely up to you. Although people have their reasons, personally, I’d do them all. Just remember, actions have consequences, and for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Whatever your choice, it is yours and yours alone to make, so own it along with whatever happens to come along with and as a result of it.
Have patience. You’re simply not going to fix in a week, or 2, 3, 4, 8, or 13, a problem that literally took years, if not decades, to create any more than you’re going to lose that 50 pounds in a month that took you ten years to gain. Any such expectation just isn’t going to happen. The coveted 90 days so often quoted and regurgitated all over the internet is just the time it takes for the brain to heal. That only gets you to 3rd base. There is no score until you cross home plate. It is a very gradual process that you must back out of in much the same way you walked into it. Over time! You have neuroplasticity in your favor, and this is only the beginning of the end of your addiction. Once you accept this notion, you can focus on not only your addiction recovery but your relationship reconstruction (rebuild) as well.
Look for the companion to this article Critical Mass: Core Meltdown (Hers).
- This information, while a reasonable expectation exists that the data is accurate to +/- 10%, the source (Wikipedia) misrepresents religion as a percentage of the world population.
- Steps 2 & 3 of the 12-Step programs.
- Courtesy May Clinic.