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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Resentment and Addiction - from the SA White Book

Because there are so many people who have contacted me over the last few years about pornography addiction and other sexual-abuse problems, I have had to plunge into a world that was largely outside my knowledge base.  That means a lot of studying, since I don't really have much experience in this world.  Yes, I have plenty of problems, it just happens to be that sexual addiction is not one of them.

The more I study it, the more I realize that God has spared me because of my own weakness, and so, if I were to start watching porn, I would most likely become very, very addicted.  This is powerful stuff, and I think it is probably among the most powerful of the addictions.

In learning about the struggles of sex addicts, I have come to appreciate the profound spiritual work that they must undergo.  In short, the work a heck of a program in battling the addiction to lust.  So, I think all of us could learn a thing or two from those who are in recovery from lust addiction.

Here is an example from the SA White Book.  This is really very informative, and one of the best breakdowns I have seen regarding resentment and the path to addiction.

Even if you are not a sexaholic, this book is well worth reading.


Let's see if we can dissect this sample of experience isolating it from the sexual activity, to see if we can discern a spiritual process at work in the development of addiction. 

Based on a real or imagined injury, we create and hold on to a wrong toward another; we choose to distort the truth. Rebellion and hence resentment are born. (Perhaps a more inclusive term, sin, would be more appropriate.) 

This distortion of reality produces a false spiritual high- satisfaction, pleasure, and release from the conflict produced by our wrong. Rebellion and resentment fill a need (really a demand). 

We take nourishment from the resentment; it sustains us. It sustains the new reality, which is a lie. It hides our wrong; we don't have to face it and deal with it. Thus, resentment is used as a drug. 

To continue justifying this wrong to ourselves, we periodically play the incident back, winning the case in court against the other person every time. By thus reexperiencing the resentment, we seek to recapture the effect of the original high. 

Our use of resentment thus becomes habitual, producing more wrong, which requires more of the drug to cover it. The vicious cycle is set; it has a life of its own, unrelated to the initial event. 

Persistence in this habit produces distress. Part of us always knows when we're wrong: the lie doesn't square with something inside us, with what we see in the real world outside, and with inputs we get from others. Plus, we feel guilty for enjoying this unnatural ecstasy, and our isolation increases. 

We try abstaining from this inner spiritual habit, so we act outwardly toward the objects of our resentment as though we hold no wrong against them. But this pretense deprives us of our drug (resentment), creates a new lie that needs more drug, and forces us to treat the distress of withdrawal with the medicine that provides relief - more resentment. 

This mental behavior fulfills the three criteria of addiction noted earlier: tolerance, abstinence, and withdrawal. We are now fully addicted to resentment as a spiritual attitude, quite apart from any physical acting-out. 

Now, if we add the ingredient of some physical habit to this spiritual-mental process, as we do in our case with sex, we can see how the imprinting, conditioning, and programming become all the more total, rigid, and controlling. Once this pattern is established in the disposition of the inner person, it must manifest itself in some form of overt behavior-we are addicts waiting to happen. Thus, the addictive process may be established in the inner person long before it ever appears in our behavior.

When the man described above withdrew from his lust and sex addiction, resentment, which he had never before been aware of, suddenly erupted with volcanic fury and possessed him as lust had done previously. His physical addiction had been used to cover or drug the spiritual illness. For there to be any true and lasting recovery for him, he must right the wrongs in his life from the inside out. To stay sober sexually and grow in recovery, he will have to surrender his resentments. 

(Sexaholics Anonymous, pp. 47-49.)

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