• mbkastleman

He's in Porn Addiction Recovery . . . but What About His Thoughts?


Recently a woman reached out to me through my website with some very legitimate, intelligent, important questions. She's married to a man who is in active recovery from pornography addiction. Yet, she wonders and has concerns about what's going on in his mind. She knows he's working recovery on the outside, but what about sexual thoughts and fantasies? After all, he spent decades viewing endless sexual images, filling his brain's memory bank. How does he keep the images of past online sexual encounters out of his mind? Wouldn't it be easy for him to "reminisce" and no one would be the wiser?


First, let me say that "I can relate?!" As one who struggled hopelessly through decades of addiction, I know just how difficult it can be when those stored images come flooding out onto the stage of the mind. Often, before I learned the tools for managing the stage of my own mind, those "image floods" were overwhelming! I also know the trauma this caused my wife during my dark addiction years. And I've witnessed the struggles of the many spouses I've worked with in my practice over the last 20 years. There's a very tender place in my heart for all women who face the pain of betrayal trauma.


For those in recovery who wonder if they will ever be free of the onslaught of sexual images, and to all the women who wonder if they will ever have a husband with a "clear mind"—let me say there is GREAT HOPE!


One of the challenges with porn addiction is that once the images are in the brain's memory banks, they cannot be "erased." HOWEVER, we CAN learn some very powerful skills to use when those images pop up. We do NOT have to allow unwanted images to play on the mind's stage. We can practice taking complete charge and stepping into the role of what I call a "Forceful Stage Director." While we can't control what comes into our minds, we can absolutely direct and dictate what happens to those images once they appear!


And, the appearance of unwanted images and our struggles with them can be an invaluable "early warning system" if we can learn HOW to use it. Why am I struggling with sexual images? Where are the urges coming from? What have I been neglecting in my spiritual, emotional or physical self-care? How about my mindfulness practices of late? How "connected" or "disconnected" have I been in my most important relationships lately? Have I become complacent in any way in my recovery practices? Am I falling back into old patterns or habits? Am I feeling "needy" or wanting to "escape" or "avoid"? If yes, then why?


Approached from a place of mindfulness, perspective and empowerment, the appearance of unwanted sexual images need not control, overwhelm or shame us. Using the right tools and enabled and empowered by the grace of Christ, we CAN direct the stages of our own minds in precisely the ways we most desire to do so. And if you are the spouse of a recovering addict, your confidence in his abilities, determination and success to direct his mind's stage for good can become solid and sure.


In a recent PBSE podcast, Steve Moore and I address the challenge of unwanted sexual images and memories—



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