The air is getting cooler, and as I catch the scent of autumn leaves on the breeze several images come to mind. School buses, backpacks, trick-or-treating and … white ribbons.
White Ribbon Against Pornography Week, which always begins on the last Sunday of October, is 10/29 – 11/4 this year. And to help celebrate, I’d like to share a fabulous resource from a colleague in the addiction recovery realm.
Lately I’ve been writing about resources for kids. But this one is for grown-ups. It’s a handbook:
You might not realize it, but I have shared bits and pieces of this book before. It’s by Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, and I am a huge fan of all his work.
You might remember two of his articles I’ve shared in the past: “What My Wife is Worth” and “Dear Porn: A Father’s Letter.” Both of these pieces are incorporated into Life After Lust as part of a seamless plan to help those who are struggling to escape the grasp of sex addiction.
A bit about the author
Before I discuss Life After Lust, I’d like to rewind to the moment I “met” Forest Benedict. The first Shades of Grey movie was slated to hit the big screen, and I was working on the #FiftyShadesIsAbuse campaign for the National Center On Sexual Exploitation.
Among others supporting the boycott, this post splashed across our radar from a passionate guy who was an intern at LifeSTAR of the Central Valley at the time. It was Forest. He was fired up, fed up, and finished being quiet about it. His post went viral! But that was only the beginning.
Through the years I have watched Forest press forward and gain momentum, become a licensed practitioner, and now he is one of the leaders at the forefront of the Movement to End Sexual Exploitation. I have heard him tell his story as a recovering addict himself, as a therapist who seeks to help others, and as an expert who continually seeks to further his education in his field. Life After Lust is a beautiful extension of his work and a tangible product of his passion for the cause.
One of the things I love most about Life After Lust is that the author is a real person. He doesn’t drone on in stuffy, condescending tones. Instead, we hear his voice as a recovering addict, a husband, and a parent.
It was the “father” chapter in Life After Lust that first captured my attention. It’s a passionate plea. A letter written to porn from a warrior father who will never back down. It’s a beautiful call-to-arms for all parents, everywhere. A battle-cry for parent-kind!
For anyone working with children who is truly invested in this issue, I highly recommend watching the video adaptation of this chapter, which I’ve included below. But be sure to grab a tissue! I am moved every time. You can also view a brief 2-minute excerpt here.
For betrayed spouses
If you know my history, it might seem puzzling that I picked up this book. After all, pornography and sex addiction obliterated my first marriage. I admit that at first I was hesitant. And I braced myself for what was sure to be a trigger-filled read.
But surprisingly, my experience with Life After Lust was exactly the opposite. Instead of pain, I found a road to discovery. I admit I’ve done a lot of healing since my divorce, and I’ve already made significant headway in my journey. So I’m not saying it will be the same for every betrayed spouse. But from the perspective of a partner of an addict, I was impressed with the way the author handled the material.
Something I really appreciate is that there is no facade of perfection. He admits there are setbacks–but doesn’t make excuses. He emulates a sense of humility and vulnerability, but also courage and strength.
I have spent years researching addiction and feeling empathy for those suffering. But I don’t think it really clicked until I read Life After Lust. Interestingly enough, since our shattered marriage both my ex-husband and I have moved on to assist others in recovery. During our struggle, we were oblivious about tools that could have helped us–tools like Life After Lust.
The author shares his story through a series of experiences and analogies that finally helped me understand what addiction is like. I felt the internal wrestle. I understood the pain. Through the author’s articulate descriptions and crystal-clear imagery, I was able to “go there” with this book in ways I have never experienced before. I did not expect that.
For that reason, I would actually recommend this book not only for those struggling with addiction, but also for those who are trying to understand the nature of addiction.
A fabulous read
I am ashamed to admit it, but I have a plethora of half-read self-help books on my shelves … and probably a couple on my bedside table at any given moment too. Even if it’s a topic I really care about, I just can’t seem to get past those first few chapters.
I guess I’m a sucker for fiction. I like stories. Is it just me?
I thoroughly enjoyed Life After Lust because it’s the best of both worlds. It’s a biographical how-to manual, but in every chapter the author includes a great hook: a story!
Imagine checking your favorite blog every day, but each post also features helpful tips to incorporate into your life. That’s basically how the chapters in Life After Lust are formatted. So it ends up feeling more like a pleasure read than a boring, dry textbook.
When I turned the last page of Life After Lust, I felt so accomplished! I had read a whole nonfiction book. But I hardly noticed, because it was fun. Also, the stories have helped me internalize the concepts in the book, and I reflect upon them often.
A practical guide
Life After Lust is full of hope and inspiration, but in terms of recovery these things only go so far. The author, who is a therapist by trade, obviously knows this. So rather than telling his story and sending the reader off with a few inspiring words, he has gone to great lengths creating a helpful hands-on plan to actually WORK on recovery.
The book is broken into three parts: Mindset, Mastery, and Mission. Within these sections, each chapter lists specific goals or tenets.
- Mindset chapters focus on Essential Mindsets
(For example, Chapter 1 begins with Essential Mindset #1: “Recovery from sexual addiction is difficult, possible and worth the effort.”)
- Mastery chapters focus on Skills to Master
- Mission chapters focus on Missions to Accomplish
The reader is encouraged to copy down these little nuggets and put them on a bathroom mirror or somewhere they will be visible, to help in recovery. And some of them–which you might have noticed throughout my post–have also been made into very cool memes.
The plan in Life After Lust is extremely adaptable, too. Although the sections and chapters are numbered, they are also self-contained and nonlinear, which means the reader doesn’t necessarily have to read the book start to finish and follow the steps straight through. It’s also possible to pick and choose or skip around, depending on specific needs at the moment.
And yet another possibility accommodates the reader who is seeking a more structured, long-term action plan. In the back of the book, there is a 52-week plan that incorporates all the mindsets, skills, and missions throughout the book in an easy step-by-step format.
A necessity for addiction recovery
Although I have settled into the “mama” space in the Movement to End Sexual Exploitation, addiction recovery is really what launched me into this work. My shattered marriage started everything, so it is from somewhere deep in my soul that I feel the meaning of this book. It is real. It is articulate. And it has the power to assist in the healing process in a really unique way.
For that reason, I highly recommend Life After Lust to those struggling with addiction, and also to parents, spouses, clinicians, and loved ones everywhere. Anyone who is involved with pornography addiction should experience this book.