Friction and Inertia

healing progress temptation Dec 21, 2020

I felt a strong craving. A lust craving. One that I wanted to fulfill with a woman. Any woman.

It was a Sunday evening as I was sitting in church. During the preaching. If that shocks you, this website may not be the place for you.

My Bible was flopped open on my lap and the preaching was lively and relevant. But I didn’t care. My mind was somewhere else, being pulled by my craving. I had been sober for a long time so I was a bit disoriented, but the sensation also felt familiar, like an old friend. Like the bad kid from the neighborhood that you liked getting in trouble with.

I discreetly hit the home button on my phone and scanned the apps. I had gotten rid of all of the dangerous apps that I had previously used in finding sex partners. Friction. Something to slow me down. Slightly frustrated, I got onto the NFL app to check the football scores. My team was losing a game they shouldn’t be losing. Bummer.

I launched a classified website that has some dark corners and began scanning the posts, looking for trouble. I glanced over at my friend sitting two seats away from me. I wasn’t alone so I had to be careful. Friction. What would she think if she knew what I was thinking? What would my pastor think? What would the guys that I am sponsoring think? More friction.

Friction is good. It is the things that I have removed or the environment I have set up that make acting out difficult and inconvenient. Like the friction of a car’s brake pads to slow it down or stop it. Like the friction of a handrail to keep you from falling down the stairs.

I tried to lock back in on the sermon, but it wasn’t working. The craving got stronger. And more vivid.

I thought back to my 12-step meeting earlier in the day and the helpful things I heard. I thought back to the strong bond and camaraderie that I experienced with the guys. I thought about being at McDonalds after the meeting with some of the guys and the good fellowship we had. I thought about the strong bond I was developing with one of the new guys that rode to the meeting with me. I felt some inertia. Positive inertia.

Positive inertia is good. It is the positive relationships, habits, and routines that I have built into my life as part of my recovery and growth. It comes from an active and aggressive seeking after God and His healing power. It is what pushes me in a positive direction.

Finally, the service was over and a few short conversations later, I headed out into the dark, cold night. On the way to my car, a friend stopped me, gave a small gift, and wished me a merry Christmas. After some pleasantries I hopped into my car and left.

Christmas. I have always struggled around that time of year and I felt some gloom and depression set in. And the craving came back. Maybe it never left, but I was distracted from it by conversations after church. Friction. 

I had shaken my pastor’s hand on the way out. He knew about my lust addiction and how I had allowed it to destroy my marriage and my ministry. But he knew that I was sober and in solid recovery. I had shared with him my vision to have this website and community to help others that were struggling. He knew the truth. Positive inertia.

What would he think if I followed through on my craving and got caught? Friction.

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up a few things. It was pretty quiet and I got to the line quickly. At that point, my mind was kind of in neutral and instead of thinking positive and pure thoughts, I let it wander back to the craving. The cashier was attractive and my eyes wandered inappropriately. I looked for a wedding ring and noticed a small tattoo on her wrist.

I tried to think of something flirty and clever to say, but it had been so long since my mind had been in that “mode.” Friction. The high probability of rejection and shame. A close friend would be expecting a call or text in a little over an hour. More friction.

I got home and put the groceries away. I glanced at my desk and saw things I had purchased to help me develop recovery content. I thought about some of the things I had written to help others that were in my current situation. I had written a lot about temptation. Inertia. Positive inertia.

I was very tired and got ready for bed. I wasn’t sure I had the energy to get into much trouble. Friction. I had established a solid, steady habit of getting up early and writing in my journal. I was walking most mornings before sunrise and praying and meditating. Inertia.

I plugged in my phone and got in bed and let out a sigh. The comfort of the bed made me very sleepy. But there was the craving again. I picked up my phone and started a text. I tried to address it to a former adulterous partner. I even struggled to remember her name. I typed her name, but nothing happened. Early on in recovery, I had cleaned out my contacts so her name  didn’t pop up. Friction.

A few minutes later, sleep. Sound, restful sleep.

Like every morning, the alarm went off early. Relief. As always, I made my bed. Positive inertia. I was ready for my positive morning routine. Confession to my God. Joy in His grace. Confession to a close, accepting, and loving friend. Getting help seeing and pulling out the roots. A “postmortem” so that I can add friction where necessary and increase the positive inertia toward continued growth and healing. Progress not perfection.

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