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Reaching Out in the Right Way

by Jeff Ford, LMFT, Clinical Director

Years ago I was working with an individual who happened to be in school. One day he showed up to class only to realize that he had to take a test that he wasn’t expecting. In seconds, he felt an immediate change. Physically, his heart rate increased and his stomach dropped. He felt the need for more spiritual connection and began to say a prayer for help. As he looked around the classroom, he began sexually objectifying the women in his class. That also triggered him relationally and he sent a text to his wife to tell her he had forgotten about the test.

He took the test, and failed it.

When he walked out of the classroom, he was in pain. Not physical pain, but emotional pain brought on by the surprise test that didn’t go well. The experience put him into a situation where he was at a stage of the addiction cycle where he was at risk of acting out.

Now, as he was zoning out and in his emotional pain, he got on his motorcycle and...

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Ebb and Flow of Recovery

by Jeff Ford, LMFT, Clinical Director

Have you had a slip in recovery? Did you miss some of your recovery work due to the holidays or other life events? Are you out of your normal routine? Good, that’s a part of the recovery process that everyone experiences. To ensure you continue to make progress, the key is to get things back on track.

Life is full of unstructured time or unexpected events. No matter how much we plan or prepare, there will always be things that come up and catch us off guard. We just can’t be 100% all of the time.

This means that throughout the recovery process, there will be times when things will flex to match the ups and downs that are part of your normal day-to-day life. There is a natural ebb and flow. Of course, this does not mean that we are going to be perfect at dealing with those unexpected changes. It’s something you will need to learn as your recovery matures. In the beginning, having strict routines are critical, and over time...

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Paper Routes and Accountability

by Jeff Ford, LMFT, Clinical Director

When I was growing up I had a paper route. This meant that every morning I would get on my bike and make my way through the neighborhood to all of my deliveries. After some practice, I got pretty good at slinging the paper up to the porch from the sidewalk while I was still sitting on my bike. 

One summer morning, I threw a paper up to the house of an older widow who lived in the neighborhood. The paper crashed hard against her metal storm door and I heard the entire glass door break and crumble. I immediately wanted to ride away as quickly as I could because I felt so guilty. But I couldn’t. The loud sound had scared the woman inside and she was at the door as I made my way up to it. I apologized for what I had done and told her that I would pay for the damage. It took my whole paycheck, but I did it. 

Apologizing and paying for the door is what is known as behavioral accountability. However, when you are trying to repair a...

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Recovery During the Holidays

by Jeff Ford, LMFT, Clinical Director

The holidays can be such a fun time of year as you celebrate, take time away from work and spend time with family. Of course, those same things that make the holidays so great can also pose a challenge for anyone in recovery. The time away from work can mean extra time for some to get back into old habits. The additional time with family may also mean lots of difficult conversations about your relationships. 

So what do you do? One of the best things to start doing right now is to prepare and set limits. 

Avoid the Disconnect

Relational pain is the number one catalyst to activate the addiction cycle. This means you need to pay extra attention to how you are feeling. When you start to get overwhelmed or stressed, find ways to connect rather than disconnecting. 

One common disconnect I have seen is guys who turn to video games thanks to the extra time they have during the holidays. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases they’re are...

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Separation is Like a Sprained Ankle

by Jeff Ford, LMFT, Clinical Director

People enter therapy because they realize they are dealing with a difficult situation and recognize they need help to make things better. They want their marriage or relationship to become stronger and last. That’s why it can be a little surprising that in some cases, separation may be a useful tool. In fact, I’ve had several clients who have told me that separation was a game-changer for them in allowing recovery to take place. 

How is this possible? Think about a star basketball player. They spend countless hours working with their teammates to improve their skills, to learn plays and work hard in every game to win. One day during a game, they jump up for a rebound and land awkwardly on their ankle causing a bad sprain. After hobbling to the side of the court, a team doctor will immediately wrap it up and start to ice it. It’s not because they don’t want this star player in the game, it’s because by...

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The Vending Machine Principle

by Jeff Ford, LMFT, Clinical Director

Imagine a vending machine. Think about the clear glass on the front, and the buttons on the side that allow you to select your favorite treat or drink. What do you need to do to get it? We all know the process. You add a few coins or tap your phone on the pad, and punch in the correct number. In a few seconds, the candy bar or can will fall to the bottom and you can go on your way enjoying your treat. 

Too often, addicts learn to treat their loved ones or those around them like vending machines. When they want something, they walk up, punch the right buttons, and then walk away once they receive what they want. The problem, of course, is that people aren’t vending machines. We don’t want other people showing up only when they want something from us. We also want more connection than the punch of a few buttons. 

If this is happening in your relationship, the first thing to do is to set your boundaries. You...

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The Bike Ride

by Jeff Ford, LMFT, Clinical Director

It’s not uncommon for couples who are going through recovery to experience some emotional abuse. Ironically, this can happen when the addict doesn’t know how to deal with the emotions they are experiencing in recovery. They are missing the skills they need to manage these emotions and take it out on their spouse or other loved ones in the form of emotional abuse. Let me give you an example. 

I love to go on bike rides. I try to go at least a few days each week. However, I also live in a desert, which means I try to plan my rides when it’s as cool as possible outside. Recently, I was going out for a ride in the evening. My wife came along to go for a short run, and my daughter and one of her friends joined us to walk along the path. After I had gone a couple of miles, I ended up getting a flat. It was frustrating and I had to walk my bike back to the car. While I was walking, my wife called me to tell...

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Addiction & Affair Recovery Blog

Marriage infidelity, sex addiction, and pornography addiction can feel like some of life’s most isolating experiences. It may feel like nobody else understands, and you must navigate this road on your own. You are not alone. We want to provide you with as many resources as possible to help you, your spouse, and your family during the recovery back to trust, communication, and happiness.

LifeStar’s affair recovery blog is a free resource written by our therapists and experts for anyone who wants to help a loved one recover from addiction, assist someone hurt by pornography, look for warning signs, and heal themselves. LifeStar’s blog covers the following topics and more:

Pornography & Sex Addiction

Pornography and sex addictions are the root of hurt and pain in many modern marriages. Learn what is (and isn’t) true about these addictions. You could start with “Sex as an Addiction Officially Recognized by American Society of Addiction Medicine,”...

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