Facing your fears: a key issue in recovery

It can be scary in the first few months of life without addictive sexual behavior. When we are in our addiction, we lived in fear of being found out. Now in recovery, we feel a great sense of relief to not be hiding those behaviors … but we also have other new fears to face.

Common fears of people in early recovery include:

  • fear of returning to old behaviors
  • fear of losing spouse and/or child custody as a result of our acting out
  • encountering the stigma and judgmental attitudes from people who know about our addiction
  • going to support group meetings for the first time and not knowing anyone
  • fear of boredom or emptiness in life without our addictive behaviors
Fortunately, recovery also gives us new tools to face our fears. As with any emotion, we learn that fear is not overpowering or permanent. Like a wave that washes over us, we know that it will come and go. We can reach out to others for support when we feel alone or insecure. We can turn our fears into prayers, and ask for God’s help.

We can use journaling to make a “fear to gratitude” list. We can list not only our fears, but also the things we are grateful for. By focusing on the things we’re grateful for, we’re reminded that God has protected and cared for us in the past. If we’ve been helped in the past, chances are we’ll also be helped in the future.

Ultimately, we don’t really “conquer” our fears, we surrender them. We acknowledge them, and choose to let them go. We turn them over to God.

I have it most helpful to do this by using the Serenity Prayer. When I pray the Serenity Prayer, I usually find that the fear I am carrying is about things I can’t control anyway. So I am reminded to simply focus attention on the things that I actually can do something about. Then I surrender the rest to God’s care.
Serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

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