By Tim B.
Commenting around here requires surmounting two barriers to entry. The first, and simplest, is the technical requirements for leaving a comment. The second, and hardest, has to do with finding one’s voice and being willing to talk about the topics this website is about.
Taking first things first, commenting to a post starts with selecting the “Be the first to comment” link beneath the post. Then, type your comment into the box and select the “Submit comment” link at the bottom of the box when you’re done. Feel free to comment to this post if you have any problems with this
(or if you see a need for further/better explanation).
Finding your voice and being willing to talk about matters of sexual addiction are, as I said, more difficult than this. And, I’m afraid, I can be of limited help with this, because I have a limited ability to relate to it, as I’ve never had much trouble finding my voice. So this is what limited thought I have, for what it’s worth.
The simpler side of this tougher side is that, generally, most people who subscribe to or follow a blog, forum or mail list don’t participate in the discussion, regardless of the topic. To some degree, I think they don’t know what to say. Also, they don’t want to get into an argument or fight with people — they don’t want people to say mean things about them. It’s kinda like stage fright — they don’t like to speak in public, and they don’t like to post. And this is a society where people spend a considerable amount of their non-work time as spectators, whether they’re watching sports, movies or TV. Dozens will watch for every one who will participate.
In a blog/forum/mail list that’s not getting a lot of discussion, another phenomenon manifests itself — nobody wants to be the first one to say something. They want to wait and see what everybody else has to say before they put in their two cents worth. The problem is that, if everybody waits for somebody else to talk first, nobody talks. Going first is a characteristic of leadership, and not everybody is or wants to be a leader.
For folks around here, that phenomenon has another layer or two which discourages participation. Addictions in general, and sexual addictions in particular, feed and are fed by shame — a feeling of deep embarrassment at the idea that what one has done will bring disapproval from other people. This is contrasted with guilt, which is a feeling of pain that one has done something which is wrong, particularly in the eyes of God. Shame is basically horizontal in shape, as one looks around at other people, while guilt is basically vertical in shape, as one looks up to God. Hiding from the disapproval of others helps sustain the addiction, because the pain from the guilt of acting out can be medicated
(at a price of more pain) by further acting out, and hiding what you’re doing from others makes it less likely that you will be caught.
Consequently, folks who need this site — those struggling with sexual addiction or compulsive sexual behavior and the wreckage that can make in their lives — have more reason to not want to talk about the topics this site is here to discuss. Left alone, this would seem to indicate even more lurkers for each participant than the average website.
But there’s a reason we’re not leaving this alone — it squanders the opportunity this website can be in your life. Hiding in shame and guilt and keeping silent about what you’re going through sustains your addictive and compulsive behavior. I talk about this part more in my post How to Be a Successful Newbie. In recovery circles, folks will tell you that we’re only as sick as the secrets we keep, and there’s wisdom in that thought. They will also tell you that you only have two hands, so you have to choose whether you’re going to cover your face, or your backside, because you can’t do both. Walking into a meeting and talking about your struggles is very hard, but it is helpful in getting better. It is choosing to cover your backside, so to speak, and not protecting your face.
Participating here is easier than that, for a variety of reasons. One is that you don’t show your actual face around here, so nobody is looking at you while you respond to the posts around here. Another is that you don’t post here under your own identity
(unless you’re Rex, and, most likely, you’re not), so folks reading your comments don’t know who you are or how to contact you. So you don’t really have to expose your “face” to participate here.
Also, the blog comment area probably isn’t the best place to dig into your most painful stuff — that’s better dealt with in the Support Forums. Comments in the blog can be more about the ideas discussed in the posts. It’s a good place to begin to find your voice and to interact with these ideas so you can get ready to head to the Support Forums.
And, while leadership isn’t for everybody, it is critical to take charge of your recovery, and to become willing to do what it takes to make the progress you want to see. Your comfort zone will not help you, but God can. Pray for help. Pray for a desire to do what you need to do. Pray for the strength to do what you need to do. Pray for a desire to pray for what you need. Pray for whatever it is you need to move you down this path.
So, for those for whom participating in a place like this seems hard, or totally out of the question, I would offer this plan:
0. Pray as often as you can, as honestly as you can, for what you need in the moment, including what you need for help with this.
1. Set a date in the next month by which you will post a comment in the blog. 30 days is a long time to prepare for something like this if you’re going to do it. So put a mark on your calendar on that date.
2. Look over the blog, to see what posts you might want to comment on, and make some notes about what you might want to say.
3. If that note-jotting grows into something you can easily post as a comment, do so whenever that happens.
4. If that hasn’t happened by the time the date on your calendar comes, take the most likely one and make it into a comment. Type it into the box and push “Submit comment” and there you go.
5. Lather, rinse, repeat.
We look forward to your comments. Don’t worry if you make stupid comments — I have made stupider comments, and Rex can verify that. You don’t have to be perfect, or brilliant, or fluent, or anything like that to make this place better — you just need to be real, honest, and participate. In time, it will get more comfortable and easier.