Codependency is rampant in this society. Like cancer is to the body, codependency is to relationships. Codependency refers to a state of being that is centered around the unconscious desires an individual has towards catering to the needs of others at the expense of themselves. People with unclear boundaries, who lack the ability to say “no” often times are victims of codependent thinking. Codependency shows up in relationships that include partners suffering an addiction to substance abuse, as well as other forms of addiction. When people are in love with alcoholics, they tend to find themselves worrying obsessively about their addicted loved one. They worry about them physically, financially and emotionally. They worry about them so often, that they lose touch with their own needs because so much of their attention has been paid to trying to fix the alcoholic. The alcoholic is dependent upon the alcohol, and the alcoholics partner is dependent upon the fixing the alcoholic. Whenever people find themselves trying to fix someone else, to the point where they have lost touch with their own needs, they are engaging in codependent behavior. On the other side of the equation, whenever people behave like victims to get their selfish needs met, they are engaging in codependent behavior. When people are unable to be honest in relationships, because they fear hurting the feelings of the other person, they are engaging in codependent behavior. Any behavior that disallows the full, honest expression of one human being to another, can be considered codependent in nature. From an article by Lisa A. Romano

“The only person that can ever truly make you happy is yourself. Stop depending on everyone else.” – Anonymous

by Maria Marballi


Stumbling interferes with the sanctification of our hearts.

Darkness can cause us to fall, but Christ is able to keep us.  We cannot forget that it is to Him we send our prayers; He will turn darkness to light, and the the Holy Spirit will help us walk.

When our child’s Internet misuse feels like a despairing cycle, we bow our heads in prayer; He is able.

When the eye lusts and addictions to impurity take hold of the mind and body, we bow our heads in prayer; He will keep us from stumbling.

When we feel like there is no escape from a sinful cycle, we bow our heads in prayerHe can make us stand.

Yet we are quick to become disheartened and overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and hopelessness when bombarded by the images and attitudes of our sexualized culture, and paralyzed by the unholy desire to fix our own problems…or worse, hide them in secrecy.

Surely the Word of God sings a new song.  If we take a moment to consider the power and majesty of the God we serve, we must also acknowledge His awe-inspiring ability and will to protect our hearts and minds from evil.  He can make us blameless.

He desires contrition and the renewal of our hearts in purity, and when we pray for Him to heal and protect, He responds with an overwhelming “Yes.”

Depression and discouragement can spin into an endless cycle of sin, but through the love and faithfulness of Christ Jesus, He fills us with the joy that is our strength.

What verses sustain you during times of trial or temptation?

screen-shot-2012-07-03-at-9-00-00-am1Maria Marballi attends The Ohio State University and was a 2012 pureJUSTICE intern.

I love superhero movies.  I don’t really know why.  I don’t read comic books.  Maybe it was me, as a child, hoping to be rescued from sexual abuse and neglect or maybe it was in watching superhero movies like Superman, I was able to escape my dysfunctional childhood for a few hours.  Nevertheless, it wasn’t until entering recovery that the Holy Spirit gave me some special “recovery glasses” that have allowed me to spot recovery themes in various media; music, movies, photographs, etc…  These themes can include support groups, honesty, selfishness, selflessness, redemption, etc… that are portrayed in the movie. 

X-Men: Days of Future Past is one of these movies.  The plot of this movie has been pasted below courtesy of Google:

Convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) develops the Sentinels, enormous robotic weapons that can detect a mutant gene and zero in on that person… More. In the 21st century, the Sentinels have evolved into highly efficient killing machines. With mutants now facing extinction, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) volunteers to go back in time and rally the X-Men of the past to help change a pivotal moment in history and thereby save their future.

What I saw in this movie was the hope that we give to others when we sponsor them as well as us needing hope for healing as we listen to the worst of the worst from our sponsees.  Therapists and counselors also experience this hope when they see the transformation process.  But it is up to the sponsor, therapist, or counselor not to break underneath the weight of the brokenness of those he is trying to help.  It is the greatest gift we have, to help one another the way God helped us and help them bear their burdens.  This movie is dedicated to all sponsors, mentors, facilitators, therapists, and counselors who willing help others out of their love for God and His healing of the individual we help.

I hope you enjoy watching this video as much as I enjoyed creating it.  As always, take what you like and leave the rest.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for purposes such as criticism, comment, teaching, & education, etc. This constitutes a ’fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED! All trademarks and copyrights remain the property of their owners.
Relapse and the Brain by Michael Dye

In very simplistic terms, we have two parts to our brains. The first part is the neocortex. It is located in the front of the head and receives and stores information for decision making and remembering. The other part is called the limbic system, which controls all the automatic systems of the body and the emotions. Most importantly, the limbic system controls the survival responses, i.e., fight or flight and freeze. When you feel threatened, these protective responses tell you either to defend yourself or to run away or go numb. The limbic system doesn¹t have a memory like the neocortex. It doesn’t know the difference between yesterday and 30 years ago, which explains why some of our childhood traumas still trigger us so powerfully today. It is the limbic system that is most affected by our beliefs, behaviors and addictions. The limbic system can be negatively programmed through traumatic experiences such as growing up in a stressful or” dysfunctional family”. Basically the limbic systems encourages us to repeat things that give us pleasure and take away pain and avoid things that hurt or have to do with fear. Drugs, alcohol and other compulsive behaviors have programmed the limbic system to avoid the awareness of uncomfortable thoughts and feelings instead of making healthy responses to resolve fear.

Events come through our senses and are fed into various parts of the brain. The limbic system colors or tags these events with degrees of response as either safe or dangerous. If tagged dangerous because of past trauma, either real or imagined, it reacts by creating anxiety or depression. If the event is tagged having to do with survival, the limbic system can create a focused craving for behavior that has been associated with survival in the past. The craving focuses our attention on that behavior until we feel safe or normal again. Thus an addiction is created. Addiction is not about getting high but [it provides] a way to feel normal (free of stress). The conscious mind learns to cooperate with the survival behavior (addiction) and protects it from being challenged by a filtering process called denial. The result is the addictive brain.

The limbic system may have learned that having needs in a dysfunctional family resulted in vulnerability, hurt, abandonment, and isolation. In order to survive day after day in a dysfunctional/threatening atmosphere, a person has to find a system of thought that will allow for survival by removing stress. One way they may have done this is by thinking “I don¹t need anybody”. If I don¹t need anybody, I’m not vulnerable. If I’m not vulnerable, I don¹t get hurt.

(this is what Genesis calls a survival lie.)

Every time a feeling of vulnerability is experienced, fear creeps in and warns, Danger! Feelings of fear and panic signal you to fight, flee, or freeze to avoid possible hurt.

This limbic process responds automatically and subconsciously. Even after the painful or traumatic situation is over, the subconscious still believes that If I have needs and trust other people, I’m going to get hurt and I won’t survive. When trust issues come up today, the limbic system can react with strong emotions as it was programmed . This fear can be expressed in anger/rage, self-gratification and mistrust which creates a survival personality. Your protective personality makes you feel in control (free of fear and stress) by pushing people away. This false sense of control is often achieved through self-gratification or compulsive/addictive behaviors which temporarily removes the awareness of the unwanted thoughts and feelings… The Limbic System controls basically three areas, food, sex and safety. Which is why all our compulsives / addictive behaviors are in these three areas.

To change, you must reprogram your brain by first discovering these false beliefs and then replacing them with the truth. You will realize, for example, why you have been sabotaging relationships by believing that you don¹t need anybody. The truth is you need to trust God and others. The Limbic System will make it very difficult for you to make changes that involve risk (like recovery) unless it feels it is safe. And it’s not safe to take risk alone. Personal change always involves risk.

Even though you’ve discovered false beliefs, uncovered the lies and know a new truth, there is a time lag between what your limbic system believes and what your neocortex has learned. This is called limbic lag, a process that can be anywhere from a couple of months to years, but it will get shorter as you continue to uncover and challenge the false beliefs (lies produced from traumatic experiences) and risk trusting again. You may have fear and panic attacks, but once you go through them without doing the old behavior, your limbic system will say, “Oh, we went through that and actually survived.” The next time you experience the fear it will be less, and you will be able to make a good choice rather than overreacting with a fight , flight or freeze response. Old automatic habits aren’t changed quickly or easily, and are stronger when we’re tired. Many recovering addicts and trauma survivors have programmed the survival part of their brains with thousands and thousands of instances of avoiding unwanted thoughts or emotions choosing not to resolve with their issues, but to take “flight” into their addiction. Over time, this flight pattern becomes an automatic reaction. With a new identity based on new beliefs, you can change that flight pattern and reprogram their limbic system.

Changes happens one decision at a time. No matter what your emotions tell you would feel good to do (drugs, alcohol, sex, food), listen to what your mind knows, and do what is best or right. If you continue to apply this key thought, you will begin to break the limbic patterns, and decrease the time of the limbic lag process.

Drugs and alcohol are anesthetics. They do one thing: they kill pain. It is reasonable to assume that when you give up the anesthetic, you will feel the pain, discomfort and uneasiness. Knowing what to do when this occurs is a critical skill in relapse prevention. Relapse prevention is finding new appropriate ways to respond to painful situations. In order to learn appropriate responses to pain, people with addictions have to allow themselves to feel. The two most common responses to pain are anger and anxiety.

Anger is one of the most common responses to pain. This kind of response becomes normal in dysfunctional families where no one can admit problems or fears. Anger helps us cope with pain by physically making us tense, which causes excitement, releasing adrenaline and endorphins, diverting our attention from the pain. An angry response produces a neurochemical response similar to taking cocaine. Neurochemically speaking the main role of anger is to anesthetize fear.

Most people say that anger makes them feel bad afterwards, but in the moment anger itself makes us feel big, right, strong, aggressive and powerful. Anger is a powerful physical and emotional anesthetic. Heroin is a powerful pain killer. When I ask heroin-addicted clients, How much heroin would you have to do for you not to feel it if I hit you in the face as hard as I could? their answer is always the same, right on the verge of overdosing and dying. Similarly, when a person is really angry, he can be hit in the face and not feel it.

Consciously or subconsciously, we have learned to use emotions such as anger to kill pain and to avoid subconscious, unwanted thoughts, feelings, and memories. Many addicts have an addiction to anger as well as drugs, especially if their role models were rageaholics. Healthy people move towards their pain and face it courageously. Although risk is uncomfortable, we all enjoy the feeling that comes through conflict resolution and a clear conscience. Controlling anger and avoiding things that need to be dealt with takes a tremendous amount of energy. Repressing the awareness of unresolved conflicts leads to exhaustion and resentment.

Anxiety is equally used as an anesthetic to cope with feelings. Though uncomfortable, this emotion releases neurochemicals that cause the body to speed up and avoid depression. Dr. Stiles in his book Thorns in the Heart states that:

Besides making us alert in crisis situations, anxiety has an additional function. It serves as an antidote to emotional and physical pain. Since anxiety is commonly thought of in connection with pain and distress, its pain-masking function may come as a surprise. If anxiety causes emotional pain, how does it also stop it? In modest amounts, anxiety is an effective smoke screen Here¹s where the trouble begins. When we find anxiety has served us well in a particular situation, such as masking pain, we may deliberately use it again. At this point our lower brain begins to record our response. Soon, an imprint, or habit, develops and we have learned anxiety. In time, anything triggering these learned patterns, or imprints, will produce the anxiety responses.

If a person holds on to two, small unresolved resentments which produce anxiety each day, in a year they would add up to 730! How many resentments do you think a person can hold inside as unresolved problems before that person relapses? What we know is this: resentment relapses alcoholics and addicts. As it says in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous: Resentment is the Number one offender. It destroys more alcoholics then anything else; from it stem all forms of spiritual disease.

Relapse is a predictable process. It has identifiable stages, each of which has a distinctive neurochemical basis. The FASTER SCALE in the Genesis Process is a neurochemical model of relapse that identifies specific high risk behaviors for each stage of the relapse process. Before relapse happens, many biological, psychological and social changes affect our neurochemistry. Addicts speed up their avoidance behaviors, increasing anxiety and anger to mask pain. This depletes endorphins, causing hopelessness and exhaustion. In this state of exhaustion, addicts isolate and feel they cannot cope without chemicals.

Every letter in the word FASTER stands for one of the steps in the relapse scale. This scale reflects a progression of strong emotions that mask pain. It explains neurochemically what almost every addict goes through in his descent to relapse. Remember, anger and anxiety release adrenaline and norepinephrine, which speed up the body. After speeding up we get ticked off and then exhausted.

All the steps in the relapse process have one thing in common: procrastination. A problem that was never dealt with begins each state. As you fail to deal with problems, you move down the FASTER scale. Crisis comes at a time when you are least able to deal with it emotionally. The short version of the Faster Scale is speed up> anger > tired > use.
The Faster Scale is a tool that can effectively see a relapse coming a minimum of two weeks before it happens.

1.) Stiles, S. Thorns in the Heart: A Christians Guide to Dealing with Pain.  Washington: Gospel Publishing House, 1994

2.) Anonymous, The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, AA

Reprinted with permission, from The Genesis Process: A Relapse Prevention Workbook for Addictive/Compulsive Behaviors by Michael Dye and Patricia Fancher.

… this is what she really wants to say to you!  Be grateful that she loves you enough to use tact.

Liar Ecard


The truth is, we have a track record of lying to our wife over the course of our marriage.  However, now that we’re in recovery we can practice rigorous honesty and earn back her trust, slowly, one truth at a time!

Last month I wrote two articles which constituted a 5 Step Battle Plan (Part 1, and Part 2) on how to break free from pornography.

In today’s post I want to talk about what to do in the heat of temptation!

In his book, Treating Pornography Addiction, Dr. Kevin Skinner discusses, what he has dubbed “the pornography highway”.

The basic idea is this, when a person succumbs to pornography two things have happened. 1) There was a moment in time when something made him think of porn, or, instigated his desire to use it, 2) and then he used it. There is, however, according to Dr. Skinner, at least 5 stages in between these two bookends.

These constitute a sort of “highway” which the one who falls to porn travels down. These stages include: 1) Stimulus (or triggers) 2) Emotion. 3) Thought 4) Chemical Response 5) Body Language 6)  Second Thought 7) Behavior.

The Pornography Highway

Let’s look at each of these in more detail. I would recommend that you either get a pen and paper or open up a word document as you read through this post, as I’m going to invite you at each stage to think about how this relates to you, and, at the end of this post, what can be done to reverse—do a u-turn on—the pornography highway.

1. Stimulus (or triggers): that which leads us to think about pornography.

What is that for you? Seeing immodest women (magazines, movies, real life)? Being alone at home with untethered internet access? Reading immodest and unchaste novels?

2. Emotion: We then experience an emotion such as excitement or curiosity.

What emotions do you commonly experience when thinking about the possibility of looking at pornography?

3. Thought: We then entertain thoughts such as: “I wonder what I would find,” and, “Surely one more time won’t hurt.”

What thoughts do you have? What thoughts “justify” or, we might say, “authorize” you looking at porn? Think hard about this and write down your answers. Only you can know what they are.

Here are some thoughts men have shared with me: “Hey I could look at porn.” “It’s just a click away.” “No one’s at home.” “No one has to know.” “I know that I’m eventually going to fall to this, I may as well go ahead and fall, get it out the way so that the temptation will be over and I can repent.”

4. Chemical Response: The next thing that happens is our body is flooded with chemicals which prepare us for what the body is expecting, sexual excitement and orgasm (if you’re unaware of the pharmaceutical lab between your ears, and it’s real ability to produce brain drugs which the brain then becomes addicted to, click here to learn more).

At this point one has picked up such speed along the “pornography highway” that slamming on the breaks and turning back is extremely difficult.

5. Body Language: Sweating of the palms; increased heart rate; erection, etc.

What reactions do you experience?

6. Second Thought: This thought is unlike the first which may seek to justify the initial descent down the pornography highway. This thought is what Dr. Skinner calls “the battle.”

If this step is non-existent, you have no hope. The thoughts at this stage may be thoughts such as, “This is a sin.” “I don’t want to be this type of person.” “If my wife finds out she’ll be crushed. “People depend on me.” “Don’t be a hypocrite!”

What thoughts do you experience at this stage?

7. Behavior: Though one tries to battle the temptation, the battle is too strong and the person ends up looking at pornography.

Take some time to think, if you haven’t already, to reflect slowly and intentionally about your own sequence.

Making the U-Turn

How do we deactivate this sequence? How do we turn around? It seems to me, and I think you’ll agree, it needs to be done before the chemical release, because. as we’ve seen, and as many men and women addicted to pornography attest, once those chemicals get dumped into one’s system it’s extremely difficult to back out.

So, time to write the game-plan. There will be two parts to your game plan. The first part will concern how you will avoid (to whatever extent feasible) those triggers; the second will concern what you will do when you encounter those triggers.

One more thing, try your best not to write what you think you ought to write, or what you’ve heard you ought to do, rather, write what you know will be helpful.

Step 1

How will you avoid your triggers? Another way of asking this question might be, “When am I most vulnerable?” and “how can I avoid that?” Write down at least five ways that you will do this. Make it personal, make it your own.

Some answers might be:

  • I’m vulnerable when I’m alone at night watching TV.
  • I’m vulnerable while driving past that strip club on the way home from work.
  • A trigger for me is being confronted by bikini-clad women while I’m at the beach.
  • When I go into the gas station and glance at the top shelf of pornography.
  • I need to Stop reading or watching legitimate (by legitimate I mean perhaps legitimate for others but not for you because it’s a trigger) literature or shows that lead you to think about porn.
Step 2

What five things (ten if you can) will you do when you encounter that trigger?

Some answers may be:

  • Call a friend, tell him your tempted and ask him to check in in a day or two.
  • Distract yourself. I’m reminded of the words of St. Alphonsus Liguori who said, “In temptations against chastity, the spiritual masters advise us, not so much to contend with the bad thought, as to turn the mind to some spiritual, or, at least, indifferent object. It is useful to combat other bad thoughts face to face, but not thoughts of impurity.”
  • Some men have told me that if they encounter a trigger, they won’t use the internet while alone that day, or they wont use it all together.

At any rate, write these 10 things (in total) down and, if you want to follow the advice of Dr. Skinner, read them every day for at least a month.

You can get Dr. Skinner’s amazing book—probably the best I’ve read on porn addiction—here.

originally posted at:

Ever wonder why we crave our addiction?
Neuro-transmitters, or chemicals, are released by our brains when we act out.  The more we act out the more these chemicals are released in unhealthy massive amounts.

Ohhh something exciting is coming and I can’t wait till it gets here!
This feels sooooo goooood!
It feels so good that I’m going to brand how good it feels into my memory.
… and nurture it, this euphoria that I’m feeling; take care of it, keep it warm, love it.
Resistance is futile
Recovery is fruitful