Recovery: How to read your fantasies

When you do accountability well, it can feed into recovery work.

Accountability is inviting someone to hold you responsible for your actions and help you respect your own values.

Recovery work is the messy but oh-so-liberating task of excavating your inner wounds in order to craft them into something positive. These wounds are what hold us captive and may be the result of trauma, neglect, abandonment, uncertainty, relationship severance or a whole range of other triggers.

As you recover from your emotional wounds, you will find freedom from pornography. You see, your addiction isn’t actually about sex. It’s about your intense longing for intimacy and escaping pain.

Recovery work is vital for healing. You may require a professional counsellor or therapist to guide you through this season of healing. The roots of our wounds can run deep, and most accountability partners aren’t equipped to deal with this type of work. However, if you have a small group led by an experienced woman or a mature accountability partner, you may be able to work through this with them with the right resources. You can find recovery guides, workbooks and support groups HERE. These can be used in a therapeutic, group or one on one setting.

Questions are a great tool for self-reflection.

My accountability partner and I made sure we had a solid foundation of honesty and regularity before we moved from accountability to recovery work. We knew it was going to be intense and require vulnerability to delve deeper into our wounds. We wanted to be prepared.

When we both felt ready, we began gently probing our hearts by examining the nature of our fantasies. We sought to understand our deepest emotional desires and unmet needs. We discovered our recurring fantasies were a window into some of our core wounds. These fantasies were our minds way of dealing with trauma and emotional deprivation. Our minds were trying to cope with overwhelming emotion, but these fantasies only kept us locked inside the trauma event or pain. Healing came when we could identify and deal with the pains associated with our fantasy.

How did we do it?

Most women have a favourite or recurring fantasy, and it is loaded with meaning. We firstly, identified ours then asked careful questions of ourselves:

  1. What is my most common fantasy?
  2. Who is involved and who may they represent?
  3. What is the setting?
  4. What is happening?                                                                                                 
  5. What do you think the emotional need behind the fantasy is? 

There may not be one clear answer. Our histories, experiences, personalities and lives are all unique, and complicated! Coping with intense emotion can become a mess of mixed intentions, hopes and pain. You will likely have a number of different aspects to your fantasy  and pain. It takes time to gain clarity.

Personally, I came to see I was reliving very specific sexual traumas, but ‘fixing’ them. In my fantasy, the act was the same, but I had control, I was enjoying myself, I was desired. The shame of the reality was too great, so my mind tried to make it okay. I felt worthless, like I wasn’t even good enough for sex, let alone love. So in my fantasy, I was cherished enough for someone to want to make the effort to please me.

I was void of gentle touch and nurturing growing up. I felt abandoned by my parents. This melded with my sexual trauma left me in a constant state fantasy. I dreamed about being wanted, known, cared for and lovingly touched.

Understanding my fantasy revealed I was attempting to resolve trauma, abandonment issues, embarrassment and shame through sex. I believed I was not worth loving, and not worth making love to. Self-awareness paved the path for truly facing these issues with a professional, and finding true healing that has led me into freedom.

These revelations will stir an ache in your heart that feels insatiable and bitter. But take your time, cry often and never stop questioning and answering, even when it feels too much. But remember to be gentle on yourself, too. Ensure you are being cared for, and participating in self-care regularly. You will learn to lean on Jesus in a totally new and vulnerable way in this time. You will learn to let Him fulfil the needs of your heart and teach you true intimacy.

Planned, intentional questions asked with care are vital to accountability and recovery. They are worth answering, even if your face is red, your shame is deep and your legs want to run far away. It certainly is an emotional pilgrimage. Working recovery is an act of true courage. It takes incredible strength, but is entirely possible.

Recovery is strong. Recovery is brave. Recovery takes guts. And you’ve got them.

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