(a book review)
“You play the victim so well; I’m surprised you don’t carry around your own body chalk.”
~ Author Unknown
I had the great privilege and honor to have Eddie Capparucci, a certified sex addiction therapist from Abundant Life Counseling in Marietta, GA and blogger for Sexually Pure Men, ask me to read his new book, Going Deeper: Understanding How the Inner Child Impacts Your Sexual Addiction. This book was released last week, February 13, 2020.
Eddie has created a treatment program for sex and porn addiction that he named the Inner Child Recovery Process which focuses on helping individuals empower themselves by recognizing it’s their inner child that’s “running the show” when it comes to the addiction. His process has been outlined in his new book.
Discussion with Rafiki
I have to admit, I’m excited to have been asked to not only read a new book before publication, but then write about it too. And yet, there’s quite a bit of fear coming up as a result.
Three Months Ago
I enthusiastically give Rafiki a call. “Guess what I was just asked?” I chatter rapidly, interrupting him halfway through “Hello.”
“My, aren’t you the happy camper today,” He replies, then waits.
“I just had a therapist out in Georgia ask me to read about his new book and write about it on my blog. It’s all about inner child work and how that relates to sex addiction.”
“That’s wonderful, Phoenix. Not only has your writing helped you heal, your message is being heard.” I can hear how impressed Rafiki sounds and a warmth fills my heart. I don’t remember getting that much approval from my parents.
“I know right! This is really cool.” Then I pause. Like a black cloud that just blocked out the sun, I feel my heart turn to ice and fear start to rob me of my joy. “What if I screw up?”
“Huh?” For the first time, I think I caught Rafiki off guard. He wasn’t expecting the sudden shift in energy.
“What if I do it all wrong? Or come across plagiarizing something? Or if this therapist, or anyone else out there for that matter, finds out I’m a fraud?”
Rafiki quickly regains his composure. “Did I hear you say that this book is about the inner child?”
“Yes,” I reply tentatively.
“Perfect. Nothing you will say can be wrong.”
“Huh?” It’s now my turn to sound lost.
“Nothing you say will be wrong,” Rafiki repeats.
“I’m not following you.” I’m utterly confused with where he’s going.
“Your fears of not being perfect, of judgment from others, of failing in any capacity, are those of your inner child. Your excitement to be noticed, recognized, and wanting to share that to the world, is also your inner child. So, whatever you do, it won’t be wrong. You’ll be looking at it through the filter of your inner child, which is what this book is all about.”
I kinda get what he’s saying, but it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.
Rafiki continues, “I think the timing is right to do this: selling the house and moving this summer, relapse, the recent trauma you and your children have just gone through, the holidays and your anniversary coming up, coupled with setting the date to sign your divorce papers…” Rafiki lets the last words hang in dead air.
I can feel the inner pain, loss, and grief start to spread through my body. “Phoenix, you’ve got a lot going on and your inner child is going to need all the help he can get. I think the Universe gave you a gift. A gift to help you through this tough patch of life.”
“Thank you,” I somberly reply. Wow! In just a matter of minutes, my thoughts and my physical body went through a massive wave of different emotions. I take a deep breath and start to calm myself.
“Good evening Rafiki, how are you doing?” I’m contemplative, relaxed, and just calling to bookend the previous discussion about writing a blog for Eddie Capparucci’s book.
“Hello, Phoenix.” Rafiki sounds utterly pleased that I had called. “I skimmed over your blog from the other day. You know, you could technically make those into three blogs. They do have a lot of meat in them.”
“I know,” I sigh. “In fact, I did split one I just finished. I was able to break it down into three separate blogs. I’m getting better.” I try to sound cheerful, yet still feeling that I may have bored my readers.
“Watch out for self-judgment and shaming yourself. If you had broken Listen to the Universe into three separate blogs, it wouldn’t have been complete. It’s long, but complete. Better to have finished your thoughts. Nice job.” He changes subjects, “Now what do I owe the honor of your call?”
“I just wanted to give you a hard time and tell you that I think your wisdom might be challenged by Eddie’s new book. He has a lot of great insights and some really good points.”
Rafiki is always quick on the draw. “Wisdom does not just come from one source. It’s a collective of different perspectives of the different lives and experiences of different people. The old adage, “it takes a village” is because of this very fact.”
Rafiki pauses a moment to let that one sink in. “Not only do people experience things differently or have a different approach in explaining themselves, there are others who shut out wise counsel just because of differences with the person who is speaking. I’m not worried about Eddie becoming the new baboon on the block. I can happily say there’s only one of me and I’m grateful we have another scholar in our court.”
I laugh. Leave it to Rafiki to come out unscathed. “Shutting out wise counsel sounds like my daughters. They both just told me the other night that they’d listen to my roommate before they’d listen to their Mom or me. Well, then they admitted they really don’t listen to Mom or me anyways.”
“And yet,” Rafiki points out, “They feel comfortable and safe enough to share that fact with you. This is due to all the work you’ve done and continue to do. You’ve planted lots of seeds with them. The soil is just not quite ready for the plants to germinate yet. In due time. Meanwhile, remember all the gifts you’ve given your children.”
He knows me too well. That was all I wanted to give them. It has been a long, hard journey to change those destructive patterns that were ingrained in me as a child.
Rafiki interrupts my train of thought, “Tell me one piece of wise advice you learned?”
“Well, this one isn’t really wise advice. Just a quote I really liked. Eddie starts each chapter off with a quote. I liked this one. ‘You play the victim so well; I’m surprised you don’t carry around your own body chalk’.”
Rafiki laughs. “Oh man. Your ex sure would have got a kick out that. I don’t think anyone could play a victim as well as you. Although, she’d probably tell you that you ran out of chalk a long time ago.”
“I know right? Buy more on Amazon for next day delivery! I think I must have enjoyed going around and around the Karpman Triangle as if it were the Teacups in Disneyland.”
“And if that isn’t caused by childhood trauma,” adds Rafiki, “then I have no clue what is.”
Reading Going Deeper pretty much spells out, in a logical, organized manner, what’s taken me the past nine years to learn in recovery. In, Hi. I’m Phoenix, Grateful Recovering Sex Addict, I wrote:
“As I’ve peeled back the onion through my own recovery, I realized that childhood trauma kept me stuck and I regressed to child-like states when triggered, that I had a lot of repressed anger, that I had a shitload of negative core beliefs that I needed to change, and I had an exponential amount of fear and anxiety that coursed through my body. My fear was that people, especially my ex, would see me as how I saw myself; this horrible beast of a person. I feared abandonment…and once again, we’re back to the saying, ‘You create what you believe.’ I definitely created my destiny.”
I knew that the 12 Steps were not enough for me to learn how to curb my destructive behaviors. I needed the deeper work of therapy including EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Trauma therapy, and others to fully unlock my troubled heart and to bring emotional resilience into my life.
And even though I had done all that work, my ex still told me I was unsafe. She said I was manipulative. She said I was a wall of words, but no action.
I never understood, until I started blogging. Until I had my talks with Rafiki. Until I stepped outside my story and did not stayed immersed in it.
As Eddie would probably say, “Until you stepped outside and started looking in, your inner child was running the show.”
Underlining and Writing in a Book?
Many years ago, my ex took a college class that specifically gave tricks and tips on how to help study and learn in college. I had never taken a class like that and I really don’t remember what she told me about it except one thing (oh, and that she ended up learning how to kick ass in school!). That was to write in your textbook.
What? Ok, first of all, that’s defacing property. And if it’s a college book, you wouldn’t be able to sell it back at the end of the semester. But most importantly, you take away the rhythm of reading the book again with all these distracting things written in the margins. No way Jose!
Well, I learned about that little technique right before going into treatment. And, as “perfect” as my inner child wants to be with keeping a book clean from all pen marks, this has got to be one of the best pieces of advice I’ve had.
With parts underlined, putting stars around areas I want to research a little deeper, and writing my thoughts in the columns, I can see where I was emotionally at the time I read a book, I have insight to how far I’ve grown over the years, and I see where there’s still work for me to do.
Why I brought this up is because the first two pages of Eddie’s books had stories about some of his clients, the beliefs of their inner children, and how that affected them and their lives. This is what I had written three months ago when I first started reading his book (also a few weeks prior to going in to sign the final divorce papers):
“When I read this, especially the first four, I found myself literally in a puddle of tears. My child has not fully healed and is still in pain. The cries are not as loud, but he still cries. He cries for attention, for love, for validation. But he cries to the wrong people. To one who does not want nor cannot give what he needs. His girls are teens and he also understands that it’s not their job, so he holds boundaries around them to protect them from his ‘stuff’. He needs to learn to give love and validation to himself. He needs to learn to lean on his Higher Power. He needs to continue his inner work to find peace. And when he starts to find the peace within himself, he would like to share that with others. Spread your wings Phoenix!”
That is the one gift my blog has given me. The ability to relearn the lessons I thought I had already internalized. To see how far I’ve come. And to give myself hope that I can turn my faulty stories around and not react to them.
And for the record, at this moment in time, my divorce has been utterly freeing. Not the crash and burn destruction I had made it out to be. It is not a failure, but a gift. A gift to take those lessons I’ve learned into a much richer, more fulfilled future.
The Inner Child
I find it interesting that two weeks prior to writing this blog, I would end up doing some deep inner child work. I wrote Love Your Inner Child where watching my roommate’s toddler and doing Shamanic Breathwork, I tapped into some pretty deep childhood wounds that are still present to this day, even with all the work I’ve done.
I followed that up with Showing Up For Your Inner Child, where I further processed that work through EMDR and a Dan Siegel podcast about his new book, The Power of Showing Up. And I continued more introspection of my inner child about Dr. Shefali teaching us how to awaken and a homework assignment a friend had given me.
And, as I was writing this, I realized that I wanted to do more inner child work. There are blog ideas that I have stored away that are all introspective and self-examining. Unfortunately, I haven’t felt the ability, the desire, or the want to do that because I had been stuck for so long.
Stuck in that childhood belief and pain that I was not enough, not lovable, invisible, not important, and an annoyance. And being stuck in that trauma, those negative beliefs, drains a person. It sucks the very energy out of their life.
And what a hypocrite I would be if I was talking about emotional freedom when all I felt was emotional neglect.
Which brings me to Eddie’s book. His Inner Child Recovery Process is stuffed full of great information about how our wounded child tries to manage the pain he lives in. All I can say is, read the book!
Really, any person who suffers from emotional neglect, not just sex addicts, will find nuggets of wisdom that can help them heal from their own personal traumas.
“As [your inner child] witnesses current adverse circumstances in your life, he often incorrectly correlates them to past, painful memories he feels are similar in nature. While you are consciously unaware of the negative memories, our inner child is fully activated and re-living previous emotional trauma, which he desperately wishes to escape. And he escapes by driving you toward destructive sexual behaviors [or any destructive, addictive or negative behaviors] to help him feel a sense of comfort rather than fear. He is running the show.”
~ Eddie Capparucci
And that my friends, fits me to a T. It was not until I started blogging and getting outside my story that I could see how my beliefs were faulty and how I stayed in my emotional pain. And even that hasn’t been enough for me to heal the wounds in childhood.
Awareness is the first step. That is the key to knowing what must be done. However, knowing is not always enough. One still needs to do the hard work to change behaviors.
“There is only one goal our inner child has – to seek comfort. He is locked in survival mode, and he will do anything not to experience troubling emotions he endured in the past…unfortunately he discovered sex as the ultimate self-soother.”
~ Eddie Capparucci
Eddie identifies nine different inner children, their emotional triggers, and ways to learn how to recognize when they come up and tools to process and nurture them, so they don’t end up calling the shots. I identified with quite a few of them, but especially the Unaffirmed Child, the Emotionally Voided Child, the Inferior/Weak Child, and the Stressed Child.
Three years ago I wrote a blog titled Man in the Mirror in which I came to realize that many times the things that bother us most about someone else are merely wounds within us that yearn to be healed. We are looking at a mirror of the part of us we don’t like.
And as Michael Jackson sings in his song with the same name, “if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”
“We hate looking in the mirror for it reveals the real us…The thought of someone discovering our dark secret makes us want to vomit in shame.” (absolutely love that visual)
~ Eddie Capparucci
“The healthy purpose of sex beyond simple procreation is to enhance emotional intimacy in a relationship. Instead, they [sex addicts] use sex as a self-soothing tool that produces an adrenaline rush powerful enough to block out troubling emotional distresses.”
~ Eddie Capparucci
The purpose of Eddie’s book is to understand “why I act this way” so that one can heal the underlying childhood wounds that will then help change their behavior.
Please remember, behavior does not mean only stopping the acting out behaviors…
“Sex addiction is not about sex. It is the result of a man’s inability to identify and process emotional pain and distress”
~ Eddie Capparucci
Stopping the acting out is but the first step in this journey of healing. The addict still needs to identify and process that pain. Had I learned that piece early on, maybe my journey wouldn’t have had so much collateral damage in the end.
Although, is it really collateral damage? Or has this been the way the Universe wanted me to go all along? Had I not been on this path, I would not have had the opportunity to become enlightened by this book prior to publication. I would not be sharing it with my Fledglings.
The other positive aspect of this book is that it can help a partner of a sex addict understand “why” the addict did what he did. It will open up empathy with that understanding.
However, we must remember three things:
- “Discovering the reasons why, is not an excuse for his behavior!” ~ Eddie Capparucci
- A partner will only be ready to hear this on THEIR timeline, not the addict’s timeline. I failed so many times when I wanted to share what I learned with my ex. She will listen when and if she wants to. That is the consequence of my actions. Not to throw my recovery at her, but to be transparent and vulnerable if she chooses to ask me about it.
- Our partners very well might have PTSD triggers due to our betrayal. It’s imperative that we, too, learn what our actions did to them, how triggers happen just out of the blue (come on now, we know this happens because of our own uncontrollable childhood triggers, so we can empathize with them), and how we can best support them when they are triggered.
My mantra from one of my first therapists in training has always been, “the road to recovery is paved with integrity.” Makes sense. Since I was not honest to begin with.
However, Eddie switches it up. “The road to recovery from sexual addiction goes through your childhood.”
With all the therapy I’ve done, the personal struggles I’ve had, and the deep inner work I’ve needed to dig into in order to heal, this sounds truer to me.
A Must Read
If you are a sex addict, a partner of a sex addict, or even a close friend of a sex addict trying to understand the addiction, I highly recommend this book for your shelf at home.
And yes, don’t hide in shame. Put it out in the open for everyone to see. Leave it on the coffee table. Imagine the deep, vulnerable, intimate conversations you would have with others when we let go of the shame and become willing to tap into the inner children that trigger us the most.
“We should never stop the process of self-exploring and should always maintain a hunger to learn about the complexities of our inner self and inner child.”
~ Eddie Capparucci
May we Rise from the Ashes.
Together We Will Heal