3 Powerful Gifts Learned From Crippling Injury & Suffering

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Welcome to Sex Afflictions and Porn Addictions. I am your host Craig Perra, from www.themindfulhabit.com. I am obsessed with mindfulness, I am obsessed with habits, obsessed with healthy sexuality, and I’ve been working with men all over the world over the course of the past nine years. And this whole program was born in my colossal failure, my rock bottom, getting fired from a job, gosh, 11 years ago, my second job, and almost losing my family. So a lot of pain and suffering brought me to this point and that’s a great topic for today. We’re going to talk about pain and suffering. Now, it’s been a while since I’ve recorded a podcast. So much has happened since I have. I’m really excited for some of the upcoming podcasts that I will be recording. My goal is once a week, my stretch goal is twice a week.

I want to talk about an upcoming podcast, the rise of extortion, meaning that if you asked me how many extortion cases I had five years ago, the answer was none. How many extortion cases I have now, one in 10. And so that’s a significant increase if that’s you. And what that means is, is that guys are sending pictures of themselves to people and those people are using that vulnerability to extort money. That is on the rise and we’ll talk about the impact of that from a technology perspective. And the good news is all you got to do is live a kick-ass life, and don’t put yourself in positions where you can be extorted. So the good news is there’s a solution to that problem. So we’re going to talk about that.

We’re also going to talk about sleep. I’ve learned a lot about sleep from a physiological perspective, over the course of the past, since January, I’ve had a significant struggle that I’m going to share with you. And that forced me to learn a lot about sleep. But I am convinced that you will not be successful without getting sleep. There’s no way that you can exercise self-control. So we’re going to talk about all the bad things that will happen to you if you don’t prioritize your sleep. And I get it, no easy task. Took me a long time to crack that code. And I want to talk about a great article that I read entitled the 8 Terrible Consequences of Suppressing Your Thoughts, which is a really powerful concept in the sex addiction, porn addiction, also known as at least here, the healthy sexuality space. The concept of that what you resist persists, is a very, very important topic for you to know about. So I’m looking forward to that podcast, the 8 Terrible Consequences of Suppressing Your Thoughts.

What I want to talk about is what I learned from a personal experience that I went through. So men, I’ll make it real, real quick. So for those of you who’ve been following me for a while, not only have I struggled with mental health issues, sex addiction, porn addiction, drug addiction, I’ve struggled with physical issues. I’ve been in seven car accidents, multiple concussions. I’ve had low back surgery. I’ve had three doctors willing to operate on my neck. I could get hip surgery, shoulder surgery. I have a chronic inflammatory condition that some have described like fibromyalgia. So I got issues. I got issues. And I learned an awful lot about chronic pain and I’ve shared with you some of that, which I have learned.

And back in January stretching, right, doing what I’m supposed to do, trying to stay ahead of the physical injuries that plague me, I injured my brachial plexus, which has caused permanent nerve damage to my arm. I have difficulty opening jars. I have difficulty pulling up my zipper. I have really, really messed up the nerves running into my hand and I’ve lost strength, I’ve lost feeling and I can’t do things that I used to do. So I’ve had multiple MRIs. I’ve experienced the worst pain that I can ever imagine in my life. When I hurt myself stretching, I woke up to the most excruciating pain. I had to sleep sitting up for a period of time. I had to do everything in my power to avoid pain medication because I’ve committed to, listen, that day will come. I believe that that day will come when I will have to use pain medication in a responsible way.

Maybe that day will come, but I’m going to do everything I can to avoid that because I’ve been addicted to opiates. I’ve abused pain pills. And so I woke up with the most excruciating pain in my chest, shooting down my arm. I lost feeling in my hand, significant nerve damage, literally happened overnight. So I had to meet with multiple surgeons. I had to get MRIs. I had to do a nerve conduction study where they stick needles in your body to figure out what the problem was. And I had to manage incredible pain. It was so, so, so painful. And you may have heard me share, pain is a gift. The obstacle is the way. There’s so much to learn about yourself through pain. I’ve taught those things. Well, here I was now in a position to practice what I preach.

And there were three things that I’ve learned in this journey because I committed. I committed to coming out of it stronger. I made a promise to myself that I am going to learn and grow from this experience. Was it easy? No. Was I triggered? Yes. I’ve even shared with my guys in the group program that I was triggered to put on a disguise and then go to a strip club, anything to numb, cope and escape, to deal with this pain. And make no mistake, we use sex to physically regulate. We use sex, and you may be using sex, you likely are if you’re listening to this podcast, using some aspects of your sexual expression to deal with a combination of mental pain and physical pain. If you are listening to this podcast, that you or someone you love uses secret sexual behavior to emotionally and physically regulate.

So I was triggered. I had panic attacks like I haven’t had in years, maybe the worst panic attacks ever. That wasn’t a problem for me until I had one when I went into an MRI. It freaked me out, I lost my breath. And I’ve done a lot of MRIs in my life. So now, on top of everything else, I’m dealing with panic attacks, panic attacks on top of the pain. And the fear, the terror that I had around surgery, the fear of them having to cut from the front of my neck, move the throat aside, remove the discs. That was one of the proposals, fuse a couple, replace a couple, scrape out other areas of dysfunction. And according to one, the stem cell guy that we spoke to, “Wow, your neck is a mess. Your neck is a mess.” It was so, so, so scary.

And I was so afraid that this was it. At that moment, I couldn’t live like that. I knew I couldn’t live like that. And when the injury first happened, I was pretty convinced that I was going to get surgery. The pain reminded me of when I got my back surgery, I had a two level discectomy, L5, S1, in my twenties because I was in so much pain, right? The decision to get surgery on my neck, on my shoulder, on my hip, that’s optional. I didn’t have to get it. They were recommendations to get it, but the pain, as unbearable as it was, wasn’t like this. This, I was convinced that I was going to get surgery. I have not yet gotten surgery. I, so far, have avoided it. I got great care, I had doctors and physical therapists. Thank you to my physical therapist and occupational therapist who helped me realize that it wasn’t the neck, it was the brachial plexus stretching injury.

Think about treating the wrong thing. The doctors didn’t figure that out, the physical therapist and the occupational therapist did because they were working with me day-to-day. So long story short, a shitload of pain, some of the worst pain that I’ve ever experienced in my life. And I want to share with you in this podcast, three things that I learned. I learned 100 things, but there’s three things that I want to highlight and there’s three things that I invite you to embrace about your relationship with pain, with your relationship with physical pain. And I invite you to see the two as one in the same, because physical pain is mental pain, mental pain is physical pain.

In fact, the more that we know about pain, and let me make a recommendation. If anyone out there is struggling with chronic pain, please get the book, Back in Control, by Dr. David Hanscom. He has an online program called The DOC Journey, thedocjourney.com. Dr. David Hanscom. An amazing program. I learned so, so, so, so, so much. And I’m going to share a couple of those things that I learned with you. I learned that pain is a gift. Pain is a gift. You may have heard the expression, suffering is inevitable. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Your perspective, the lens that you have when you are going through the inevitable pain that you are going to suffer is going to literally mean everything. You’re either going to get worse, or you’re going to get better. And by better, I mean not necessarily making the pain going away, but controlling the variables that you can control.

I knew that I had to find the gift in this crisis. I knew that I had to come out of this crisis even stronger. And the first thing that we had to do was get that pain under control. And fortunately, thank God, I responded to the steroids. Then it was a matter of figuring out what the injury was and rebuilding, repairing the nerve damage. And I’m going to be in physical therapy for years. It’s going to take years for those nerves to repair. So your pain, as difficult, and listen, if you’ve been listening to this podcast, you’ve heard me say it before, pain is a gift, the obstacle is the way. I want to say it again. I want to say it again after experiencing the worst pain that I’ve experienced almost, as an adult. There may have been a couple of other points where it was worse, but I can’t remember. I can’t remember. I can’t remember.

So pain is a gift. I want you to embrace that perspective. I invite you to ask yourself what you can learn from your pain and how you can grow from whatever pain that you are experiencing right now. Okay? Second life lesson that I learned, you will get punched in the face. In other words, life is going to hit you hard and you will be challenged. You will experience excruciating pain. You will experience loneliness. People close to you are going to die. Oh my God. It’s why the expression, memento mori, is so important to me. Remember death. Remember death. It helps me with that perspective when I get punched in the face. When I was at my lowest point, my spine surgeon said, “Good news. You’re a five out of 10.” This is a five out of 10. You mean there’s someone with a six, seven, eight, nine, 10?

Now that didn’t take my pain away, but it helped me manage it. It helped me manage it. So you need to know that you are going to get punched in the face. You are going to experience pain. You are going to experience loss. You are going to fail and knowing that can help you manage it better. Having the perspective, to my first point, finding the gift, listening to your body, prioritizing your body, treating that wound, that physical wound, that emotional wound, at the root, not with the band-aids, not with the ibuprofen, but at its root, taking control of the variables that you can control. And Dr. David Hanscom talks a lot about those variables that you can control. So number one, pain is a gift. Number two, you will get punched in the face and you have to be prepared to respond to that.

And what happens is people go into recovery, they make some progress, and then they stop doing the things that make them successful, and then life punches them in the face and they slip back into old ways. How about you assume you’re going to get punched in the face? So you’re ready. So you’ve got a plan. You’ve got protocols. I knew exactly what I needed to do when I was experiencing this pain. I didn’t know exactly what resource I needed, but I knew I needed somebody. I knew I needed somebody because this was bad. And it was beyond my area of expertise. I needed someone to guide me on that journey. And I found Dr. David Hanscom. And thank God I had Michelle. That’s a topic for another day. But there was a time in my life where I was willing to piss that relationship away.

And, oh my God, I would have been lost if it wasn’t for Michelle helping me function. We’re going to talk about that. That’s another one of the podcasts that I want to do. So finding the gift, recognizing that you will get punched in the face. And last but not least, you cannot identify as a sex or porn addict long term. I respectfully submit that your long-term identification with being a sex addict and being a porn addict, long-term, is actually doing you harm. And as you may be aware, there is a massive debate in this space where you’ve got people in the sex positive community who call the sex addiction treatment modality negligent. The American Society for Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists has on their website, their position statement that says, “Using a disease process, using an addiction process to treat a lack of self-control, unhealthy sexuality, low self-esteem, lack of purpose, intimacy disorder, is ultimately causing harm, is making things worse.”

So through my pain journey, and let me tell you how I got to that place. Well listen, I’ve been in that place for quite some time. Okay? Now, let me just say, 12 steps is the best free program out there. It is an incredible source of fellowship, of brotherhood, and things can co-exist, and identifying as an addict long-term and creating that identity, “Hi, my name is. I am a,” that’s unhealthy. And the reason why it’s unhealthy, and I learned something in this chronic pain program that I am in, there is one thing that you’re not allowed to talk about in the chronic pain program. There’s one thing that you are not allowed to talk about in the chronic pain program, and that is the problem. You are not allowed to talk about your chronic pain. And when I first heard that, I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard.

How can I be in a chronic pain program and not talk about chronic pain? And Dr. David Hanscom lays out the evidence and shows the studies that people in fibromyalgia pain groups report more pain than people in a bowling league. And I’m not saying the pain isn’t there, but by identifying, in me identifying, and if any of you have been listening to your podcast, you know how I identify with my pain body. Seven car accidents, six concussions, fractured skull, low back surgery, jaw surgery, multiple recommendations for neck surgery, fibromyalgia-like chronic inflammatory response syndrome, diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. My life is responding to pain. And since I stopped talking about it, my pain has been the lowest it has ever been. My pain has been the lowest that it has ever been. And I am seeing the same results for people who stopped talking about their addiction.

Instead of talking about their addiction, they’re talking about the solution. They’re talking about what it is they want to accomplish, because the secret to break a habit, you have to make the right habit that meets the right need. All behavior is need seeking behavior. Your compulsive sexual behavior that you’re lying about is serving a purpose in your life. It is meeting needs in your life. Me talking about my pain was meeting needs in my life. And once I stopped talking about it, I had to create a new identity, the pain level actually went down. And that is my experience. When people stop obsessing on sobriety and start focusing on healthy sexuality. When people stop focusing about not doing something and become obsessive over doing something else. Remember, that what you resist, persists. Think about what that means for that identity that you’ve created with your addict part.

So that is my podcast for today. Something to think about. I welcome your feedback. Thank you for listening. If you want more help, visit www.themindfulhabit.com. I have three programs, a self study program, a group coaching program, and I do work with a limited number of people one-on-one. I’m actually full right now for one-on-one, but we do have capacity in the group coaching program and in the self study program. Check out the website, there’s a free training. And thank you for listening to Sex Addictions and Porn Addictions. I am your host, Craig Perra, wishing you healthy sexuality, purpose and great success.

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