Addiction and Cerebral Palsy: Golf

Like reading and writing came before, as tools in my healing journey. During the summer of 2021, golf started to play its role in helping the process. During the gradual stepping down of my habitual watching of pornography, reading and writing had played the central role. From helping me identify the issues I might have been experiencing. To assisting me in taking on the challenge of reducing my viewing of toxic images. My first two tools helped me work from identifying the porn challenge, to stepping it down into only watching YouTube videos. They got my behavior steering away from the more provocative sited I had been viewing. The first step in my healing journey had been accomplished. But, for my journey, that was merely the beginning. My anger remained a part of my world to a destructive degree. In order to work towards getting my anger under better control, more steps would be required. I began to feel as though the watching of unhealthy images, even watered down on YouTube, had to exit my world. However, like the previous steps along my journey, a plan would be required for success. Luckily, my plan to give up the YouTube watching took hold in the early springtime. My commitment was made on April 3rd, just as the snow thawed from the mountain grass. The game of golf would provide another logical escape. 

There was a place in the mountains that required a bit of a drive. The place became part of my life eleven years prior to the summer of 2021. When I was attempting to make my way out of a dark period. Hopefully, the darkest period of my life, back in 2009. The previous year of my life had been marred in depression and debilitating anxiety. My condition had reached a point where leaving my childhood home wasn’t possible. Certainly, not driving somewhere without company to feel safe. The world was out to get me, with danger lurking around every corner. During this time, I had discovered pornographic sites on the internet, and my addiction took a horrible turn. In the middle of this horrific period, I reached out for help. First from a psychologist I had worked with during my youth. Also, for the first time in my life, I began working with a chiropractor. Still, I couldn’t drive myself to any of these appointments. Too much fear had built up inside my world. Family was there in my time of need, helping me get back onto my feet. Slowly the depression and anxiety started lowering their walls, that had been suffocating my daily life. The therapy was beginning to provide the smallest glimmers of hope. The adjustments from the chiropractor were relieving the physical aches in my body. Soon, I could take a solo drive in my car again, going short distances, during the evenings. It wasn’t long after those evening drives, I was able to take myself to appointments. However, the rest of my world remained shut off. 

Finally, in the summer of 2010, I was able to shed more chains. I remember the first trip up into the mountains for golf. Prospector was the only golf course at Suncadia, back in 2010. The initial drive up to play the course, carried a certain kind of magic. The afternoon left me stunned in astonishment over what I had seen. The journey to play Prospector was made each week of that summer. With the weekly experience, playing the biggest of roles in helping me heal from the emotional depths of 2009. It was the safest of places for me to play the sport I loved. There were no memories from the past. As the golf course wound through the cascade mountains. Nothing whispering words of inferiority or emotionally playing with my mind. Everything causing pain was over an hour away, back down the mountain side. The air was clean and crisp, entering and exiting my body with little effort. I could breath and move around without the ghosts that had been haunting my every step at home. The emotional challenges still persisted on the west side of those mountains. My habit with pornography continued to grow without my awareness of its destructive qualities. So, there remained a long journey ahead before a sliver of mental health could be found. But, during that summer of 2010, I found the closest thing to heaven, I have ever experienced, to this day. The following year found me re-engaging in my social life and finding more healing. 

My battle with pornography lasted for years. Even with my mental health continuing to slowly climb out of the darkness of that year. As we fast-forward to the last few years. When I found pornography to be continuously holding back important progress. My reading, followed by my writing helped guide my behavior away from those toxic sites. However, the YouTube viewing was still holding me back in the spring of 2021. When, I was looking for more keys in healing an anger issue, still wreaking havoc on my world. During a weekend in early April, I found myself unable to pull away from a YouTube video. My viewing, even at the seemingly less toxic level, was a problem. At that point, I wanted to stop the pornographic viewing, at all levels. Past experience told me, in order to find success, I needed a plan. Something to look forward to on a daily basis. Even without knowing it at the time, part of my answer would be found in an old familiar place. One which had helped me through the biggest emotional hurtle of my life. April 3rd, of 2021 was a Sunday, and beginning on that following Tuesday, I would make the drive up to Prospector on Tuesday afternoons. Though I have limited knowledge in overcoming negative habits, I knew the first ninety days would be crucial. I also understood, the first six months would probably be most challenging. But, given the early point of spring, my weekly trip could be made for six or seven months. I thought, maybe my habit of pornography could truly start healing.  

My Tuesday afternoons in the summer of 2021 were spent in solitude. It was done with the purpose of trying to heal. The drive took me through a valley, joining me with a major highway that wound itself across the cascade mountain range. The drive was familiar to me, having done it during each summer, since 2010. Though, I had never committed to going weekly. My goal was to often be one of the final tee-times of the day, in an effort to enjoy the quiet. Prospector usually doesn’t get much traffic on the weekday afternoon. So, playing alone was easily achieved on most of the Tuesdays. My time on the golf course wasn’t spent getting better at the game, that summer. It was spent processing the mistakes I had been making in my life. The safety of the pine tree lined fairways and the clean mountain air helped me dig into my emotions. Thinking about the ways in which my addiction could be impacting the people in my world. I could often feel the weight of guilt leave my body along the front nine holes. The trees sprinkling shadows that stretched across the green grass. It was like The Lord was placing me inside the ideal location. During each trip, I could physically feel Him lift a brick or two from my shoulders. There has never been a place where I consistently feel more connected to Jesus. There were miles separating me from the chaos of my life and addiction. The afternoons in the mountains provided the feeling of forgiveness. I could feel His grace so palpable on the sun splashed afternoons. It was almost like I could reach out and touch the feeling. 

The spring months gave way to the summer. My plan was being implemented and working well. The pornography habit was melting away without me, giving into the impulse of the screen. When a couple months had gone by with successfully abstaining, I felt called to more action. The Tuesday afternoons of solitude had me reflecting on the impact of my negative habit. It was becoming clear that my actions had been having an impact on the people I loved. There was chaos in my life for many years. Brought on by the act of participating in my pornography habit. It was time for me to apologize for the unpredictability and volatility of my emotions. Causing forms of erratic behavior, that were hurtful to others. When June came and my habit continued to heal, I apologized to the most important people in my life. Explaining the behaviors, I had been engaging in, along with my commitment towards remaining clean of pornographic images. I crossed the mark of ninety days toward the end of June. While, the achievement felt like a milestone when it passed, my journey still felt on shaky ground. My drives up to Suncadia continued every Tuesday afternoon to play the evening of golf. When the summer afternoons began to shorten and the crisp air of fall slowly bled into the evenings, the journey got tiresome. There became weeks when I didn’t feel like going up into the mountains. But, I knew the risk of giving myself a break from the plan, could lead back down into darkness. I continued making the drive each Tuesday into October of 2021, those evenings in the mountains, began the process of keeping me clean of pornography.

I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to travel up into the mountains each week. The solitude of those Tuesday afternoons placed my healing journey into motions, providing a solid foundation to move forward. A journey that has only progressed further from that summer of 2021. Prospector golf course was an escape for me, moving me from the hustle and bustle of the suburbs of Seattle, up into the quiet of a mountain getaway. Most of the people surrounding me on Tuesday afternoons were on vacation. They filled the homes, lining the golf course, and mingled around the clubhouse before dinner. The place just felt emotionally and physically safe. Like it had in the summer of 2010, the fairways brought healing to my bones. Everywhere I looked the feeling of a hopeful future encompassed my emotions. A feeling challenging to find, moving around the Eastside of Seattle. Where everyone seems to be moving at a hundred miles a minute. The plan of going up to play each week for the six months worked beautifully. The weekly slow down helped fight my cravings for the screen, replacing them with the hope that addiction could be broken. As fall moved into the chill of winter, fear of losing my weekly escape crept into my brain. However, by then, my new behavior of keeping clear of pornography had been well established. I continued with my reading and writing, but wanted to add a winter challenge. The work of my brain rewiring itself could literally be felt. Making me excited for what might come next. 

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