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April 10, 2014

Unconditional Love and Support or Destructive Enabling?

I recently became a sponsor and it has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It has been an amazing turbo-boost to my recovery and to my spiritual growth and I encourage each of you to work hard to get to the point where you can start sponsoring.

I had an epiphany recently as I was preparing to sleep. Earlier in the day, I had been going over the step work of one of my sponsees and was thinking about it when it hit me. I noticed that my sponsee's work had been filled with very sincere sounding desires and intentions to overcome his addiction and lots of praise and thanksgiving for his wife and kids. He talked about how his wife was so loving and supportive of him, and how grateful he was that she wanted to help him overcome his addiction.

After he relapsed, and then relapsed again, he kept talking about how his wife was so supportive of him no matter what and how much he loved her and his kids and how grateful he was that she still loved him. While pondering on this I was struck by the thought that what this guy really NEEDED was for his wife to kick his butt to the curb or SOMETHING. He was so comfortable in his addiction, and she was so supportive of him no matter what, that the pain of his addiction most definitely wasn't greater than the solution. It seemed to me that in her desire to be a loving, supportive wife, she was enabling him to continue acting out because she was continuing to put up with it.

While I was thinking about all this, I suddenly realized that this was EXACTLY how things had with me and my wife. I felt sick! I had for YEARS continued to act out in my addiction, all the time feeling (very sincerely, it seemed to me) like I desperately wanted to stop and overcome my addiction. The whole time, my wife continued to be patient and loving and understanding with me as she thought a good wife should do, while at the same time she was being slowly destroyed by my addiction, losing her sense of self, her self-esteem crushed, taking unearned guilt every time I acted out thinking that maybe she wasn't being a good enough wife, etc. I know she didn't intend to do it, but she was enabling me to continue in my addiction by putting up with it.

Even after the last time she caught me in the act and told me she had had enough, I still didn't really change. Oh, I started going to PASG meetings and it was there that I started to feel an inkling of hope that I could recovery, but I wasn't truly committed to working the program at that time. I think I still believed that as long as I showed my wife that I was 'in recovery' by going to meetings, that she would continue to love and support me even if I continued to struggle with relapses. I was in such denial and when my wife got upset at me and told me that it seemed to her that I wasn't really working the steps, I became angry with her and I played the victim, telling her that I was doing my best and that it would take some time and couldn't she just love and support me and let me do this in my own timetable?

Well, I write to you today, my heart filled to overflowing with thanksgiving to my wife that she did NOT continue to put up with me and my half-hearted 'efforts' to change. I was deceiving myself and attempting to deceive her into believing that I was in recovery and that I truly wanted to overcome my addiction when I most definitely was not. I was putting on a good show and certainly had myself convinced that I was finally changing, but it was all lies.

It wasn't until my wife took our children and moved back in with her parents, who live several states away, that I finally realized that I couldn't keep pretending to myself or to her. I believe that it was at this moment that I was finally ready to overcome my addiction.

Exactly at this time in my life, I was informed about a program that would assign me a sponsor and that would require me to commit to 90 days of sobriety while I worked through the 12 steps. I immediately signed up made the commitment and started working the steps in earnest. I made it to the middle of Step 4 before I had a relapse. But, because I was truly ready this time, I didn't experience the normal feelings of despair and the binging that normally took place when I relapsed. Instead, I examined the reasons why it had happened and realized that I had stopped practicing steps 1-3. I started the steps over and as I write this today, I have worked through all 12 steps and am now in my maintenance phase with 127 days of sobriety. More importantly, I feel that I am finally on the road to true, lasting, permanent recovery through the atonement of my Savior.

I don't know for sure, but right now, I honestly don't think I would have ever been ready to overcome this addiction if I hadn't had a wife who was brave enough to finally say, “Enough is enough!” Thanks to her courage, I have found my Savior's love and experienced a redemption of my sins. We are still separated at this time, but I am filled with peace because I have surrendered my will to God and know that whatever happens, He is in control and He will work things out for my good. I love my wife more today than I ever thought possible and hope she will one day come back to me, but I would never even THINK of blaming her if she chooses otherwise.

I believe that there are many other men out there who are currently in the same place I was. They are putting on a good show in order to convince themselves or others, including their wives, that they are 'in recovery', but they are just fooling themselves. Many, if not most, of us NEED tough love from the people who love us in order to be ready to really recovery. We NEED to be uncomfortable. We NEED to experience pain. Some of us, such as myself, NEED to experience very serious consequences. I pray that God will be merciful to you, as he has been to me, and give you what YOU need to finally be ready to change.


January 28, 2014

Beware of the False Start!


So I enjoy football, especially college football. There is a concept called a false start. In football, the quarterback has to call for the ball before his team can move. If anyone of them move before the quarterback calls for the ball, there is a penalty called a false start. That penalty results in the offense losing five yards.


December 19, 2013

Addiction and The Power of Breaking Isolation

We as humans have many God-given instincts: the desire for power, sex, companionship, entertainment, nourishment, shelter, comfort etc. Each of these instincts if used in the proper way can bless our lives and the lives of others. However, when one or more of the instincts is pushed to the extreme, and abused beyond its natural limits it can become a seemingly uncontrollable force of destruction.



September 29, 2013

Step One: An Ego Busting Experience

Step one only works for people who don't want to fall any farther "Only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength" (12&12, p. 21). This was certainly the case for me. I only accepted step one after a life of losing. Someone who knows what he was talking about said, "you don't land here on the tail end of a winning streak". "Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves" (AA, p. 58).


July 18, 2013

Is the Atonement Really for ME?

"I was listening to a talk today by Dr. Lund, an LDS speaker. Something he said struck me to be true.

He pointed out that there is not 1 priesthood ordinance that is performed for the "masses". All ordinances, blessing and so on are done individually. We do temple work for each individual 1 at a time.



July 6, 2013

Honesty, Confession, Daily Accounting

I have just been pondering my current relationship with God, and been led again to realize that although I have made tremendous progress since beginning this program, I am still leading a double-life! I am still seeking to cover my sins.


June 26, 2013

What is a Character Defect?


What is a character defect?  A character defect, is actually not a very complex concept.  As always it is us that is the one to makes it more complex. 

When I was taking step 7, I viewed it as the big brother of step 3, and thought, we'll I already took step 3, therefore, I've got it....  In my arrogance, I didn't see the heart or the core of it.  In a way step 7 is like a step 3.  In step 3 I made that decision to turn to the Lord, specifically as it relates to my addiction.


June 20, 2013

The Will of the Father in All Things

I recently came across this talk from Elder Holland entitled “The Will of the Father in all things” and thought I would share it along with some of the thoughts I had regarding step 3 when I read it.
First of all I love that he brings out the point that Christ is the perfect example of one that trusted in and submitted to the Father. Not just in Gethsemane but in every day of His life He was focused on doing His Father’s will. Understanding that Christ is the one that was able to take step three perfectly every day of His life helps me in two ways.


May 26, 2013

My 3 Bases of Recovery. Living the Twelve Steps as a Way of Life.

While reflecting on practical ways to live the twelve steps in my life, I started thinking about the most basic elements of recovery and what "living the program" looks like. Everyone I know who is living a happy sober life also happens to be abiding by the following three principles on a daily basis. They are striving daily to: Break Isolation, practice Honest Self Appraisal, and strive toward Spiritual Progress.


May 12, 2013

ARPSUPPORT.ORG

www.arpsupport.org


A grassroots effort to bring sponsorship to the ARP/PASG program has produced a website where individuals who seek a support person can get help in their search.

In their own words:

"ARPSUPPORT is a group of Latter-day Saints who have overcome addiction and are reaching out to individuals, offering guidance and help in applying the 12 steps of the Addiction Recovery Program in their own lives, to enable them to break the bands of addiction through the Atonement of Jesus Christ."

Please visit arpsupport.org if you are searching for a support person in the ARP program. This is a website that you can trust because it is made by people just like you and me who have found sobriety through the ARP program because of sponsorship. They want to share the gift of sponsorship with you.

www.arpsupport.org


May 8, 2013

A Way to Escape the Pornography Plague.

A plague is covering the land and affecting families, relationships and church membership. Similar to leprosy, there is an associated "shame" that goes along with it. Those who have been stricken with the "new plague" feel forced to withdraw from society and rot in self imposed isolation. Nobody wants to talk about this plague, nobody wants to acknowledge that it is spreading and threatening the foundation of our way of life. But, just as lepers were healed by the powerful hand of Jesus Christ, He still provides the only way to escape.

In the last days "men's hearts will fail them". A "failing heart" is only one aspect of this malady, but in its acknowledgement lies the cure. There is hope! Before continuing this discussion, it is important to emphatically state that THERE IS HOPE!


May 5, 2013

Worthiness and Recovery


How does worthiness fit into recovery? What is worthiness? Is there a difference between being worthy to take the sacrament and worthy to go to heaven if I died today?

I have talked with men that are going to the PASG program and are finding abstinence and sobriety from their addiction, but they are still not authorized to go to the temple, or perhaps to take the sacrament. There are others who have been excommunicated from the church, but are now striving as hard as they can to become re-baptized. I'm sure they have asked themselves: "if I'm not currently authorized to go to the temple, am I still worthy to go to heaven if I died today?"