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October 26, 2012

My Story of Addiction Recovery So Far.

My story began similar to many of us in addiction. It started at an early age for me. That regrettable day I was riding my bike through a field with a friend and off to one side we noticed a magazine. We were curious by the images. It didn’t take long for us to feel that this was not right so we threw it away. Looking back having no idea what a huge impact that day had on my life. I often wish someone could have warned me and my friend about the danger of pornography and what could happen as a result of looking at it.

Now that I have a son near the same age I was at the time. I have talked to him as clear as I can as a concerned father about the dangers of pornography and want him to escape not having this problem in his life.

I was by nature shy and ignorant about much in life. I was raised in the church with 10 kids in our family growing up. My parents were great and tried their best to raise us. But I was left alone and isolated so much as a youth which gave opportunity to my addiction to grow. I finally came clean with my parents and went to talk to my bishop. I worked with the bishop and postponed my mission for a year. After much repentance I was called on a mission and had the most spiritual experience of my life. The Lord had truly worked a miracle in my life through my mission. That being said I had a few instances with masturbation while on my mission. I talked with my mission president who encouragement to repent.
After my mission I was doing well and was ignorant that I was an addict. When I got home I got married in the temple and started going to school. Before my mission I had never heard of the internet but was now introduced to this technology at school. We moved away from our families to another state for my first job and had my first computer. This is where I first learned that I was an addict to pornography and masturbation.
I had prayed so many times to the Lord to take this away and that I did not want this and yet I continued to go through the cycle of addiction for many years. The Lord answered my prayers through a wonderful friend who struggled with the same addiction. My friend helped me understand this was an addiction and his wife was friends with my wife and helped her with this devastating realization that I had betrayed her with the addiction to pornography.
This did not stop the addiction, the cycle continued for many more years. I continued to go to bishops and to confess again and again. Confessing that the addiction was still a problem to my wife which helped bring the addiction into the light and that I was being honest with her helped along with talking to the bishop to not let it to a worse point.
I learned of the addiction recovery meetings and started attending giving my wife hope of my recovery. I eventually stopped going to the meetings over time thinking I was over this and eventually relapsed again and again but not telling my wife or bishop. I began telling myself I got this, I can get over it, and this time I’ll do it. I don’t need to tell the bishop or my wife. Telling myself I can get past this on my own. I was believing the lies the adversary was feeding me. I felt so ashamed and so guilty. Going to church I felt judged and isolated. My self-esteem was so low. Now when I messed up I was so numb to it that I felt past feeling. And I really believed that it was impossible.
I came to my wife and said this was still a major problem. I went to my bishop and began working with him. I felt this was the last stand to get over this. My bishop finally had me and my wife come in after my last relapse and he said he thought that I was going lose my wife and family. My wife expressed her love and support for me and I wanted to respond to her and the bishop but it was just darkness. I felt hopeless.
I found a meeting place and began going. As before, I found a great spirit in the meetings and found faith from the testimonies of others who have struggled as I have. I found hope from the testimonies of others who had found success in recovery by working the 12 steps which helped them work the process of repentance. I went but not consistently and I kept hearing of those who had found success had had a sponsor. I did not understand exactly how this worked but I heard one of the members bear testimony of the importance of getting a sponsor and to pray about who you should choose. So I did and had a name come to mind. After the next meeting I asked that person if he would be my sponsor. I know it was inspiration to have my sponsor and I believe this was an answer to my prayers and the Lords way of giving me help.
My sponsor had been sponsored by an amazing sponsor and that helped him to sponsor me. It was very intense even more than I had anticipated and that is exactly what I needed. I remember he had given me assignments to read and things to do among which was we had an assigned time each day for me to call him. I think it was the first week into the sponsorship and I was super busy the day before and did not get my reading done. When I called him he said that this is important and that if I missed my assignments again he would have to stop being my sponsor. He said I need to show him that this is my priority and that I was committed. When he said this there was a twinge of taking offense by this, but I saw that he meant business and that I needed to do the things he wanted me to do. I was very busy so I had to arrange my schedule so I could get the things he wanted me to get done.
I am so glad I did at first I was unsure and still feeling the same feelings of doubt and in darkness. For me it was a very gradual process that came about. But I began to get hope and saw that I could not do this on my own I needed the Lords help and I got that through my sponsor. I began to believe more and feel more comfortable at the meetings. I began to learn and receive inspiration about the addiction and gained much insight. Some of the steps were very daunting and I had a lot of fear. But I was able to get through each one.
Step 4 is where I began going back in my past and do a fearless inventory of past sins and experiences. This was tough I got really down thinking about some of these things I had buried trying to forget and I even started remembering things I had forgotten. I even wrote small things that I had never told anyone to make sure I was thorough. I felt so down I had to talk to my sponsor who helped me to get through it. And then step five was to reveal and tell him all the things in my inventory. This took meeting twice to get it all out. Things I had never told anyone. It felt so good to get that out and I felt good that I had been so thorough and had nothing to hide.
I also went to talk to my bishop and did not do a step 5 with him but just explained where I was at and what I was doing in my recovery. This time I talked to the bishop it felt very good and I felt hope. The spirit was more present in my life. Gradually as I consistently worked on the 12 steps and went to my meetings. My sponsor helped me get through all 12 steps and I look back and see I gained some ground and see that by degrees I had gained many blessings and hope that recovery is possible.
I have become very aware of my character weaknesses, selfishness, fear, and pride. I am seeking to give these up. My obsessions and self-will I have to give it up and let it go to allow the Savior to help me manage my life. My life is unmanageable I cannot do it, I can’t. I have to let it go, not just the addiction but all the selfish character weaknesses I have. This is where I am at in my recovery I am still doing a tug a war with the Lord retaking control and giving it to him.
I am grateful to the Lord Jesus Christ for his help through the 12 step program. It has given me access to his atonement. This is a process and I have a long way to go but I know I am going in the right direction. One day at a time.
Thanks for listening.