I was thinking today of a few things I have done in my life that have felt awkward and uncomfortable but that have really, in the end, some after much realization, have brought me true strength. I decided to blog about a few.
*Going to my bishop this most recent time. I have had the opportunities to communicate with many bishops over the years, I say that in an unfortunate way since most of the time it was me confessing sins. However most of the time it was after something had ended, kind of a oh by the way I did this but it is over now. When I went to my current bishop about my problems, it started out that way, I went in to say okay I did this but then I kept going to him. At one point I went in and confessed a HUGE chunk of things that were currently going on. I was embarrassed, I think he was embarrassed. It was very sensitive and I tried to hold nothing back. We had to talk about some details and I couldn't look him in the eye. He's a good guy and I figured what I had to say was the worst thing he ever has heard. Well even if it was he didn't say as much. He looked me in the eye, he cried, he told me he still loved me and so did the Lord. He offered prayers in my behalf and has given me strength way beyond my own. He has been inspired multiple times to have me read a talk, a scripture or just share an experience with me that is exactly what I need. If I had never taken the uncomfortable first steps to talk about my problems in real depth I wouldn't have received the sweet experiences I have been blessed with since. Just like Alma says, "his joy was as exquisite as was his pain."
*Opening up to a close friend. I have a close girlfriend, something that doesn't happen for me often. She knew that some things were going on in my life. I had opened up to her. It was awful, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. I felt judged, I felt ashamed that I have even talked to her. She asked me for many details, I shared and shared. I didn't change I kept going on in my addiction. Several more things happened and I didn't feel that I was to open up to her again. When I told her some more had happened and some of the ways I had treated her she had decided to not be my friend right now. She is dealing with many of her own problems but it still hurt. I was angry and hurt for so so long. BUT this uncomfortable situation made me see my codependency issues I had with her. I felt that I had to please her, that she was right about the things she had told me. That I was not going to change. After continuing for months to worry constantly about her and what she thought I finally let it go. I prayed endlessly to the Lord to help and He did. I have to now give her credit for helping me change my life. If it had not been for her brutal and honest conversations with me I would have continued in my addictions even worse. Although she knows very little of a big picture I am grateful that I was able to recognize and work on changing my codependency issues with her.
*Running a 5K being overweight. So this doesn't relate to my addictions but it still is something I did that was very uncomfortable for me. I am overweight. I have a food addiction as well as my sexual/porn addictions. I only now realize this. About 2 years ago I decided to run a 5k. I trained for it and I had never ran a step in my life. I was one of the heavier people there, it was cold and still winter even though it was March. A friend of mine ran with me and let's just say I didn't run the entire thing. I hardly ran any of it. I was sweating and huffing and puffing while other thinner more trained people ran past me. I was so embarrassed to even be there. I kept thinking why in the world did I think I could do this? But I did it. I finished. I was not last, which was a big goal of mine but nearly. What it taught me was that no matter our circumstances we can do hard things, even when they seem easy for someone else, they may not be for us. We have a friend, the Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ, with us every step of the way. We don't have to be to the level of fitness as everyone else we just have to be willing to finish.
*Going to the Couple's Group: My husband and I decided to attend a couple's pornography support group in our area last Saturday night. I had wanted to go for a long time. I had been encouraged by another sister in my regular group to attend. She was there thankfully with her husband but we were the only ones, that I know of, that were the women addicts. I had a hard time sitting in the room with so many sweet sisters pouring out their hearts about their husbands recovery and knowing that I was the addict, I wasn't a supporting wife whose life was innocently damaged. I was the one doing the damage. I sat and I listened and I tried really hard not to cry. My husband shared and I don't think anyone realized that he wasn't the addict. But here is something it taught me. We are all children of a loving Father. We all have room to grow. That these women are wonderful and sweet and are growing in their own struggles. I didn't feel judged. I don't think I would be judged even if many of them knew. I felt unity that we are all there with one purpose. It did feel especially awkward when the missionary talked about the sweet wives and how they grew in supporting their husbands and I thought okay well can we generalize that a bit more...lol. But really I felt compassion toward these women, knowing that in some of my addictions I had hurt, indirectly, women just like them. It brought a lot of humility to my soul and a night of much prayer for the women whose lives I may have affected because of my addictions.
I know that sometimes we are meant to do hard things in order to learn and to grow. If we don't grow form our adversity then there is no point to this life. I am grateful for these and many other uncomfortable situations that helped me to change.
A few months ago my brother-in-law was getting out of his truck to go to work when he hit a patch of ice and fell hard. He tried to catch himself, as a natural reaction, and in the process twisted his wrist and as he fell made the wrist twist in such a way that he broke his arm. He looked around embarrassed by his fall but then he slowly got up as the pain seared through his arm and his wrist and he knew that this was not normal, this was not a sprain, this was a break. He arrived home and showed my sister who said it looked very "wrong" so off to the hospital they went. Upon x-rays it was a definite break. He was fixed up with a temporary splint and was sent back a few days later to have a cast put on, all pretty routine right? He went on trying to get better, trying to heal but the pain would not subside, he kept feeling the nudging pain rather than the comforts of healing. Upon removing his cast and x-ray again they discovered that the bone in fact was not healing right and he would need surgery to heal the bone. In order to actually fix this bone they would need to remove a piece of bone from below his knee on his leg, a place where the bone is strong enough and not as vital as the bones in your hands and wrist. He went in for the surgery and they told him that his leg would hardly hurt at all but that his wrist would give him the most pain. He was sent home with pain medication and told to rest. Days later he was still in immense pain, he knew he would need to be going back to work soon. The doctors assured him that all was well and he would start to have the pain lessen. It took longer than anticipated but the pain eventually did start to fade. Weeks have passed and he now has a scar on his leg and his wrist that will be with him the rest of his life. He also still has twinges of pain and is still in a wrist guard for a few more weeks. He will have physical therapy and may have times where he feels pain or pops in his arm/wrist for the rest of his life.
So why do I share this? Well because I am broken. I have fallen hard, and was embarrassed to even say anything. I didn't reach out, I didn't tell my husband or my bishop I just tried to nurse it back myself. Well after a few days of that I knew this was not a sprain, not a twist a real break. I have to have healing, I need a doctor. So now I am reaching out I am posting because others who go through this need to know it happens. Sometimes it is because we are not careful, sometimes that slippery ice (Satan) is just below our feet. I have had my hardest fall since starting recovery. I am not proud of it, I know what I did was wrong and the people I hurt but I also know this: I have the master surgeon. Satan tried to tell me that it can heal on it's own that I didn't need the help, the pain would go away if I kept lying, just quit but kept it to myself etc. I know now that it won't. I must endure the pain of the healing. I know that it will not just heal on it's own. I may need to go in for extensive surgery (seeing my bishop, holding to my husband). They may need to remove part of a less important bone to help heal the more useful one. I may endure pain and I may still have to be in a wrist guard for weeks to come but it will heal, with time, with the right methods and by following my master surgeon the Savior this break will heal. He promises us that. Just like my brother-in-law had to go to a doctor to receive healing, no doctor suddenly called him up and said Hey I felt you broke your arm, no he had to go in, he had to say I'm hurting, I'm broken and then they fixed him. So it is with our Savior he is there, waiting, with his proper medications, surgery and healing we just have to go to him and say I am broken, I am hurting. He will then take us in his arms and let the healing, even if it's slow, begin. We may even have some residual pain or scarring for the rest of our lives but we will be healed and we will have full use of our spirits again.
This is also on my music page but thought I'd post this song here. It has inspired me a lot lately. Broken by Kenneth Cope
The last couple of days have been hard, okay let's be honest they have down right sucked. I have been finding myself lamenting greatly over my character weaknesses and feeling the pull of Satan harder and harder each day. I hate to say it but the last couple of days I have slipped up. I have to remind myself that this is okay, that this is an addiction, not a bad habit, not something I do just because an all out real deal addiction. My brain had gotten so far gone and away from the Spirit that I HAD to feed it the dopamine it so desperately needed. Well I probably didn't really NEED to but I did it anyway. I know this is a no brainer but I had to really sit back last night and evaluate what have I been doing. Well I have NOT been reading my scriptures, I have NOT been studying and working my 12 Step book. I haven't been saying as sincere of prayers. Well okay then let's figure this out, hmmmm....
Last night I attended my group and I have never gone to group where I just honestly couldn't wait to get out of there. I battled with myself all day long about going, because somehow I figured I walk in with this big red A on my chest or something and everyone would know I had slipped up. I love my group and the women there so much that I don't want to slip up I don't want to dissapoint them. There were even a few times in my head I kept thinking oh my gosh hurry up and spit out your words so we can leave. There were about 3 times I almost just left the meeting. I left and cried my entire way home, I didn't reach out, I didn't even try, thanks isolation you won again. As I was driving home I felt this incredible pull to just drive a certain way. I was driving and got off the exit a few exits before my own and started up the hill. I realized as I was driving this was the way to the temple. I literally felt as though someone else were driving my car. I parked at the back of the lot so I could see the temple in full view. There I sat crying and crying, knowing that I just had slipped up again, one too many times, that surely the Lord would say "See you'll never make it back here." Well I did feel that way, I felt all of my character weaknesses wash over me in a great flood but it wasn't from the Lord. It was from that dark figure hanging out with me all day, Satan.
I couldn't shake these feelings of despair. I was even going to make this blog post all about listing out my weaknesses but since I have felt that is not what I need. An amazing woman from group was perceptive enough last night to know that something was up, okay everyone probably knew with as fast as I hightailed it out of there. I was going to just tell her I was fine, that I had a bad day and that was it but as we all know part of this addiction many of us have a tendency to just gloss things over and not be honest. So I was honest. I told her I felt as though I had sinned too many times to be forgiven. I feel like it's fine for those who sin and don't have the gospel but for me who has had the gospel, been forgiven come back to full fellowship and then blew it all again that there was NO WAY I'd be forgiven. I know these are all lies Satan tells us but I couldn't help feel that way. This sweet sister sent me an amazing video that confirmed, in fact, that all the prophets, leaders and Jesus Christ himself couldn't be wrong. I can be forgiven, I can move on, I can conquer, I can change and I can heal. For me this was the simplicity of inspiration that I so desperately needed. I would love to meet this man someday so he'd know how much his story touched me.
So instead of thinking of and listing all my flaws today I think I will pray and journal about the positive gifts the Lord has chosen to give me. I know today is a new day. I am a fighter in the battle, right on the front lines and we can conquer.
I don't know if anyone else experiences this with recovery. I am learning, slowly, to trust I mean really really trust the Lord. Not just 'in him" but "trust him." One of the greatest steps (although I'm not there yet) to me is Step 11: "Seek through Prayer and meditation to know the Lord's will and to have the power to carry it out." I think the first step in this is really Step 3: "Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ." These are both super scarey steps to me. In step 3 the decision to do it wasn't too hard, you simply just decide right? I can do that! But it's the power to carry it out in Step 11 that has me a little freaked out this week.
I have struggled with what to do, where I am going, yada yada that sort of thing. In the last few weeks the Lord has told me through prayer, through feelings, through conference talks and other resources some things to do. I am scared. I admit it. But I also admit that fear is a tool of the adversary. He doesn't want me to progress and move forward, he doesn't want me to do the things that would actually bring hope and healing to myself and others.
I am such a rambler when I post that I hope this is making sense. I guess let me start by saying months ago the Lord whispered to me it was time for me to spend more time with my family. Okay I thought that I can do. Then He said that means giving up some things, sure okay no problem right? Well He failed to mention that would mean giving up my source of income. For the last 4 years I have been involved in direct sales, something I never thought I'd do but I am good at it, I bring in an extra $800 to $1000 a month, I'm helping us get out of debt, hoping to buy a home etc etc. Wait, what? I should quit this, I should give this up...huh? Well it wasn't until last week that it really hit me why. It isn't because it's bad, it isn't because we don't need the money it is because it is allowing me to hang onto my addictions, just a little. You see I work outside of my home a few nights a week and deep into my addictions I would often use this job as an excuse. Excuse to not be at home, where I felt I didn't belong, that my husband really couldn't possibly want to be with me. An excuse to meet up with other people who didn't always have my best interest at heart. An excuse to act out because hey I'm already out anyway, or out of town where no one can tell what I am doing. Ah okay this is making more sense to me now Lord. SO I said okay I will give it up. Now I haven't entirely quit yet but I am working on it. It is so hard for me to just leap and know the Lord is going to take care of it. But I have stepped way down, it means a half cut in pay about, dreams of purchasing a home are being pushed back even further and yet I know it's the right thing to do. As soon as I told my director of my decision a HUGE wave a relief washed over me. Yeah I think that means something.
Next up comes the Lord telling me okay it's time for you to go back to school....UM okay but how can I afford it and didn't you just say I needed to spend more time with my family? Yes He said, and this is how I want you to do it. I worked for over 10 years as a Medical Assistant, I have missed it immensely. I have always dreamed of going back and getting my RN. Well it's time says the Lord. So now I am looking into nursing school. I have a long road ahead of me but I know it'll be worth it. I have always been told by the Lord, by family, by my patriarchal blessing and by a palmist (okay you can laugh a little at that) that I have the gift of healing. The palmist says I have the healers stigmata all over my hands...LOL! I know this next couple of years will be tough financially, emotionally and probably physically but I finally feel that I am doing a bit of steps 3 and 11, carrying out the Lord's will. I know he will bless me and my family and others as I follow His plan for me and go down this path. I know I will make friendships in recovery and school that will last through eternity. So with all of this and these feelings of anxiety, but peace it leads me to just trust, just simply let it be, believe Him and say okay Lord you got this!!!
This last week I have been very sick with a sinus and ear infection. I have discovered in my recovery that illness is a huge trigger for me. Not because I plan to act out when I am sick but because it depresses me that I cannot get as much done around the house, that I can't participate in my usual activities, that all I want to do is sleep. I often "forget" to study my scriptures, say meaningful prayers during these times of illness. Well needless to say Satan is super super good at getting me down, I'm learning but slowly, to make sure I don't stop doing the things that keep me close to the Lord even when I am sick.
Satan is so super smart that he knows that I may not act out when I am sick that he inflicts me with user dreams over and over and over. I know this is very common during recovery especially at the beginning. The last couple of nights I have had such realistic dreams about sex and pornography that I wake up afraid, hurt, scared and down right freaked out. I have realized it is because I don't say as sincere prayers. For a long time I prayed every night to allow my dreams to be uplifting. I am one of those that remembers my dreams very often and very vividly. In the past when I had dreams like this it would most often lead to me acting out, sometimes even seeking to act out the things I would dream about. This last week those prayers have been non-existent, so I have had less protection while I sleep. Last night I awoke about 2 a.m. after a very vivid dream. I was in a cold sweat, and literally frozen in my bed. I was afraid to look around in the darkness because I could feel such negative spirits around me. I laid there frozen in fear for about half an hour then I had the thought come to me, "It's okay, you didn't do anything wrong, it was a dream, you are not punished for it, don't punish yourself." I then got up, knelt beside my bed and prayed. Immediately the dark spirit I was feeling was gone. I know this is very simple act and I know that this seems so plain and obvious but for me it was such a powerful experience. I am so grateful that the Lord is there in all things for us, the simple things and the big things. I was able to go back to sleep peacefully and not be afraid to sleep again. I was blessed that I didn't even remember any other dreams I had the rest of the night. I am so grateful that God is so good. He is always there, just waiting for us to ask
I have thought for some time to start a blog to just express my feelings for my Savior as I go through the 12 step addiction recovery program of the LDS church. So here it is. I do no profess to be a scholar, a genius or a professional on this or any topic but just a humble daughter of God wanting to overcome sexual and pornography addiction. You can view my complete story on my home page.