I would like to share with you a little bit of my personal history, as painful as it may be, with the hope to be able to help another in need. My desire is that, because I had to look for so long before I found the light at the end of the tunnel, maybe I can be a guiding voice for someone else, so they don’t have to feel their way alone in the dark for such a dreadfully long period of time.
Let me tell it to you straight, no deception. Since as long as I can remember having the capacity to reason and understand, I have been trapped in the deceitful web of sexual addiction, most frequently, in the form of masturbation and pornography. I do not claim to understand the entire reason for my addiction however, this morning as I was reflecting upon where it all started I may have uncovered a previously unrecognized discovery of the origins of my addiction. When I was 8 or 9 years old I had several experimental incidents of fondling on sleepovers with others of my age. These things were left buried and unspoken of for years.
Later, when I was 11 years old, with two of my friends, one that had been involved in the earlier incidents, we had innocently gone on the computer to look at “modest” pictures of our favorite celebrity. Over the next few weeks, we continued to get together to look at similar things on the internet. It only happened a few times and I believe that they moved on and were relatively unaffected by it, but for me I was not. These childish “innocent” activities created a hunger that I could not satisfy. I began to search out pornography in my home; at first every few weeks, then weekly, then daily. I tried to ignore the pain that I was causing myself as the once joyful, carefree, spirited young child was replaced with nothing but darkness. I began to see in shades of gray. Bitterness, depression, confusion, irritation, anger, and that ever-increasing, never-satisfied monster of lust became me. Or at least the person that I thought I was.
The truth is I lost sight of who I was almost entirely; thoughts of the future filled me with despair. Questions without answers spinning in the never-ending whirlpool of my mind: “Would I ever be free from this demon haunting me? Would a “Sicko” like me ever be able to get married and have a wife and kids? What if they found out? They would hate me forever… Maybe I should just give up on the mission idea, cross-out plans of a temple marriage… Maybe I should just quit life. Where is God?! Why would he let me go through this? He did this to me… He promised to never let me be tempted above that which I am able. Could anybody ever love this beast that I have become?”
The road to healing began in the spring of 2… (at this point my addiction had already held me firmly in its grasp for over 3 years). I had tried for so long to reach out to someone, to uncover my wounds, to admit that I couldn’t heal them without the help of somebody else. I had always reached out to God but my addictive behaviors kept me from receiving the relief I had petitioned him. I remember many nights, standing next to the door to my parent’s bedroom in the middle of the night, tears running down my face and terrified, inches from knocking the door and rushing to tell them of my pain… I would stand and shiver… 10 minutes would pass… and I returned to my room to face my demons alone. Finally, as above mentioned, in 2… I began the process of change by talking to a friend about the problem. Soon, I talked to my mom. Then my dad, my bishop, a few more friends, I began to reach out to anyone I could in order to find help. I had spent so long alone, I needed others to know.
Although I brought my battles out in the open now, there was no relenting from the enemy. He simply jumped into the battle as openly as I did. It became all-out war. I began to speak with my bishop regularly, I went to counseling; nothing really helped because I didn’t have the tools I needed to overcome my addiction. I didn’t know what recovery really looked like. I knew that I believed in God and that through the Savior, Jesus Christ, I could hypothetically receive healing from any wound that I might have, however I didn’t know how to put the atonement in practice in my life. I tried but how could I receive healing from my addiction and a change of heart if I couldn’t even stop the addictive behaviors that controlled my life?
Finally, in 2…, I found the Sons of Helaman Program. It was here that I realized that I was not an idiot, that I was not a “Sicko” or a freak. I realized that it wasn’t me who was the problem. I realized that Satan had been messing with me for the past five years and I had been oblivious to his tactics. I learned to be pissed at him for trying to destroy my future family, for tricking me to believe in the alluring promises of pornography and then for pointing his finger and laughing after each time I fell. I was pissed that he had been the one to tempt me but then as soon as I would lose a battle he would turn his back on me and leave me to suffer alone telling me, “It’s not my fault, I am no devil for there is none.” I began to realize that by harnessing this anger towards Satan and transforming it into a desire to protect the ones I loved: my family, my future wife, and myself, I had motivation sufficient to resist the temptations that beset me.
It was there in Sons of Helaman, that I realized that the reason that I had been plagued by this addiction is because I have much to offer to God’s Army in this eternal war. I realized that I was not stupid, rather, I was very intelligent and Satan could not afford for me to understand my potential and use it for good. My confidence began to soar. I began to feel a very strange, new and unfamiliar, almost forgotten feeling… Happiness. Oh how I loved this concept: Me feeling good about myself? Being able to talk to people without feeling like I was hiding “the real me”? I began to connect with God and find joy in studying his word. I began to feel healing in my heart and it was not because the Sons of Helaman Program is the cure, but because the Son of God, Jesus Christ is, and because through the Sons of Helaman Program, I came to know my Lord better, I learned to access his atoning blood.
With all that has been said, even the Sons of Helaman Program was not a quick fix. The average addict was able to graduate from the program with 12 “perfect weeks” in a matter of 4-6 months. Thus after several relapses, they usually got it together and were able to become clean. For me however, I was one of the most delayed graduates. I did not graduate until the summer of 2…. I spent 3 years in the program, fighting this addiction. But that is just what I did, I learned to fight. I acquired the tools necessary to beat this for a lifetime.
Shortly after graduating from the program I was called to serve an LDS Church Mission. I served faithfully and was able to maintain myself clean with only slight struggles during those two years. I recently returned home in … of 2… My mission changed my life and I came closer to the Lord, Jesus Christ then I had ever been.
While on my mission I met the sweetheart of my life. The one I had dreamed of. The one I prayed for, fought for and prepared for so earnestly in my years of battling. She was my reason for overcoming and I was enduring simply on faith because I had never met her. She was so worth every pain that I have ever been through, in order to become clean for her. We are getting married in the Temple. After all these years of nightmare, I have finally tasted the ecstasy of sweet dreams. I cannot stop asking myself, “Is this real? Can life really get this good? Can this happiness actually last?” I know that it can and it will.
I soon will be graduating in Psychology and will go on to receive a master’s in Social Work. I plan to dedicate my life to the process of helping others find the same critical lifeline that I have found. I won’t stop until I have made my helping hand accessible to all those that are in hiding and scared, feeling around in the dark tunnel without any direction to lead them to that “promised” light at the end.
At this stage of my life I ask myself what my life will be like in regards to my addiction. I wonder what lasting effects it will have on me. Although I have years without relapse, I do not like to say that I have recovered or that I am “over it.” I don’t believe that exists. Not unless God were to transplant the brain that I have and trade it for a new one and take away all my life experiences so that I could start anew. I believe that, although it may take a few minutes to make an addiction, it takes a lifetime to break it and to overcome all the consequences… No, I don’t believe I am “over it.” However that doesn’t mean that I have to relapse. I don’t have to give in ever again. I now am entering a new stage in my life, one that is filled with laughter and joy, family and fun, connectedness with God and cleanliness before him… I call that stage “recovery.”