Monday, October 31, 2011

Encompassed by temptations

“I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. “And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.“He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh” (2 Nephi 4:18–21).

Do you feel encompassed or trapped? When do you feel this way most often?

Sitting at my computer, trying to get work done, struggling to resist the gnawing compulsion in the back of my mind. That is when I feel most encompassed and trapped.   I discovered a long time ago that I used pornography as a way to avoid pain (or work, or church assignments, or anything else that wasn't "pleasurable"). It was a quick escape, the easy way to forget about the responsibilities I faced.  I have had moments where I've gone to work having made the conscious decision to avoid pornography only to find myself, the moment I sit down at my station, struggling to keep to my conviction. The computer makes it so easy, so anonymous,  so quick.  I am literally encompassed about at work. All I have to do is shut the door to my office and I have access to as much pornography as I want.

It comes in waves though. I can go a week, two weeks, maybe even a few months without feeling much more than an intellectual acknowledgement that an entire world of pornography is just a click away, but then something will happen, some trigger that will remind me of a previous image I'd seen before, or spark some seemingly innocent curiosity, and I will end up spending 10 or 20 minutes looking for ways I can satisfy that curiosity without crossing a line and looking at "actual" pornography.  If I indulge a little, I may spend the entire day back and forth between my work and this "innocent searching."

This is of course, a huge lie, because pornography is pornography regardless of how "serious" it is.  And if I'm looking at it to satisfy some sexual/emotional/chemical need, then the image is pornographic, regardless of the state of undress or the parties present in the image. 

Perhaps this what encompasses me most--this lie that somehow I can live in both worlds successfully, that somehow as long as what I'm viewing is not actually sex, or not actually naked people, that I will be okay.  The ironic thing is that from what I understand of addiction, the dopamine rush and the chemical reaction is charged as much, or more through the anticipation leading up to acting out as the acting out itself, so even if I'm not "going all the way," I'm still maintaining the addiction, feeding it like some virus or infection.  You cannot serve God and mammon for sure, and I cannot kill my addiction if I keep shooting it in the head, but then rushing it to the hospital and hooking up to life support.

It's a little like walking around the liquor store and not buying anything, or on some days, when it gets really bad, its like opening a bottle and taking swig, only to slosh it around my mouth for a moment and spit it out.  Sure, I didn't drink anything, and I may be sober in the strictest sense, but I'm not well.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The dangerous power of a single image

So I'm sitting at work trying to work, and in a moment of weakness I went hunting for some pornography online.  I did this in a typical, shy and round about way, telling myself that I didn't really want to look at pornography, but was just curious about what was out there.  And in that process viewed one image that wasn't even by itself pornographic, but rather suggestive (a video clip, actually, that would have turned pornographic if I hadn't turned it off).  And now I've spent the whole day wrestling with that one image--some animal part of me wanting to seek it out again, the rest of me resisting it, recognizing that following through with the desire would leave me empty, and feeling guilty.

And yet, I find myself distracted, unable to focus at times because of that one image.

Ridiculous.  Not exceptionally new though.  There are images from 25 years ago that are still ablaze in my mind, and if  I entertain them, I can render myself pretty useless pretty quick.

This is what they mean when they say, once an addict, always an addict.

So what is to be done? Well....a few deep breaths.  A thinking through the action as I am doing now, a recognition of the lie behind the emotion (no, my body does not need that image, no that image will NOT fulfill me), a prayer...and distance.

Ultimately the most significant part of getting rid of the distraction (and ulitmately, the addiction) is to give it time. It's like a weed that has taken root. It doesn't require much water to survive, and the only hope of killing it is to starve it to death.  Without a chance to detox, the addiction will flourish like a mold, and I'll be stuck in a cycle of acting out, or almost acting out, of skirting around the edges of genuinely bad behavior.  Stupid, wasteful, and all part of Satan's plan to keep from being who I need to be.

So, you seductive image that I allowed into my mind, I can't do anything to get rid of you, but I can ignore you, starve you, and smother you.

And that is what  I will do.

-AC

Why Attend Meetings

“The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior
will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel.” --Boyd K. Packer

At meetings, I will study Gospel principles that will help me change my behavior.

At meetings, I will interact with others who have experienced similar struggles with addiction and I will find support, understanding, and most importantly, I will find hope.

So that's the first step. Confess honestly to my self. Study. Commune with others who've suffered.

Interesting.  Recovery and healing requires me first to be honest with myself and then seek out the empathy of others.

Step One: Honesty

“Our will in competition to God’s will allows desires,
appetites, and passions to go unbridled (see Alma 38:12;
3 Nephi 12:30).

A list of what is important to me
  • My relationship with my wife
  • My relationship with my children
  • My success at work
  • My success as disciple of Christ
  • My sucess as a friend to those around me
  • My success as a member of my extended family




What I believe
  • Jesus Christ is our Savior
  • We are all children of God
  • Christ will forgive us of our sins
  • Women deserve my respect, protection, and admiration
  • Sexuality is a private, personal, intimate thing
  • Living Worthy of the Gift of the Holy Ghost is essential to my personal, professional, and spiritual success.


What I Lose by indulging in pornography
  • I lose a sense of intimacy with my wife
  • I lose the peaceful, strengthening, reassuring support of the Holy Ghost
  • I lose my credibility as a father, as a disciple, as a leader.
  • I lose my ability to choose.
  • I lose my ability to focus on work, or on my relationships with my children and my wife.

As I become more willing to abstain and admit the problems I face, my pride will gradually be replaced with humility.

READ THIS First

Hi everyone,

My name is Addiction Conqueror and I am addicted to pornography. I have only admitted that to a few people, and even right now, writing this in a public library, I am a little nervous about the people that might walk by and read this over my shoulder.  I've been addicted to pornography since I was as a child--maybe 5 or 6 years old and for years I had no idea I had a problem.  All growing up I wrote off my behavior as weakness, and I filled my head with lies about my self-worth.

I spoke with church leaders about it, and their common advice was to "stop," or "have better self-control," or to "Get serious" about my behavior.

I spoke with my parents about it, and though they were loving and patient, they had no idea such a thing as pornography addiction even existed. There council was full of advice about respecting women, about the difference between pornography and real intimacy, and the importance of keeping myself clean.

All that advice was sound, and I believed all of it, yet I kept viewing pornography.  This, of course, made me feel awful because I knew what I was doing wrong, but I couldn't stop.

I shook the problem for a few years after graduating from high school and serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but after coming home and getting married, my addiction to pornography showed back up in my life.

It was at this point, when as a newly married man I discovered that I was feeling a regular compulsion view pornography, that I admitted to myself that I had an addiction.

I spoke with my bishop, who suggested I read Spencer W. Kimball's Miracle of Forgiveness.

I signed up for and attended a group therapy session with other men like me who suffered from pornography addiction.

I thought that would be the scariest moment of my life.

Then I decided to tell my wife.

That was the scariest moment of my life.

As a testament to her, she has supported me in my healing, and for that I am grateful.

It has been several years since I attended that group session on pornography addiction. I am healed.

Though not entirely.

I am addicted to pornography.

And I will always be addicted to pornography.

Every day I have to make a conscious choice to avoid pornography.  Most days I am strong. Some days I am weak. Some days I am so angry with myself for my weakness that I shout at myself, I slap myself in the face.  I want to put on a pair of running shoes and run forever.

Part of me wants to blame others for this reality.  But blaming others limits both my own acceptance of my responsibility and my acceptance of my sickness.

Today I read the introduction and first chapter in this book, and I felt prompted to start this blog.

I completely accept, admit, and confess that my addiction is beyond my control.  I cannot conquer it alone, yet I know that through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, I can conqueror any weakness, any fear, any temptation, any sickness, any trial.

And that's a good thing, because I have no greater weakness, no greater fear, no greater temptation, and no greater trial.

In peace,

--AC