I wanted to share with you the value I find in working with a trusted professional counselor as you overcome not only the addiction itself, but more importantly, as you work to unwind the damage done by the tornado of your life that negatively impacted those around you. If you’re early in your recovery this may not make a lot of sense just yet, but if you can trust me enough to read on and believe that there is something of value in the experiences I’ve had walking this road for 3-1/2 years now, you may find yourself in a better starting point when you work with your own counselor someday. And if you’re saying to yourself, “There’s no way I’ll ever talk to a counselor!” Then allow me to begin with the day I turned to the window of my counselor’s office and literally thought to myself, “I wonder how bad it will hurt to jump through that window and run away?” Continue reading
The last couple of months have been filled with some interesting, difficult, life-altering, wonderful, sad, and joyous moments. In other words, everything is normal. The kind of normal where I continuously find myself struggling to do my best and trust God to help me handle the things I can’t (which is a lot). I still feel guilty asking for God’s help sometimes, but thankfully I have a wonderful wife, insightful children, and great friends to help me along the way.
There are three experiences I’d like to share with you that I hope help you on your own journey: a quote, a scriptural insight from a friend, and a loving conversation with my wife.
I read this quote in my church magazine, “The Savior doesn’t want us to try harder; He wants us to turn to Him sooner.” (An article on spouse recovery when the other spouse is addicted to pornography). We have quoted it often in my Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) meetings. It has been an intense source of relief when I feel guilty for not being stronger, or for struggling with emotional triggers, or not praying hard enough, or not helping others more, or, or, or … Then in a moment when my mind can be quiet I’ll remember God doesn’t want me to try harder, He wants me to turn to Him sooner. Then I feel peace and relief.
One of my favorite scriptures is Ether 12:27:
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
What’s so fascinating is how I continue to learn new things from and about this single verse over the years. For a long time I interpreted it to mean if I had enough faith and worked hard enough “I” would be able to turn one of my weaknesses into a strength. Then I learned that God gave us our weaknesses not so we’d work on them harder, but so we would go to Him for help. That wasn’t a sign of weakness for going to Him, it was exactly what I was supposed to do.
Then just last week I was at lunch with a friend and he said, “Did you know that Ether 12:27 says God gave us “weakness” but everyone thinks it says “weaknesses”? I stared at him for a second realizing that I did in fact always think it had said weaknesses and then I immediately realized the power of what I just learned. God gave us “weakness” not as a set of various weaknesses but rather as a singular characteristic of being mortal. That’s not something that we’ll overcome on our own or one day will be gone. It will always be there and we only rise above it by realizing we “don’t have it” and by asking God to help us. Easy to talk about, harder to do. But it was helpful to learn that and to keep it in mind.
For whatever reason I got hit with a huge bout of anxiety before our trip. It rattled me and left me feeling raw and exposed. Add to that the excitement and wonder of being on a new adventure which ended up creating feelings of uneasiness followed by feeling triggered. It really started to get to me and finally I opened up to my wife. I was worried how she would take it but it was completely the opposite. She helped me see how I was being way too hard on myself. That at the end of the day I’m human and can only do my best and that was what I was doing. Just being able to open up to her and have her help me see myself in a better light was a treasure. I am so grateful to have an understanding and thoughtful wife. I couldn’t be half the person I am without her support.
Life is great, life is hard, and it’s all going to be okay. I hope you’re not too hard on yourself. I hope you have friends and family who support you. I hope you have a budding relationship with God. If not, then try hanging out after one of your 12 step meetings. Find a friend or two or three. Don’t worry, even if you feel uncomfortable at first it will become something worthwhile in due time.
My name is Mike
This last Sunday evening at my LDS Addiciton Recovery 12 step Meeting we had a visiting leader as the normal leader was out of town. At the close of the meeting the leader will usually share a thought he has prepared for the night. What set this time apart from the others is the visiting leader was a recovered pornography addict himself. You could have heard a pin drop in the room it was so silent. We hung on every single word he uttered! It was amazing. He had us all with his first line, “Brethren, I don’t know if you know this or not, but you are the cream of the crop! You truly are.” Continue reading
Every now and again I have a bit of a pity party. It’s the one that goes like this, “Why did this happen to me? Why can’t I be like normal people? Why do I have to work the 12 steps the rest of my life?”
Can you hear the baby crying in the background? Because I can. I don’t know how often this happens, and I would say that it’s happening less and less, but it still happens. Usually around the same time I start softening my bottom lines, quit doing daily study and meditation, or stop calling a friend to do 10th steps. Coincidence? I think not.
Every now and then something will truly move me. It will usually change my perspective on how I see the world, how I look to the future, or how I even interpret my past. Most of them are with my family like an incredible vacation, a lost loved one, or a major event in our children’s lives. But once in a while something unique occurs and it becomes one of the things that will always be part of me and I will never forget. The latest indelible memory came from my brother in the form of a padded envelope on Friday afternoon. Continue reading
“It’s all part of the human condition.” Those are the words my brother lovingly shared with me over the phone as we talked about my daughter who had just been admitted to a mental health hospital for severe depression. He had been there. He knew what it was like to suffer with horrible depression for years. That was last Wednesday. We’re hoping she’s well enough to go home tomorrow but there are no guarantees. And worst of all, there’s nothing I can do to fix it.
A year ago I was sitting in my therapist’s office with my wife. We rarely met together but he wanted to see how the two of us were doing. I was a hot mess mentally and emotionally. I never did discover why. All I knew was in that moment, sitting in his office I could not sit still as my legs were bouncing. I wanted to jump out of his window and run away (he was on the first floor). I felt like my chest was going to collapse and the world was falling on top of me! I was extremely tense and did not want to be there. He asked if I would like to go for a walk and try to collect myself first. I was happy to accept and quickly left. Continue reading
Normally I am a very optimistic person. I can generally see the silver lining in just about anything. But every once in a while I have a blue day. They were much stronger and more frequent when I was struggling with my addiction. Mix that with acting out and the guilt/shame cycle that would follow and I had quite the nasty depressive combination. But these days I would describe my blue days as more of a “Meh” day. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a catch 22. It tends to impact my motivation and so I don’t accomplish the things I set out to do for the day — which also makes me feel a bit down. Then I feel bad for possibly not helping someone else which also kind of makes it worse. Can you feel my pity party I have going on here? 🙂 Continue reading
This morning as I was attending a church leadership meeting I found out some incredibly sad news about a family in our church. It just broke my heart. In fact, it’s fair to say I literally wept as we talked about the situation. There wasn’t a dry set of eyes in that room by the time we were done. It shook me to my core and I was incredibly sad. I haven’t felt that deep of a sadness in I can’t remember how long. As I was driving home I realized that one of the reasons I couldn’t remember the last time I felt that sad was because I’ve never really allowed myself to feel that way. Continue reading
I don’t know if I can adequately reproduce in words the absolute fear that I had about attending my first 12 step meeting. “What would people think?” “Who might be there?” “What if someone found out?” “What if someone I know is there?” “What if it’s a room full of weirdos?” After several months of fretting and “thinking about it” I finally got up the courage to … ask a friend to go with me. Seriously! I called a friend and asked if he’d go with me to a group meeting. Did I mention that I was absolutely terrified? Continue reading