Thursday, February 1, 2018

RED FLAGS! - What Are They? Post 1

As often happens in the community of recovering addicts, rumors, stories and gossip filters down to our ears. We, meaning recovering addicts and their wives, are especially sensitive, when we see the signs and symptoms of a man, woman, or couple who are trapped in addiction. It is obvious to us that have struggled, or have been in the throws of battling to save ourselves and our marriages, when we see others going through the same. Because of our experience, we have come to recognize the red flags of an addiction. 

Why then do so many feel like they were blindsided with the discovery of a spouse in this addiction, when to us the signs are right in front of them. I assume it is because 1, They want to trust their spouse and assume the best and 2, They have never had to look for the signs and therefore they don't know what to look for.

Whether its pornography, impure thoughts, or a full blown affair, shouldn't there be a list of tell tell signs that one can look at as a warning?

With that in mind, as a recovering pornography and sex addict, I thought I would pen a list of what I think are the signs, symptoms, and red flags of an addiction to lustful behaviors. I intend to do this over several posts as I am sure I have more than enough to say on each subject.

Of course, I was deep in my addiction and displaying many of these behaviors, but my wife did not know what to look for or that she even needed to. Even when her suspicions were on high alert, and she saw the red flags, she personally chose to ignore them because accepting them would be too painful to admit. Sometimes we just know … and still choose to ignore. I pray that as you read through this blog, you will consider these points a guide, not definitive by any means, to understanding your behaviors, or the behaviors of those you love. 

Also, I want to be clear. I am not trying to write a fearful blog that puts every wife on alert. There is a chance that some of the things I write about here are just personality traits in a person. These are my thoughts based on my personal experience and do not reflect every situation. Ok Disclaimer done.. Let's get to it.

(Yep all capitals…Bold, and underlined…. kinda scary in your face like that isnt it? Good. It Should be, because this is a major flag!)

I heard a rumor drift through my small community of recovering families about another family that we all know (I know... Gossip.) Here is the rumor.

3 sisters were walking together, one attends our group the other 2 do not. The one who attends the support group for wives, is very vocal about her family’s trial. She is bold and inviting and willing to help others when she sees the signs. During their walk it was revealed that the 2nd woman had moved out because her husband had been caught in an affair. The first woman, boldly asked her, “Have there ever been signs of pornography use?” The 2nd woman answered, “Well early in the marriage there was, but I haven't seen it since.” The first woman asks, “What about masturbation?” (I know bold right?) The 2nd woman answered “Well yeah he does masturbate all the time. He has done that our whole marriage. Isn't that normal?” The first woman told her that, “No, it is not normal in a healthy sexual relationship built on the foundation of the gospel, for the husband to sneak away and masturbate. It could be a sign of other lustful habits like pornography addiction.” The 3rd woman walking with them then said “Wait, masturbation is a sign of a possible pornography problem? My husband masturbates all the time. I wonder if he struggles with Pornography?”

This is all coming to me through heavy lines of hearsay and gossip so I am not going to put 100% faith in the accuracy of the story.  However, After hearing this rumor…. I thought… ‘Why don't we, as members of the church, recognise that masturbation is a red flag?’ 

I am not going to get too deep into a husband and wife's personal intimate encounters. When you are together and experiencing intimate acts one on one, I imagine that pleasuring each other in a masturbatory way may be part if your routine. That is personal, together time. You are experiencing it TOGETHER. Far be it from me to dictate or instruct how you enjoy each other intimately. What I do want to talk about is ALONE time. 

Masturbation or Self Pleasure, in its very title is something that is done by oneself to oneself. And of course the word ‘Self’ is obviously the root of the word Selfish. Simply said, ‘Self-pleasure’ is ‘Self-ish’. It is a personal act designed to elicit an orgasm without the assistance of one's spouse. Therefore it is selfish (This is not my definition, but I really like it). 

President Spencer W. Kimball stated that, “Masturbation, a rather common indiscretion, is not approved of the Lord nor of His Church regardless of what may have been said by others whose ‘norms’ are lower. Latter-day Saints are urged to avoid this practice”.

President Kimball said that in 1965. Until I went searching for a statement from church leaders, I didn't know this statement even existed. Why? Well maybe you have heard the line, ‘If you want to keep something hidden in the church, put it in a manual’. Which seems to be the case here. So many of our youth and us as adults, just have no idea what the church's stance is on masturbation. It could be part of the hush hush culture we are part of…. But I digress.

The above statement was found in a parenting guide (link is here ) put out by the church. In addition to President Kimball's statement it adds this, “The sin of masturbation occurs when a person stimulates his or her own sex organs for the purpose of sexual arousal. It is a perversion of the body’s passions. When we pervert these passions and intentionally use them for selfish, immoral purposes, we become carnal.”

The interesting thing to me is that these statements come from a chapter titled “Teaching Adolescents: from Twelve to Eighteen Years”.  Yet many of us as adult men and women are still deeply entrenched in the addiction to masturbation. (This is actually a superb read and guide for parents with children and is surprisingly candid about the differences between men and women and sexuality. Here is the link again.)

I believe that most young men as they enter puberty, and possibly young women as well, experiment with masturbation. Hopefully we have raised them with the law of chastity and they choose to stop or talk to parents or a bishop or put up protections. I, quite honestly, did not. Masturbation became my escape. I make no excuses for my actions at that age as I knew better and I had agency. But in short, broken home, middle child, bad student, and all the rest that goes with being an awkward teen. Masturbation brought me warmth and comfort and of course, pleasure. Even before pornography was a problem for me, masturbation was part of my life.

Masturbation and the brain

The biggest problem with masturbation is that it taps into our brains built in reward system. It ratchets up the excitement level, it quickens our pulse, and ultimately it simulates the orgasm intended for true sexual activity. Only, it is not true sexual activity. It is simulated, but our brain doesn't know that.

All our brain knows is that it feels good. The brain translates this into a reward function. MMasturbation triggers the reward center of our brain in exactly the same way a real sexual encounter would. The brain doesn't know if it is right or wrong it just knows that it deserves a reward when we do it. So when a person masturbates to a climax, the Brain thinks “Good Job” That felt good. Here is your reward. The reward being a large dose of dopamine. 

So, after the release of orgasm, the brain offers a release of dopamine. Dopamine is the euphoric ‘feel good’ drug that the brain produces to reward us. It gives us the post intimacy ‘feel good glow’. 

It is offered to us for other reasons beyond intimacy to be sure. When learning to ride a bike and successfully maintaining balance, the brain gave us a dopamine hit to reinforce the activity. The same goes for tying shoes, learning to swim, learning to walk, getting an A on a test, Feeling good after a workout, a ‘runners rush’ and so forth. It is also dispensed during highly risky activities such as skydiving, motocross, surfing, driving too fast, and more. It, in conjunction with adrenaline, serotonin, and other brain producing chemicals create the perfect combination for securing a habit in place. In this way, over time and with enough repetition, our brains begin to think that we literally have a “Need for Speed”, or sex, or risky behaviors, or pornography and of course, masturbation.

For some reason though, when involved in intimate or sexual activity such as viewing pornography, having intercourse, and masturbating, the brain gives an even larger dose of domanine. Essentially flooding us with euphoria as a bonus.

Most of us don't have a clue that this is going on in our brain. We just know we feel good (And probably a bit of guilt as well).

The point is, the next time a tiny taste of dopamine is released for any reason, even innocent non sexual reasons, we find ourselves wanting a little more. And guess what, the brain now knows where to get it. Masturbation.

In this way the brain encourages us to repeat good and bad habits. It doesn't know or care which is which as long as it makes us feel good. (the brain is just a computer. It is not our soul. It has a function and it performs it).

Unlike other drugs, dopamine is produced by our brain, one can't just detox out of it or tell it to stop producing it. It is a biological function that can not be stopped.

Therefore we have to learn instead how to resist the pull of the dopamine when it hits (See the LDS addiction recovery program. This is an amazing resource).

This is very, very, very hard to do for someone who has allowed themselves to participate in masturbation over and over for years.

And it is not as simple as saying, ”Honey don't worry. I'll take care of that need for you”. A person who uses masturbation or self pleasure to receive his or her dopamine hit has a special relationship with it. I know sounds weird doesn't it? But I actually began to prefer masturbation to actual intimacy. Or at the very least I wanted to maintain my relationship with both.

The other problem with masturbation and dopamine is that, just like with any drug, the user will always crave a bigger hit. That means what started out as a gateway drug to just get a taste of the dopamine, will eventually crave a bigger dosage. And of course there is always a way to get a bigger dosage. It usually includes escalating the action to darker, riskier, and uglier places.

In comes pornography. As big of a rush that one gets from masturbation, that rush will always be increased when one begins to imagine or fantasize about sexual things. But in time, the imaginations are not enough. Usually the escalation continues to viewing pornography. Pornography when combined with masturbation, in my experience, intensifies the dopamine hit even more. This is where one can become addicted to pornography. Not so much to the trashy stuff itself, but to the bigger hit they get when they view it. Again, the brain does not try to make a moral judgment about whether pornography is good or bad, it simply knows that when you view it, it feels really good. Therefore, it unwittingly encourages that behavior.  From there it gets more and more risky as the cravings for bigger and bigger hits of dopamine intensify. Often leading the user to view darker, uglier, and even illegal forms of pornography in order to get the hit they need. Of course the culmination of all of this is often trying to recreate that pornoography. The idea is set into the mind of the user that the only way I am going to achieve or receive the ultimate hit or feed the hunger is to actually participate in sexual encounters in the hope to get the biggest rush. 

I know… you might say…. Well.. Then, I as his wife would be the obvious choice to do that with…. Right?

Not always. Not for me. I professed to live a religious lifestyle. I wanted her to see him as clean. I wanted her to see me as worthy. She represents purity, cleanliness, wholesomeness. Furthermore to get the increased hit of dopamine, there had to be some elevated action and there is no risk with her. She was safe. I had been intimate with her already… I knew the hunger I was trying to feed went beyond what I had experienced at home. So… I followed the hunger to other places. (I am quite aware that many men addicted to pornography do bring this into their homes and invite their spouses to participate in recreated fantasies. I am intentionally skipping this at this time as I will discuss this point in a separate post.)

This was my exact path of escalation. I did not understand at the time that dopamine was the culprit. If only I understood the dangers of masturbation as a young man, perhaps I could have sought help… but I didn't. Nor did I want the help. What I wanted was more. I wanted a way to feed the hunger.

So…. In my opinion, anyone who says… it's just masturbation …. Is on a very very slippery slope.

I do not believe (my personal opinion) that masturbation is a simple victimless action. Men and women who masturbate for whatever reason are playing with fire. It ignites passions and hungers and fantasies that will want to be fed. 

The world tells us that masturbation is a healthy function and that we should all participate in it. But, as is often the case, the world is lying to us.  

The problem is 99% of men have no understanding of the relationship between masturbation and dopamine. They may even feel they are in complete control of their self pleasuring habits. ‘I can stop anytime I want to’ or ‘I only do this because it gives you a break from having to service my needs when you are not in the mood’ or ‘ I only do it occasionally to release stress’. Whatever the case may be, the ability to simply stop the habit becomes increasingly more difficult the longer it persists. One actually doesn't realize how quickly they move to masturbation , when triggered, until they try to stop. By then, it may be so rooted as habit, that simply “Stopping” is out of their means and ability to do on their own.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Dear Addi Personal update 2

Personal update 2

Your Questions!!

1. Where did you go? Short answer..... No where. In truth, one of my strategies to maintaining my sobriety is to keep myself very busy. I may have been just a little too good at that as of late. We have been working very hard in our business and the Lord has been blessing us tremendously. That has its down sides as well. Longer hours and much more time spent running a business. It is a blessing for sure but it has taken a lot of the time I use to have to blog. I am going to try and be better about blogging. Especially with the large back log of questions I need to get to.

2. Are you and your wife still battling this together and how is the battle going? YES absolutely we are. We are very focused on our journey still and determined more than ever to succeed. We work together everyday in our business. We serve together every week in our assignments and we are believers that the atonement can heal a relationship even after it has been crushed, drowned, dried out and drowned again. With the assistance of the savior and fantastic leaders and friends, we believe that healing is possible.

3. Are you still serving as Pornography Addiction Recovery Group Leaders? YES! Its is the greatest night of our week. We also run a the local phone in group which has been a blessing and a joy. In addition to our weekly meetings, we travel all over our state speaking in wards and stakes, sharing our story, our successes and failures and offering council to those who may be stuck in this trap. (Just one more thing to keep me busy.)

4. Will you be writing any more blog posts? Yes. I love the blog and it is my hope and goal to be more active on here. Please continue to submit any questions or comments.

5. Would you be willing to speak to our group, ward or stake? Absolutely! If your not too far away from us and we can figure out the logistics, we would be happy to share our story, our struggles and our insights on how to win this battle.

Thank you so much for your continued support of the blog. I regularly have people comment and ask about it. I truly hope that those who read it find hope and answers to the challenges of both the addiction itself and the process of recovery.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Why won't He completely confess? How Do I let him go?

Over the past several months I have corresponded a few times with a woman whose husband, after several affairs, left her and her children for his mistress. Heart broken and desperate, she has posed several questions to me. What follows are several of her questions along with my thoughts on each. This corespondance is shared with her permission.

Dear Addi,

My husband has left me and the kids and is with the other woman, who's been in the back ground for almost four years. He only told me this about two months ago. He told me in a phase of amazing grace and seemed to want to get help, but then he sunk back into his addictions and turned again to that relationship. He confessed to multiple partners, over and above her, and years of lying and living a double (and triple) life all at the same time, but barely to porn, he only acknowledged it lightly, and only when I asked. 

My question is, why would he make only a partial confession?

My other question is, I'm trying to let him go and entrust him to God. I don't know what else to do, is there anything I can do?  I pray for him so much. Is that all I can do, then? 

Addi's Response

I am sorry for what you are going through. I not only know the pain you carry, I have seen it first hand as I have watched my own wife writhe in agony from the hurt of my own betrayal. 

Normally I try to write my blog in an open and not super specific way, but please allow me to, in this response, be a little more personal with my thoughts. I have  identified a few points you made in your email and I will try to comment on them one at a time. I am not sure my thoughts will make much difference now, as it sounds like he is already gone, however, perhaps I can give you some insight of what I would be thinking from his perspective.

1. You said, " He told me in a phase of amazing grace and seemed to want to get help, but then he sunk back into his addictions and turned again to that relationship."  I want to be careful not to sound like I am making excuses for your husband. I know without question that he is responsible for his choices. But, I also know the bondage of addiction. I can relate only too well to the magnetic force that seems to pull us towards evil. Even when all the synapses in my head are screaming at me to STOP, for some reason the pull of the forbidden fruit feels too strong to resist. If allowed to go unchecked for too long, it becomes much like the dogs in Pavlov's famous experiment, that is, when the bell starts to ring, we jump in with our compulsory response. Do we still have will power to resist? Of course we do. Can we say no? Of course we can. If we begin to train ourselves early and practice that training over and over, we can begin to build a portion of will power, but if allowed to run unchecked for so long, our automated response will kick in and when the bell rings, we find ourselves running back to the forbidden fruit. After my first confession of both an affair and my addiction to my wife and priesthood leaders, I felt strong, the weight was off, I had confessed, I had divulged, now I could begin to heal. It only took 24 hours before the hunger pangs began to rise up inside me again. Within 48 hours I was crumbling in public. I felt like I was consciously fighting a demonic possession. For the first 6 months of the battle, all I wanted to do was sleep. My bed felt safe. I could hide in my room away from the ringing bell. My intentions to quit and be pure were real but the constant triggers going off around me made my life hell... all I wanted to do was act out, reach out, and indulge. My point to all of this that, just wanting to get help, or just confessing isn't enough. In order to be free of the constant magnetic pull toward sin, we first have to eliminate the triggers. Though your husband stated that,"He wanted to get help", he may not have made any steps towards actually receiving any. Without a battle plan in place, he would certainly be susceptible to the never ending, ever familiar, all consuming, constantly ringing, hunger to continue in sinful ways. Again not an excuse for his actions, but hopefully this provides you with a little insight into why an addict, who knows his actions will hurt others, might continue in his destructive path despite knowing it is harmful to both him and those around him. 

2. " He confessed to multiple partners, over and above her, and years of lying and living a double (and triple) life all at the same time, but barely to porn.."  This is the key point for me. I am no Doctor. I have no degrees in counseling or Psychology. All I have is my own experience, and lots of it. But someone who has confessed to multiple partners and has gone to great lengths to lie and cover it up... I believe is an addict. I would tend to believe there is porn involved as well, but I had a huge porn issue so I always think pornography is involved. So I could be wrong. Having said that. I believe that porn is nothing more than a gateway drug. Satan's goal is not to get me hooked on porn. His goal is to get me to destroy my family. One more family out of contention for celestial glory. One more family with kids brought up with out a father as a role model. One more family who is more likely to lose there connection to the spirit and wander away from the path that leads back to God. No, Satan's goal has never been to get me hooked on Porn. It is to get me to act out the pornographic fantasies outside of my marriage. Porn is only practicing for infidelity. I say that because I believe that if left unchecked, porn will always move off of the screen and into reality. So perhaps your husband does not have a porn addiction.. but in my opinion he definitely has an addiction to lust. I mentioned above the hunger that comes and is inescapable sometimes... well.. that's not porn.. that's lust. Lust manifests itself in many ways. Unfortunately, a lust addict, often needs more than the porn can provide and so... seeks out his fantasies in reality. Multiple affairs does not sound like an unhappy or unsatisfied husband looking to find elsewhere what he is not getting at home.... it sounds like a man who is over taken by lust and cant stop trying to feed it. But... that is the problem... Lust Can Not Be Satisfied. It is the never full monster that continually wants more... and if my affair with this woman did not feed it, then perhaps the next one will, and if not her, then the next one. Lust Will ALWAYS WANT MORE. It leads men to make poor decisions. I know this from personal experience. And yes, as you eluded to, Lust is not love. It cant be. Lust is selfish, Love is selfless. The 2 can not co-exist.

3. "Why would he make only a partial confession?" That's a tough one to answer. But I have a theory. It relates to me and my view of the world, but perhaps it's similar to his. The main reason is... its just too embarrassing. I know what you are thinking... 'He just confessed to multiple affairs and he is leaving me... why wouldn't he confess to a pornography addiction? '  I grew up in the LDS church. I was taught from a young age that pornography was not just bad, but it was straight up evil. I was taught that it was perverted, disgusting, and immoral. Furthermore I was trained that those who succumbed to it were weak, or unwilling to look away. I was taught that lusting on a woman in my heart was like committing adultery. As I got older, I heard the conversations and how people looked at pornography as the vilest of the vile. But guess what? I was looking at it. I was partaking... did that not mean I was the man they were describing? I was the pervert? I was the lowest of the low? Few things in the church are looked at the way pornography is. At least that is what I believed.. and yet here I was drawn to it daily. I was told over and over that repentance and confession was the only way... but I knew that by confessing to it, I would be admitting that I have this horrible, filthy disgusting weakness. So Instead, I vowed to never tell. And I never did... for 25 years I never told,  until it grew so out of control that it simply became impossible to hide. So, if pornography is involved, as you believe it is, he may simply not be willing to out himself as one who craves what we all know is, evil. Keep in mind, Satan is the constant companion of the porn addict. He continually hits us with constant rationalizations, repeated vows to quit, short wins of sobriety, all leading to a false confidence. So when he says "dont worry about me, Im doing fine," he probably believes the whispers of the adversary telling him that exact thing. I know I did... listening to that satanic voice for years, simply led me deeper and deeper into a pit that felt completely inescapable. 

4. " I'm trying to let him go and entrust him to God. I don't know what else to do, is there anything I can do?" For you... the answer unfortunately is no. The Church has an amazing manual for wives of addicts. It is called the 'Spouse and family support guide'. It is all about learning not to be co-dependent. It spends a great deal of time reminding wives that the Lord is the only one who can truly heal the addict. And that only happens after he completely humbles himself and prostrates himself before the Lord. Your prayers for his humility and willingness to go through the healing process are the only tools you have. And truthfully... they are all you need. Do not discount the power of your prayers or the ability of the Lord to both Humble and heal a broken soul. Effort will be required on his side to make it happen, but until he is ready to walk through the refiners fire of his own accord no real change can take place. No amount of convincing, talking, lecturing, yelling, or crying, will get him any closer to the atonement if he is not ready to approach on his own. So, yes, prayers are what you can offer. Lots and lots of them.

5.   "I wondered what brought you to your amazing conversion moment?" Ugh... I wish there was an easy answer. I wish there was a General conference worthy story. I wish I could say that it was a good home teacher, a great Sunday school lesson, a talk that inspired me, or a humble broken heart that brought me to my knees. But it wasn't any of those things. I had the great home teacher, heard the talks, listened to the stories, but I was too embarrassed and afraid to act on them. I even remember sitting through a general priesthood meeting and hearing a talk on the need to confess your sins in regards to pornography and thinking, 'Oh how I wish I could confess', But I couldn't. So I didn't. Without confession I simply slipped deeper and deeper in my addiction, until like your husband, I found myself breaking my covenants. I did not have a life changing burning moment of clarity to change my life... For me it was simple.... I got caught. That is the short of it. I did not choose to be humble, as Alma says, I was compelled to be humble. The key for me to staying away from both the addiction and the acting out, was a grueling year of sobriety that was only possible because I began attending the pornography addiction recovery group. There I found strength and support. At the same time my wife began attending the Spouse support group. There she found healing.  I was not very different from your husband in my addiction. All I know is, I was finally tired of living the lie. I was finally exposed... all of it, so it made no sense to lie any more. I saw an exit, and finally had no choice but to take it. I have said this before, but the day I was excommunicated was the greatest day of my life. In my discipline, I discovered the path the atonement. It wasn't a chosen path, it was a forced path, and yet I finally accepted my need for it. That is when the change in my life began to happen.

I don't know if any of this is of help to you. Its a lot to digest, but.. hopefully gives you an insight into what he might be thinking or feeling.

Let me just close by adding this. You are not responsible for his choices. He chose to break his covenants with you. He chose to leave his family. Do not for one moment listen to the devil on your shoulder trying to convince you that you are not beautiful enough, or skinny enough, or that you were not adventurous enough in intimacy, or that you were not righteous enough to deserve Gods blessing in saving your family. Your husband, is addicted to lust. Lust Blinds him to what is right in front of him and inspires him to make excuses for his actions. I am telling you right now that whatever excuses he used to justify his action are simply that, excuses. His choices, inspired by lust, are owned by him. There is not now, nor will there ever be, a satisfactory excuse for being unfaithful. I know from personal experience the layers of lies one tells even to himself to justify his actions. Please remember what you already know, that you are a daughter of God. He loves you. He has created you with talents and weaknesses. He has sent you here to prove to him your dedication to him even in the darkest of times. Your husband may not yet be ready to walk through the refiners fire, but, you are right now, standing in the middle of the flames. And I am sorry to say this, but it will get a little warmer before it is over... but, walk in it willingly, and you will be the precious, priceless metal that emerges on the other side.

I and my wife are praying for you and your husband. May God bless you in and through this trial.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Personal Update

Hello friends,

I just wanted to take a moment to share a personal update for my wife and I. We are so thrilled to report that after 3 years of begging, pleading, and convincing, our area will finally be starting a pornography addiction recovery group. Our first class starts in just 2 weeks.

As I began my personal confession process almost 3 years ago, I knew based on my habits and hungers that seemed to be on auto pilot, that I was not going to be able to beat my addiction with out help. We went to the LDS church addiction recovery website and searched for a class nearby. Unfortunately the closest group to us was an hours drive away. We committed to making the drive every week. At the same time, we asked the stake what the chances are that we could have our own class. After all we lived in a tri stake area and there was nothing for pornography addicts at all.

The request was accepted and agreed with, but with the bureaucratic process being what it is, it either got sidelined or back burnered  for any number of reasons. We never stopped asking though. At least 3 or 4 times a year (probably more) we would suggest again and again the importance and need for the class. Our good stake president wanted to make it happen but was battling some oposing forces from other local stakes.

We never gave up. We continued to drive an hour north every weeks for 3 years time. We, with the bishops permission, started our own little group within our ward for brothers that were struggling but unable to make the weekly drive. With a group of about 4 to 6 brethren, we were able to work the steps and find healing together.

Approaching the 3 year mark of my initial confession, We continued to plead for a local group. Finally the 3 stake presidents were able to agree on the need for the group and informed us that we would be starting one in just a few short weeks.

Be careful what you wish for! Our stake president was only to happy to tell us that not only would we have our own group, but that he would like my wife and I to be the group leaders!.. Honestly not what we were looking to do, but thrilled none the less.

The Moral? Never give up!. Our leaders know this is needed. If you don't have a pornography specific group in your area... then ask... and keep asking. Part of the reason so many areas don't have groups is because the leaders don't know how badly it's needed.

We simply kept sharing the stats and encouraging the stake president to ask his Bishops how many brothers they knew of in their wards that were struggling. The numbers make a very compelling argument.

Here are a few of the stats we shared and a link to many more if your interested.

- 64% of Christian men look at pornography at least once a month. (source: statistics).
- there is no evidence to suggest that the numbers are lower inside the mormon church. (Source: rowboats and marbles)
- in fact it seems to go against it. If your a fundamentalist Christian (like a mormon) you are 91% more likely to have a pornography addiction.. (source: statistics).
- in Salt Lake Valley the ratio of general addiction to pornography addiction groups is nearly 1 to 1. The church recognizes this is needed. (Lds addiction recover Web site, find a group near you)

For some quick stats go here...

To download the complete statistical report (its big, and very detailed) go here.

Good luck on your quest to get a group started in your area.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dear Addi, Should I Confess?

Dear Addi,

Thank you for your posts. It has helped me a little with what I've been struggling with.

I really need help right now. My heart is broken right now. I just got back from a successful mission and it's been almost three years since the last time I've viewed pornography. I was addicted to porn in my teenage years but was able to resist it a few months before my mission. However, I didn't confess until I arrived in the mission. I had told my mission president that I had a pornography and a masturbation problem. And he asked me to surrender my temple recommend and all that. I have gone through the repentance process with him for months and I have been able to complete a successful mission without viewing pornography.

Back when I was confessing to my mission president, I had thought that I had completed everything that I needed to tell him of. In fact, I felt the presence of the Holy Ghost. However, just recently as I read and pondered your posts, I remembered something that I may have missed something. Back when I was 14, I had written and submitted this fictional story to an online site with sexual stories. I am not sure if it was ever published and I really don't want to go to check it out with the fear that I might trigger myself to reading pornographic materials again.

My question is this: Do I need to confess that to my bishop now? And if I did, would I be excommunicated or disfellowshipped?

I really hope you can help me go through this.


Dear James,

Thank you so much for writing and sharing your questions with me. I am a bit of a ‘read between the lines’ kinda guy, so forgive me for honing in on certain words or phrases you used in your letter.

The first thing you said is my favorite; “My heart is broken right now.” Oh how I love this statement! This should be the mantra and theme of each of our lives. I think that you intended this to mean you are hurt or saddened or disappointed by your own actions. Which is also good. But when I think of being Broken, I am reminded that this is exactly how our Savior wants us… with a “broken heart,” humbled and ready to receive his help and comfort. So three cheers to you for being broken. That is awesome and no matter how you got there… it's exactly how He needs you! The real trick is staying that way. Our broken hearts have a tendency to heal in ways the Lord did not intend. Sometimes they heal the heal the wrong way. For example,  when I was 10 years old I accidentally put my hand through a small window shattering the glass and slicing a 2 inch cut in my arm. We rushed off to the emergency room where I received stitches. The Dr. told me to leave it alone and covered with the bandage. I followed his counsel at first, but over time, the bandage came off, and then I picked at it, and played with it, the way a 10 year old will do. The stitches began to spread a little. It healed with the stitches spread apart. The result is, that instead of a nice clean scar that is unnoticeable. I have an ugly wide scar... that is obvious and even numb in parts of my arm… all  because I chose not to leave it alone and allow it to heal properly.

Our broken hearts sometimes are not protected and allowed to heal the way the  Savior wants them to. Sometimes we ignore Drs orders and uncover them exposing them to the pollutants in the air. Sometimes we pick at it. Sometimes we pull at the stitches… and sometimes… we're left with some pretty nasty scar tissue. And, as was my case, we even can become numb to feeling the pain any more.
I am not suggesting that the Lord doesn't want us to heal.  I am saying that if we don't follow the exact instructions given us by the master physician, we are likely to heal improperly. And in the case of us porn addicts, that means relapsing, or even worse. Keeping our humble hearts broken provides us one more layer of protection and shows our Heavenly Father that we truly need his continuous healing to keep us safe and strong. But only if we are exact in the way we allow it to heal.

Let me jump ahead to what I believe is the crux of your questions.

1. Do I need to confess? And 2. Will I receive church discipline if I do?

Let me start with 1. As we all know… repentance without confession is not real repentance.  But it sounds to me like you did confess. You shared with your Mission president about your addiction. I realize you did not tell your mission president every nitty gritty detail. I personally am not sure that this one more detail, as you have described it, is far beyond the confession you have made. When I was 10 (a lot happened in my life at 10 years of age apparently) there is a chance I may have borrowed 2 or 3 dollars from my mother’s purse without her knowledge. Now, years later I did confess that I had an issue with “Borrowing” money from time to time, but I did not go back and detail every time and event.  This is because they were all small parts of the whole… the real issue was that I was being dishonest and I needed to repent. The same principle applies when I consider my pornography addiction. I did not walk into the Bishop and detail out every single instance in which I looked at, read, or wrote something inappropriate, I confessed to the problem as a whole and then detailed the most egregious sins. The rest, were just parts of the whole. So do you need to confess this to your Bishop? I don't know, I will leave that to you. If you feel that you have truly put this behind you and have not acted out since long ago, then I think you may be able to consider the matter has been dealt with.   HOWEVER…. Since I know from personal experience that confession is by far the most freeing experience one can go through and is in my estimation, the most important part of the repentance process, if sharing this with your Bishop helps to relieve you of the weight.. then you should absolutely go see him and get this off your chest.

2. Will I receive church Discipline if I go and confess this sin.

Based on your description of this sin alone…. I can with complete confidence say that you will definitely NOT receive any formal discipline.

I think somewhere down the line we, (I include myself in this) as leaders in the church, may have done ourselves and the youth of the church a disservice. In our completely righteous effort to steer the youth away from making critical mistakes, we may have gone too far by demonizing them and the punishment that follows such forms of sin. We spent years teaching the youth to run from the evils of pornograghy or else ‘you will become a slave’ to it, to avoid word of wisdom issues and law of chastity issues because  your soul and your very membership will be at risk. While I agree that we need to avoid these things and  YES, we can become slaves to them… we failed to spend the same amount of time discussing the fact that you will most likely mess up somewhere along the line and you will need to use the atonement and here is the process. Perhaps it was taught to the youth in the proper way, but the youth in their fear only heard… Bad Bad Bad… No No No.. Hell fire… damnation… excommunication…. Is it any wonder that we are afraid to go in and confess? Somehow we missed the most critical element of the atonement …. Love!   Confession takes a broken heart.  If you walk in with a heart broken and a willingness to repent, then no matter what the leader asks of you, it won't matter… you will want to follow through.  That is how we heal our broken hearts the Savior’s way.

Let me put your mind at ease though by sharing a quick story from when I was a Bishop. I had a very good and active brother come in to me after church one day. (I promise this is a true story, your situation reminded me of it). This good brother had been off his mission for over 4 years. He was married with 2 adorable little children. He was serving as ward mission leader and asked to speak with me one day after church. When he came in, I could see he was beyond nervous and obviously uncomfortable. He sat before me and began to share with me that prior to his mission, he had fallen into the trap of (You guessed it) Pornography. He said he had stopped before his mission but had never confessed it. He felt like he had served a successful mission, he felt he had repented, but he had never confessed and so felt like he hadn't finished the process. He was certain that he would lose his recommend or be disfellowshipped.

I asked him, “When was the last time you sought out to view pornography?”. “ Not since before my mission,” came his answer.  “Brother Smith,”  I said, “Your confession process is complete. Please don't let this past sin burden you any longer.” We then talked for a few minutes about how he could avoid falling back into transgression and the importance of not delaying the confession process. Then I excused him back to his beautiful family.

You see, what good would extra discipline have done him at that point? He had already beat himself up for years. He had been chastened and humbled. He had carried the weight of unrepented sins because he simply skipped one step of the process. And now that it was complete… he could move past it.

I believe, if the unconfessed sin is as you described, that a good Bishop will see you with love and recognise the weight from sins past. I can not promise you that he won't ask you to stay away from the sacrament, or to surrender your recommend (though I think it unlikely), but I can tell you with certainty, that you should not even hear the words excommunication or disfellowship mentioned.

I will state again, nothing feels better than confession.  When in doubt, confess. The Lord will always bless you for seeking his forgiveness through the proper channels.

Finally, I want to offer one more reason that you may want to see your Bishop. As you stated above in your letter to me, You have ’Just completed a mission’ so I am guessing you have been home any where from a few weeks to a few months. You also stated that you were able to “resist pornography for a few months” prior to your mission. I see a few red flags here that I think we should try not to over look.

After spending months and even years seeking, hungering and craving after pornography, a few short months of abstinence does not make one a recovered addict. I understand that you did well on your mission and as you put it,  “Even felt the spirit.” However, the mission field is a highly charged spiritual experience and in that atmosphere finding strength to win each day to win is far less daunting. But you are home now and the glow of the mission will eventually begin to fade, and with it, your determination will be tried and tested. The adversary already knows your weaknesses and as you stepped off that plane, he immediately sized you up as ‘Fresh Meat’. I implore you to not be naive enough to think that you have beaten this. We addicts know that it will try to creep back into our lives over and over. It is with this in mind that I suggest that you DO go to your Bishop. Share with him everything from your teen years in Pornography to your repentance process with the Mission President, to your desire to be clean now. Make him an advocate and ask him to check on you regularly to see how you are doing. Let him and the Lord help you to stay clean.   How is it done? By being humble enough to recognize that this is a real life long struggle… and that requires...wait for it… a Broken heart. It all comes back to that doesn't it? . Break your heart wide open and hide nothing. You will find strength in exposing the wound.

I will pray for you my brother. May the Lord bless you as continue to battle the adversary in this life long battle. Win the Day!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Dear Addi, What goes through his mind during a slip?

Dear 'Addi',

Can you help me understand what goes through My husband's mind before, during, and after a slip? I can't wrap my mind around why he still gives in when he has been fighting so hard and winning for so long.

This is a GREAT question. It is the same question that your husband and I and every other man afflicted with this nasty addiction ask ourselves every time we feel the urge to slip.

The question is.. why? Why after months of strength does it suddenly feel too heavy to resist on this particular day? Why, after fighting so hard for so long, do I all of a sudden want to plot and sneak and indulge? Why after months of battling back, do I suddenly feel so overwhelmingly triggered by something seemingly innocuous to the point that I have chosen to act out? WHY!?!

I don't know the perfect answer… but having lived through the process several hundred times, let me take you through what I think  is the ‘anatomy of a slip’.

I’ll set the stage by stating that I am a firm believer that Pornography is more than an addiction. It is mind altering and blinding.

The 90% Rule.(My totally made up statistic)

We each have free will. We have the ability to choose, however I think that for many addicted to pornography, when we reach those critical decision points, the decision is already 90% made for us in advance. I call this my 90% rule. It works like this. If you were to ask me to smoke a cigarette I will say no 100% of the time. I have no desire or interest in cigarettes at all, in fact I am totally repulsed by them. If you were to offer me a glass of wine or a beer, I would say no 100% of the time. I will never be interested in those things. I have trained myself throughout my  life to reject those things. However If you were to offer a cigarette to a previous smoker,  he may remember the taste, the enjoyment, or satisfaction he felt when he used to smoke. He will have a harder time saying no.  In fact the Journal of the national cancer institute says that a former smoker who has been free of smoking for 6 months or less has a 40% chance of relapsing if offered a cigarette in a week moment. (resource

This is similar to an addict of pornography, except, everything we know about pornography tells us that it is far more powerful and more addictive than almost any other substance. One addict was quoted as saying “I have been addicted to both crack cocaine and pornography. The crack cocaine was by far easier of the 2 to give up permanently. In fact I have not smoked crack for several years now, but to this day I still struggle with overcoming my porn addiction.”

For a porn addict, the draw is so strong that instead having a 40% chance of relapse, I think it’s more like 90%. Meaning, that its my belief, that 90% of the time we are presented with actual porn and have the opportunity to indulge, we will.

Sometimes the fight seems unwinnable. It's the feeling of being inches away from a slip all the time. That given the opportunity and circumstance, I will probably give in every time (I have no statistics to back this up, only my many observations and conversations with other porn addicts and my personal experience.) I have spoken with dozens of porn addicts and they all agree that when it comes to whether or not they will slip again it's not a questions of ‘If’ but feels more like a matter of ‘When’.

You may say, “I have seen drug addicts on the verge of giving in, I have watched the tv show ‘Intervention’, and my husband has never looked that strung out or eager for a hit. It doesn’t look like he is waging that kind of war all of the time”. True, but that’s because porn addicts are not feeding themselves an artificial chemical substance to get their high. Smokers, drug addicts, and alcoholics, if they are willing, are able to detox the chemicals out of their system. In most cases, their bodies can be clean of those addictive chemicals in less than 30 days. Porn addicts brains, on the other hand, create the the chemical for them. There is no need for an artificial, external chemical, when the ‘crack house’ resides inside your own head.  When the porn addict lusts for a “hit”, he can easily conjure up the images or fantasies without you ever knowing and, since porn addicts are extremely adept at manipulations and dishonesty, you may never even notice that he is on the verge of giving in to the pressure of the 90% rule. For some reason, as we have mastered the deception process, we have also become experts at twisting guilt, gas lighting, and distracting. So, though it may seem all is normal, I still believe  the 90% rule holds true for many addicts of pornography.

I know this from personal experience. I had fed myself a steady course of filth for so long that it was nearly impossible for me, who had pretty much made a practice of giving in every day of my life, to simply ignore the flood of endorphin's when a trigger presented itself.

Some men have spent their lives practicing and preparing to turn away from porn when it is presented. They were taught from a young age not to give it any attention and to run from it. For them, it’s not a draw and maybe never will be. I, on the other hand, gave it soo much attention, that it became second nature to let my thoughts run rampant when a trigger was presented. It is counter to everything I have always done to simply look away or push off the thoughts.

When they come, if I have not prepared myself to stand up to the attack, they will take over. When presented with an opportunity to fantasize, I have to fight with all my heart not to engage those thoughts. In fact, the pull to let my thoughts run, even for a few seconds, is still monumental. But when I am prepared to fight back, though it be a battle of epic proportions, I know I become stronger for engaging in the fight.

C.S. Lewis said it this way, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.”

Those in the throws of this addiction are not practiced at standing against the wind let alone an army. We are used to lying down. “Standing up to the wind” takes practice. Lots of it. Years and years of practice. With practice, we will get stronger, but until that time, we will continue to struggle. And not just sometimes…. but everytime. There is no quick path to recovery. It is long and continuous and filled with ups and downs.

Even the man who has been in recovery for years is still under constant attack. Every time he walks out the door he knows he is going to see something that will fire up the lustful desires he is trying so hard to bury. Over time, if we continue to work the steps and do everything in our power to battle it,  it gets easier, but, as far as I can tell (so far), it never quite goes away.

It is with this in mind that I will attempt to go through what I think are the stages of a slip.

Before The Slip:

 Tiny allowances over time make us ripe for the side show provided by the adversary.
  • We have to be careful and constantly vigilant. Over time we can become confident in our recovery. Our confidence feels good. We are putting weeks and months and perhaps even years between slips. We may falsely believe we have this beat for good. But, Satan is patiently watching and waiting for us to offer any kind of opening. All it takes is a stray thought or an unexpected trigger for our brain to begin pumping out the endorphin's. Those endorphin's start the craving, the want, the desire, the hunger. And that is when the adversary strikes. Simple things such as going for a run, playing a video game, driving to work, walking through a grocery store or mall, watching tv or a movie, even listening to music with suggestive lyrics can all be filled with triggers. You may think that some of these things are tame and certainly your husband wouldn't find a trigger in such simple actions or activities. But you would be wrong. Especially if he is trying to eliminate pornography from his life. These ‘lesser’ triggers can become a feasting ground and a compromise for ditching the darker filth of our habit. Not intentionally, at least not at first, but they slowly begin to creep into our view and gradually overtime become an acceptable substitute for the ‘Real Thing’.

The inevitability of Defeat
  • Satan is crafty, but some of his most useful tools are 1. a reminder of how much we craved those feelings before and (believe it or not) how good that craving felt. and 2. a constant feeling that we will ultimately, eventually lose this fight. It may sound strange to one who is not accustomed to addiction, but porn addicts have fought and lost and fought and lost and fought and lost the fight soooo many times that failure starts to become an expected part of the process. So, to the addict, there is often a feeling that relapse is inevitable. It's like a barely audible hum always there in the background. It gets louder whenever we cross paths with one of the ‘lesser’ triggers mentioned above. Even in recovery, many feel that someday they will eventually find access to those strong feelings again. Its because of this feeling that many addicts never fully turn their lives over to the Savior. Even after months and years of recovery, they may discover that they have left the door open a tiny crack waiting for that inevitable relapse. Satan knows this and uses it in his efforts to topple us when weak.
    We willingly loses the internal argument.
    • It is at this point, when our lust is becoming fully charged by the flood of endorphin's, that Satan begins filling our head with suggestions. “Maybe just let your mind wander a little bit”, “ You have done so well, you have earned a little taste.”, “What can a small look hurt”, “You don't need to look at porn, just something soft core.”, “ You see that girl walking out to her car?, go ahead and look again.” ; and on and on. Remember that 10%  resistance I spoke of before? This is where it dwindles to about 5%. We find ourselves overwhelmed by the want, the rationalizations, the influence of the adversary, the feelings of lust and somewhere in all of this, we hit what I term the Decision point. This is where we ultimately choose to give in.
    Tunnel vision darkens the eternal periphery
    • At some point in the battle described above we give in to the hunger and make the decision to indulge in one form or another. Now you may ask yourself, “Why can't he just stop at this point? Why doesn't he look around him and realize that he is about to sin? Why doesn't he think of his wife or his children? Why isn't the forthcoming pain of the repentance process enough to stop him from pursuing this choice?”  I believe the answer is ‘Tunnel Vision’. Tunnel vision is the ability to forget everything of importance in our quest for feeding the lust monster. We shut out our wife, our children, our success thus far, and we lose sight of the Bishop, the commandments, even the painful process of repentance we have already been through. When the scriptures speak of blindness, they are talking exactly about this. It happens because all of a sudden, the endorphin's are pumping at full speed, old familiar feelings are engaged, and nothing seems more important than getting the drug. In this state of mind, everything else is blocked out until you feed the beast. Once you have made the choice to sin, the spirit is gone and the adversary is laying down full and complete coverage to make sure you don't see a way out. That is not to say we can’t change course and make good decisions in tunnel vision, however, once we have advanced to this stage of the slip, we rarely ever do. (I offer a more detailed explanation of tunnel vision in a previous blog post )

    The Plotting begins
    • This is the saddest part of the process. Because it shows the lengths to which we will go to get to our fix. It reveals the level of desperation we have descended to once we have decided to partake. This is where we are in heavy addict mode. The addict knows he must be sneaky. He can't just get on any computer and start searching. Most addicts have already installed filters, watch dogs and devices to keep them from doing exactly this. And hopefully those protections will kick him out of his quest and he will use the 5% willpower he has left to stop himself. But for those that are determined, the plotting to find some way past, through, or around the filters begins. It is a sad state of mind to be sincerely out of control. Unfortunately with the plotting, comes the lies, the deceit and the cover up. The dishonesty is always connected to the relapse. It can be something as simple as hiding in the bathroom with his devices or staying up late to watch TV or internet shows that are inappropriate. Or it can be as devious as creating a false email address or getting a second secret cell phone. The weirdest part is that while in addict mode, these deceitful ideas seem to be justified. Why? Because we make a bargain with ourselves that as soon as we have completed the act, we will never do it again. We knowingly become totally dishonest and rationalize that it is to protect our loved ones from the pain of discovering our sins. It is absurd, It is absolutely maddening, and completely juvenile activity. But, tunnel vision keeps us from recognizing the truth in that moment.
    During The Slip:

    The quest for filth begins.
    • This part of the process is hard to describe. I think it is obvious that one who is addicted to porn is going to have a few frequented sites or places in mind. For me, it started out simple. A search for something pretty basic that will feed the lust hungry demon inside of me. But it escalates quickly. I always felt that there must be more to see or partake of. Whatever it was I was looking at in that moment, was ok, but wasn't completely fulfilling. It gave me a taste of satisfaction, but, surely there must be something better, more exciting, more able to feed the hunger so… Let's follow this link and see where it leads.   I could start in, what I believed to be a fairly tame place, and before 30 minutes had passed I would find myself searching one disgusting term after another, looking for something to heighten my lust even more. Lust leads me to believe that somewhere in my quest through porn I would eventually reach some sort of pinnacle. That is why we keep going back. We never seem to find it.  And in truth,  it is not find-able. Lust is a starving beast whose hunger will never… ever be satisfied. So for hours on end the porn addict will sift and search and watch and view leading himself deeper and deeper into simply wanting more. The problem is…. there is never enough and eventually, as was my case, in order to get even more, the porn had to jump from the page and land in reality. And isn't that Satan's ultimate goal?  My experience has taught me that viewing Porn is simply practicing for adultery. If left unchecked it will always, eventually, lead off the screen and into real life.
    The unstoppable mind set.
    • There is this weird out of body argument that seems to happen while one is looking at porn. Once you are in it, you have already crossed the line into sin, so the argument to turn away now seems fruitless. “I'm already here, I may as well feed on as much of it as I can before I turn it off,” I would tell myself. I can recall moments of such extreme want, that even with the Savior as my desktop image, with pictures and quotes adorning my walls, even when my wife would call me while I was in mid viewing, nothing could distract me from the hypnotic trance I was trapped in. There was one goal and only one goal and no matter the amount of spiritual influence, nothing was going to break my determination to forge on. It is a voluntary hypnosis filled with fantasy and filth. It is a warm and enjoyable quicksand that we willingly step into as it sucks us down to a suffocating death.

    The first signs of guilt arrive
    • In my case there was also, sometimes, a recognition of… “what am I doing?” and “how did I get here again”  This begins to settle in as the addict is trying to get out of this current moment of indulgence. For most porn addicts… it ends with masturbation. What is the point of all of the hours of digging and watching and time wasting if it doesn't end with some form of climax. As we move into the final stage of the process, this is when the guilt begins to really settle in. I can recall reaching this point of the process and looking up at myself in the reflection of the monitor. I was so completely disgusted with who I saw there. There I sat reaping the rewards of my hours long quest,  and thinking to myself… “you are the most disgusting filthy, worthless, weak, person! Look at what you have been reduced to?”  My self loathing, self hate and shame were all I had left from my wasted day of indulgence.

    After The Slip:

    Guilt, shame, anger and disgust.
    • The guilt is immediate. The regret is instant and the shame is heavy and thick. The long wasted hours of looking and searching and watching are suddenly meaningless wasted time. The self hate, and feeling of failure are intense. A hollowness and sense of worthlessness is ever present. And the feeling that I am never going to escape this secret compulsion that is my hell, is the overwhelming thought in our mind.  Anger is present as well. Anger at myself for not being strong enough to withstand. Anger at this addiction that it is still so present in my life. If you ever wonder why your porn addicted husband lacks patience or is in such a foul mood all the time, it could just be that he is hating himself at the moment. I can recall several occasions after coming home from a long hard day “at work” and being in such a cranky mood that my wife would give me a wide berth and encourage the kids to ‘leave daddy alone for a bit”. The weird part is, being so accustomed to lying, I actually thought I was pulling off the cover up.
    Do I lie or tell the truth?
    • The plotting begins again. Telling her the truth will only add pain to our current situation. She will think that I am never going to beat this. She will suspect me and think I am slipping all the time. I don't want to give her the feeling that this is a hopeless cause. I want her to believe she can trust me… I must lie. As an addict, I can only assume that the accumulation of successful lies over the years begins to make us feel invincible.  ‘I have lied and lied and never been caught before so… why shouldn't I continue?’   Lying is so second nature to an addict that sometimes we don't even consider the option of telling the truth at all.  The lies extend into other parts of your lives as well… things that didn't need to be lied about but, since lying is easier than confrontation, why not? I found myself lying about whether I had run out to grab an unhealthy burger for lunch, because I knew my wife would prefer I not get one. Lying just becomes a way of life. It just seemed easier than disappointing her again. It is the most backward thinking of all…”I want her to trust me, so I guess I should lie to her.”
    Self deception ‘Just one more time before I confess’
    • With the lies already firmly in place and since I have gone undiscovered, perhaps I should continue to partake just a little longer before I say goodbye to this forever…again.  And so,  the cycle of stopping starts again. Most Porn addicts have tried to stop hundreds and hundreds of times. After every slip, we promise God and the reflection in the mirror, that this was the last time. And we mean it with all our hearts until tomorrow… when the hunger creeps back in. I can remember relapsing multiple times in the same day, each time believing with all my heart that I was finally done, only to relapse again within hours. The loss of control eventually gives way to the viscous cycle of addiction.

    So,  how then do we as addicts avoid slipping into and repeating this process over and over and over again? Well, as I said before, I believe it comes from practice. Change does not happen overnight. It takes months and more likely years but, It can happen. Remember that 90% rule? Well, just as C.S. Lewis stated, we can't get stronger unless we go to battle. But the more we go to battle, the better we get at beating the enemy. Perhaps we won't win every battle, but slowly, we win more and more. Slowly we learn his tactics and begin to recognize them from a distance. We become stronger and stronger… and 90% drops to 80 and then 70%. Before we know it, we are winning far more often. Maybe a few losses still creep in from time to time,  but our victories out number our failures now. It takes time. It takes practice… but the tide eventually turns in our favor.

    This is the process of finding a change of heart. Hearts can change, but they truly do take time.

    I will close with this last story.

    Following my excommunication from the church, My stake president, a dear friend of mine, who knew I wasn't going to jump ship and go inactive from the church, suggested I take a few weeks and let the dust settle before returning. So my wife and I, in an effort to heal, and talk, and answer some hard questions, went on a vacation for a couple of weeks. After some very difficult but tremendously healing time together, I returned to my home ward and attended church.

    On my first Sunday back, I ran into a sister I had known my whole life. I had grown up with her kids. She is the sweetest kindest person I know. I don't believe she had any idea what my wife and I were going through.

    I conversationally asked her “so how is your Daughter and her husband doing?”, She responded by telling me that her daughters husband had just received open heart surgery and that while they expected a full recovery, it was going to be a long process. Perhaps as long as a year for him to fully recover from the surgery. I was amazed as that seemed like a very long time for a recovery.  She replied by saying “ I know, but I guess hearts just take time to heal”.

    To me…. It was as if she was speaking directly into my soul. Her words felt like they had been prepared for me alone. Of course she was right.   Hearts take time to heal. Miracles happen,  but not in the time frame we want them too.   That healing occurs in the Lord's time.

    Over time, we can find healing to our hearts and minds. We can shift our wants and desires, but they need time to fully heal. We have spent hours and weeks and months and years filling our heads with filth and we can't expect to snap our fingers and have it all go away. Time heals all things, even our broken hearts and our broken, addicted brains...but not without effort on our part, a willingness to finally fight back, and faith in the Lord that with Him, all things are possible.