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Unachieved Potential
By aurelius89
2/23/2011 3:33:58 AM
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Truly it has been far too long since I have spent time to reflect and emotionally connect with each of you as we battle against something tremendously powerful and insatiably tempting. As a student of psychology I know all too well that addictions of all sorts are affective to the same parts of the brain and especially pornography and masturbation stimulate the brain in a similar way that ecstasy drives a drug addict further into an intensive path of mental destruction, among other problems. My mind has frequently led me to return to this site after having relapses--the first few times were in my teenage years out of desperation to seek help and fellowship with other struggling addicts. I suppose that I don't like to place the title of "addict" upon myself as it carries negative connotations that seem to cause me forms of justification, being less of a son of Heavenly Father, and more of some uncontrollable creature that seeks to satisfy itself.

Pornography and masturbation like many of you came as a form of self-medication and curiosity. For many years and until this date I have struggled with physical and emotional abuse within my home that made me feel dejected and depressed. These problems severed to the point of placing myself in immoral situations with girls that only lowered my self-image and understanding of myself to the point of doubting whether I would serve a mission or even continue on the path of righteousness. Fortunately for me I have been blessed with a wonderful family and Priesthood leaders to motivate me towards repentance and overcoming those obstacles to the point of receiving a strong testimony of the Atonement and fulfilling my childhood dream of serving a mission. Things seemed to be going fantastically well as I met a wonderful girl before I left to serve and it wasn't as hard maintaining my temptations, even though they always came it was everything for me to stay clean. However, something was strangely wrong as my energy levels would dramatically change and my emotions were difficult to control. While out in the field, it was diagnosed that some form of clinical depression was impeding me from continuing my work as a missionary and through prayerful guidance I was heartbroken to return back home earlier than anticipated.

Coming home was incredibly difficult feeling that my desire was only to return back to the work I sincerely loved. My family didn't seem to understand me, my ward seemed to ostracize me, and even at times I didn't realize how to understand myself and the mysterious psychological difficulties going on. Finally after meeting with some compassionate medical professionals here, it was decided that my work in Texas had been completed and the journey was only beginning. The girl I thought was right for me ended up to be something else and that too was ended early through prayerful consideration. Not knowing how to begin my life again tortured me daily and my confidence dwindled. My family never has really had daily scripture study or family prayer and so it has been difficult to maintain spiritual strength. It was around that time that my old enemies came back for a routine visit that wasn't exactly scheduled or prepared for. After a year of trying to avoid the pitfalls and dangers of the addictions I seemed to have found an escape route depending upon consistent study and prayer with institute attendance. I met my future wife in an unexpected way being involved with missionary work here and things looked to be finally resolving.

That was until we parted as she lives with her family and Mexico and I had to return back to my life of education here in Utah. Leaving behind a beautiful experience of light in the temple there seemed to fade away as darkness enshrouded itself about every aspect of my unsure life. I am in love--looking forward to marriage and living the ideal LDS life. I'm not sure we really understand how difficult it is for a young man to balance education, a professional life, and finding an eternal companion all at the same time. Needless to say that I have relapsed again...this time involved with other situations that should not have happened with my beautiful fiancee. We both desire to take the necessary steps of repentance as my heart is sorrowful that she too experiences the pains of falling into moral sin. We want to get married in the Manti Temple and have dreams of raising a Gospel-centered family, but now our thoughts are centered around the pains of distancing ourselves from the Lord. I pray that her parents will be able to trust me again as this painful cycle has tormented me for years and now includes the life of their daughter. We desire to move through this process together, but I can't help to realize that most of the fault lies upon my shoulders. This need to overcome these challenges no longer includes the Lord and I, but also the lives of my future wife and future family.

The last time I wrote my story was probably about a year ago...I hope that my words may be a token of consolation that repentance is always available and it is possible to escape, but there must be consistent actions to stay out of trouble. The best can fail...and I'm calling out for help again.

With love,
Aurelius89

Comments:

Welcome Back!    
"I'm so sorry that you have relapsed. It is fear of a situation like yours that keeps me from dating yet. I pray too that you and your fiancee can take care of things. It's a hard road, but you can do it. Keep yourself focused on the basics (prayer, scripture study, 12 step work)."
posted at 15:22:10 on February 23, 2011 by dstanley
You're gonna be ok,    
"It sounds like you have a sincere desire to repent and do what's right. I know how it feels to get in trouble with someone you care about because you have an addiction. The same stuff happened to me and my girlfriend.

Look to the Lord, and ask Him what you should do. This has helped me in my journey, and I'm sure it can help you as well. Best of luck to you."
posted at 21:27:56 on February 23, 2011 by ETTE
Looking Forward    
"Thanks to both of you--I have been spiritually preparing myself for the past month and although I have had several times of relapsing due to my difficult situation right now I know without a doubt that I'm not a mindless being without choice. Satan may have tricked me early in my adolescence to act upon a curiosity, but I am now an adult with a strong testimony of the blessings that come when living the fullness of the everlasting gospel. Both of us will talk to our bishops this coming Sunday to begin this painful process and I am already making plans to attend a recovery group here. Things are starting to look up in certain ways--reading Miracle of Forgiveness by President Kimball is bittersweet, but completely relative to what is going on right now. I think it is profound how the people with the strongest passions and adversities often find themselves struggling with these powerful addictions. My endeavors are to study the neurological effects of pornography and other sexual indulgences that harm the brain and act as another scientific soldier against this war being fought today. There are many young people that continue to become entrapped in this disgusting behavior and need the loving compassion of someone older who can help them escape. With the talks during general conference continuing to center around this topic, well it is obvious that this is frequently on the minds of many and including the Lord. We must be strong as we fight against the demons of these last days. I'm going to get to bed before my dad goes to sleep--this site is now a great source of help as it relates to the internet source of my problems. It's a marvelous way to release stress and connect with everyone here who understands exactly what it's like."
posted at 01:17:56 on February 24, 2011 by aurelius89
Failed Again    
"After feeling so inspired about my life and progression--things kept getting worse today. Searching for work and having lots of debts to pay as a young man is the main factor in triggering my acting out. My "guy mind" has been bothering me all day as it usually does with inappropriate thoughts and then hearing the news that another job door closed today pretty much kicked off all of my remaining confidence. I know what I should have done---these past few weeks have been filled with relapses and so this time has been the most difficult. Unable to provide for my needs lately has made me feel worthless as my parents have decided to pay for my bills this month. I'm more stressed about the fact that my beautiful fiancee relies on me to recover so that we can be married in the temple--a dark thought arises frequently that it will take a long time to do so. Maybe this was a sign of my arrogance with the idea that everything was going to be fine until this Sunday when I could make an initial appointment to explain everything. Even though I slipped again, well it's good to have wonderful people to support me so that I don't fall completely. I'm frustrated in not being able to attend a recovery group close enough for me to walk to as my car has already been sold to pay other debts. Actually it was sold by my sister without me knowing beforehand--it could have been fixed up with a little extra money, but I try not to complain and hold grudges as that accomplishes nothing. Hopefully none of you are weakened by reading that I slipped again--I plan on a day of fasting and self-reflection on Saturday to write my inventory and prepare me for my interview with the Bishop. This time feels a lot more intense than any other time--I suppose that's a good thing. It is possible that I'm going to be excommunicated this time as other issues are to be discussed that do not sit well with someone that has been endowed and holds the Priesthood. At first this thought somewhat bothered me as I selfishly thought about wanting to be married as soon as possible, but it's obvious that both of us need more preparation time and so now anything disciplinary will surely be for my good. We are both spiritually involved and very active so the decision to repent and confess isn't necessarily the hard decision to make, but more so the emotions this process carries. I'm entirely blaming myself during my darkest hours as my addictions have played a part in this and that I should be more responsible. The frustrating matter is mostly that I'm not able to give everything that I want to and perhaps my efforts never seem sufficient. You could say that these things that I'm writing are not truthful personal beliefs, but only my feelings--my fiancee hears that all the time on other matters as we don't really openly discuss my addiction problems a lot (as advised by many). For me it is important to confess to her at the right time after it is happened, and that is only done because for me it is important to have completely open communication--she is very forgiving and supportive of what I'm doing. You could say that in many ways she's my best friend and the love of my life--the other day she admitted that for a little while she had the same problem, but never felt it was necessary to tell me. At first I was very shocked and somewhat offended that she wouldn't tell me the first time that I had the courage to bring this matter up, knowing that it was the determining factor that would make or break our relationship at that point and not something that I wanted to wait until we were married that could potentially harm our trust at that point. Now I'm only rambling so I'll make an end to this by saying that I know we have the divine ability of choosing our destiny. Each one of us is capable of returning to our Heavenly Father, or else we never would have been given a body and opportunity to be here in the first place. Each person has their own road to get there, but ultimately success is achieved by and through the Atonement of our Savior. I'm pretty sure Satan wants me to think that I'm a worthless loser right now--in fact I know that because I've heard those voices many times and have allowed them to dominate my thoughts at times. Nonetheless, I will continue strong and endure to the end, even if I have once again fallen into weakness. This form of expression feels very therapeutic for me so maybe it will only be of benefit for myself at times, but even so I pray for each of you as we journey forward to escape these awful chains of addiction."
posted at 02:22:21 on February 25, 2011 by aurelius89
Aurelius    
"I wanted to suggest a book for you because you're interested in the science behind addiction. It's by a guy by the last name of Hilton. I can't think of the name of it right now. Maybe someone knows the book I'm talking about. This Dr. Hilton goes into great detail about the neuropsychology and science of addiction and you being a student of psychology would really love the book. Darn, I can't remember the name but when I get home from work I'll get on here and tell you. For anyone struggling with addiction it is a must-read."
posted at 13:32:33 on February 25, 2011 by Anonymous
He Restoreth My Soul    
"I'm actually already reading this book as a friend already suggested it and was kind enough to lend me a copy. It really is a great book and very fascinating to think about all of the many details that go into such an addiction. Right now I'm finding it hard to stay positive because another job door that I was personally referred to basically in a figurative way shut in my face pretty hard. Usually I take rejection well and it doesn't bother me much, but today I'm feeling pretty cynical. In any case, thanks for the suggestion as it really is a neat book."
posted at 14:18:44 on February 25, 2011 by aurelius89
Yeah, that's the book. Great insights into our wacky psyche.    
"Hang in there. It is really tough getting a job these days. One thing I've learned is that Heavenly Father won't always give us what we want but He will ALWAYS provide the things we need. It sounds too simple but it 's true."
posted at 17:23:26 on February 25, 2011 by Anonymous
On the Eve of Battle    
"Thanks for the encouragement as tomorrow I'm planning on making a day of personal reflection and fast in order to write my inventory--all of this will be painful, but done in preparation to speak with my Bishop on Sunday. My fiancee and I will do this together as we are dedicated to be worthy to enter the temple and have an eternal family. As a future father I refuse to be one who hides his addictions away and lives a dual life that causes emotional and spiritual harm internally and to others. These past few months I've been beaten up pretty badly and I'm sure the adversary wants me to think that my spirituality is dead, but that is completely false as I know what I need to do. Tomorrow I'm fighting back and there will be victory as the feelings of being sorry for myself and justifying everything has vanished. I hate feeling like a lowly creature with an inability to control my anger and hiding away. Step 1 of honesty hits me every time I relapse as the feelings set in that my life is uncontrollable and miserable in that fallen state. Step 2 has overwhelmed these moments with peace as I find hope in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, seeing that my life always has endless potential and always confirmed by the wonderful people I share it with. The third step has been developmental over the past while of not taking the sacrament and making constant laments to Heavenly Father of my feelings--you could say that at first I worried more about the punishment and not actually recovering to the point of now where I trust in God's will and His desires to make me the best man possible. Step 4 is going to be hard, perhaps one of the most difficult things that I have ever done as it should be something completely open and elaborate of every sin, bad habit, and weakness that I have fought and am currently struggling with. Understandably that weaknesses are not sins until acted upon, but still making an outlook for the future as to what Satan will try next to make me fall. In my mind I see part of it being a list of things and the other part being a written out expression of my feelings and testifying of true repentance. In a way I'm fighting for all of the other men that never have, but mostly I'm fighting for myself in order to restore my relationship with the Lord. We plan on fasting from 4 in the afternoon tomorrow until mealtime after going to church--all are welcomed to join as we are fighting for our souls in the great battle of the latter days."
posted at 00:03:51 on February 26, 2011 by aurelius89
Aurelius    
"I can totally sympathize with your job struggles. I'm a single mom of 2 and have been unemployed for 18 months. I start my new job on Monday. Hang in there, you'll get a job. Keep praying and keep trying, and keep working on sobriety. One thing that has helped me is writing down my sobriety plan. I made a list of things I need to do to stay sober (like scriptures, prayer, ARP, church, going to bed ontime, etc.). It's been great to look at as a reminder of what I need to do, and as things were sliding a little it was good to be able to look back at it and see what I maybe wasn't doing like I should. Try not to be too hard on yourself either. You've made mistakes. You're still a good person. Pick yourself up and get back on track.

I'll be praying for you and your fiancee. I hope everything works out with your bishops."
posted at 00:59:05 on February 26, 2011 by dstanley
Victorious    
"If I said that my first complete day being sober in a while has been easy, well I would say that is a lie. I've put off doing steps 4 and 5 for several weeks because of relapses and emotional insecurities, but now after a long day my faith is renewed that everything will be ok in the end. Not to boast in any extent, but my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite as necessary emotions to speak with the Bishop tomorrow morning. My fast didn't start as planned and there was a lot of contention today, but in the end everything feels the way it should. I learned or at least reminded myself something important about my relationship with my wife-to-be today that seems important to share. The idea develops from a profound thought that solidified as a missionary--simply put that we have an eternal perspective and a worldly one, and we must learn to see through both to successfully progress, but we must always return and stay focused on the eternal perspective in the end. How is this relative to marriage or any relationship for that matter? Everything in my mind as we need to focus on our love and dedication to that person--not letting our human imperfections get in the way of that whether they be dumb things said or done, or even other people. Truthfully I trust the counsel from others, but being with the person you do requires mutual work and understanding that nobody else needs to comprehend completely at first. If the decision is right with the Lord, then it is right for the two people involved. Once again, I'm fighting for myself and for everyone I love--I refuse to be a man that hides his weaknesses and lives any sort of double life. Sometimes it hurts a lot to be entirely open with another individual, and it's true that at times it really stinks to be in love because you feel all of the pains and insecurities of the other--but that's also the marvelous part about it as you learn to become one with another person and better understand the plan of God."
posted at 00:59:37 on February 27, 2011 by aurelius89


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"My brethren who are caught in this addiction or troubled by this temptation, there is a way. Don’t accommodate any degree of temptation. Prevent sin and avoid having to deal with its inevitable destruction. So, turn it off! Look away! Avoid it at all costs. Direct your thoughts in wholesome paths. Please heed these warnings. Let us all improve our personal behavior and redouble our efforts to protect our loved ones and our environment from the onslaught of ography that threatens our spirituality, our marriages, and our children. "

— Dallin H. Oaks

General Conference, April 2005