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Torn
By ETTE
12/1/2009 2:26:10 AM
I had an upsetting conversation with my mom today. She started asking me about my love life – which is a topic I try to avoid at all costs with my parents – so I told her that I’m going on lots of dates and meeting lots of nice girls and having lots of fun. This was clearly not the answer my mom was looking for. She started putting tons of pressure on me to find a good girl that I could get married to in the temple, and she said that I needed to start having more serious relationships with girls so I’ll be ready to get married when the time comes. She also reminded me that she and my father are paying for me to go to school in Utah mainly so that I can find a nice Mormon girl to get married to.

I’m absolutely fine with the fact that my mom wants me to get more serious about dating, I don't blame her at all for feeling that way. Here's the problem, I'm definitely not ready to start looking for a serious relationship, and I have no clue how to explain that to my parents without telling them all about my life-long problems with pornography, lust, masturbation, same-gender attraction, bisexual tendencies, etc.

Here are the excuses that my parents have not bought into so far:

1. I'm too busy with school and work (they know I have at least enough time to hang out with my brother)

2. I'm just too shy around girls (they know I've never been shy around anyone)

3. I don't have enough self-confidence (they know I'm extremely prideful about everything, and I have never had problems with being confident)

4. I'm in no financial position to get married (they love to reassure me that they have the resources to easily support me and my future wife for as long as we would like)

5. I have horrible luck with dating (this has never been a problem in the past)

I generally alternate between these five excuses whenever the topic comes up, but I'm getting so tired of dishonoring my parents and being dishonest about my problems, and my parents are starting to figure out that there's something wrong with me. Part of me wants to open up to them and tell them my whole story, but another part of me is scared that telling them the truth would be an extremely selfish move on my part, and it would only cause my parents grief. I wish I could let my parents know that I'm not the upright person they think I am. I wish they could help me with my burdens and support me, but I don't want to hurt them.

I feel ridiculous for being in this situation to begin with, since I'm far too old to seek my parents approval for everything, but my family and my parents are very controlling compared to most American families, and there's no reasonable way of letting my parents know they need to back off without causing the whole family to turn against me. What I'm really terrified of is that my Mom will try to arrange a marriage for me the way she did for my oldest brother. She's already threatened to do so...

I think my recovery story would be absolutely devastating to my parents because they were beside themselves with grief and sorrow when I informed them of my addiction to masturbation as a young deacon. My parents have no clue that I've ever struggled with pornography, because I never had the guts to tell anyone about that part until I was a missionary. I can only imagine how they would respond to hearing that I have to frequently chase homosexual/bisexual thoughts out of my mind (I'm actually getting a ton better at getting rid of these thoughts before they even have time to materialize, for which I'm extremely grateful).

I guess what I'm getting at is that I don't know what to tell my parents when they start questioning my reluctance to get involved in a serious relationship. I wish I could just buy some more time to recover. My therapist thinks I should wait as long as it takes me to feel comfortable before I try to get a serious girlfriend, which could take anywhere from three months to ten years from now, and although I don't always agree with my therapist, I think he's right about this.

I'm just so tired of lies and excuses, and my parents are the only people I'm still hiding the truth from. I'm torn between stepping into the light and hiding in the shadows.

I know there are a lot of parents on this site, and I would greatly appreciate any of your comments and advice. If you had a son like me, would you want to know about his problems?

Comments:

I never know what to put for titles    
"I don't blame you for not telling your parents. They need to give you space, even if you didn't have this problem they should be badgering you about this. But whatever you do, do it with love. I would reassure your mother that you want the same thing she wants and it'll all work out, but on your time table. She really just wants you to be happy. But I don't really understand what a parent would want to know, my kids are too little for me to have that perspective."
posted at 11:24:32 on December 1, 2009 by adrastos
Praying for you...    
"That is a problem!! If one of my sons or daughter were struggling with this or any other issue I would want to know IF I could be of some help. I think there are defiantly people that need to know of our struggles i.e.: a spouse, bishop, counselor, and those that might be helpful for us in our healing process. I have yet to find someone in my life that I feel would be helpful to me (aside from my husband, bishop and counselor). My Mom is a sweet heart and only wants the best for me…but I feel she really couldn’t be a strength for me in my situation…I feel she would have a hard time forgiving my husband, and so I’m not taking the chance of taking with her. But if I were to feel my Mom could contribute to our healing process I would confide in her…I just don’t see that happening. There have been times where I have wanted to confide in someone just to have some help in carrying my load…but I look at my options and confiding might help for the moment, but later it might trigger me back into a depression. Sometimes I don’t want to talk about what I am dealing with…and having someone “check in” on me…might cause a setback. My Mom knows of my anorexic struggles…and it drives me up the wall when she asks me about it. I feel my husband has the right to ask me and give me his opinion on the matter…but I wish my Mom didn’t know, only because her tactic of “helping” me makes me feel worse about myself. I understand it is out of love…but it’s really not helpful.

I am working through the workbook “Lord, I believe: help thou mine unbelief”. There is a section in the book about “who to tell”. Here is a point that I really found helpful…“Will this person be able to offer gospel-centered guidance?” If telling your parents would be helpful to you, then go for it! If they can offer assistance that would actually be helpful…yes tell them!

You know I’m all about honesty but who needs to know to make it an honest situation?…I think that is probably different for everyone…If you were married, no brainer you would have to tell her…But parents, I don’t know? If you feel you need to tell them to be honest, that could really lighten your load. It might be such a huge relief to open up to them. As a parent…I wish my kids didn’t have to struggle with anything…that’s just life, we want the best for them. I look at your situation and I really feel I would be proud of my child for the righteous efforts you are making. If you do decide to tell your parents I would let them know of your great efforts to overcome your problems. You are doing so much! You don’t down play or minimize in anyway…you know you have a problem, and you are facing it head on…As a parent that would make me proud!

I am so impressed with the respect you are showing to your future spouse…You need more time, you take more time. You will know when you are ready!

You do have some pretty lame excuses to tell your parents…but if you decide to leave them out of your recovery…I would use #4 and fine tune it a bit. Maybe tell them that you want to be able to support your spouse yourself, without assistance. How responsible is that! As a parent I would have to back off. It might buy you some time.

I am going to be signing off for a while…we (me and my honey) are going out of town for a bit (I got a billion things to do to get ready). So you will be able to escape my comments for a few weeks, but you can’t escape my prayers. Stay strong you can do this!!"
posted at 13:00:05 on December 1, 2009 by summer
Devil's Advocate    
"Summer and Ette both mentioned moms checking up on us out of love but driving us up the walls. Why do moms do that? My mom is the same way about some things. Nevertheless, she knows about my issues (and my Dad's and my brothers'), and she's never really bothered me about them.

Forgive me, Ette, but I'm gonna take a step to your mom's side for one minute--except that I know a little more about your real issues than your mom does.

What exactly do you feel you are waiting for to get serious about dating, relationships, and a temple marriage?

A silly answer would be, "I want to be perfect first." We all know that's not going to happen. Your future wife can't expect you to be perfect, and she won't be perfect either.

So, assuming you are still going to have problems when you get married, are you waiting until this particular struggle is gone? Why this one? Why not all of them? Isn't this a struggle we plan on having throughout our lives? Will it ever truly be gone?

If this is the struggle of our lifetime, I can hardly think of a better way to face it than with an eternal partner who knows everything about us and loves us just the same.

You have an enemy, Ette. He wants your soul. You have felt him lord over you. He wants to prevent you from keeping God's commandments, like reading the scriptures, taking the sacrament, attending the temple, and doing missionary work. The last thing he wants is for you to eternally link yourself to a virtuous, lovely daughter of God and start an eternal family. So, the way I see it, that's exactly what you should do, despite your imperfections.

I am NOT suggesting you rush into anything when you aren't ready. I'm just asking, why not get ready?"
posted at 17:16:50 on December 1, 2009 by BeClean
Having recovery under our belts, before making major decisions...    
"is always a good idea. Complete honesty with a potential spouse is important, too. I think we owe it to ourselves to get a firm foundation in recovery first before we set ourselves up for greater challenges. You sound like that is what you're doing, Ette. So...good job. And by the way, come on, does it really bother you that much that your parents are nosy or inquire about your love life? If that's your biggest problem, I want YOUR life! : )"
posted at 18:41:21 on December 1, 2009 by Anonymous
not an issue yet.    
"Having recovery "under the belt" is a nice idea, but i don't think life should go on hold while we deal with this. I DO think that if you start to get serious with someone you should tell them what they are getting into before marriage. And, of course, there is the temple worthiness issue that might cause some delay in marriage (but not in dating). But other than that, I would live, socialize, and date as though this were not an issue. It only becomes an issue when you are very serious with someone."
posted at 19:54:28 on December 1, 2009 by bestself
two sides of the coin    
"Would I want to know? Heck yes, but around our house we don’t wait for them to tell us, we lovingly confront them. Our kids don’t stand a chance between my experience of being an addict and working with computers and my wife’s experience from being married to an addict. That girl can smell addictive behavior a mile away. We’ve been able to help a couple of our kids so far and we are now trying to help our 12 year old. Of course we are a little bit different than the average LDS couple. We’re both admitted addicts, we’re involved in using and have found a great deal of healing through the 12 Steps and when prompted we’ve shared our experience with everyone from family to friends to total strangers.

Unfortunately your parents sound like they may be similar to mine. My mom can’t handle the truth, doesn’t want to hear it and won’t believe it when she does. The four men in my family have all had problems with pornography. Even though I am completely open about my addiction with her she can’t accept it. Even though my brother paints nudes she can’t accept that he has any problem. I think she has this mental image of what a sexual addict is that looks like someone who never baths and sits in dark rooms plotting how to carry out their predatory desires. “If they have any good characteristics they just couldn’t be that type of person.” Telling your parents may only do harm and make your mom more insistent that you get married. She wouldn’t be the first person to think this will all go away if you have a legal and proper outlet. I thought that. I wish I had a dime for everyone I heard say the same thing in a meeting.

That said, your Heavenly Father knows what you should do and He will tell you if you should talk to them and what you should say if you are to do it. Step 3 isn’t a one time thing. You can turn this over to Him and He can make it work.

I am not advocating rushing into marriage, but I feel that once a young man is home from a mission dating should be focused on finding an eternal mate. That is how I approached it. It still took me until I was almost 26 to make it happen. I got married 14 years before I found recovery. Knowing what I know now I would do it again. Being married to a good woman is the best thing that could happen to you. Particularly if you are open with her once things get serious, I told my wife after we were engaged, she can be the one person you can share everything with. You’re already about a third of the way through the 12 Steps which is much better than where I was at. I would recommend that you start working towards marriage and put that in God’s hands too. He won’t bring the girl you are to marry, and I don’t believe there is only one, into your life a moment too soon. Then you can tell your mom that you are trying to find a wife and mean it. Tell her that you are praying about it and it will happen on God’s time table. Our time table may not match up with His, but His is always right. She may not like it, but she’ll find it hard to argue with that."
posted at 18:00:44 on December 2, 2009 by justjohn
Thanks for taking the time to respond...    
"I'm always pleasantly surprised and humbled when I see that people actually respond to my blogs. I value the fellowship we have here, because I have yet to find anything quite like this elsewhere on the web.


Adrastos - You make a lot of good points. I completely agree that with or without my problems, my parents need to be less involved in my dating life. I mean, I'm the one that will have to deal with my future spouse, so it shouldn't be much of their concern. Now I need to think up a kosher way to let my parents know that...

Summer - I'm glad that you explained how your mom has been less than helpful with your own personal problems. I'm positive that my mom will respond the same way when I tell her, but I'm afraid that's part of the price I'll have to pay if I really want to make restitution for telling her lies for years on end. I hope my parents will be able to appreciate the sincere efforts I'm making to recover, and I'll be sure to emphasize my recovery with them instead of my addiction. If I wimp out before telling them, then I'll follow your advice and tweak excuse number four to make myself sound concerned about being responsible.

Good luck on your trip and be sure to have lots of fun. Hopefully, you won't forget to continue helping your friends here when you come back, because your input is so meaningful to all the struggling addicts. Also, this site would be terribly boring and dreary without your unexpected comments and refreshing positive attitude.

Beclean - Yeah, you got me. The root of my reluctance to get involved in a healthy relationship is indeed perfectionism. This morning, my therapist helped me realize that I don't really feel unworthy anymore - in fact, I would gladly meet the Savior and go through the final judgment this very instant - I'm just trying to be perfect for the sake of being perfect. As I continue to recover, the underlying issues that cause my addiction are slowly revealing themselves. I would have never guessed that I have a problem with perfectionism, but now that I know, I can work on overcoming it.

Bestself - You are also right. My addictions don't have as much to do with my reluctance to dating as I thought at first. I am actually a lot more social now than I was six months ago, and I make it a point to go on at least two first-dates a month, but I haven't asked for any second-dates since I got serious about recovery last July. I have also been trying to avoid girls who show interest in me, because I'm scared of getting in a relationship before I've become perfect. I know I need to develop a desire to get in a relationship, but that will take time.

JustJohn - You remind me of my sponsor, he told me a lot of the same things you wrote in your comment, especially the part about going back through step three and turning this over to the Lord. I'm grateful for your perspective as a parent, it helps me know what to expect when I approach my own parents. You brought up that telling my parents may end up harming me, but I think it's time for me to face the music. I know my parents will be disappointed, and I will probably lose a lot of credibility with them, but I would rather face the honest consequences of my actions than continue to live a double life. Dualism has nearly destroyed me and driven me insane, and I'll do anything to avoid living a lie. I also feel obligated to be honest because I made a promise to the Lord that I would never lie about or try to hide my addiction again. After praying about this, I felt that telling my parents the truth can only make our relationship stronger in the long run. I also felt that doing the right thing is rarely the same as doing the easy thing.

After reading what you said about your mom believing that marriage is the best solution for sex addicts, I remembered that my own mother had said something identical to that when I told her about my masturbation problems ten years ago. I think her exact words were, "You have to overcome this problem before you reach adolescence, because if you don't, your hormones will be too strong to withstand when you become a man. If that happens, then the only hope for overcoming your problem will be when you get married." My poor mom, I know she tries to be helpful, but sometimes I wish she would just stop while she's ahead.


Thanks again, everyone. I know that my problems are relatively petty compared to the struggles that the majority of the people on this site have to face, so it means a lot that so many people responded to this. "
posted at 03:02:04 on December 4, 2009 by ETTE


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"Nothing is beyond [Christ’s] redeeming reach or His encircling empathy. Therefore, we should not complain about our own life’s not being a rose garden when we remember who wore the crown of thorns! Having bled at every pore, how red His raiment must have been in Gethsemane, how crimson that cloak! No wonder, when Christ comes in power and glory, that He will come in reminding red attire, signifying not only the winepress of wrath, but also to bring to our remembrance how He suffered for each of us in Gethsemane and on Calvary!"

— Neal A. Maxwell

General Conference May 1987