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My Experiences With Addiction and Recovery
By seekrecovery
7/25/2010 11:52:42 PM
My name is Jim. I have been addicted to pornography for over 14 years. I have been in recovery since 6/15/2010. I am hoping to aid my recovery through this blog. In recent days I have read many posts and have experienced empathy, courage, sadness, joy, hope as I have read of others experiences. In this blog I plan to share my experiences related to my addiction and what I have been learning about recovery.

In 1996, while on vacation, I discovered several cable channels that were explicitly pornographic. I could not stop watching them--I spent the next several days seeking any opportunity possible to see more. When I returned home I felt great guilt...and yet I started to find further ways to feed my hunger. Thus began a long spiral down. Since that time I have had a cycle of participation, guilt, abstinence, participation, guilt... At times truly trying to change, at other times in denial. Often while not participating in one form of my addiction I have found another source--same song just a different instrument. In truth I am not just addicted to pornography--I suffer from sexual addiction. I have white knuckled often, never felt free. I spent several months checking in with my stake president on a weekly, then monthly basis. I have self monitored. I've reported to my wife. I've put a great strain on my marriage. I've put my employment in jeopardy. I have done things that I am ashamed of and as I look back shocked to realize they happened. I have had periods without control. I have had periods of abstinence but white-knuckling all the way. I have spent evenings alone wandering for hours trying to find what I am seeking. Hours can seem like minutes when I am on the computer. I have learned that I am powerless against my addiction.

Last fall I came to know a person in AA-he lost everything, became sober, and now has been clean for over 15 years. Naturally I was interested in what that person had to say. I asked many questions. One thing he said really struck home with me. He said "I have a disease...If I take one drink that disease very like will kill me". After 15+ years of sobriety he tells me he has a disease--that he cannot control--and that disease could kill him. A disease. I thought a lot about that--and came to realize that I too had a disease. That it was greater than I was. I began to accept that I was addicted.

In January of this year I went to my first group meeting. It is part of the LDS addiction recovery program in our area. I had thought about this step often...but I had never taken the step. On that night I forced myself down the hall. I was scared. I can remember standing there paralyzed for several minutes. I just listened. Finally I walked into the room. I was warmly received.
During the next hour I listened and cried and listened and cried. They gave me a book. I began to study for myself. This step, to join an addiction recovery group, has had a tremendous effect on me. I have learned so much. Key to that knowledge is that I can not overcome this alone. I must have the help of God--I must seek his help. Daily. I am powerless without him. Trying to recover on my own won't work--I need him. I need those who have already gone down this path--I have received the grace of God from those who are in recovery. I am so grateful for those who have gone ahead--and now are willing to reach down and help me along.

That's all for now--it's late. I plan to blog several days this week. Hoping for feedback. Hoping to share, and to learn, and most important to stay in recovery.

Jim

Comments:

Thank you, Jim!    
"I enjoyed reading your story of hope. Keep up the good work, my friend!"
posted at 01:11:08 on July 26, 2010 by Anonymous
Welcome to the team, SeekRecovery.    
"I want to rejoice that you are here. Keep going! Freedom from this terrible addiction is coming, as you move forward with the 12 steps and turn your life over to God."
posted at 11:26:26 on July 26, 2010 by BeClean
The Promise    
"Thank you Anonymous and BECLEAN for your kind words.

The Promise: "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path" (p.58, Alcoholics Anonymous, 2001) This quote is out of the AA "big book". It has given me great hope and I have pondered it often in recent weeks. It has brought two thoughts. One, why have I failed in my past attempts to overcome my addiction? Two, What can I do to "thoroughly" follow the path. Haven't I tried? Haven't my desires been good? Haven't I gone weeks and months abstaining from my addiction? What have I been missing?

Some of the answers I have come to recognize.

1) I am addicted. Although I am currently in recovery I am just one moment away from returning to my addiction. Experience has shown that when I return I return with a furry. One moment away. While I may be in recovery, the addiction is that close. I will always need to seek recovery. I have a disease and if I choose to follow that course it could ruin my life--ruin everything that truly is important to me.

2) I will never be strong enough to do this alone. I need God. I need the help from those in recovery. I need to support others in recovery.

As I studied the many success stories in the big book I often so a trend. Many of the people in the stories would mention turning points when they decided to stop their addiction. A lost job, being admitted to a psych ward, or some other catastrophe. At that point they made a decision to change--to become sober. During this same period they were exposed to AA and invited to participate. But they opted out because they knew that they had made their decision. They could do it--and they didn't need help. And so for weeks or months they remained sober until eventually they fell back into the addiction. At some point another catastrophe occurred and in they then decided to try AA. And they began working the steps. They started recovery. And eventually they succeeded at remaining sober. One interesting thing I learned from the stories--those that began AA also began to seek the assistance of a higher power (Steps 2,3). Recognizing that they could not do it alone. As they sought that hight power they were more likely to succeed.

I am so grateful for those that have gone before me in the road to recovery. They have provided a roadmap to follow. "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path" That's the promise. I want to follow that path."
posted at 20:20:30 on July 26, 2010 by Seekrecovery
God first    
"I am convinced that another key is total and complete commitment to God--everyday, for the rest of your life. I think this must be what God means when he says, "endure to the end."

When we start to waiver in our devotion, then we will fail. I live every day in fear of slipping...not back into my addiction, but slipping away from my Father in Heaven. I love him. I am nothing without him. I have to stay close, or I will never make it home."
posted at 22:00:52 on July 26, 2010 by BeClean
Commitment to God    
"BECLEAN. I agree that total commitment to God is essential for recovery. What has been the source of your commitment? How has it aided your recovery?

Jim"
posted at 02:39:44 on July 27, 2010 by Seekrecovery
The Source of Our Committment to God    
"That's a good question, SeekRecovery. What has been the source of my own personal commitment to God?

As I think briefly about it, I can identify four things that have strengthened and solidified my commitment to my Father in Heaven. The first, several years ago, was my desire to escape my addiction. At some point, I became so willing to do ANYTHING, whatever it took, that I was able to humble myself and start attending 12-step group meetings. Consequently, the LDSAR 12-step program really helped me turn myself over to God.

Second, I am happy to say that I have always been honest with my wife about my addiction; she knew before we were married. But in recent years, I have become MORE honest with her. In other words, I started by going to her immediately AFTER I failed. With practice, I began going to her even WHILE I was still struggling, and eventually, I was able to go to her BEFORE my struggles began, admitting to her that I was, "having a tough time." At the same time that I was being totally honest with her, I found AT LEAST one other place or person (a parent, a brother, a sponsor, this site, etc.) to be totally honest with. Somehow, this complete openness and honesty helped me with my conviction and confidence before God.

Third, I have often been mesmerized by Sierra's comments entitled, "The Irony" and "True" found near the bottom of this post: http://www.ldsar.org/ViewBlog.aspx?EntryId=6852
Sierra details exactly what it might take for someone to truly commit themselves to God. Over the past few years, I have found that turning one's life over to God can be a lot harder than most people think. It takes a lot of work, and I think Sierra has done an excellent job describing what that might look like. At any rate, she taught me that there is always something more we should be doing to put God first in our lives.

Fourth, for the past few years, I have sought as many opportunities as possible to serve in the Church, to serve my neighbors, and to TEACH the doctrines of the gospel. (There are LOTS of callings and opportunities in the Church that require one to teach. If you want such a calling, I suggest you talk to your bishop about it.) This has forced me to prepare myself daily. I have to study the scriptures knowing that I will be responsible for teaching what I read and learn. I believe this has drawn me immeasurably closer to my Father in Heaven.

Looking back, it's hard to believe that I've been pursuing all of these things for years, and that I have been clean during most of that time. But I have. I know God has rescued me from my selfishness and passions, and I am so grateful to him. I am nothing without him, yet I know that he will continue to rescue me, if I continue my relentless pursuit to put him first in my life.

I apologize if my comments offend anyone. I am far, far from perfect, and I don't intend to portray myself as such. Even since truly beginning my recovery, I have had a few failures over the years--never for very long--when I lost my focus and my commitment to God. And many on this site know that I will never say, "Never again," for I feel that I am powerless over my addiction, so how can I have such confidence? Nevertheless, I believe in God's promises, and as long as I stay close to him, He will keep me from returning to my past, which is getting farther and farther away with each passing day. I know I have been healed, but as you have said, my disease is always just one step away. So, I hold as tightly to my God as I can.

I appreciate the question, SeekRecovery. It has caused me to reflect on exactly where my commitment during the past several years comes from. As I have pursued each of these four paths--humility and 12-step meetings, complete honesty, turning every aspect of my life over to God, and teaching the Gospel whenever possible--my commitment to God has grown."
posted at 08:21:39 on July 27, 2010 by BeClean
Thankyou    
"Great Post--Very much appreciated. A lot to think about...I'm at work now but plant to study this further tonight. Thanks for your thought and input BE CLEAN.

Jim"
posted at 10:07:24 on July 27, 2010 by Anonymous
wow    
"You guys are awesome. Keep up the good work and stay close to Heavenly Father."
posted at 13:05:03 on July 27, 2010 by lawrence
Thoughts    
"BeClean
I just read through the blog thread from the link above. Wow. A lot to chew on. Enjoyed it. What an interesting contrast in comparing the feelings and needs of a person who is suffering from addiction to the person who is married to that person. In the end both need the atonement and grace in their lives. Both need to let go. I was humbled as I read about Sierra's husband. Hmmm...I can see why that post caused you to ponder what it means for a person to truly commit themselves to God. Something I will be pondering in the coming days as well.

Something you said in those posts also really stood out to me. You were talking about when you started to succeed in recovery. I quote below:

"The only thing that worked was for me to completely humble myself, to stop the pride (which you so often refer to) that kept telling me I was personally capable of forsaking pornography. The only thing that worked for me was to "Admit that I, of myself, am powerless to overcome my addictions and that my life has become unmanageable." When I started telling myself, "I am an addict. I am powerless! I am incapable of stopping this. Only God can take it from me," suddenly, I started getting better. Much better. I did not become perfect overnight, but I made improvements in leaps and bounds...That was God's grace, even before I had forsaken the sin, which I couldn't do by myself anyway."

That change--turning your life over to God, recognizing you could not do it on your own--That was the common thread I saw in the success stories in the Big Book. I've been putting it to the test. As I have done this my prayers have changed. Different from anything I have done before. Very simple prayers--"God please help me, I can't do this on my own. Please God I need your help. I can't do it on my own. Please help me today. Please help me stay clean..." This prayer comes often. I wake up to it. As I drive to work. At work. When impure thoughts come. I am realizing that one of the vital missing links I have had was not totally turning to the Lord for help. With good intentions I have tried to overcome my addictions by doing the right things--reading scriptures daily, attending the Temple, checking in with my Bishop...BUT I was not truly relying on the Lord. I was relying on me to make myself strong. Those other things are important, vital, but first and foremost I must seek God, seek his Grace. I can't do this alone.

Thanks for your posts BECLEAN. And for the link--just the reading I needed tonight.
"
posted at 21:43:14 on July 27, 2010 by Seekrecovery


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" Is it possible to reclaim a life that through reckless abandon has become so strewn with garbage that it appears that the person is unforgivable? Or what about the one who is making an honest effort but has fallen back into sin so many times that he feels that there is no possible way to break the seemingly endless pattern? Or what about the person who has changed his life but just can't forgive himself?The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to each of us. His Atonement is infinite. It applies to everyone, even you. It can clean, reclaim, and sanctify even you. That is what infinite means—total, complete, all, forever. "

— Shayne M. Bowen

General Conference October 2006