Looking for strength...
By paul
8/9/2010 5:21:34 PM
Jonah 2:8 — They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
This will be my first non-anonymous post on this site. I want to start off by thanking so many people for their insights, for sharing their thoughts, and emotions, for sharing their faith. beclean, toes, sierra, seekrecovery, ruggaexpat, summer, and so many others. This community is... invaluable.

I want to share my story, mostly to get it together in my head. I need to understand how I got from there to here. I also hope to gain some additional strength to talk to my wife about my issues. I appologize in advance for the length of this post.

I was originally introduced to pornography when I was around 10 years old when some friends and I found a big box of it in empty field. We looked at it for a while and left it where it was and never went back. I don't consider that the beginning of my addiction, but it is a memory that has haunted me ever since.

Not too long after that (a year, maybe two), I went looking in my father's dresser for a pocket knife. What I found was a pornographic magazine. I quickly hid it back where it was, but before too long I found myself going back to that drawer when my parents were gone and I knew they would be out of the house for an extended time. I don't remember how long it was before the magazine disappeared, maybe six months, but it was at least moved and I eventually stopped going back to his dresser to look. But I'm guessing that by then, the seeds were sown.

When I was 15, we got our first computer and internet connection. Within a few weeks I had found a few sites which offered free glimpses of pornography, and then... I was trapped. P. & M. have been weighing me down ever since. I rationalized that while pornography was wrong, it wasn't really hurting anyone and I honestly didn't know that masturbation was wrong at all. I remember very clearly the day when my seminary class read a talk from President Kimbal about masturbation being somewhat common, but wrong. I was shocked, and scared, and decided I would never do it again. Shortly after that I spoke to my bishop and was more or less told to go and sin no more.

Needless to say the sinning no more part was much easier said than done. I spent most of my high school life acting out with P & M at least a couple of times a week. I tried talking to my new bishop once he was called but received the exact same message with no additional advice. I don't really blame those bishops, the tide of pronography was just coming in. I suppose they are much better trained now.

As I started getting closer to turning 19 I realized that this needed to stop. I put a calendar on my wall where it could be seen and checked of days as I made it through clean. This, coupled with the motivation of my upcoming mission, worked for me. After several months of sobriety I met with my bishops and stake presidents and was called to server my mission.

After my mission I came home and began dating my beautiful wife. From the time I met her she has been my best friend and truthfully the love of my life. I never told her of my P&M problems because I considered the matter closed. I had been clean for years, and I was determined to stay clean. That is, until opposition came into our lives. After unsuccessfully trying to start our family and have children, we both went in for medical tests. The results came back good for her, bad for me. The news could have been much worse than it was, but it still meant that having any kids of our own was very unlikely. I was devastated, and I think I became much more depressed than I let her know.

I knew that her greatest desire in life was to be a mother and have a family. I had destroyed that dream for her. I told her I felt that she would have been much better off if she had married someone else. Of course she denied that logic, but I could not shake it. Due to a heavy school workload, I spent a lot of time doing homework at the computer. Most of the time she was not there watching me, and at some point I decided that since she was better off without me, what was the point of trying. And just like that I let this evil back into my life... into OUR lives.

Fast foward six years. During this time I repeated the try to stop / fail cycle probably hundreds of times. Also during this time, I guess as some means of trying to compensate or just trying to use time wisely since we weren't having kids, I completed my masters degree and found a new job. With the extra income we started seeking medical help to have children, and given some time, it worked. Four months ago, our two children were born.

Three months before their arrival I decided again that I needed to beat this once and for all. I made it 2 weeks. I tried again and made it 3. Once they were born I started over and made it another 2 weeks. And finally last month I started again. I have been clean since that time. Through all of this time, my wife does not know of my addiction. Though I'm sure she has had doubts or inclinations.

The catalyst for this last attempt came from a somewhat random mishap. While my wife was gone for a few hours, I was watching the kids, who were both asleep in their bedroom while I was flipping through hulu on our tv downstairs. A single movie came up which was obviously pornographic. I paused on the movie, but for whatever reason, decided I would not watch it. I tried to click the arrow key to move over but the trackpad accepted a click instead and the movie started to load. I exited right away and moved on to other things. Later that night before going to bed my wife decided to look for something to watch as well and noticed the recently played pornographic title. She asked where it came from and I panicked and denied watching it at all. While that is true, I didn't watch it, I also neglected to tell her the story of pausing on it in the first place.

That night I couldn't sleep. The next day I felt horrible. I didn't watch it, but that didn't matter. I have seen other things. I dont know if I can convey the feelings I have had for the past 2 1/2 weeks. What have I done? I have been dishonest with my wife. I have betrayed her and her trust. I have placed my family in jeapordy. I have lied to bishops and stake presidents. I have eroded my own faith and abilities to serve. I have wasted countless hours. And I feel worse than I ever did after hearing any medical reports.

Now it is not only verified to me that my wife deserves better than me, but I feel it is likely that for the first time, she will agree with me. That scares me to death.

I know I have to tell her. I have to be honest. I know this has to be confronted and handeled thoroughly and 100% honestly, but how can I tell her? I have considered going to my bishop first, in hopes that he can provide some degree of added strength so that I can talk to her.

How do I tell her how much I have hurt her?


"My heart hurts for you. Going to your wife is the right thing. Honesty is a gift your wife deserves. Every situation is different...I have no idea how she will react. Ruggaexpat’s posts might be really helpful to you. I was just about to go out the door, but before I leave I will say a prayer for you and your wife. If I can think of any ideas that might help you in your situation I will post them.

P.S. So glad you joined the site!"
posted at 17:46:00 on August 9, 2010 by Summer
Oh how I know how you feel buddy    
"Wow that sounds so familiar. Paul you are feeling that way because it is the hardest thing to do. I know how you feel, your stomach twists and turns with the thought of facing her. You sit and try find ways to justify that it is not necessary to tell her. You think I can tell someone else and get the support. Maybe just the Bishop but then wait if I tell the Bishop I might be disfellowshipped or excom and she finds out anyway. Then you come the sad reality that there is no way around it, you have to face her to overcome it. That is when the greatest fear takes hold of your soul, the thought that you could lose your wife. Then on the knees and telling the Lord that you do not want to lose your wife and ask for any way to keep the happy spirit in the home and you make promises. After a couple weeks and months in this mindset you realize it must be done.

I have spent so many hours praying for the strength to do it. I was petrified to do it for all those fears of losing others respect, love and trust.

The day I did my wife came to me asking in the most loving way what was wrong and why was I not loving her. I told her I would tell her why and that it would take time and she must take the kids to her sister to play. While I was praying I promised the Lord it was now or never and to please give me the strength to tell the truth and deal with the consequences. She arrived excited to talk and I just sat there bracing myself for HELL. I took a couple minutes to gather myself and confessed. I must admit that it took me days to finnally clear all the lies I was covering. Without doubt that was not just a beginning for a rough ride but it was the beginning of a most amazing cleansing process that continues. It was an end and a beginning. It is such a great new beginning accompanied by an inner peace I am not used to.

You can taste of it and don't let doubts about losing church membership and family keep you from doing what is the most important step in your repentance process. How have all those fears (promoted by the devil) turned out for me well:

1) My wife is still talking to me and going to therapy with me as well as ARP meetings.

2) I did not lose my membership not even had a disciplinary council. I still do not understand why because I have served in some high callings of leadership including bishop. I have learned that the Lord judges us not just in isolating our sins but as a whole package. He was very merciful with me.

3) Most of my family knows about my addiction and the recovery efforts and not one has turned away but all have given me support in some form.

I wish I never got hooked. I wish I was honest before my mission. I wish I was honest to my wife before marriage. I wish I was honest to her before the children. I wish I wish I wish but that is futile now, all I can do is be honest now."
posted at 20:18:43 on August 9, 2010 by ruggaexpat
Be wise    
"There are two steps in the AR program that counsels us to confess, ask forgiveness and make restitution. These are steps 8 and 9. You will not be ready for these steps unless you have worked steps 1 thru 7 thoroughly and completely.

Step 5 is confession and I do not believe it should be to your wife yet. That will come in step 9. Step 9 reads: 2nd paragraph- "Because of our experiences in this challenging process, we offer a few suggestions. It is very important that you are not impulsive or careless as you attempt to make amends...." The Addiction Recovery Missionaries and/or Facilitator can help you here along with a trusted counselor (perhaps a therapist). With no dis-credit to our Bishops, many of them know very little about the LDS AR Program. They have been trained but have not grasped the vision of this program that has been set up by the church. My Priesthood leaders keep calling it the "New Beginnings Class" . I have to interrupt them by telling them that it is not a class but a Program. They smile and think that I am being "Anal" or "Politically Correct" using "Legal Speak". It gets irritating.

So my advise is get some advise, as soon as possible, as to how to do WHAT MUST BE DONE.
Be humble but fearless. Share with her your love and dedication and that you feel that you need all of the resources that the Lord has provided you. You may even become an LDS AR missionary.

Just had a good idea. Get the Book "He Restoreth My Soul" by Dr. Hilton. You can get it from Deseret Book. Leave it out on the table. Read it together.

I know the demon that you fight. I was introduced to Porn at the age of eight. I promise you the the Lord can and will Redeem all those who put their trust in Him.
May the Lord bless you on this journey."
posted at 20:37:07 on August 9, 2010 by migail3
Please tell her    
"It will be the kindest thing you have done for her since your addiction. My husband of 10 years has been a porn addict since he was 12. He never told me of his past, and confessed to me just a couple of months ago. However, I always knew something was wrong, I did not know what and I just knew he was just not into me like a husband should be. I knew we did not have the intimate and spiritual connection that we needed to have. It was hurting me and I did not know why and I will turn all my attention on trying to fix the problem.. the books on marriage, the tapes on communication, you name it , I read it and tried to apply. Thou he swore he loved me and that he was dedicated to us, most of the times I just did not feel loved. I could not put my finger on it, so I turned the pain inward and felt guilty and would try even harder.
There was so much pain, and trough and I felt so alone. I felt the effects of his addiction and my soul was aching and I did not know why. Anyways, when he confessed, so many things suddenly made sense, so many details of our lives, the distance between us, the neglect, the lack of spiritual leadership and focus, etc.. I can not accurately describe how hurt I was, I functionned like a zombie for a few weeks and nothing, not even my faith made sense. Gradually, I came back to life, started praying with more faith, went to meetings and gain more control over my life. I was still sad and disappointed, even angry, however, I have regain control over my life. I feel so liberated from what was weighing me down. I feel like I've got my free-agency back, I can finally know what to do with my life because I know what's really wrong, instead of spending so much time and energy shooting in the dark. His confession liberated me, it is the best he could have done for me and him and our children under those circumstances.
Good luck"
posted at 21:25:21 on August 9, 2010 by Anonymous
You've Got It, Man    
"Paul, I know I'm young and I don't have the experiences that you have had. I am so sorry that you have had to carry this burden for so long, and experienced constant hurt from failure. I'm so sorry that this disease has plagued you for what seems like the majority of your life. I know how bitter and gut wrenching it is to have to tell someone hard ESPECIALLY when you don't know how they are going to react. Be strong man.

The Lord provided me with the most amazing ability to confess my sins to my parents, the people i have been so worried about disappointing during my addiction. When I finally broke down and knew I had to turn my life over to do the Lord, he almost immediately provided me with the means and ability to tell them. I was utterly shocked at the earnestness I had when talking to them, I had never imagined in all my wildest dreams that these words would come out of my mouth so calmly. And it all came from God, I know when you completely turn your life over to him he will provide a path through the thorny experiences that may plague you.

I'm so happy that you are here on this site, I hope you find comfort and fellowship through the successes of those who are here. Even though I don't know you personally man, I have so much hope for you. You have all the right desires and you really have made yourself ready to change. Just know that despite any past failures you have, there IS a way for you to be free of this bondage completely and forever. I know you can do it. You are not alone in this. Our Savior has bent over backwards for us so we can accomplish this, and he has all the faith in the world in you that you can succeed, if you ask for his help.

God bless you man, and be strong and find hope in your dark times."
posted at 22:43:23 on August 9, 2010 by Brunner1551
The sooner the better    
"Please tell her as soon as possible. You're never going to find the right moment. I'm a wife of an addict and half or more than half of the hurt is all the lies and deception. Your wife most likely already knows something is "off", I did. I kept asking my husband over and over what was going on, he wouldn't tell me for months. Finally one night he confessed. Although it was heart wrenching, I was also grateful to know the source of the problem that we could work through together. The kindest thing you could do is to tell her as soon as possible (pray for strength, my husband did and it helped him to confess)."
posted at 14:36:36 on August 10, 2010 by time2heal
"Thank you everyone for your advice. Last night after FHE and putting our kids to bed my wife and I had along talk. I did not confess to her. But she did question me on some changes she has noticed in the past several weeks.

Usually for FHE we have always just read an article from the ensign or shared a spiritual thought. We had a hard time justifying singing, praying, and actually doing the whole prescribed process because it has always been just the two of us. A few weeks ago I told her I wanted weekly FHEs, and for them to be more structured.

It was my turn to do the lesson, and I chose the atonement. It was rough. We studied from Preach my Gospel, and I shared the sacrament analogy from "The Continual Atonement". This was the first FHE where I have broken down into tears. She definitely noticed the change.

In her words, I have been more engaged in getting things finished off my to-do list. I.e. paint the garage, fix various odds and ends, etc. She's noticed an upswing in my interest in studying the scriptures and and big jump in the spirit during our FHE meetings.

I wanted to tell her, and I like to think I would have, except that today is our anniversary. I couldn't stain this day. I did tell her that I have felt very strongly lately, that I am not where I need to be. I told her of the lack of FHE, testimony sharing, scripture study, etc. in my own home growing up and told her that is not what I want for our family. I want my family to be able to respect me. I want them to KNOW that I know the gospel is true. I need the spirit with me to know how to teach them. I have to have the Lord with me. I apologized to her for not being the husband I should have been over the years, and told her I want to do better, I want to be better, and I will be better. We continued our talk of the atonement and how it provides a way for us to begin again. When we know we haven't done as we should, it lets us put that away, and become someone better.

Tears were shed by both of us. Though I'm sure she had no idea what was really weighing on my mind. I couldn't bring myself to tell her.

I will not go back to my sins. I will not do that to my wife again. The hurt and the pain that I have caused, and that is still coming, feels like... I dont know that I'll be able to bear it as it is. I cannot add to it.

Thank you again for all of your support. I will continue to improve myself and draw closer to the Lord. I will confront this addiction, and I will be honest with myself and my wife.

PS - Summer, Ruggaexpat, Brunner, I wanted you all to know that you have been in my prayers too. I think you for your strength, and for the support found in this community."
posted at 14:46:55 on August 10, 2010 by paul
The cycle    

I promise you I have been in your position.

It is good to be feeling confident in the Lord but there is a limit the Lord can help us if we are not able to do all that he requires at our hands. Migail3 had wise counsel but I differ with one point. The catalyst for my recovery was the confession to my family. In other words before doing the ARP program I completed step 5. I know we need to see the 12 steps as a progression but it has been my experience that the first 3 steps are wram ups for the next few that include the real hard work. Here is the deal. I am still working on step 4. I have written tons so far and as a step yes I am nearly finished the hard writing. It has taken almost 8 months now. These steps are a constant work in progress and a blueprint for my life now. They give me the structure I was so desperately lacking.

I am confident based on my experience that every addict with a spouse has really only begun the hard graft of repentance during and after that confession. That is when the Lying ends and truth takes over. It would have been impossible to truthfully complete step 4 while still living a lie. I am not sure for others but for me step 5 was what I needed to do to break the cycle.

It all looks so familiar, I had stages like you are experiencing. I would be down in the dumps and have great spiritual experiences when I was in the super spiritual state. I would also have emotional experiences and feel such a massive greatfulness for the atonement. I too impressed my wife with my attitude in those moments and I believed that from that point on I would be a new man. That I am affraid was never to be. It would be followed by periods of sobriety but ultimately the guilt and shame I felt for the secrets I kept caught up (sometimes very slowly and sometimes very quickly). Those buggers always find you no matter how strong you feel. They will rip you into threads and leave you in despair. Then the cycle starts over. Guilt and shame - hopelessness - sin - guilt and shame - commitment to change - effort to change - etc...
There is no way around it. Got to get rid of the lies and replace them with truth.

I know how much you want to tell her and pray you will find the strength to do it. Don't give up on this righteous desire."
posted at 08:33:37 on August 11, 2010 by ruggaexpat
"Ruggaexpat, I can't tell you how valuable your writing has been to me brother. I appreciate your insights and your faith. As I have been reading through all of your posts I have definitely been able to feel the similarities between our two situations. Sometimes I am amazed at how you seem to write EXACTLY what I have been feeling/thinking/praying.

I assure you that I will not "give up" on anything I have begun. I started breaking free of the cycle months before our twins were born, and as I have invited the spirit more and more into my life and I have begun to develop an inkling of the devastation I have wrought upon my family, and most especially on my wife. I have rationalized not confessing to her out of fear of losing her. But now I realize that if I do not confess to her, I have lost her already. There is no question of what must be done, I am honestly and earnestly praying, fasting, and seeking the strength to tell her soon. It will be soon.

How is your wife doing? I continue to include both of you in my prayers and hope that a feeling of peace is returning to your family."
posted at 09:51:32 on August 11, 2010 by paul
"I thank you for your comment and advice. I promise you I am looking to confess to her as soon as I possibly can. Our new babies make things a bit more difficult because we rarely have more than 25-30 minutes of time for ourselves.

I have prayed for so long that she will be able to see this as "a problem we could work through together." I have no question or doubt that I have put away my sins. But I must be honest with her to move forward.

Thank you!"
posted at 09:56:49 on August 11, 2010 by paul

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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