Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Beginnings

I want to share with you how I started my recovery.  How I was able to jump from the realm of active addiction and being bound by seemingly insurmountable levels of fear and shame to finding the courage to reach out to my Bishop.  This is a line that for a very long time I worked to avoid.  Looking back - the events that led up to me finally finding the courage to visit with my Bishop was nothing short of a miracle.  This courage did not come from within me - it was instilled in me.

It was the spring of 2009.  I was active in my addiction and even though I had previously sought out help to get better I had since given up hope of ever recovering.  I wasn't currently looking for help and I had no intention or desire to stop acting out.   

But then one day early in April something happened.  I came home from one of my softball games to find my Bishop fixing my neighbors car in our shared driveway.  I was instantly nervous.  I would avoid the Bishop at pretty much all costs and here I was put in this predicament where I would have to say hi to him, probably have to shake his hand, or worse, actually make eye contact with him.  Of course, all of the above happened.  I rushed the entire exchange and then entered my house with a sigh of relief and promptly forgot the encounter.

The following Sunday the Bishop spoke to the ward members from the pulpit.  I felt like he was speaking directly to me as he told us how much he loved us and that we were welcome over at his house anytime.  But the most important thing he said that day was that he wanted to hear from us.  He wanted to hear how we were doing; good or bad.  He wanted to know us.  It was at that moment that a seed of desire started to burn within me; desire to share with him and to give him my pain.  But I was terrified.  I kept having these thoughts pop up that I was dirty and would be judged; that I was the only one with this problem and my Bishop would scoff at me.  These thoughts quickly squelched the ember of desire that had begun to burn.

Another week went by and I found myself at church again.  I was so torn up inside though.  Because of the desire to reach out for help that had sprouted in my heart seven days prior, I had spent that whole week bouncing back and forth between courage and fear.  My awareness of all the ugly things I was doing was at it's peak and I felt so awful that I didn't even feel worthy to step foot inside the church building.  I couldn't handle the idea of going to Sunday School so I ditched and went and sat in on Primary.  I was sitting enjoying the children singing when I sensed the door open to my left and in came my Bishop.  I immediately felt embarrassed that I wasn't in class and felt like a student who got caught ditching.  He did see me but didn't say anything.  He quickly finished whatever he came to do and then left the room.  

Feeling like I'd dodged a bullet I left primary and went and stood outside the Sunday School room.  As I was standing there my Bishop opened the door and stepped out; face to face with me.  He didn't let me get away this time.  He immediately offered his hand to shake (which I took), held on to it, leaned in close and with his piercing blue eyes (that I swear were X-ray vision to my soul eyes) said something that was a total blur and I can't remember. I just remember fumbling over my words and thinking "he knows!"   I felt so rude being so awkward but I still couldn't muster the courage to make eye contact.  Finally he simply let go of my hand and walked off.  

That encounter shook me.  At that moment I felt so impressed that I was to go in and see him.  I knew that it was no accident that my Bishop kept popping up all over the place.  The signs were so obvious that I finally decided to contact him.  That Tuesday I sent him a facebook message and apologized for being awkward in the hall and expressed that I was struggling with depression.  He responded that very day and asked me if I needed to visit or if I needed a blessing.  I responded with the following:
I don't know about the blessing, that may be a good idea.  I do need to visit but I dunno when.  I have to muster up the courage for that.  I have things to say but they are hard to say.  Ahh the chains of fear... fear of disappointment, that's what I fear.

He responded with the following (that I still quote to this day):
My door is always open.  I would love to chat.  You have nothing to fear but fear itself.  We can take baby steps if we need to.  Anyone can eat an elephant one bite at a time.

Those tender words of encouragement were exactly what I needed to hear.  I burst into tears when I read them and my fear melted enough for me to finally make an appointment to see him.

That first meeting with my Bishop was a pivotal moment in my recovery.  I felt no judgement or accusation there.   My Bishop did not reprimand me or tell me I was a bad person.  He did not act uncomfortable or shy away from me.  He was loving and kind.  He encouraged me and reminded me that I was a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father and still within the Savior's grasp.  I left his office feeling like a shiny new penny.

Later down the road I was shopping for a greeting card for someone and I ran across one that really summed up the turning point in which I decided to see my Bishop.  I took a picture of it and keep it with me at all times.



  
There is also a song that I want to share with you. This song gives me a lot of strength when I am scared to reach out...




I want to bear testimony to those of you who may be struggling right now who have not found the courage to speak with a loved one, a friend or your Bishop.  The Savior is mindful of you, He loves you and He wants to rescue you.  Look for tender mercies and clues that may be placed in your path to help guide you and offer you courage.  And when the time comes - as scary as it may be - reach back.  It's worth it.

6 comments:

  1. "Anonymous" again. Lets call me "Rose" because I am in some need of blossoming! I love our Bishop and have felt his kindness many times starting from when he had our family over for dinner when we moved into the ward. I want to go see him but am afraid to tell him of my pain and work on a program only to fail again. I have seen so many Bishops, made so many goals, made so many promises and ALWAYS fallen flat on my face within a short time. I know I need the healing power of the Priesthood to overcome this addiction and I know I need to talk it out with the Bishop but taking that first step is so painful. I am working toward going to see him. Reaching out to you is huge for me, even if I am doing it anonymously. I am going to set up an email to talk to you soon because I need help.

    "Rose"

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    1. Hey Rose:-)

      Great name! Don't feel bad about choosing an alias... many people do it. Sometimes even sisters who attend group start out with an alias!

      I totally understand your fear. It's not only understandable but it makes sense. You are in a scary place right now. Look at it this way though. Imagine you are in a haunted house and your fear is due to the darkness and unknown and all the scary things around you. Well guess what! Haunted houses aren't real - and there is always a way out.:)

      The beauty of the program being offered is that you are not a lone. So now imagine you in that same haunted house with your Savior holding your hand, shining brightly, your Bishop with you, and a whole band of your sisters as well. Doesn't seem quite so scary anymore does it?

      I know the fear of failure is huge... Satan would have us believe that every slip we have is a failure. But the slip is not the failure. Giving up is the failure. So let that ember of courage burn. I have been praying for you day and night that you might find peace and strength. I'm so happy that you are still reading. I wasn't sure if you were.

      I'm looking forward to your email!

      Love ya!

      Sidreis

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    2. "Rose!" it's anonymous #2 again. I think you are amazing reaching out to someone in some way. That is a bigger step then thousands of women will with this problem will ever make. One day you will understand. Even if you don't see it now and you are fearful, you are actually doing better then you think you are. I want to let you in on a little secret. Any two people can do anything just as long as one of them is God. I have personally felt the way you are feeling now and it is a totally legit feeling. This is something scary but fear is also a tool of Satan to keep you under his thumb. He wants to you be scared and embarrassed and ashamed but I promise you that if you truly seek recovery and turn to Heavenly Father, He will totally be with you and the whole way. He's always got your back. I hope to one day meet you but if not, I understand. I'm glad you have found someone to turn to though. I'll be praying for you as well.

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  2. Oh dear sweet Rose! :) I'm so happy to read this from you! Though you're still in the beginning stages of recovery...I believe with all my being that you can do this! Even now I can "hear" a change in your tone through your writing and though you may still be struggling, you sound better! There's hope for us all....you have been in my thoughts and prayers as well as already have a spot in my heart like all my other sisters in recovery do. you're amazing and wonderful and I'd love to meet you one day. Talk to your Bishop... even if you have to drag yourself in to see him with trembling hands and heavy feet, the relief you'll feel after will be so worth it that you will wonder why you ever allowed Satan to stop you from doing it sooner. And don't worry about falling again after making promises...to your Bishop or Heavenly Father...they know we're not perfect, but as long as we're earnestly trying to do better and progress whilst utilizing the amazing saving power of the Atonement all will be right in the end. I love you! Xoxoxo

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  3. I have been struggling with this for two years now. Last year I went to my bishop to get help. I did receive that help! I remember how horrible I felt going in but coming out I felt better. Each week I had more courage and strength. I felt like I had changed completely. then I made the mistake again. and it came back with a vengeance. I tried again and made some progress but now it is getting worse. What do you reccomend I do? I feel horrible. I feel like I had my chance to change. Yet I know I am a daughter of God. I know he loves me but I don't seem to let it into my choices and decisions.

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    1. There are many things you can do!

      Do you have access to a womens PASG group in your area? If so, I recommend attending. If not, you might attend a regular ARP meeting, they can be helpful too. You will learn many useful tools of recovery there.

      As an additional resource you can join the discussion forums at The Lighthouse Coalition. You will find the support of others who also struggle there.

      There is huge power in numbers. Satan would like to see us isolated but we truly are not alone.

      Go back and see your Bishop. This is a key part of recovery too.

      Get educated. Read a lot on addiction and recovery. Read recovery blogs. FInd friends in recovery. Get a sponsor.

      All that good stuff!

      :-)

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Thank you for sharing a moment with me:-)

Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"