Friday, November 16, 2012

The Interviews: Anna

The Story

How old were you when your addiction began?
My addiction began as a child. Of course being that young I didn't recognize it as an addiction.
What were the life events and circumstances that led to your addiction?  
I was very sexually curious from a young age. So partly I think it was curiosity. But I think what led to dependence on my addiction was the feelings of isolation and inadequacy. I was never a confident girl, and my addiction was my coping method.   
How did your addiction progress?
As I grew older I felt less and less important. I became very self-conscious and isolated myself after many hurtful experiences. I never wanted to bother my parents or siblings with any problem I had. My problems seemed minute in comparison to all the other things that were always going on in our home. As a result I turned to my addition to calm down or feel good. The more I turned to my addiction...the more I turned to my addiction. Through High School I struggled a lot with my body image, not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not the right clothes etc. My addiction became an avenue to change all of that. I patterned my life after what my addiction had taught me. SEXUALITY. My sexuality became a tool. But I was never satisfied. It was a cycle, I didn’t realize, that was ruining my life.
What experiences did you have that led to your breaking point, or your rock-bottom moment?
At this point I was married for 2 ½ years. Never had I spoken a word of my addiction to my sweet Husband. I was still active in parts of my addiction, and hid it very well. I began to lose all spiritual feeling. I resented my Heavenly Father. I wanted nothing to do with the Gospel. I was depressed and angry. I kept trying to figure out how I was going to get out of this without hurting my Husband. I expressed to him many times that I no longer wanted to go to church, that I didn’t see the point in it. How I must have broken his heart by speaking those words. Not once did I consider my addiction to be the problem, until a dear friend of mine inadvertently showed me. I will never forget that walk, and the conversation we had that evening. I was still so angry and stubborn. But there was no question what I had to do to change it.
What was your perspective of yourself at this point?
I felt so worthless. I thought I was dirty, I was a liar, I was weak, I was a hypocrite, and I was nothing more than an object.
Where did you turn for help?
I turned to a friend of mine that was struggling with the same addiction at this point. I didn’t know what to do next, or how to do it. She told me what she had done and how it had helped her. Reluctantly I scheduled an appointment with my Bishop. And later told my Husband, which proved to be a major help.
What was the turning point of your addiction?
As soon as I had confided in my Bishop and my Husband, I felt more responsible to change. I had to take action, I knew I might slip, but I had to try my best. My Bishop had counseled me to pray to my Heavenly Father and ask if he loved me. Which I thought was silly, I had been taught all my life that he did. But I am glad I followed his counsel, because after I did, I knew without a doubt that my Heavenly Father loved ME. All of me. That was my turning point. I chose my Heavenly Father.
How did you experience the Atonement of Christ?
I can remember in years past, going into Bishop's offices and confessing my sins. I never felt the Atonement work in me. I didn’t have a testimony of it. How could I expect to feel the miracle of the Atonement if I didn’t understand it? This time was different. This time was wonderful. I realized that repentance has so much more to it than just the confession of ones sins, as I had previously thought. It is a process of change. It is a total overhaul of one’s spirit and life. As I have humbled myself and come to my Savior in true sincerity expressing my love for him, and my deep sorrow for each drop of blood that was shed for me, I have felt His love and forgiveness. I feel His compassion and grace. The Atonement has made me want to do better; it has changed me from the inside out.
What difference did Christ's Atonement make in your life?
I have realized that the Atonement works in so many ways. It fills the gap in so many different aspects of my life. I have found so much comfort in knowing that because of the Atonement, I can feel whole at the end of each day. I no longer feel weighed down by burdens or worries. I know that on my happy days, my sad days, or my mad days, I am not alone. My Savior felt all of the exact feeling I have. He felt what Anna feels each day. And after recognizing the severity of the pain my Savior suffered on my behalf because of my carelessness, I am determined to prove that it was not in vain.
How is life different for you today?
I have never felt so free and happy. That doesn't mean I don’t have bad days, or slip ups. What it means is that the adversary no longer has me bound in the chains of addiction. I don’t feel helpless or hopeless anymore. I know that I am not alone in this. My relationship with my Husband is better than I could have ever hoped for. I am more honest in all aspects of my life. I am more patient. I have a firm testimony of the Atonement. I am grateful, for everything. I always thought it was so strange when people would tell you to be grateful for your trials, and hardships. I now understand how you can be grateful for them. I am grateful for my trials because without them, I wouldn’t have the testimony I have now.
What is your perception of yourself?
I now see myself as a Daughter of God. I am a good person. I can accept myself for who I am. I love myself. I know I am of importance to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I respect myself. I recognize my strengths, as well as my weaknesses.

ARP Meetings

What was the scariest thing about going to your first ARP Meeting?
I was so scared that someone I knew from my ward was going to be walking by when I went into the room. Or that I would get “found out” by someone who I didn't want to know what I was struggling with. And most of all, I felt that by going to a meeting it was getting really real. That scared me.  I was grateful that my friend had traveled 4 hours to go to my first meeting with me. If she hadn't  I don’t know how long it would have taken me to get there.
If you could go back in time, what counsel would give to yourself about going to a meeting?
I would have told myself of the great friends and support I found there. I would tell myself that by going I would find out that I am not alone. I would talk of the strength that I would find by going to these meetings.
Everybody reads the confidentiality statement. What is your experience with confidentiality?
Knowing that these meetings were confidential was reassuring. In my past, I have had many experiences where confidentiality was promised, and not kept. Of course these things hurt and are hard to overcome. But knowing that I was at my wits end, I had to have the faith that these meeting really were confidential. 
What is your experience about finding support from others in the meetings?
I have felt so much love and support from the sisters I have met in meetings, from the Missionaries to the addicts. We all have the same goal. We are all working to progress, no matter where we are on this journey. I have found that if I am having a bad day or if I am stuck on a step I can reach out to them and there will be help. It is so nice to know that some of these sisters have walked the road you’re walking, and that they know the ways that work.

Experience with Priesthood Leaders

What was the role that your Bishop played in your recovery? 
My Bishop is a wonderful man. I think he was very naïve when it came to women and sexual addiction. At first he was very cold. He didn’t mention anything about ARP. In fact I was the one who told him that I thought I might go. He wasn’t very supportive of it, but as he saw the progress I was making through working the steps, he was so much more curious. He wanted to know what he could have done better from the first meeting we had up to now. He is learning at the same pace I am. At first I was angry at this; I thought he should have known exactly what to do, and what to say. Now I realize that what I have helped him learn will benefit the next woman who comes to him with this problem. 
What advice would you give to a Bishop working with somebody with your addiction?
I would tell him to suggest the ARP program. To reassure them that it is something they can change with the help of their Savior.
What advice would you give somebody who is considering speaking to their Bishop?
I would encourage them to do so. I would tell them to be honest with their Bishop. When I went to my Bishop with this I knew it was the beginning of change. I wanted to get it all out and I wanted to start moving past it. I couldn’t have done that if I had held back. I would suggest saying a prayer before meeting with him, a prayer to have the spirit help you say what you needed to. 

You can read more about Anna on her blog by clicking here.

If you would like to leave a message for Anna, please do so in the comments.  She is reading!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Anna!! Your courage is an inspiration. I wish every bishop and stake president would read these blogs. I find them to be SO motivational!

    ReplyDelete

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"