Monday, December 31, 2012

Or So I Thought...

There is this book that I wanted for Christmas.  I heard about it from a perfect stranger I sat next to in a movie theater a couple of months ago.  She told me about the premise and it sounded awesome, much like the Hunger Games.  I immediately wanted to get it.  But I forgot about it for a while.  Until I saw Book 2 of the series staring at me in Walmart a week or so before Christmas.  Hmm.  So I manipulated the situation in order to get both books.  I text my husband right there in Walmart and strongly suggested he buy Book 1 for me for Christmas.  He said he would.  I then picked up Book 2 and placed it in my cart for HIM for Christmas.  Good plan, right?

Or so I thought...

Christmas morning we opened all our presents.  My hubby had indeed given me Book 1 for Christmas.  Funny thing though - when he bought Book 1 he also saw Book 2 and purchased that one as well.  So in the end, we ended up with two Book 2's.

After things calmed down late Christmas day morning I began reading Book 1.  I was immediately drawn in and sunk myself into the characters.  My world blurred and I became absorbed in the scenery of the story.  I loved it.  I'd have to stop reading every now and then to complete dutiful tasks like get my toddler down for his nap, make the deviled eggs for Christmas dinner later that day and clean up the living room for the 100th time that morning, but it was all OK!  Because I had my new awesome book to get back to.  It was waiting for me.  And not only that - I had a whole other book waiting for me on the other side of Book 1!  Life, was good!

Or so I thought...

I picked up the book again... and out of no where the two main characters kissed.  It was so innocent.  I mean really.  It was just a kiss.  But "just a kiss" translates to "just a trigger" and let's be honest, there is no such thing as "just a trigger."  Justifying something by saying it's "just a little trigger" is highly dangerous.  The Spirit was telling me it was dangerous as I sat there, momentarily frozen.  But I didn't listen.  I didn't stop.  I ignored the Spirit because I believed Satan's lie.  I rationalized and said "It's just a kiss.  It's no big deal!"

Or so I thought...

I read some more and felt secure in my justifications because for a period after the kiss, nothing else triggery happened.  It was just full of the stuff I really loved, the safe stuff, good vs. evil stuff.

I went to bed that night with my book right next to me, on my nightstand.  My scriptures were behind it.  The Ensign was behind it.  Yes, at that moment, my book was more important than anything.  It numbed me.  It helped me escape reality.  I told myself that one trigger wasn't a big deal.  I got through it.  I withstood it.  I was strong enough.  Which meant.. I could also handle whatever was presented to me in the book the next day.

Or so I thought...

I woke up the next morning and found comfort when I saw my book right there, waiting for me.  I did the usual house cleaning before sitting down to read again.  Just as the day before I immediately lost any touch I had left with reality as my eyes licked the words on the pages.

And then it happened.  The scene I thought I was strong enough to handle was introduced.  I knew it was coming before it arrived because books are good that way.  They lead up to those scenes.  But by then the Spirit was gone and I had no resolve left.  My agency was gone and I couldn't turn away.  My eyes rhythmically flitted over the words, opening up long locked compartments of dopamine within my brain.  It was all over.  I couldn't say no.  The dopamine was so strong that I couldn't even concentrate on the story anymore.  I put the book down beside me and just sat there, swimming in it.  I was completely bound...

Or so I thought...

After a time I felt my emotions begin to return.  Even though it was hurt, and shock, and pain I welcomed it.  It was much better than being numb.  I never want to be numb again.  I sat there on the couch and I felt tears sting my eyes and I thought "I need to get up!"  I stood, and walked upstairs.  By the time I reached the top the tears were hot on my cheeks.  I knew what I'd done.  I knew what happened.  I knew I'd been trapped. I cried out to Heavenly Father - apologizing profusely for going there.

DANGIT!!!

I looked back on what happened and I assumed I'd be OK with books because my addiction never really included reading inappropriate material.  For me, it's always been images.  I figured I'd be safe with a book, especially a teen book.

Or... so.... I ....thought.....

That's the problem.  *I* thought.  I didn't listen.  I made decisions on my own.  I didn't consult the Spirit.  I only cared about what *I* wanted.  I didn't care about anything else.  I got lost in selfishness.

Let me tell you - the book itself was only a very small fraction of the problem.  Everyone remained clothed in the scene I read, and it wasn't 'pornographic.'  But it triggered me into a pornographic place.  That book was the key that opened Pandora's box - and once opened, I jumped right in and rummaged around looking for treasures.

I'm absolutely terrified to read anything again.  Besides church/recovery books I think everything else is off the table.  I never ever want to fall subject to that flaxen cord again. As horrible as that experience was I'm finding gratitude in it.  It scared me into never wanting to toy with anything ever again that will get me where I ended up.

This experience has also helped me recognize the separation between my Savior and I that has come on of late.  Many things have contributed to my distance.  I have been stagnant in my dailies, not blogging has contributed as well.  I haven't attended the Temple in a while either.

As much as I didn't want to, I threw away Book 1 and returned both of Book 2's.  I wasn't so willing to return Book 2 at first though.  I full on intended to let my husband read it first, with Sharpie in hand, to black out any triggery scenes for me so I could read it.  It wasn't until after visiting with my Bishop and him saying "why don't you just get rid of it?" that it really hit me how stupid that idea was.  I mean really.  That's SUCH an addict way of thinking.  It's kind of funny now that I think about it.  But at the time it seemed like the perfect solution.

So I thought...

No, the only solution is to stay close to the Savior and stay absolutely CLEAR away from anything that will potentially trigger me.

I am not strong enough
I cannot withstand
I cannot do this on my own
...nor do I want to.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

Happiness is....


Merry Christmas!!
See you after the new year!

Much love to you all!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The White Lie

So I just finished reading about Truth Telling Lasagna from my girl Scabs... it's a good read, I recommend it.  Her post reminded me of a song I heard a while back that I'd forgotten but that I think brings a really important message.

But before I get to the song...

A few weeks ago at group we were on/reading/studying Step 10, Daily Accountability.  I explained during the discussion of the step how important it is to stay completely truthful in all aspects of our lives, even with white lies.  White lies are deceptive and are far from being white.  White lies eat at our soul.  They are much like a sliver in our foot; small and seemingly harmless at first but soon lead to an infected abscess if not purged.  Unlike a sliver, we cannot simply pluck out a white lie and discard it, and we can't expect our souls to expunge the lie as our bodies would expunge a sliver over time.  No, we need the Light of Christ to extract and heal that poisonous sliver.

How do we do this?  We must first show it to Him.  We must first admit we have a problem by admitting that we lied; to ourselves, to the person we lied to, and to anyone else affected.  Then, we must tell the truth.  Only then will the Light of Christ work within us and purge our souls of Satan's bindings.

I believe white lies to be the foundation of bigger lies.  They are the gateway to destructive deception that separates us from our support systems, our angels, the Holy Ghost and ultimately our Savior.

They are very dangerous...

Many times we justify and rationalize white lies and I feel this song, even though very cute, exposes our rationalizations and justifications and calls a white lie exactly what it is... a lie.


Journal: Been a Bad Couple Days

It all started on Thursday.  About 5:30pm I was laying on the couch just trying to rest a bit before dinner when I got hit with an intense craving for bad things.  I laid there far too long.  I didn't necessarily entertain thoughts too much, but I looked at them; stared at them and longed for them.  I tried to steer my thoughts elsewhere but inevitably I'd end up back where I was trying to avoid, staring through the door into the abyss.  Finally I heard a loud thought in my head:

GET UP!!!

So I did.  I can't say I wanted to.  I didn't exactly get up all that fast.  It was more of a sluggish drag actually.  I walked passed my husband and mumbled something about getting ready for group.  I was still longing to lay down and numb myself with rushes of dopamine.  On the way up the stairs I began to feel a release.  It was almost symbolic as I ascended upward, the chains of blur began to lift.  I felt my emotions return and I quickly entered the bathroom, closed the door and just began to sob.  I cried out to my Heavenly Father and asked for immediate rescue.  I wanted the temptation removed from me.  I didn't welcome or want the challenge.  As I stood there I felt His gentle comfort wash over me as He told me no, He wouldn't remove the challenge from me because it's for my own good.  I felt the distinct impression that He wanted me to remember the temptation so I would never forget where I came from and how far He has carried me.  He reminded me that I was still safe however and that I had group that night where I could find support and comfort.  I left the bathroom feeling much better, but still shaken.

I'm no longer triggering per say, but I'm still feeling the affects from it.  I hate feeling this way.  But I'm rolling with it.  I won't give up.  And I will continue to learn from the struggles given to me.  Next time, I will get up faster.  Next time, I will work to recognize the thought as dangerous from the very beginning, rather than testing the boundary.

~~~~~~~~~~

I'm scared to write what else is on my mind.  I feel the urge to censor... but I've concluded that it's not healthy for me to pick and choose what I'm honest about.  I don't want to hide.  Hiding one thing will just lead to hiding another... so I'm just going to be open.

Given that - I'd like to note that I don't claim that my below thoughts are exactly rational.  But rather, I'm just expressing how I feel.

I feel lonely.  I've really struggled lately with having friends that are in recovery because I grow close to them, and then they struggle and disappear.  In recovery, we love one another, but we allow people their freedom and agency - so if they struggle and disappear, we pray for them and love them and put their name in the Temple, but we don't chase after them or hunt them down.  We feel that the decisions they need to make are theirs and theirs alone and we can only let them know we will always be here for them when they are ready to come back.

But this is hard for me - because I grow to love them and when they disappear it shakes me.  I already struggle with abandonment issues from my childhood so it's difficult to have people come in and out of my life so quickly.  I grow attached and then they leave.  In the wake of that event I am left feeling tossed aside; disposable.

Even in my friendships with sisters in my ward.  I feel like many of them are one sided.  I feel like I'm the one that texts them to see how they are doing - or reaching out to them to see if they want to hang out.

I feel like everyone thinks I'm the strong one and that I don't need support.  I do.

I know I'm not the easiest person to actually make plans with.  My husband and I both work two jobs and we both go to school, plus we have three kids and then there is church duties and group... life .... is..... cRaZy.  But, I'm good with text conversations and I'd love to hang out - I just need notice.

But again the Lord is good to me.  As I expressed this to him yesterday through racking sobs He gently whispered to me that even this trial is for my good.  He is teaching me to rely on Him rather than on people.  He is teaching me that He is my one and only true constant and that my attachment would better serve me to be on Him, rather on temporary relationships.

I feel guilty for even expressing all of this because I feel like I've lost my gratitude.  I know I have.  When I get whiny like this it's because I've lost my gratitude.  It's there somewhere, I just have to find it.

Maybe today at church...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Touch of Grace's Light

So I have the best friends in the whole world I swear.  This year, I received the coolest Christmas present I think I have ever received.  My good friend Ginny wanted to draw me a picture for Christmas but wasn't sure what to draw.  I suggested that she base it off a poem that I wrote called The Rescue.  The following is her interpretation.  I think this picture is so beautiful.  I feel closer to my Savior just looking at it because I can see myself close to Him.  He truly has rescued me.

Thank you Ginny for being so in tune with the Spirit and giving me the bestest gift ever!

Touch of Grace's Light
by
Ginny Tilby



The Rescue

Once was lost, a daughter of God
Wandering down a long path
To a dark, scary and lonely place
Where she didn’t know how to get back

The darkness beckoned and called to her
Promising comfort and fun
But once she partook of the forbidden fruit
She was left feeling empty and numb

Read the rest of the poem here...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Purging Triggers

I want to talk about a really important aspect of sobriety and a huge important first step to recovery as a whole.  As addicts we have many behaviors, things and thoughts that trigger our addiction.  Often many of us try to maintain sobriety and achieve recovery without surrendering these triggers either because we haven't yet come to recognize them or simply because our pride tells us we can conquer them on our own.

Often times I would identify a trigger and begin a battle with my pride and with the intimate temptations of the adversary.  I was so used to listening to him that his thoughts seemed to be my own.  He was in essence, a worm-tongue, leading me down the dark staircase to hell with his word-magic.

I want to aid the battle of identifying triggers by speaking openly about them.  I feel that if I list triggers that I and others have had, and have surrendered, then it may help those that are struggling to identify the same struggles as triggers.  Knowledge is power.  I feel that once someone can identify their struggle as a legitimate trigger it gives permission for them to give it up.  Knowledge has the potential to greatly reduce or even eliminate the struggle.  It takes the power away from the seduction.

I asked my awesome sisterhood some of the triggers they have had to surrender to the Lord in order to achieve recovery.  Each of these are Personal Tithes that have been sacrificed in order to be healed.

The following are their responses, mingled with some of my own:
  • Gave up driving down specific streets or nostalgic locations that trigger addictive thoughts.
  • Gave up visiting video stores - Blockbuster, Netflix or Redbox.
  • Gave up walking in specific areas in bookstores.
  • Gave up going to clubs alone (or at all).
  • Gave up toxic friends.
  • Gave up books, videos and inappropriate magazines - literally threw them away.
  • Gave up sleeping in the nude or with satin/silk sheets.
  • Gave up sleeping with a bunch of pillows.
  • Gave up staying up really late.
  • Gave up feeling sorry for themselves.
  • Gave up phone numbers (deleting phone numbers and changing their own numbers).
  • Gave up watching rated R movies.
  • Gave up isolating and began reaching out.
  • Gave up Facebook and/or other social media.
  • Gave up watching ANY movie with romantic or sexual content.
  • Gave up swearing.
  • Gave up wearing earrings in 2nd and 3rd holes.
  • Gave up sleeping in big beds.
  • Gave up Smartphones with internet and app download access.
  • Gave up the internet.
  • Gave up bathing (rather than showering).
  • Gave up sexually explicit conversations - even with friends.
  • Gave up wearing lingerie or accentuating bra's and underwear.
  • Gave up a 'grass is always greener on the other side' attitude.
  • Gave up playing internet card games.
  • Gave up crude and inappropriate jokes.
  • Gave up long showers.
  • Gave up looking in the mirror with no clothes on.
  • Gave up locking the bedroom and bathroom doors.
  • Gave up dressing provocative.
  • Gave up many musical artists.
  • Gave up torrenting (illegal downloading of music and movies).
  • Gave up unprotected internet access (ALWAYS have internet protection software).
  • Gave up using a laptop or internet ready devises in the bedroom.
  • Gave up sleeping on stomach.
  • Gave up dating.
  • Gave up control.
  • Gave up the idea that all of the above should or can be continued and mastered on our own.
There are many many more than what is on this list because each trigger is personal to us.  The adversary has quite the tactical advantage over us.  He has known us since the pre-existence.  The veil did not remove his memory as it did ours.  Even in our infancy he knew what our weaknesses would be as we matured.  He has armies and armies of agents working for him that incessantly whisper temptations in our ears.  If we are not relying on the Lord then we are stripped of any protection we could hope for and fall subject to the enticements of our triggers.

We will fail each and every time if we do not give them up.

But we must not forget that the Lord is God, and He is All Mighty and Omnipotent.  He can, will and wants to rescue us.  But the faith precedes the miracle.  The Lord won't simply remove the temptation of these triggers from us.  We must first surrender them to him.  He will require us to trust and rely on Him as we strive to weather the magnetic pull of our brains and hormones.  He will let the wind blow on our branches to strengthen our roots.  And then, after we have proved to Him that we are serious in our surrender, He will take those heavy burdens from us and toss them aside and look upon us with tender eyes and simply say as He embraces us: "Well done.  Well done, indeed."

Silent Night

I love the hymn Silent Night... I feel it is one of those hymns that really invites the Spirit and Light of Christ into our lives.  I also love that it is universal; a song that close to everyone on the planet has heard and can relate to the Savior.  There are few universal languages on this earth that unite us under one Heaven and break the boundaries of judgement based on language, physical appearance or beliefs.  I feel this song is one of those languages...

I wanted to share my most favorite version of this song...

Silent Night
Sinead O'Connor

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Clearing Up Some Confusion...

Hey Guys,

I just need to clear up some confusion about my recent blog post One Day Sober.

One Day Sober was not about me.  Some have reached out to me with their support thinking it was me that slipped.  I'm sorry I confused some of you and worried you.  My sobriety is still in tact at a firm 834 days.  I'm good!

At the end of the blog post I inserted "Contributed by Michelle" to give credit to the person that submitted the story.  Some of you have also made assumptions about "Michelle."  If you know a Michelle in my recovery circle it may or may not be about her, and it may or may not be a recently written piece.  The piece was published primarily as a teaching tool to help others relate to the awful feelings that accompany a slip.  It was to help people not feel alone in those feelings and to help them know that the Lord is still waiting for them, willing and ready to forgive.  It wasn't to announce the sobriety date of anyone specific.

My blog now has almost 16,000 views (cRaZy AwEsOmE!!) and many people reach out to me.  I've had a few people submit stories for publication.   My point is, don't assume things written on my blog are by someone you know if a first name matches someone you know.

I just don't want to start rumors,  I don't want people thinking I've slipped when I haven't and I don't want people thinking their friend named Michelle has slipped when they haven't.

This of course applies to future contributed pieces as well.  I welcome submitted stories (that's a plug if anyone would like to write something for my blog) and I always ask if the person would like to use their first name or 'anonymous.'  Often times, people who have common names (like Michelle) are comfortable using their first name because it could be anyone really.  I've had people who have less common names use aliases to protect their anonymity.

I do appreciate all the concern and again, I am sorry for the confusion!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Precious and Potent Gift of Agency

I have been thinking of late on the concept of agency.  Earlier in recovery I hated agency.  I hated it because I could never master it.  I couldn't seem to make the correct choices and at times it was as if my agency had been completely robbed of me.

Boyd K. Packer touches on this concept:
Addiction has the capacity to disconnect the human will and nullify moral agency.  It can rob one of the power to decide.
I have heard all my life that agency is a gift but I couldn't fathom, let alone comprehend, that my agency was given to me as a tool for my own good.  I felt it was more of a burden.  I just wanted to be made to do what I was suppose to do so that I wouldn't continually screw up.

I'm sad.  I didn't realize it till just now, but in those moments of cursing agency I was in fact regretting choosing Heavenly Father's plan.  I was wishing for Satan's plan.

Dear God, I am so very sorry.

But Heavenly Father is good to me even through my lapses in judgement.  He knew how I felt.  And even though Satan had me bound by unseen flaxen chords the Lord saw those chords and intricately rescued me from them.  He answered my whiny prayers begging for rescue.  He spoke to me through scripture.

The following passages of scripture freed me from the darkness of viewing agency as a burden and filled me with precious hope.  In these scriptures I found the desire to choose righteously and return home.

Read these scriptures in order, as if being gently spoke to...

Alma 5:60
And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold.
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.
Alma 15:8
If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed.
Alma 13:29
Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.
2 Nephi 10:23-25
Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves - to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.  Wherefore, may God raise you from death by the power of the resurrection, and also from the everlasting death by the power of the atonement, that ye may be received into the eternal kingdom of God, that ye may praise him through the grace divine.
2 Nephi 27:23
For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.
3 Nephi 9:13
Will ye not now return unto me...that I may heal you?

I bear solemn witness that the Lord loves us.
He wants to rescue us.
He wants to heal us.
He wants us to simply reach for him, even if fleetingly at first.   
He doesn't care where we are when we call on Him to save us.
He simply wants us to love Him and turn to Him.
He wants to be the balm to our aching and tormented hearts.
We simply need to choose to let Him...

Choose ye this day: This day... not tomorrow or the next.  THIS day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

One Day Sober

I regret to say that Satan called me home recently. No, not home. Home is where you feel happy, safe, welcome. At home people love you and accept you for who you are. You shouldn't ever be judged or ridiculed. You should feel like you belong. Home is a safe haven from the outside world.

I got sucked into a dark dingy alley where I feel scared, alone and worthless. It's a place I know well but it's not home. I even have acquaintances there I used to call friends. Their names are Porn, Masturbation, Lust, and Depression. We were friends for a long time but they weren't real friends. They made me hate myself and everyone around me. They made me feel worthless and alone and unloved. They always stuck together too. I couldn't ever get one of them alone without the others tagging along. They welcomed me with open arms the other day only to leave me feeling horrible. I hung out with them for a few days but it never helped any. I even ditched my best friend. His name is Prayer.

He's always been there for me. I can't get rid of him no matter how hard I try. I've tried running from him and calling him names and for the past couple days, I told him that I didn't need him. I felt too bad about myself to call him a friend. I was really mean to him and it made me ashamed. He has always pulled me through the most difficult times so I don't understand why I didn't want him around.

Fortunately, he did what all good friends do. I turned to him and asked for help and he pulled me out of that alley. Guess who was waiting outside? The Holy Ghost! He put his arms around me and just hugged me even though I didn't feel like I deserved it. I still don't feel like I deserve it.

I'm on my way home now. It's just 12 steps away. It's all uphill but I can see my home from where I stand. I still have my two best friends holding my hands and helping me along and the closer I get to home, the more real friends I gain.

I walk passed that alley everyday and sometimes it looks so welcoming. Satan does a great job at making it look so nice. He even has a sign hanging up that says, "I never said it would be worth it, I only said it would be easy." He knows the right way to make us wanna take a peek in and see what’s going on but I just have to remember that my home looks nice on the outside AND the inside. It's where I'm really happy.

~Contributed by Michelle~

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Frogs and The Tower


There once was a bunch of tiny frogs... who arranged a running competition. 
The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. 
A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants.
The race began...
Honestly, no-one in the crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. You heard statements such as:
"Oh, WAY too difficult!!"
"They will NEVER make it to the top".
"Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!"
The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one...
... Except for those who in a fresh tempo were climbing higher and higher...
The crowd continued to yell
"It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!"
More tiny frogs got tired and gave up...
...But ONE continued higher and higher and higher...
This one wouldn't give up!
At the end, everyone else had given up climbing the tower. 
Except for the one tiny frog who, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top!
THEN all of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it?
It turned out...
That the winner was deaf...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Clearwater

I'm still struggling.  But, I'm still safe.  I've cried a lot, reached out for help, stayed active, prayed a lot and I know this too shall pass.  In the midst of this Heavenly Father has given me a gift, as He often does.  A song.  A song that for the next little while will be my mantra... I love it so much and want to share it with you.


Clearwater
by
J.R. Richards

Is this a mystic's deep dark spell
Or a joke to make us come undone and yell
Another blackness tries again
To bend our will behind our backs
And hold us down til' we say when

Will this be over when
Will we be free in the end
And in the end will the water run clear
And all the cold disappear 
Into clearwater clear
So deep that we can all come clean

Is this a madman's time to tell
To sell a fate that burns our eyes from our lives
Well I say when

Will this be over when
Will we be free in the end
And in the end will the water run clear
And all the sad disappear 

Into clearwater clear
So deep that we can all come clean
Clearwater clear
So deep that we can all come clean
Clearwater clear
So deep that we can all come clean
Clearwater clear
Clearwater clear

So deep that we can all come clean

Monday, December 10, 2012

I. Am. Struggling.

It has been a pretty rough week and a half or so.  I'm in detox mode right now because I'm working really hard to give something up that I have struggled to give up for a very long time now.  I've mustered halfhearted attempts at it in the past but none of those attempts were really all that serious.  This time I am serious.  The Lord has made the path clear for me to accomplish that which will provide me freedom.  I feel the Lord so close to me - I know He is here with me.  But the adversary is vigilantly nipping at my heals and his relentlessness is wearing on me.

I have been under a major attack the past few days.  I've had three user dreams and last night I had a night full of nightmares.  I have been triggering like crazy left and right and the adversary is whispering dark influences in my ear.  Such seductions as:

  • You can just view (pornography), its OK, no one will know. Just viewing isn't bad.
  • It's not that bad to just watch a movie with sexual content in it.  It's not full blown pornography.
  • If you rent a movie on Netflix there is a way to delete it so hubby doesn't know (we have a shared account).
  • One time.  Just one.  It won't hurt you.  You deserve it.
  • You remember the flood of dopamine don't you?  How good it feels coursing through your veins?  You know you want it.
The lies and temptations have been relentless...

I also woke up from a user dream the other day and when I awoke I was upset that my dream had been interrupted.  I wanted to stay in the dream.  I was mad because having a user dream is acting out for free; no accountability, right?  I'm not responsible for my dreams right?  

I may not be responsible for the dream itself no, but I for sure am responsible for how I react to it.  I got scared.  I'm not suppose to want it.  I'm suppose to be passed that.  Ugghhh SO STUPID!!

But I recognized my weakened state and as much as my body wanted that dream back I knew that my Spirit didn't.  As I fell back asleep I sent a desperate prayer up to Heaven: "Heavenly Father - I want to act our right now.  I want to view pornography.  I want to fall back asleep and pick up my dream right where I left off... and because of all that I REALLY NEED YOUR HELP.  Please protect me.  Please keep my mind free and clear.  Please keep me safe."

And He did...

I keep going back in my mind to two thoughts... First is the scripture JSH 1:20:
It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition...that rose against me...?
I can completely relate to this scripture.  I love it actually.  It shows me that the reason the adversary is pummeling me with temptation is because he knows the potential damage I can inflict on his well laid plans.  

DANG RIGHT!!!

The other thought is of my Stake President.  I know I've blogged about this before but it means so much to me that I constantly refer back to it.  I was struggling really hard a couple of years ago so I decided to make an appointment to visit with my Stake President.  I didn't understand what was happening.  I had been more obedient than I'd ever been before, I had recently spoken in Stake Conference (and announced I was an addict to the world, for the first time, as was asked of me), I was working hard on Family History, I was attending the Temple regularly and was wholeheartedly fulfilling my callings.  Yet still, I'd been one huge triggery mess for about three months straight.  I was getting pretty worn out and thought my Stake President could offer some insight and direction.

When I presented my case to him and asked the looming question "why?" he paused and thought for a moment.  He then offered me the most piercing counsel I think I have ever received.  I knew it came straight from my Father in Heaven.  He said:
Your Father in Heaven heard you speak in Stake Conference; He heard what you said.  He heard you make those promises to Him.  He wants to know if you meant what you said.  He is letting the wind blow on your branches in order to strengthen your roots.
I sat stunned as I soaked in his words.  I immediately felt a rush of comfort and peace and in that very moment my struggles no longer mattered.  What mattered was showing my Father in Heaven that I'd for sure meant what I'd said and that my promises to Him were sound and rooted in my Savior.  I left my Stake President's office that day with more renewed hope than I ever could have imagined or asked for.  

Now, during this trial, I imagine if I were to visit with my Stake President again he would offer the same counsel he offered me two years ago, because I believe the counsel given is universal.  

I am grateful that I am still sober because it would have been very easy for me not to be over the last few days.  I'm grateful for my wonderful support system that have let me lean on them.  They validate me, they encourage me, they bring me hope and they love me.  I am the luckiest girl in the world to have them.  I am most grateful for my Savior, for carrying the pain of this very trial for me, for my Heavenly Father for granting pretty much all requests as I seek His counsel and help, for the Spirit who truly is my constant companion and for all the angels who have stewardship over me; there are many.

I am recommitting to the following to help give me direction as this storm continues to blow...

I won't view pornography
I won't act out
I won't believe or succumb to the lies the adversary tells me
I will expose his lies to the world, here on my blog
I will raise my branches high, lift my eyes heavenward, and willingly submit to the wind as it blows
And as tears stream down my face... 
I will be still...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I Know We Will Be OK: Thoughts From My Husband


Hi my name is Tim and I am Sidreis's husband.  I am writing today in response to a comment that was posted awhile back by a reader:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Testimonials of First Meetings":
Thanks for this blog! I'm a man, but I still get strength from your experience and hope. I'm approaching my 1 yr sober mark, this week. I still struggle mightily with all kinds of character weaknesses, but I have hope. Just curious but how does your spouse deal with your addiction, I would love to see a post about how he copes, and strategies the two of you have for communicating and dealing with this struggle?
I've taken some time to think about this and so many thoughts and ideas have run through my heart and my mind as I have thought about how I could answer this.  The first thing I would like to say before sharing anything else is that I can only speak to my own experiences.  I am not a marriage counselor, addiction specialist, or expert on this topic.  All I know is what has worked for us and that's what I would like to share with you today.

When I first found out that my wife struggled with things of a sexual nature I think I probably experienced many of the same fears that anyone might go through.  "Am I not good enough?"  "How could she do this to me?"  "Maybe if I were thinner, had a better job, was a better provider, was a better Priesthood holder, we wouldn't be in this situation?"  It was so easy to go into "why me?!?" mode and immediately look at the scenario not from what my wife was going through and the battle she was fighting but instead worrying 100% about how it affected ME.  I think that is human nature and I soon found that my experience was very normal for the spouse or family member of an addict. 

Eventually, with lots of love and support I came around to where I could get past myself and start to look at things from a different perspective.  The following  things are probably are what helped me the most as my wife and I embarked on this journey together.

1.  Meet with your Bishop on a regular basis.  I think most of my life I saw my various Bishops as like the police of sorts.  I didn't need to be in that office unless I had done something wrong or they insisted I be there.  This is so far from the truth.  A Bishop is so much more than just the person we discuss our sins with.  He is an advocate, a shoulder to cry on, a source of support and love that we can share the feelings with that we are afraid to share with anyone else.  He is just as invaluable a resource to spouses and family members as he is to an addict.  I could not have done this without the love, prayers and Priesthood blessings I have received from my Bishop.  He has become a close friend and trusted adviser. 

2.  Go to meetings!  I think there is a mindset that exists amongst family members of addicts that we are fine, we are just waiting on our loved ones to get their act together so we can start moving forward together.  But the reality is I have just as great a need for the 12 Step program as my wife.  Attending meetings and working the steps is so important for all of us.  I have heard the 12 Step program referred to as "The Atonement for Dummies", and it is so true.  We all have struggles.  I have just as many faults, character weaknesses and mountains to my climb as anyone else. I am far from perfect and I have great need of the Savior and his Atonement in my life.  I cannot return to him and my Father in Heaven without it and the LDS Church's Addiction recovery program helps me get there.  

In my 3 years of attending meetings I have been to meetings for family and support, food addiction, general addiction and sexual addiction.  The faith, honesty and love in those rooms is identical regardless of the setting and participants.  Attending meetings is part of my weekly routine and I love it!  It is in those rooms that I find love and support; people who have traveled the road I am traveling and can be a strength and support to me when I am down and need a friend.  But most importantly of all it is in those rooms that I work on my own salvation.  Working a step 4 and 5 inventory helped me give away much of the baggage from my own past and working steps 6 and 7 helped me see my own personal struggle with recognizing and finding the strength from my Savior to give away my character weaknesses.  But above all else, seeing my own desperate need for forgiveness made it that much easier for me to empathize with and give real forgiveness to my wife.  The reality is that we are all sinners.  

I am often reminded of a talk given by President Uchtdorf at the April 2012 General Conference.  He shared a story that I will never forget and try to remember often when I find myself judging others or minimizing my own weaknesses and need for forgiveness:

I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”  We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?  Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?
3.  Communication is so important.  But let me qualify that.  Communication doesn't always mean communicating about our struggles.  I do think that communicating about struggles and slips and mistakes is extremely important to maintaining the love and trust in a marriage or family relationship but its important not to dwell on that aspect to where we are focusing too much on the problem and not enough on the solution.  My wife and I have a 48 hour rule, where if either of us makes a significant mistake; morally, financially, spiritually etc, that we will confess to the other one within 48 hours.  That gives the person who made the mistake some time to pray and ask for strength and help to find the words, but also keeps the secrecy minimal enough that we aren't living in the shadows as Satan would have us do.  This has been mostly successful for us. 
     
But the best form of communication we share is talking about the Gospel.  Probably my favorite time of the week is Thursday evenings after we both attend our ARP meetings, we will both come home and share the miracles, stories and experiences that touched us during the meeting.  While it is obviously very important to protect anonymity and not discuss the names and faces of those we see in meetings, I think it can be a wonderful sharing experience for a couple to discuss the scriptures, stories and testimonies that were shared there.  To bear testimony to one another about how the program is working in our lives or areas that we know we can improve in.  I believe this type of communication to be far more effective than focusing on struggles or sobriety or when the last slip occurred.  

Finally I just want to take a minute to share that my wife is one of my heroes.  She is such a powerful example to me with her courage and willingness to put herself out there entirely and be so open and honest about a problem that carries so much stigma and shame.  I know it hasn't been easy for her but she has been able to touch so many hearts and lives through her story and her willingness to let her light shine.  When she first started working the program in earnest I could see the miracle happening in her life.  It made me want the same thing in my life.  I wanted that joy, that happiness, that focus on the Savior and the Gospel.  Our journey is far from over and I imagine there will be many more bumps along the way, but as long as we stand together and face the Savior, using the tools we have been given to overcome the natural man that exists within us all, I know that we will be OK.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Interviews: Michelle

The Story

How old were you when your addiction began?
I started my obsession with anything sexual at probably around 6 but I wouldn’t consider myself an addict until probably about 13.
What were the life events and circumstances that led to your addiction?  
I had a sibling become seriously ill when I was very young and my parent’s attention went to my sibling and totally off of me.  After that, I didn’t want to be a nuisance to them so I started isolating myself emotionally.  
How did your addiction progress?
It really just started out as an interest and curiosity but the older I grew, the more I explored until I found something that made me feel exactly what I wanted.  My main thing was books for a long time until I discovered everything the internet held and along with that came anything physical that those findings would stir up which included masturbation and eventually involving someone else in my “acting out."
What experiences did you have that led to your breaking point, or your rock-bottom moment?
I always considered myself a good girl who does things that good girls do and who stays away from the really nasty stuff (drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.) but as my addiction progressed, I found myself straying farther and farther from that good girl idea.  I also was suffering from a very serious illness which put me into a terrible depression.  I overdosed on some medication first and when that wasn’t enough, I turned to a guy “friend” and one thing led to another until I found myself doing almost all those things I said I’d never do.  Down the road, I wanted to stop being with this guy, my mind and heart were telling me to run, but my body took over when I didn’t want it anymore and I knew at that point, I couldn’t feel any lower.
What was your perspective of yourself at this point?
I really loathed who I was.  I was no longer this good girl but I also felt that because, my some miracle, I was still a virgin that I wasn’t completely terrible either.  I felt like I was in limbo and I hated it, I hated me.  I felt like I was alone and didn’t fit in with anyone.  I felt like I had spit in God’s face and that he was either mad at me or super disappointed in me and the person I’d become.
Where did you turn for help?
I first contacted my bishop when I realized I was doing something wrong.  He helped some and helped me to see a therapist.  She identified me as an addict (which I’d never in a million years consider).  I stopped seeing her and my bishop changed and I saw a new bishop.  He helped me find the PASG group in my area just for women and through that group, I found hope and healing and recovery.  I did end up seeing a therapist again for a while to tie up some lose ends.  I also employed my dear friends because they always accepted me and they always supported me in my decisions.
What was the turning point of your addiction?
I remember, not long after my rock bottom, moving on to step 3 in the recovery manual.  I was working on giving my will to Heavenly Father and I don’t mean just thinking about it, I mean really working hard to give him my will.  I don’t know what it was but something just clicked about how to do it (probably Him being merciful) and I started to be able to give up my will, my addicts will, and because I was able to do that, my recovery really took hold and I started going up.
How did you experience the Atonement of Christ?
I always thought I understood the atonement of Christ.  I had been taught it my whole life but until I actually felt forgiven for the first time, I realized I knew nothing about the atonement and what it could actually do for me.  I had felt so gross, so lowly, so unforgivable, so unlovable but when I finally felt truly forgiven, I felt hope and love and acceptance from not only the man who died for me but also from my Father in Heaven.  I felt something I hadn’t felt in years.  I felt happiness.
What difference did Christ's Atonement make in your life?
The atonement didn’t just make a difference in my life, it changed my life.  It changed me.  I always felt like I had this huge hole in me that couldn’t be filled.  I felt so empty because of it.  The atonement filled that hole, its completely gone.  There isn’t even a scar from where the hole was.  The atonement got rid of that too.  I feel like how I’ve always wanted to feel.  I’m happy and peaceful and hopeful and loved and loving.  I love others and I love myself and I allow others to love me.  That’s not something I ever thought would be possible.
How is life different for you today?
I have this peace in my life that I never had before.  Now, when things go bad, I know it will all be okay in the end.  I don’t just believe it, it know it.  I had a rough year this year.  I had a lot of heartache and disappointment and insecurity.  In my addict state, it would have ruined who I am but because of recovery and because I have Heavenly Father and Christ always in my life, I was able to ride out the storm and see the rainbow at the end.  I have been able to see blessings in my life that I used to either take for granted or never saw before.  I have relationships with people that I never had before because I was so isolated.
What is your perception of yourself?
I actually like who I am.  I think I am funny (although others may disagree), I feel like I can take criticism and learn from it instead of getting mad and defensive.  I feel like I am a nice person who people enjoy being around.  I feel like I am beautiful and someone worthwhile in this world.  I feel like I am genuinely a good person but I also recognize that I am still human and do make mistakes but I no longer beat myself up over them.  I accept it, learn from it, and move on.  I also feel like I am positive about how things are and how things will be.  And this may sound cliché but I feel like I am a lot more humble now then I used to be although that is always something that I feel will need to be worked on.

ARP Meetings

What was the scariest thing about going to your first ARP Meeting?
I was terrified of my first meeting.  I was worried that I’d see someone I know or that I would be stuck somewhere where I didn’t fit in.  I was also worried that I would be alone and you know what?  I was, I was the only one sometimes but I always felt love and acceptance from the missionaries and so I never felt alone even when I was literally alone.
If you could go back in time, what counsel would give to yourself about going to a meeting?
I don’t think I’d give past me any counsel about meetings.  I went at a time in my life where I really wanted change and would do anything to get it and I did do anything to get it and I regret nothing of how that happened.
Everybody reads the confidentiality statement. What is your experience with confidentiality?
I’ve had my anonymity and confidentiality broken a handful of times by a handful of people and it was terrible, humiliating, and terrifying but with that said, I always feel safe in group.  I always feel like my best interest is at heart and that I will be protected because the other people in that room want the same thing. 
What is your experience about finding support from others in the meetings?
I’m so glad I was able to find support from someone who truly understood what I had and was going through.  She was able to guide me through various things in my life and get me back on the path to follow Christ.  It was so nice to be able to ask her questions that I couldn’t ask anyone else and get real honest answers, even if I didn’t always like them at first.  She always had my recovery in mind and I didn’t always like what she had to say but if I humbled myself and actually listened, I would always avoid heartache.

Experience with Priesthood Leaders

What was the role that your Bishop played in your recovery? 
If I had not been completely honest with my bishop, I would not have been completely honest with myself and it would have stopped my progression.  Without him, I also would have chickened out about finding a recovery meeting.  I also felt so much love from him even though he knew the worst of me which helped me to understand Heavenly Father’s and Christ’s love for me a lot better than how I understood it.
What advice would you give to a Bishop working with somebody with your addiction?
I think having an open mind is a huge thing.  A lot of people, even some bishops, don’t find masturbation or pornography to be a very big deal even though it can destroy a soul and so the idea of a woman having a problem is completely absurd.  So having an open mind and being accepting is very important.  I also think that being willing to learn is also very important.  If its not something you understand or are familiar with, learn as much as you can because chances are you aren’t going to just have one person ever come talk to you so if you know about sexual addiction and what it does and how to recover, you can help so many people find the atonement.  Also and I think most important, show them love.  They are terrified already and aren’t feeling any love from anyone so your love is important so that they can understand Heavenly Fathers love for them.
What advice would you give somebody who is considering speaking to their Bishop?
As terrifying as it is to reveal your deepest and darkest secrets to someone, the feeling of relief and hope and love after is amazing and totally worth it.  Nothing else can compare.  Also, if you haven’t found or attending a recovery meeting yet, the bishop is so important in getting you on the right path so you can actually be happy.. 

Additional Thoughts
Happiness is real and obtainable in this life, it really is.  This isn’t coming from some yuppy Molly Mormon who’s never had anything bad happen in her life.  This is someone who has walked through the very pits of Hell and not realized there was a way out.  I can say I have come out and I am happy, really happy.  It’s the kind of happiness you can’t describe.  There is an eternal sense about it that you have to experience to understand.  It is the ultimate joy and it is something I wish everyone in this life can experience.  I believe it is something that Heavenly Father wants everyone to experience.  I believe it is a reason behind the atonement.  You can’t have happiness and have sin, its as simple as that.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have plenty of terrible things happening in my life but I trust and know that Heavenly Father will take care of me and everything will work out for the best and because I know that, my happiness continues despite trials.  Oh what a wonderful feeling that can never be taken from me.  Thank you Heavenly Father for letting me experience it.
If you would like to leave a message for Michelle, please do so in the comments.  She is reading!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Call to Spread Hope!

Over time I have come to learn (through contact) that my audience includes therapists, Bishops, members of Stake Presidencies, addicts, codependents, random LDS readers and even non-members of the church that find some sort of inspiration from my blog.  I am sure there is a wider audience that I am just not aware of yet.

I want to personally thank those of you who have passed on my blog (posts) to others. 

I want you to know that you have helped people. Your friends have reached out to me and told me of their struggles. Your willingness to simply forward my story, or link my blog posts has provided a bright beam of hope to someone you know.  I have had many sisters contact me and express their gratitude for my willingness to share my story.  Each of them, or close to, have lived in isolation because of the intense fear of judgement for their struggle.  Most of them have thought they were the only one.  Most of them found my blog through you.

I invite you to re-distribute my story again on your walls, or forward it in an email or simply spread it by word of mouth.  My intent is a push of effort to reach those LDS sisters who may be stuck in the chains of sexual addiction. Please help me help others.

Here is my story if you are willing to share it (thank you!):

http://www.bythelightofgrace.com/p/my-story.html

Much love,

Sidreis
www.bythelightofgrace.com

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dear God Letters: I Want to Go Home

I want to go home
I don't want to be here anymore
I am tired
I am struggling to feel positive and happy
I feel like isolating
I yelled at my family yesterday in a bad way
I will apologize to them today
I have a group project in my philosophy class to present tonight and I'm nervous
I miss someone, but I have to let them go
I don't want to let them go, but I will
It hurts
I have the best friends in the world, thank you for them
I'm glad I get to keep them forever
I'm grateful for music
I've listened to Sinead O'Connor's version of Silent Night about 100 times today
I feel compressed... like in a chamber
I will submit to it for I know compression refines me
I will be shinier on the other side of this
I want to cry
I feel like I have no place to do it
I want to just lay in a field on my back and look at the sky and talk to you
But it's cold outside and I'd probably get eaten by a mountain lion
I need a place that I can just sob, unabashedly
Like Enos did on the hill
I love Enos
I used to do it in my Bishop's office
But I'm striving to not need him so much
I want you to be proud of me, more than anything
I long to hear the words "well done, my good and faithful servant"
I feel your love in those words
I felt friction in my ward on Sunday when a controversial topic was discussed
I didn't like it
Judgements were made.  By others.  By me
I was offended
I'm still working to let it go
Even through the darkness surrounding me I feel a light
There is a light within me
I've nurtured that light and kept it burning
So that
When darkness surrounds me, I am still illuminated
I am still warm
I am still alive
I can still feel
I can still love
I can still find gratitude
I can still serve
I can still do all these things even through my trials
I will hunker down and weather this storm
And I will be sustained by feasting on my gratitude
It's like lembas bread in Lord of the Rings, one bite lasts for days
Yes, I want to come home
But I will stay
And I will serve
And I will live
And I will fight
Because I love you

Step 6: List of Character Weaknesses

This list is to act as a Step Help/Guide when inventorying your character weaknesses in Step 6.

As a cautionary note:  If your first thought is of someone else when you read any of the below weaknesses, that in itself is a character weakness (see: Inventory Taking).
  • Abrasiveness, hostility, belligerence, being generally bad-humored.
  • Ambition – An earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth.  Seeking these things rather than to be a worker among workers, or to be as useful as possible to God and my fellow human beings.
  • Anger, hatred, aggression, being argumentative.
  • Antagonism Acting in hostility or opposition.
  • Anxiety – Not as a clinical diagnosis, but as a general way of viewing things with an eye toward what is wrong, what might be wrong, what has been wrong or what is going to be wrong. Excessive worry, especially about things that cannot be changed.
  • Apathy, indifference – Not caring about others, selfish behavior.
  • Arrogance, conceit- Offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.  An excessively favorable opinion of one’s own ability, importance, wit, etc.
  • Closed mindedness – Contempt prior to investigation. Disregarding things and ideas just because they are new and unknown. Being unwilling to try things or follow suggestions. Failing to remain teachable.  Having a mind firmly unreceptive to new ideas or arguments.
  • Controlling attitude toward people, places and things; self will – Trying to control others by manipulation, bribery, punishment, withholding things or tricking them into acting as we wish, even when we believe it is in their best interest to do so. Failing to be equal partners with others and to consider their knowledge and opinions.
  • Dependency, over dependency, co-dependency – Relying on others to provide for us what we ought to provide for ourselves. Feeling we must be in a relationship, or must hold on to others who want to move on. Letting others control us to an extreme due to our fear of being alone, abandoned, or independent.
  • Depression, pessimism, complaining – Not as a clinical condition, but as a way to generally see the dark side of things.
  • Dishonesty – Sins of omission and commission. Telling lies, hiding things, telling half truths or pretending something is so that isn’t. Withholding important information. Adding untrue details to stories and situations.  Telling lies about another person.  Hurting someone’s reputation.  Stealing, cheating, taking things that aren’t ours and that we aren’t entitled to.
  • Fear an emotion that halts progression and is one of Satan’s most powerful tools.
  • Gluttony, greed – Wanting and taking too much: food, sex, time, money, comfort, leisure, material possessions, attention, security.  Acquiring things (material things, relationships, attention) at the expense of others.  Feeling entitled to (like I have done something to deserve) things like money, time off, privileges, material things, praise, inclusion, benefits.
  • Gossiping – Speaking or writing about others in a negative manner, especially to get them in trouble or to feel superior to them and bond with someone else against the target of the gossip.  During these times it is good to take pause and question what trait in that person you see in yourself that is causing you to want to lash out at them.
  • Guilt, self pity, whining (pride in reverse) – Spending too much time thinking about how bad you are, how you screwed up, whining about how your life sucks.
  • Humility, lack of – Feeling better than and worse than others, and being self centered.
  • Impatience – Being frustrated by waiting, wanting often to be some time in the future, wanting something to change or improve rather than accepting it as it is.
  • Intolerance – Not accepting people or things for whom or what they are.
  • Inventory taking, being judgmental, criticizing – Noticing and listing, out loud or to ourselves, the faults of others.
  • Jealousy and envy – Wanting what others have, feeling we don’t have enough or deserve more, wishing we had what others do instead of them. This applies to material possessions like houses, cars, money and such. It also applies to nonmaterial things like relationships, a nice family, children, parents, friends and partners, and fulfilling work relationships. We can envy others their looks and physical appearance; their talents and physical abilities or attributes such as thinness, tallness, sports ability or musical talent.
  • Laziness, procrastination, sloth – Not doing as much as is reasonable for us to do. Putting things off repeatedly. Not carrying our own load as much as we are able. Letting others provide things for us that we ought to get for ourselves.
  • People-pleasing, being a “yes” person – Being false by saying yes when we actually mean no, and feeling resentful about it.  Trying to trick others into liking us by saying what I think they want to hear, rather than what is true.
  • Perfectionism, compulsiveness, being a workaholic – Expecting or demanding too much from yourself or others. Treating things that aren’t perfect as not good enough. Not recognizing a good try or progress.  Concentrating too much on what is wrong.
  • Prejudice – Pre-judging people based on a group they belong to. Negative feelings about someone based on their religion, race, nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation, accent, politics, economic status, physical characteristics like height, weight, hair style, clothing style, physical fitness, age.
  • Pride – a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
  • Rationalization, minimizing and justifying, self-justification – Saying and/or believing you had good motives for bad behavior.  Saying that you did bad things for good reasons, or that what you did really wasn’t that bad.
  • Resentment – The feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.
  • Rigidity, shyness, aloofness and fear of change – Being closed down and not open for change or progression.
  • Sarcasm, cruelty, meanness – defense mechanism which gives permission to judge others but not look at yourself.
  • Sex: misuse of  – promiscuity, pornography, masturbation, using people, adultery, inappropriate conversations, excessive and inappropriate use of chat rooms and webcams, reading sexual related material.
  • Self-centeredness, selfishness, self-seeking, attention-seeking – Spending excessive time thinking about yourself. Considering yourself first in situations instead of others. Not having enough regard for others or thinking about how circumstances hurt or help others. Thinking about what you can get out of      situations and people, i.e. ‘what’s in it for me?’ Spending too much time considering your appearance, acquiring things for myself, pampering myself, indulging myself.
  • Undependability – Not keeping your word, being late, not being where you should be, not doing what is yours to do, letting others down, not doing my part.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Journal: Stagnancy, Moving, and Feeling Heavy


The other day I wasn't feeling good at all.  I was randomly nauseous all day and pretty much stayed in bed and did nothing the entire day.  By the end of the day I had reached a point of feeling depressed because I'd laid stagnant for so long.  I started surfing Netflix looking for a movie I could watch to pass the last couple of hours before bed time.  As I flipped through various categories of movies I found myself drawn to titles that are not good for me.  I got scared and closed Netflix.  As I lay pondering why I suddenly began to trigger  I realized it was because I had been inactive all day.  I hadn't done my dailies, I'd done no work or service, I hadn't reached out to anyone.  Mostly I just laid around moaning and feeling sorry for myself.  I realized I'd created a breeding ground for temptation.  I decided I needed to just get to bed safe and that I simply needed a new day.

The following day I committed to not repeat the day before.  Even though I still felt sick I got up and showered first thing.  I cleaned the house and then took the kids grocery shopping.  I came home and put the little man down for a nap and then spent some quality time with the older two boys.  After little man woke up I took all three of them to the park and enjoyed some fresh air open sky.  After the park I came home and got dinner on the table.

I ended that day grateful for the revelation I'd received the night before and the desire instilled in me to not let that day repeat itself.  But most importantly I was grateful because I was still safe. The Lord had protected me, angels watched over me and the Spirit guided me.  And because I listened I was kept safe.

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I journaled last week about praying about moving.  I ended that blog post committing to praying about it and seeking the Lord's direction regarding whether or not we should move.  Each night I prayed for one of two very boxed, black and white, answers.  Should we move?  Or should we stay?  After a couple of days I had no answer, but I had this very distinct impression that I wasn't the one to receive the answer.  I felt impressed to defer to Tim and let him make the decision.  

For those of you who know me, you know this is not usually easy for me.  I'm a red personality.  I love control.  Whether or not we move and where we move to is something I would normally fight for control over.  But this time I felt such peace that there literally was no fight in me.  I gratefully accepted that answer.  

When I told Tim what my answer was he was surprised.  Probably more surprised that I so easily accepted the answer rather than at the answer itself.

The next day we went to the Temple to work on some of Tim's family names.  It was a very spiritual experience.  While there Tim received that answer that we are to stay in our current ward for a time.  The Spirit whispered to him "you need to stay and finish what you started."  I'm not at liberty to say exactly what that means, but it was clear to us the work we need to finish here.

I am so grateful for this answer.  Some were worried about me and sad for me because they knew how much I was looking forward to moving into a bigger place.  But I feel more secure knowing the Lord is directing my path than I would be in a bigger house with no direction.  I am much happier residing under the guiding hand of my Father than my own feeble mind.

So to all my ward members:  you are stuck with us for a while longer!

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Sometimes it's really hard to feel gratitude.  My brain understand gratitude and can recognize all that I have to be grateful for, but my heart just refuses to feel it.  Today is one of those days.  I feel heavy.  I feel like crying.  Maybe I will, later.  I can't right now, I'm at work.  

But what I won't do, is let myself sit stagnant like the other day.  It's OK for me to feel sad and heavy sometimes.  I don't have to feel happy all the time.  But what isn't OK is to let it turn to carnal pride.  So, I'm showered, I'm at work, I'm listening to uplifting music, I'm blogging about it, I'll read some conference talks and I'll get through it.  Tomorrow, here I come.

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"