Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Interviews: Rachel


Getting to Know You

How old are you?
21
What country do you live in?
United States
Are you married and do you have children?
Yes, I am a newlywed. Only been married 5 months. No kids yet.
How long have you been sober?
146 days today
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I work full time at a doctors office, which I love! I love watching documentaries, eating healthy, random adventures, hot weather and goofing around.

The Story

How old were you when your addiction began?
When I was a very young girl. Probably around 6 years old.
What were the life events and circumstances that led to your addiction?  
I had a neighbor who taught me at a very young age to masturbate. I did not know it was wrong at the time. I remember feeling uncomfortable and telling her to stop. I ran home, but couldn't stop thinking about how much I liked it.  I was curious, but wanted to stay away.  My parents wanted me to be-friend her so I kept hanging out with her.  At first I didn't want to hang out with her. But I couldn't stop thinking about what I had learned and how it felt. I began to learn more. Over the years I craved more.
How did your addiction progress?
Because I was “be-friending” this girl I spent a lot of time with her. I began to love what she told me, and how it felt. It helped me fall asleep. It helped me escape from anger, sadness, loneliness but it especially helped me fall asleep. When I was twelve my family moved to a new country. I was so excited. However, when we got there is was so different than I thought. I was home sick and wanted to go home so badly.  I began to be overwhelmed with new things, new people, new school, etc, and I felt isolated. My addiction grew a lot in this time. Not only because I isolated, but because I heard words and saw things that I was not familiar with. I grew more curious. I loved when I was introduced to more explicit terms and actions. I started to find books that talked about things that I “loved”. Then it turned to watching “sex scenes” in movies. I also wanted more and as I grew older I learned that men could help me feel “satisfied” in my addiction.  It was a hole that could never be filled. I always wanted more, needed more. It began to rule my life, my entire will.
What experiences did you have that led to your breaking point, or your rock-bottom moment?
I had broken up with a particular guy to turn away from my addiction. I claimed I was going to change this time around. Within a few days, maybe weeks, I couldn't any longer. I relapsed. I thought if I started going to church it would help.  As I began to go to church I started seeking a boyfriend. I quickly found a boy in my ward. We quickly began spending a lot of time together. Within a few weeks we were seeing each other.  With my cravings still there I would masturbate every once in a while, also saying it would be the last time. But I couldn't tame my desire, my craving. So I got in contact with an ex-boyfriends friend. I started seeing this guy, as well as the “good guy” from church. This other boy did exactly what I wanted him to do and I for him, that is, physically. I told no one about him for a long time. I would go over to his house very late at night. Yet, that still wasn't enough. I starting chatting with men online, I had a “good” boyfriend in the day and saw that other guy at night.  couldn't get off the computer. I really was living a double life. I surely didn't realize it at the time.  However, it hit me really hard when I thought I was expecting a baby. I wondered what I would tell people that saw my “good girl life."  What would I tell the “good guy” and would the guy I was seeing at night really stay with me? I was so deep in my addiction. I didn't know who I was or what I really wanted...besides sex and masturbating.  Soon after, I figured out I was not pregnant. At first I was so relieved . But anger followed quickly. I thought I was going to lose the guy I had been seeing at night. So I lied, I used pregnancy to make him stay. I was so desperate. I was obsessed with my addiction. My heart was yelling STOP, but my body was controlled, mesmerized. I could never get enough, ever. My life was lies, chaos and complete desperation.
What was your perspective of yourself at this point?
I hated my life. I was so depressed. My life was so dark. I loathed everyone who told me how good I was. I “knew” I wasn't. I absolutely hated myself.  I felt completely out of control. I was certainly out the reach of the Lord’s love.  I was so exhausted from lying.  Living a double live took a lot. I hated lying all the time, but I felt I had no other choice. Words cannot express the soul wrenching pain I felt during this time.
Where did you turn for help?
I had been in and out of a bishops office for years. Of course, I had always justified my addiction(s) with a bishop or I wouldn't bring it up at all. This time I knew I needed more. I went to my single’s ward bishop. I didn't tell him everything at first. I did tell him I needed help. Lots of help. Although I felt like he didn't help a lot at first I began to grow close to him, over a long period of time. I felt like it was nice to have someone to talk to. Nice to have someone who didn't judge me.
What was the turning point of your addiction?
My turning point started with fully giving up both men in my life who I had been seeing. But more so, giving up my double life. I stopped seeing them completely. I was miserable at first. I had so many cravings. I slipped and would see them. I would slip on my own. But my bishop was there for me every time (and looking back I know the Lord was too). I still slipped, but once I found a wonderful women’s group with people who understood me, who struggled, who didn't judge me... I was changed. I was surrounded by earthly angels in group. I felt the spirit. I finally felt hope. And I began to find the Lord through the LDS Addiction recovery program (ARP) group.
How did you experience the Atonement of Christ?
I grew up in the church and I always thought I knew what it was, how to use it and how it felt. By being in recovery my view has been changed completely.  I didn't know what the atonement was before. I thought I prayed and asked for forgiveness and it was granted to you through the atonement. It is so much more then that.  The atonement to me means that every single day I have the Lord, my brother there for me. He literally feels every single pain I feel. He knows the pain of the sins I have completed. He knows how I feel with physical, spiritual and mental pain. But more importantly He knows how it feels to feel the mercy of God. He knows how it feels to be clean and virtuous. He knows what it feels like to be in the arms of our loving Father. I could list things forever, because He knows everything. He has experienced everything we have.He can succor me perfectly. I  think of it as: when he was in the garden he went through my entire life. He saw every moment of my life. He felt every high and every low that has been and is to come. He experienced the pain of all of it, so I don’t have to. He has felt the joy, and we can celebrate together.  The atonement is something so miraculous. I am grateful I get to learn more about it and learn how to apply it through the steps of the addiction recovery program.
What difference did Christ's Atonement make in your life?
As I am coming to know Jesus Christ better and understand the atonement better it is mind blowing. It is so incredible to think about.  The atonement made me who I am and put me where I am. It is a part of my daily life. It has filled the huge hole of my addiction and continues to fill every little gap. The atonement is perfectly beautiful and amazing.
How is life different for you today?
I am happy!! I don’t feel soul wrenching pain. I don’t feel trapped! I am able to love others and be loved by those around me, especially by my father in heaven. I am not controlled by something or someone. I am free...not only free but happy. Truly happy!!
What is your perception of yourself?
I feel of worth. I feel accomplished. I feel so blessed. I am a miracle, through the Lord. I still struggle with being hard on myself about my past or about mistakes I am currently making. (It is something I am working on.)  Deep in my addiction it was the complete opposite. Every mistake I made pushed me back deeper and deeper into isolation. Now, I have the opportunity to choose to turn to the Lord or to be prideful and do my own thing. How wonderful it is to know that I am a daughter of God. That I will and do make mistakes, but that I have a sweet and loving Redeemer who will be there for me always.

ARP Meetings

What was the scariest thing about going to your first ARP Meeting?
I actually was really excited to go. I wanted to change. I had hope. Yet, I doubted that I would really find someone who understood my addiction. No one else was like me. No one had done such terrible and awful things.  Once I went into the room where group was held I was overwhelmed by all the girls that were there. I got really nervous. What would I say?  I started to doubt why I even came. The meeting began and I was so worried by what they talked about. As we went around the circle they used terms that I didn't understand. I felt out of place, at first.
If you could go back in time, what counsel would give to yourself about going to a meeting?
I don’t know if I would have done something different. I was searching for someone, something that would help me stop. Really once and forever stop my addictions. I wanted someone who understood what I was going through. Group gave that all to me and more!
Everybody reads the confidentiality statement. What is your experience with confidentiality?
I am so very thankful for it. I have had confidentiality broken in my life (outside of group). It is painful and so humiliating. I am so grateful I have a safe haven ARP groups provide. It makes it so easy for me to feel the spirit, to really open up and be honest with others and myself.
What is your experience about finding support from others in the meetings?
I searched for a long time to find just one person on earth who understood what I was really going through. The first time I went to group a woman shared her story about what she has been through. It was beautiful and I could really relate to her. I felt the spirit (which at the time was not something I felt very often). It is so amazing to have a sponsor, someone who supports me always. Someone who has been somewhere similar to where I have been. Someone who has felt the devastation of sin and addiction, but has felt the power of the atonement work in her life.  Members in group are amazing! Every week I bring my notebook and record what people have said that has impressed me. I leave group with a sore hand and so much inspiration. I am able to feel the spirit. I am able to be who I really am, talk about what I really am feeling and not be judged. It gives me a time and place to reevaluate my life and where I am in my recovery.  But the most important thing is that I am able to feel the spirit and draw closer to the Lord.

Experience with Priesthood Leaders

What was the role that your Bishop played in your recovery? 
The last bishop I went and saw played a huge role. I wanted to change. I wanted to stop acting out, but I couldn't  My bishop was hard on me. He helped me see the reality of what my addiction did. He helped me see where my life was going if I continued in my addiction; which at the time was HUGE!
He also gave me a manual to the Addiction recovery program. He helped me get started on the steps, even though I felt so unready. He was there for me. He didn't judge me. He cared for me. He was a great example of the Savior.
What advice would you give to a Bishop working with somebody with your addiction?
First off, follow the spirit, of course! You are set apart for this. The lord knows you. He knew you could be a bishop.  He is trusting you with this precious individual. So even though you may not understand an addiction or why they are doing what they are doing. Have an open mind. Be accepting! No judgement.
Think of all the strength it took for them to come into your office and confess. Show them that love and acceptance, because at the deep points of their addictions they do not feel love.  Learn about the LDS addiction recovery program. Go to groups. Do the steps yourself! Learn about addictions!!
What advice would you give somebody who is considering speaking to their Bishop?
It is scary, but it will pass. It will be such a relief to talk with someone. The bishop is set apart to help you. He is a servant of the Lord’s. He will not tell anyone what you have told him. It is safe with him. He can lead you on the right path. Be completely honest with  your bishop.  I was to scared to tell my bishop everything, so I wrote him a letter and gave it to him. This way I was not justifying or leaving anything out.  It helped me be honest with him. Maybe consider writing him a letter or an email. He will keep it confidential and safe. 

An Added Experience Regarding the Posting of Rachel's Interview

Literally five minutes after I posted this interview, Rachel sent me the following text message:
Feeling so triggered.   Craving it and not wanting to tell you or anyone because I just want it.  I don't want to tell myself no.  I feel like I deserve it.  I know it's all lies.  Know it's not worth it.  So hard.  Aww, what happened?
I immediately saw what was happening and quickly responded:
I know why.  It's because I just posted your interview 5 minutes ago and Satan's ticked.
Rachel gave permission for me to share this text exchange because we both feel it is important to recognize that Satan is hyper aware of the reach and influence we have when we act as an instrument in the Lord's hands.  He knows that through the courage and bravery shown in these interviews that many will be touched with hope and light will begin to dissipate their shame.

Rachel was attacked at the very moment her story of trusting and leaning on the Savior was shared with the world....  She was surrounded in absolute darkness and she REACHED!

I'm so proud of you Rachel!

Let this be a lesson to us all!

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

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for your bravery in sharing. It's always hard to do but so liberating to yourself and others! You inspire me in so many ways!!

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  2. Thank you so much Rachel! It is hard! You can do it! -Stacey

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  3. Rachel, thank you for being strong and brave and amazing!

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  4. Thanks Rachel!!! I'm very inspired.

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  5. I'm glad you made the connection that Satan will continue to attack. Keep going. You are beautiful and your future is bright. You with our Savior will Win. No doubt.

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  6. Thank you Rachel! You are amazing and strong:) Keep up the good fight. Remember, " I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13

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  7. Thank you so much for all your amazing comments. I really have been nervous about having this posted, but it has been an amazing experience. Thank you Sid for giving me this opportunity. You can follow my (some what of a) blog at: http://recoveryanehealing.blogspot.com
    Thanks again to you all.
    -Rachel

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Very brave to do so. I'm wondering where you live? I'm in Sacramento and I can't seem to find any only female ARP meetings! The church offers a ton of only men meetings and combined, but I feel a female meeting would be so good for me. I'm starting to think these female meetings only exist in Utah?

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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"