Monday, September 30, 2013

Healing From Betrayal Trauma

Addo Recovery Logo

Many of us have experienced the agonizing pain that spousal betrayal brings.  Whether it be pornography addiction or extramarital affairs, we often suffer in unnecessary isolation.  The fear that keeps us bound in isolation may stem from fear for our spouse, fear of judgement, fear that it is our fault, or even fear that speaking of it would some how shatter the illusion that maybe the problem just isn't that big of a deal.

Unfortunately, many women with betrayal trauma aren't receiving the proper care they need and deserve.  Left untreated, such a state can lead to long-term negative effects.

The beautiful thing is, we don't have to isolate.  There are many other women walking the same path that we are, or have in the past.  Beautiful, courageous and brave women that are willing to share themselves and heal together.

Addo Recovery has also joined the fight against suffering in silence.  Addo is offering a free six week (online or in person) education course dedicated to teaching tools and coping skills to help women heal from the betrayal they have experienced.

I highly recommend enrolling in the free education class they offer - you can do so by visiting their website here.

Please don't struggle in the darkness.  There are many hands outstretched for you.  Just reach back.

Friday, September 27, 2013

FIGHT THE NEW DRUG


A number of years ago my brother-in-law 'liked' the Facebook page of Fight the New Drug.  I found myself offended.  I can't remember if I hadn't yet started recovery or if I was early in my recovery, but I do know I definitely wasn't in the same frame of mind that I am now.

I remember feeling scared.

I feared that Fight the New Drug was attacking the addict (me), rather than the pornography.  I felt judged and I feared that I'd be found out.

Twisted, right?  Exactly how Satan works.

Now that I am the Vice President of the Utah Valley University chapter of FTND, I have come to find out just how important this movement is.  FTND is not about calling out the addict, or slinging accusations, or establishing irrevocable judgments.

On the contrary, they want to help.  They want to help those who are already caught in the throws of sexual addiction as well as help the unassuming youth maintain their virtue.

The mission of FTND is to spread awareness in a huge way.  By shedding shame and blatantly speaking of the harmful effects of pornography.

I am so very proud to be apart of something so huge.

I would like to invite you to join our cause.  If you attend Utah Valley University, please come and join the club.  Members come from all walks of life.  If you struggle with pornography addiction yourself, joining the movement will not 'out' you.  If you live in Utah County but do not attend UVU, you are still welcome to join our chapter. We simply need to maintain a 75% student membership.

We have some huge things in the works, including having an amazing speaker come present for UVU and the community.

Before you leave, please...

LIKE OUR PAGE!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Interviews: Annette

Getting to Know You

How old are you?
27
What country do you live in? 
US
Are you married and do you have children? 
Nope, happily single J
How long have you been sober?
5 ½ months
What are your interests or hobbies?
I love to sing, I currently sing in the institute choir in my area. I enjoy doing/making crafts – if it’s on pinterest, then I probably like it. I also love to read fantasy novels.
Anything else you’d like to share about yourself… 
Um… I have a really loud and, as I’ve been told, contagious laugh. My face turns red very easily, and I wear flip flops just about every single day.

The Story

How old were you when your addiction began?
11 years old
What were the life events and circumstances that led to your addiction? 
My family and I had recently moved to a new state and, as a result, I was left with a lot of extra time on my hands. I didn't have many friends having just moved. I discovered masturbation at 11 years old just by chance, although, at the time I had no idea what I was doing and no idea that it was wrong. I only knew that what I had discovered provided an “it feels good” sensation. And so I ran to its comfort many times.
How did your addiction progress?
I engaged in masturbation for most of my growing up years. I discovered it accidentally, but after discovering it, it became my main coping mechanism for when I was happy, sad, bored, excited, angry, lonely, etc. When I was about 15 or 16 I was given a book to read. The book could probably have been found at Deseret Book. It’s from the ‘80’s, a book my older family members had read. It was about two LDS teens, and followed them along their teenage years. One of the girls made good choices, and the other girl didn't  The point of the book was to see how little choices can result in big consequences in the end. One step in the wrong direction can take you far off course. However, I found things in the book that stimulated similar pleasure and feelings that I had discovered with masturbation. I would return to specific pieces of that book over and over in order to facilitate that ‘fix’ accompanied with masturbation. At the time, I knew that reading what I was reading for pleasure was wrong, but I was unaware of the depth of my addiction at that time. 
I had a boyfriend when I was 16 and 17. Much of our relationship was physical and looking back, I can see that I was able to get my ‘fix’ from him. I was able to experience those same feelings when I was with him. 
When I wasn't with him, I would fantasize. Fantasy and my imagination were a big part of my addiction during this time. I would daydream/fantasize about inappropriate things. I told myself that my thoughts weren't dangerous, that I wasn't hurting myself and that since I wasn't having sex, I was OK. 
I received my first computer when I was 18. I got it so I could take it to college in the fall, so I had it set up in my room for about 8 months before then. After reading that book, I began searching for things I had read about online. And I found them. And so pornography became involved in my life. It began with online reading material. But before too long, reading wasn't enough and so I began viewing what would be considered “soft core” pornography on YouTube. I justified and told myself it was YouTube, so it couldn't be that bad, it was harmless. Soon enough, what was allowed on YouTube wasn't enough for me to get my fix, as addictions are progressive. I began seeking out specific things on the Internet. What I was viewing became more and more graphic. What could once “satisfy” my craving was not enough. My addiction had an insatiable need that just kept getting worse and worse. At this point, I was fully aware of the seriousness of my sins. However, I was still unaware, or in denial, that I had an addiction. Viewing and reading pornography, whether online or in books, and masturbation continued all through college and even a few years after.
What experiences did you have that led to your breaking point, or your rock-bottom moment?
I swore after each time I engaged in my addictions that “this is the last time, I promise.” I promised to myself and to God so many times. Over and over and over. But I always eventually gave in. I was at a very low point in my life. I had recently been assaulted by a roommate, lost friends to suicide and lost my job. On top of that, I was 25 years old and moving back home to live with my parents. In my mind, I had failed. I was severely depressed and contemplated suicide just about every day. 
About 6 months after I moved home, the Boise, ID temple closed. At the time, I felt relief because then people wouldn't wonder or ask why I wasn't going to the temple. I was trying, at times, to do what I was supposed to. I went to church most weeks, I went to activities once in a while, I accepted callings (just didn't do them). I hid my addiction as much as I could. During this time, I made excuses every time a trip was scheduled to go to the next closest temple 2 hours away. I thought of the temple often, but at the time, I felt I had forfeited all of the blessings the temple had to offer. So, thinking of the temple often increased my level of despair. I felt hopeless. I felt completely lost to anything good in my future. I got to a point where I would give in to a craving or temptation without a fight because I would think, “what’s the point? I've already done so much, too much… what’s one more time?” 
About a year later, my parents were called as the executive producers of the Boise, ID temple youth cultural celebration that is performed before the dedication of each temple. The temple became a main focal point in my home and among my family. The more I thought about the temple, the more I began to experience a desire for the blessings of the temple in my future. I began to contemplate, realistically, for the first time, what I would have to do in order to get there: telling someone, my bishop, for starters. Something I had sworn to myself I would never ever do.
What was your perspective of yourself at this point?
I hated myself. I thought I was a freak and must be the grossest person alive to think of engage in such perverted things. I felt icky and was severely depressed. I had no friends and little self-esteem. I didn't think I was worth loving or being around.
Where did you turn for help?
After receiving a text message from the ward executive secretary asking if I could meet with a member of the bishopric (for a calling), I asked if I could meet with the bishop beforehand. I had been praying for a push or nudge into the bishop’s office. However, up until that point, I couldn't imagine anything more scary, which I now know was a tool of the adversary to keep me bound and isolated. My bishop was so kind and patient and non-judgmental. I felt better than I had ever in my life up until that point after speaking to him and confessing. I learned that I was not lost and that I could be forgiven and had hope to return to my Father in Heaven someday. I learned that the blessings of exaltation were not out of my reach if I worked hard to get there and gave up my sinful behaviors. I was told to “go, and sin no more.”
What was the turning point of your addiction?
I think my turning point was finding out about recovery. My bishop hadn't told me anything about the Addiction Recovery Program, or even mentioned the word “addiction” when we had met. After confessing to my bishop about my “problem with pornography,” I was able to abstain for about 4 months. During that time I prepared to receive my endowments and was running on a major spiritual high. I thought that meeting with my bishop had been the “magic pill” that I had needed all along to stop for good… I slipped just a week before entering the temple. I was devastated. But I justified and rationalized my behavior. Within the next few months, I slipped a few more times. I began to really look at myself and my behaviors. I really began to question why I was doing what I was doing and why I couldn't stop. Obviously one confession was not the “magic pill” as I had supposed. And so, I made another appointment and confessed my slips to my bishop. I was told to “stop it” and sent on my merry way. I was more determined than ever to never slip again. Less than a week later I slipped. At that point, I began to research sexual addictions among LDS women. I read about the Addiction Recovery Program and I found Sidreis’s blog and reached out to her. I couldn't believe there were other women struggling as I did! I was shocked and amazed! I couldn't believe I wasn't alone as I had assumed for so many years. Reaching out, learning about the ARP and then discovering that my “problem” was actually an addiction and deciding to begin recovery were all huge turning points for me.
How did you experience the Atonement of Christ? 
I experienced the Atonement first when I confessed to my bishop. I felt the weight on my shoulders leave – a weight I had not even realized was there. I know Christ took that from me instantly. That, in itself, was a huge miracle. Working hard and repenting and then feeling the sweetness of forgiveness for my Savior is one of the sweetest experiences I have ever had. And that continues as I continue to require His forgiveness in my life all the time. Now, I know that I can reach out and that He’s always there. Always willing and waiting and ready for me to reach out for Him.
What difference did Christ's Atonement make in your life?
The difference Christ’s Atonement has made in my life, and continues to make, is amazing. Trying for so long to take care of my addiction on my own never worked. As soon as I began involving my Savior in my life and was willing to accept Him and His help on my behalf, I began to make progress. I experience an inner strength that I have never known was there before. I know that the grace of the Atonement is at work in my life. Christ’s Atonement keeps me strong, stronger than I ever could be or ever have been on my own. In my weakest moments, His grace is there, strengthening me, helping me overcome temptations and weakness. Each Step that I work in recovery is a reminder of just how much the Atonement is at work in my daily life. Because of the Atonement, I continue to grow. I continue to get back up after making mistakes. I continue to shed great amounts of shame I have carried around for years and years. Christ’s Atonement makes all the difference in the world in my life.
How is life different for you today?
How is it not different, really? J I no longer turn to my addictions for comfort from the storms of life. I no longer seek to numb my feelings, but am learning to find joy in them! I am so much happier. I can’t believe how much happier. Once in a while I forget just how dark and terrible my life was before and forget how good things are now. But they truly are so much better!!! I have friends now! I strive to maintain healthy relationships. I strive to focus on my Savior at all times. I take it one day at a time. I don’t beat myself up when I fail. I reach out to others. I am active in my ward and I fulfill my calling, something I have never done before. I am honest, about the big and little things. I fess up when I’m dishonest. I strive to recognize my manipulative behaviors, and not engage in them. I strive to take accountability and do take accountability for my actions. I don’t blame others. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the number one most important thing in my life. I study the scriptures and the words of the prophets. I have peace in my life, and during hard times, because they still happen, I know where to go to find peace. I attend the temple and word hard to remain worthy of my recommend. I look forward with hope for my future in this life and in the life to come – things I had resigned in the past.  
What is your perception of yourself?
I love myself. Of course, I still have rough days where that’s hard to see, but overall, I do love myself. I know I am a beautiful daughter of God with infinite worth and value. I know, now, that I have a purpose in my life and that things happen for a reason. I understand, now, that I am not my past, and that I am not my bad behavior. I can do hard things, and I do do hard things.

ARP Meetings

What was the scariest thing about going to your first ARP Meeting?
The unknown. That has always been a major point of fear for me. Not knowing what to expect, what I’d be required to do/say. The anticipation of being put on the spot. Admitting my addiction to myself and to a whole bunch of strangers.
If you could go back in time, what counsel would you give to yourself about going to a meeting?
I would tell myself to relax. J I would tell myself that going to meetings will become somewhat of the highlight of my weeks and a safe place for me to feel the spirit and to learn about the Atonement and how to access it. I would tell myself that I am going to learn so many wonderful things and to drink it all in, and allow the spirit to teach me while I’m there.
Everybody reads the confidentiality statement. What is your experience with confidentiality?
Never had a problem with this. What happens in the meeting stays in the meeting.
What is your experience about finding support from others in the meetings?
I learn so much from hearing of the experiences, good and bad, of others. It’s great to learn about similar struggles and learn, over and over, that I am not alone. I’m not the only one dealing with what I deal with. There are others who get it. It’s wonderful, also, to learn of the successes of others and to know that working the steps and working recovery is doable and fruitful.  Others do hard things and survive and get through them, so maybe I can too. J

Experience with Priesthood Leaders

What was the role that your bishop played in your recovery? 
My bishop hasn't played much of a role in my recovery. I did confess to him initially a few times, but he did not ever tell me about the Addiction Recovery Program. I informed him of my findings after I found out about them from my own research. I set up weekly appointments for a short time with him. However, most of my advice from him was to “move on, stop dwelling on things, stop over-confessing.” I didn't find that to be helpful, and only found more shame when I was unable to move on or stop dwelling on things. I have since canceled appointments with him. I met with my stake president and was extremely well received. I was able to express my concerns and feel safe doing so. I was able to find priesthood support through him, and eventually did my step 5 with him, which was a huge blessing to me.
What advice would you give to a bishop working with somebody with your addiction?
I would ask that they take it seriously. It is an addiction. Take it as seriously as they would any other addiction. It is not something that we can merely stop just by saying so as much as we want to. Be patient and help us learn the difference between guilt and shame. Learn about the Addiction Recovery Program offered by the Church. Attend a meeting or two. Meet regularly with the member. Your meetings may be the only safe place where they can always feel of the spirit. And that in itself is extremely necessary to recovery. Let them be accountable to you. Be accessible to them. Let them text you or email you. Be interested in their progress. Learn the Steps. Be willing to learn about addictions and recovery. If nothing else, be available to just listen and offer love and support and encouragement. Lots of that. Please do not tell them “stop it” and send them on their merry way, because that won’t work.. Also, please do not minimize their addiction. Hold them accountable and as I said above take it seriously, because it is serious. Know that this is most likely something they have struggled with for a huge chunk of their life and will take time and hard work to begin healing. Also know that just stopping addictive behaviors does not mean a person is “all better”. There’s a ton of muck underneath the behavior that the member may need professional help to work through. Be willing to assist in the facilitation of that help if it is beyond your scope.
What advice would you give somebody who is considering speaking to their bishop?
DO IT! The relief and hope and peace that come after confessing to your priesthood leader are beyond description. I wish I hadn't waited as long as I did. I’m so glad I went. It is not at all as scary as you think it is! Satan doesn't want you there, which is even more reason to go! Bishops are nice and sweet and kind and patient. You will feel of the love of your Savior.

Working and Maintaining Recovery

How did you find recovery?
I found recovery after researching sexual addictions among LDS women. I was led to the Addiction Recovery Program website. I also was led to Sidreis’s blog where I learned about recovery in a personal way through her words.
Working the Steps, beginning with the very first one, admitting to myself that my life had become unmanageable and that what I had labeled a “problem” was an actual addiction that I was powerless over was the biggest step. That began my journey in recovery. That allowed me to allow God to help me. Without His help, recovery is not possible.
What have you had to do to achieve and maintain sobriety?
One of the first things I did was get Internet protection on my devices (computer and phone), where I don’t have the password. I have had to continually admit to myself and to God that I am not in control. I have had to learn how to trust Him and rely on His power to keep me sober. I have had to give up things that contributed to my addictive behaviors. I have had to work hard, very hard. Taking one day at a time, but giving each day my all. I have had to put my fears aside many times and trust God to help me. I have had to reach out to others, which is hard, but so very vital. I have had to admit hard things to myself about myself, learn about my rituals and patterns that lead to addictive behaviors so that I can recognize them before I get too far. I have made scriptures study a part of my daily life. I work on developing a relationship with God and Jesus Christ daily through study and prayer. I turn to them throughout the day for strength and comfort and guidance in good times and in bad. I have had to stop relying on myself completely, because I cannot do this alone. I have tried so many times and only when I have involved God have I found any level of success.
What things/behaviors have you had to give up in order to achieve and maintain sobriety?
I gave up having my computer in my room. It sits on the table in the dining area. I do not allow myself to lie down and be on my computer at all, only sitting. This also means I don’t watch movies at night to fall asleep on my laptop. TV – I gave up one show at a time until I realized that most TV shows are total garbage. I only watch shows on Netflix now, and if they are inappropriate, I skip or don’t return to the show anymore. I was sad about this for a while, but now I don’t really care and can see the benefits of not dulling my senses to questionable shows. If it drives the spirit away, I don’t want a part in it. I need to hold on to the spirit as much as I can. I have given up listening to the radio; I listen to the Mormon Channel App or a pre-selected playlist in my car. I threw away books that were written pornography and their movie counterparts.
What do you do in the moment when faced with a trigger in order to move through it and get past it? 
I pray first. I ask God to forgive me and work had to get my mind on something else. Sometimes that means getting up and getting myself into a completely different environment. Other times that means turning up good music. Then I reach out. Ask for prayers. Tell someone I’m triggering (friends, sponsor, etc). Reading or listening to a conference talk helps too. Busying my mind. Working on something that takes a lot of mental work.
What gratitude(s) have you found for your addiction?
It’s strange that I have found gratitude for my addiction. But I totally have. Without it, I wouldn't have found recovery, and recovery has assisted me in developing such an amazing and exquisite relationship with my Father in Heaven and in my Savior, Jesus Christ. I have begun to learn a tiny bit how to access the Atonement, something I had never known how to do before. I am no longer apathetic or hopeless. I am happy. I know how and where to find peace. I am just very grateful for the Gospel truths that are becoming appear ant to me that I don’t believe I would have found any other way. I am learning that the Lord knows me so well. And He knew what experiences I would face and what I would need to go through in order to smooth out all of my rough edges and get me back to Him.

Additional Thoughts

What lies did Satan tell you to make you think you were the only one?
He told me that no female would do what I was doing/had done. He told me that I was gross and perverted and disgusting. That talking to my bishop wouldn't help because he would have no idea what to do, since of course he wouldn't have ever even heard of a women struggling with sexual addictions.
Tell us about your teen years:
I had a fun group of friends; we were always doing things together. We weren't the “popular” crowd, but we had fun anyway. Most of the friends in my group of friends I knew from church or seminary. They were a good group of people, lots of good/positive influences. We went to stake dances every weekend, we had girl’s nights. It was pretty normal growing up stuff. I went to seminary during high school. I had a boyfriend most of high school, and when I didn't I was boy crazy. However, despite my company, I often felt alone and misunderstood. I had extremely unrealistic expectations of those around me and by so doing, set myself up for a lot of disappointment. I looked for people to blame for my negative feelings, and I pushed a lot of people away by doing so.
What has helped you shed shame enough to the point that you are willing to share your story here in this interview?
Learning that I am not alone, and that I have never been alone, in two aspects, has been huge in shedding shame. The first, meaning that the Lord has been there every step of the way. He will never leave me comfortless. That is what the scriptures teach me. The second, meaning that there were others, other women struggling as I have, the whole time too. I wasn't alone, I’m not a freak as Satan would have me believe. Learning those two things have helped me shed a lot of shame because those two things directly negate a whole bunch of lies the adversary had me believing for so long. 
Being a woman in the depths of sexual addiction, and then being a woman in the depths of recovery has given me new eyes. Now I want to reach out to all those who are struggling and pull them out of their dark pits. I want to shine my light that has been lit, my new-found testimony of my infinite worth, as high as I can so that those who believe they are alone and lost can know that they are not! That there’s hope and happiness ahead! I know how vital learning that I am not along in this struggle has been to me, and I hope that others will read this and know that they are not alone. 
Coming out to my friends and family through conversation and then through Facebook was a huge shame shedder. The love and encouragement and support, when I came out to the world, I have received from those around, those people who I truly believed would hate and shun me (lies of the adversary), loved me even more – THAT taught me so much about myself. That taught me that I am not my mistakes. When I told my dad about my addiction and the steps I was taking to repent and make things right in my life, he told me he was proud of me and that he loved me even more. That taught me and helped me to see just how much my Heavenly Father is proud of me and loves me even more for these choices I am now making. Those simple statements by my own father helped me shed a lot of shame and realize that others need to hear me. I have a story, and I have a voice and it needs to be heard. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Journal: A Temporary Day

Do you ever have those days when you feel like a complete offense to the entire world.
Days when all you want to do is sit alone in your messy house and not give a flip about anything.
When you post something cool on your blog or Facebook - to which no one responds - leaving you feeling left out, lonely and unloved.
And then you feel stupid for feeling that way.
And then you feel stupid for feeling stupid for feeling that way.
Those days when everyone else seems to look, sound, smell, laugh and generally be better than you.
... and you wonder how anyone could ever find you interesting, or funny, or smart, or good.
Days where you wonder where your happiness went and what you did to offend it.
And you desperately want it back but feel entirely clueless as to how to find it again.
This is my Today
The good news is I  know none of it is real.
It is all illusion.
... a lie.
A beast of a storm, yes.
But it is Temporary
Tomorrow is brand new.  
And I will get there.
And I will get there safe.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Call for Input: How Has Addiction Affected Your Outlook on Marriage?

A wonderful work has finally begun!

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be apart of such a powerful and profound movement.  LDS men and women are starting to talk about their struggle with addiction like never before.  People are finally starting to recognize that isolating in secrecy only breeds more heartache.

We must come together as a united community in order to get better.

The Healing Through Christ Foundation has finally started compiling a 12-Step workbook specifically written for men and women striving to overcome sexual addiction.  

Let me tell you.  This workbook is already amazing, and we've barely begun.  It speaks to the soul because it uses our voice; your voice.  It is full of experience and testimony of those who have walked the path of addiction and are striving for recovery or have found recovery. 

I would like to invite you to join in this movement.

I would like to invite you to lend your voice to this project for it is from your experience and testimony that others find familiarity, validation, connection, and hope.  Over the next while I will be posting questions regarding your addiction/recovery experience to possibly add to the workbook.  

Please keep in mind that everything the foundation offers is free of cost.  They are non-profit whose sole purpose is to spread hope and healing.  So although your quote may be used, there will be no monetary compensation and each quote will be attributed to "name withheld."  This is God's work and all glory is His. 

With that....

The first question, even though it may seem to be directed at single folk, is actually for everyone who has struggled with sexual addiction during their single years.

Ponder the following questions and then answer, as a whole, in the comments...
  • How has/did your addiction affected your outlook on marriage?  
  • How do/did you feel about getting married?
  • How has/did your addiction affected your feelings of worthiness to be married?
  • Has/did your addiction dictated what type of person you feel you deserve to marry?
  • Has/did your addiction affected your desire to date, or who you date?
If you are married, think back to when you were single - and answer from that perspective.  And please, this is for MEN and WOMEN.  This workbook will be comprised of actual quotes from your experience.  The more the merrier!

Also, please let me know if you have addition thoughts on how you came to recognize your powerlessness over your addiction.

Thank you in advance for your much needed input!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dear Bishop: I Felt as if I Didn't Matter to You

Dear Bishop,

I remember sitting there as the shock and confusion set in. Waves of it. I had asked you offhandedly in the past, a few times, if you would be willing to listen to my Step 5 once I got to it. You knew my plans regarding my support person listening to my Step 5. I wanted to make sure I scheduled time with you, too. I didn't want to let it sit for too long. I didn't want to lose my courage once the time came; once I was ready to do what I knew I needed to do.

Each time I had mentioned it in the past, you had replied with, “what’s that?” I would smile and patiently answer the question again. I read from the ARP manual and explained what my part was. 

You asked, “so, what will I need to do?” 
“Just listen” was always my response.

I hope you can understand why I would be so overwhelmed with shock, confusion and hurt when I attempted to schedule my Step 5 with you. You told me you were already quite sure my confession was complete. You opened the manual to Step 5 and quoted: "Occasionally you may observe individuals in recovery meetings or in other situations who seem to rehearse continually their sins and shortcomings or the sins others have committed against them. They are always confessing but never finding peace." You then stated a grand assumption, that the only thing I was not complying with was not letting peace come into my life. 

I was put off to say the least. I felt I had truly humbled myself just by asking for you to simply listen to one of the hardest things I had ever done, Step 4 – making a fearless written moral inventory of myself. There I was doing my very best to follow this step to exactness: "Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs," and you would not listen to me.

How did you know my confession had been complete without listening to what I had to share? I don't understand that. I had confessed to you months and months before, yes, but I did not feel it had been complete. I wanted to experience the miracle of a complete confession, and you denied me that… my own bishop. You denied me something that the Church has created as a step to my healing. Why would you do that?

I felt as if I didn't matter to you. I felt like someone you didn't want to worry about, and that you wished I would just 'get over it;' just 'go away.'

Fortunately, God made me resilient and I did not let this roadblock hinder my progression. I contacted my stake president and explained the situation to him. He was understanding and compassionate. He not only agreed to listen to my Step 5, but he expressed genuine happiness to do so. He even told me he was grateful for the opportunity. 

Prior to sharing my Step 5 I was bound by shame and fear. But afterward, I felt like I was allowed to move on. Like the obstacles in my way had been removed, or at least made smaller. Maybe, I was made stronger. I felt like I had been unshackled; released from the bondage of my sins. It was then that I finally felt the peace you said I was denying myself.  

A week or two after meeting with my stake president, you approached me at church and asked if you could speak with me. Reluctantly, I agreed:

“I hope you don’t feel like I abandoned you for not listening to your Step 5” 
“I do, actually” 

You spoke more, I listened.  But before we ended, I'd remembered my stake president had encouraged me to make amends with you, reach, and ask to meet with you on a regular basis.  My fear of rejection was validated by your response:

"No, I don't feel it is necessary.  I have a lot of people I need to meet with.  But (hesitantly), I will meet with you if you want to."

Sadly, I no longer want to.  I've given up trying.

I feel sad that you don’t seem to be interested in assisting me in my recovery. Your resistance, and outright refusal to help me, has created a wedge between us; a wedge between me and you who represents my Savior. Fortunately, you aren't the only one who holds keys for me, and so I am still able to call on His atoning power.

Addiction is real. Sexual addiction is real. Sexual addiction among LDS women in your own congregation is real. As Elder Bednar said in the most recent General Conference, “Serious spiritual wounds require sustained treatment and time to heal completely and fully.” Step 5 was a huge part of that treatment and healing. I wish you would see that.

Sincerely,

A frustrated daughter of God in need of Priesthood support

A contributed post in response to A Call For Input: Dear Bishop Letters.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

For Our Sweet Bishops


I have a deep respect and love for every bishop that has ever or will serve. 

If you are a bishop (or other Priesthood leader), this post is for you.

I appreciate your effort to lead and guide God's children home. I have a personal testimony that you are absolutely called by God to act on behalf of His loving Son.

I also know that you are human and sometimes need extra help in understanding addiction and how to offer support to those who come to you with their struggle. Not all bishops know how to react when sexual sins are being confessed let alone what to say or do. You may be left floundering and have no idea how to help someone who is showing signs of sexually addictive behavior.

You might even wonder what sexually addictive behavior even is.

It might be helpful to ask the following questions to determine how deep their behavior runs:
  1. Do you have a problem with masturbation and/or pornography (including returning to it after long periods of abstinence)?
  2. Do you read sexually explicit books?
  3. Do you have sexually suggestive or sexually explicit conversations, text messages (sexting), chats, video chats or instant messages?
  4. Do you resort to sexual stimuli to escape, relieve anxiety, or because you can’t cope?
  5. Have you ever tried to stop or limit doing what you felt was wrong in your sexual behavior but seem to always return to it?
  6. Have you ever thought you would be better off if you didn't keep “giving in?"
  7. Have you ever thought you needed help for your sexual thinking or behavior?
  8. Does your sexual behavior leave you feeling depressed, worthless and hopeless?
  9. Do you feel deeply embedded shame for your sexual behavior?
If they affirmatively answer any of these questions, they are likely struggling with sexual addiction.

Please don't discount those coming in to speak with you. They are likely battling great fear--fear of what you will think, fear of how you will react, and fear of consequence. Sometimes they might even fear lack of consequence. They may have been told many times before that their behavior is just a bad habit founded in choice and they can simply choose to stop anytime they want.  

Not true.

Telling someone they can simply choose to stop the behavior has the potential to leave them feeling much worse. They may feel that if you, their bishop, tell them they have the ability to stop they must be abnormal, or worse, beyond the reach of our Savior's Grace, because up to that point they have not been able to stop.

If what they struggle with truly is addiction it is likely they have tried time and again to stop. But because their brain is addicted to the pleasure drugs being released when they act out, they simply cannot. They no longer have control. They have lost the ability to choose. They have been robbed of their agency.

It takes much more than simple choice to recover. It takes a healthy 12-step program, an active support system, weekly (or regularly scheduled) visits with you, hard work, willingness to get back up again after a crash, and plenty of encouragement.

Also, please keep in mind that more often than not you will likely be their first point of contact. Your reactions, and actions, count. Please know that we watch your facial expressions as well as your body language.  We look for any sign of disgust. We are looking to see if the lies we've believed for so long are true:

Don't go see your bishop, he'll hate you. 
You'll disappoint him.  
He'll think less of you.  

It takes great faith and trust to ignore the thundering noise in our heads. If you react at all negatively you may be feeding the belief that we already have of ourselves. 

It is also likely that the first confession is not the full confession. Continue to love the person in your care. Be inviting and strive to create a safe place for them to share openly. Help them heal. Overall, be patient with them, and never leave them feeling like you don't have time for them.

Be a direct line of contact. Having to make appointments with the executive secretary can sometimes be a huge deterrent. We are scared that he will ask why we need to see you, or that he'll assume the worst. Invite your congregation to slip you a note, text, email or ask you directly if they need to speak to you, but are too nervous to go through traditional channels.

Allow them to meet with you as often as necessary. Sometimes we don't need to visit with you because we have slipped, but simply need to feel the love of our Savior. We have floundered so long in the darkness, that sometimes your office is the closest we feel to our Savior. We need your guidance, your compassion, your empathy. 

Do you ever wish you had a list of do's and don'ts when it comes to supporting someone as they strive to overcome their addiction?

Below you will find a list of "Dear Bishop Letters"... these letters are written anonymously to current/previous bishops by the women they have worked with. The purpose is to help you understand what has worked and what hasn't worked in their meetings together:  

The Interviews

Do you feel lost?  Alone?  Ever want to ask another woman about her addiction?  Her recovery?  And everything else in-between?

Here you will find a comprehensive list of interviews of women in recovery.  They have willingly shared their story to bring hope to others.
If you would like to submit your story as an interview, please click here.


Grace's Populars

Just a list of popular posts, as well as a few of my favorites . . .




Social Media

One of my greatest desires in this whole process is to remain accessible.  I don't want women to feel that I'm some sort of celebrity, or unreachable.

I am just a girl.

I am just like you.

Reach out, and connect with me.  I'd love to hear from you!

Send me a direct message here . . .

And/or connect with me through any of the networks below...

Follow Me on Pinterest

Follow on Bloglovin




Blogs I Follow

Truly, I'd need pages and pages if I were to list all the blogs I follow.  Luckily, most are already condensed onto existing blog rolls.


Other blogs I follow:


Photobucket

My hubby, who is no longer Lost in the Wilderness
Beggar's Daughter

Not Alone

Hi! Thank you so much for being here!

First, before you read any further, I invite you to listen to this song:

Weightless, by Christa Wells - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqsE4M8jjqw

Do you love it? I sure do. It has been such a beacon of hope for me in some of my darkest moments. 

If you are here and struggling with any form of sexual addiction, you might wonder why you can't stop.

I discovered that the reason I acted out is because of my own feelings of worthlessness. I felt that the only way to feel love was to act out sexually, whether alone or with other people. It was very damaging because I began to equate sex with love. I had to be sexual in order to feel loved. And I felt anyone else who said they loved me was really just lying, because I didn't think anyone could love me if they knew what I was doing. How 'dirty' I was. I felt so hopeless.

On top of that, I would use sex to numb the shame that I would feel after acting out. It's a vicious cycle. 

1. Have sex to feel love/numb
2. Feel shame/guilt/regret
3. Promise myself/bishop/God I'll never do it again (and actually mean it)
4. Craving kicks in/something triggers the desire to act out/shame gets too painful
5. Have sex to numb/feel love

Does that make sense? Can you see yourself in that cycle?

Check out this video - it might help explain it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUngLgGRJpo

In what ways can you relate to the bird in the video?

So every person who struggles with addiction, no matter what they are addicted to (sex, drugs, food, gambling, alcohol) is bound to this cycle. The point is... YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! AND, there is HOPE! 

That, of course, is the best part:-)

In order to get better, we have to be working a program. We have to belong to a tribe of those working recovery. We have to have a safe place, full of safe people, to talk about what's going on. We have to have a place to shed shame and share the darkest parts of ourselves in order to feel the healing balm of empathy and compassion. 

Please check out the following site which contains information for the womens sexual addiction 12-Step support group I attend. Now, 



12-Step phone and in-person meetings for LDS women who struggle with varying forms of sexual addiction.

Media Links and Speaking Events

Gratefully, I have been blessed with many sacred opportunities to share my story of redemption with others; some of which, include:

(for information on interviews and speaking events, click here)


Visual Media:

Addiction Recovery Video:



Addo Recovery Commercial:
Sidreis' Story (Short) from Addo Recovery on Vimeo.

Addo Recovery Short Story:
Sidreis' Story (Full) from Addo Recovery on Vimeo.


Written Media:

Click here to read my story on LDS.org
Click here to read an interview I did for BYU's, Daily Universe
Click here to read an interview I did for UVU's, UVU Review


Public Speaking Events:

Relief Society functions
Firesides
Conferences
The Togetherness Project:




Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Question...

A question was recently posed to me by a sister who reached out to me.  I felt impressed to ask your thoughts, my readers, so with her permission, I post the question:
Did you ever get to a point in recovery where you were totally stuck? No motivation to go forward, no real desire to go back; just stuck. I've been thinking about my journey a lot and realized I am doing better than I thought. In the last few months I have consistently gone 3-4 weeks between relapse, I was able to take the sacrament again, AND last night I got my temple recommend renewed. I mean, really, that is pretty significant considering where I was a year ago. What a great place to be! So why am I still feeling stuck? Part of me is realizing I am back to what my life was before everything imploded, and I am experiencing again the lack of certain life achievements that helped drive me to addiction in the first place. I'm worried about not having enough momentum to move forward. Perhaps its one of those "fake it til you make it" scenarios? What do you think?
The beautiful thing is, I feel anyone can offer insight here.  I, myself, am anxious to read your thoughts!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Personal Touch from the Prophet Joseph Smith

During the Sunday School lesson in church this past week, a question was posed:

"How has the Prophet Joseph Smith influenced your life?"

As people began raising their hands and listing off all the important, yet obvious, answers, I was left to my own thoughts.  I thought hard, searching deeply to understand if Joseph Smith had ever said anything, or done anything, or written anything, that has touched me, personally.

And then the answer came...

I was reminded of a scripture I once read early in recovery.  A scripture that rang so true to me that I was absolutely astounded and how much it applied to me.

Joseph Smith History 1:30 (last 1/3 of the verse):
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 and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?
Although the level of opposition I have endured doesn't match that of the great Prophet, I have endured my own level of personal hell, that started when I was very young.  I do know that the powers of darkness have combined against me, and many many times, have almost succeeded in destroying me.

Now I see...

That when I am under attack, it is because I am doing something right.  It is because something huge is stirring on the other side, something I cannot see yet, but the adversary can.

I had a sister reach out to me recently.  She explained that she had been offered the opportunity to present a 'literature for change' project at a local university event.  She was scared.  She thought that I should do it, instead of her, but I felt immediately impressed that she was to do it.  I encouraged her, but felt resistance, until the truth finally spilled out:

Her heart was heavy as she told me:
"I don't feel worthy, I slipped last night."
My heart soared as I recognized Satan's tactical warfare:
"Don't you see!  It completely makes sense that you slipped!  The adversary was wholly aware of this opportunity before you were.  He wants to squash this opportunity for you to spread awareness and hope, and for others to receive it.  Don't let him win.  Keep going!"

It is not the slips that define us, it is what we do on the other side.  Our sweet bishop's determine our level of worthiness, not the dark whispering's we hear as we sit in isolation.

They are never from God.

I am so grateful for the Prophet Joseph; for my brother, Joseph. Surely, for all the great things he has made possible for all of is in this last dispensation, but especially for the few sentences that personally touched me so deeply.

For his recognition of the darkness, so that the light shone that much brighter for me to see.

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"