The Dreaded "M" Word

Yep.  I'm gonna say it.


Did you cringe?  Most do.  I used to.  Now, I refuse to.

I remember the very first time I went in to see my Bishop.  You can read the complete story here, but for the purposes of this post I'll just reflect on a segment of the experience.

I was terrified.  I'd spent nine months trying to work up the courage to go in and see him, but I couldn't seem to muster it up.  Through an amazing sequence of tender mercies (that you can read in the story linked above) I finally found the courage to make an appointment.

I remember my Bishop catching me in the hall the Sunday before I was to meet with him.  He asked me if I'd made an appointment and when I told him yes, for that Tuesday, he said "good, don't stand me up."  Little did he know I had been contemplating excuses to get out of it.  But, I committed to him that I wouldn't stand him up, and I was true to my word.

Fast forward to Tuesday...

I remember it being a hot August afternoon.  I remember wearing my favorite jeans, a loose navy colored Old Navy jersey top and my favorite Doc Martin sandals.  I wanted to be comfortable.  The entire experience was terrifying so I needed to find comfort somewhere and if the only place I could find it was in the clothes I was to wear - well, at least it was somewhere.

After getting ready I left my apartment and began walking across the complex toward the building.  Time seemed to stand still.  The internal conversation I was having with myself seemed eerily similar to Smeagol and Gollum in Lord of the Rings:

Dude, what are you thinking? Are you crazy?
No, this is good - it's time to do this.
You know you'll have to give up what you love after this.  You can't just keep doing it.
I know
You won't be able to (give it up)
I know
You will fail, just like all the times before
Then why are you going?
I don't know
You can turn around right now and not go
I already told him I'd come...

I looked up and there was the door.  Terror.  A door named terror.

I waited in the lobby for a while.  I remember someone walking out of his office and him taking the time to shake their hand and say goodbye.

Tick tock...

He approached me and shook my hand, welcomed me, and put his arm around me John Wayne style as he walked me to his office.

I was absolutely dreading what was to come.  It amazes me that I could feel so much fear in a place where I now feel comfort and safety.  Reflecting on this experience has opened my eyes to the intense influence the adversary had over me.  I guarantee I had legions of his followers walking with me to my church building door that day.  But I also know that I was protected.  Just as the adversary's minions were following me, so was I being personally escorted by my angels.  I have many of them.  And they are awesome.

I sat down in the chair across from him, separated only by his desk.  It was at this point that I wished for a Catholic confessional.  You know what I mean.  The kind of confession where I'd be completely anonymous and I wouldn't have to look him in the eye and see whatever expressions my filthy confessions provoked. Ya, that's what I was wishing for in that very moment.  To fall in a hole and die.

I don't remember how I started exactly.  I do remember being super fidgety.  I babbled a lot and kept changing the subject.... but in the end, after much procrastination, I finally took a deep breath and blurted it out:

"I'm addicted to pornography"

I stared straight at him and after a moments pause and a head nod he quietly responded:

"And masturbation?"

I wish I could take a picture of my internal reaction to this question.  I can't even describe my outward reaction because my internal reaction was louder than a nuclear bomb with a megaphone.  I'm sure, at the very least, my eyeballs full on bugged out of my head, threatening to pop out and dangle on my cheeks.  Good thing I wear glasses.

I couldn't believe he said it.  And thus began yet another round of mental banter...

Holy sh**
He said "THE WORD"
The "M" word.
My BISHOP said the M WORD!!
How can he be so comfortable saying it?
Like, is that even allowed?
To say the "M" word in a Bishops office?
It's so dirty, it has to be disrespectful.
I'm sure the Spirit is totally offended.
Ugh, I can't believe he said it!

Eventually I breathed... and although I could not make eye contact, I did muster a response:

"Um, yes"

And there was my first experience with serious shame excavation and removal.  Being honest, for the first time, about something I felt so ashamed of that I couldn't even say what it was.

How many of us still feel ashamed of the "M" word?  Of the word 'masturbation'?  Why?

For me, coming to terms with the word is part of Step 1.  Admitting.  How can I expect to acknowledge, gain and accept hope, healing and trust in subsequent steps if I can't first admit the problem?  No, I first needed to be completely honest with myself and my Heavenly Father about my struggles

  1. What do I struggle with?
  2. How often do I struggle with it?
  3. Are my actions born from habit or from an insatiable need?
  4. Have I worked with previous Priesthood leaders to overcome it?
  5. Was I honest with them about my struggle?
  6. What have I done in the past to overcome my struggle?
  7. What worked/didn't work?
  8. What can I do differently?
  9. How can I let the Lord help me with this?
  10. How can my Bishop help me with this?

All of these questions are a part of the Step 1 process of admitting.  It's not just admitting the problem.  It's also uncovering and acknowledging the why of the problem.  We seek these behaviors to numb uncomfortable emotions.  We aren't just shameful people that deserve to be swept under the rug with the rest of the filth.  We are worth so much that our value isn't measurable.

'Masturbation' is not a dirty word that describes an act that dirty people do.  Masturbation is simply what is. It describes a coping mechanism that we as beautiful sons and daughters of God do because we have lost our way and can't figure out how to see God.  It happens when we get lonely and scared and forget who we are.

Yes, the act of masturbating has consequences that we need to face.  But the consequences are NOT that we become disgusting and unwanted.  The consequences are NOT that we have no value or purpose.  The consequence is simply that we distance ourselves from our Savior.  The act itself does not negate our worth.

So I say, instead of fearing the word, that we embrace it.  Not the act itself, obviously, but instead, embrace the act of admitting, acknowledging and simply stating the truth of our current or past circumstance.  In doing so we are left with a well paved road to hope, healing and trusting in the one true God that can keep us safe from the chains of active addiction forever.


  1. I love this. We NEED to be more open and blunt with terms. I'm sorry but gone are the days of petting and heavy petting, like any of today's youth have a clue what that even is. I know I plan to be very blunt with my boys as they get older, age appropriate of course. When we beat around the bush and/or don't understand the terms used it's easy to not confess and come completely clean...that has been one of my problems anyway. Once you recognize and SAY it you can ACCEPT it! :) Loves

  2. masturbation...just wanted to say it too. :)

  3. Great post. I used to HATE this word. I'd get embarrassed just saying it. I still write MB sometimes, but in conversation with my support group we say it how it is. You gotta just be real with this stuff.

    1. Yup! I'm on board with that. It's not a word I necessarily throw around - I'm respectful with it - but I no longer fear it.

  4. In school we had a class where for an hour we sat around saying all of the words that make us uncomfortable. We thought up sentences to use them in and we repeated over and over. By the end of the class, nobody was blushing anymore. I need to be able to ask people all kinds of things about sexual behavior in order to be able to care for them properly. I do write m/b sometimes, not because I'm afraid to write or say masturbation, but because it's quicker.

  5. I avoid this word, but only because it can be a trigger for me. I'm careful with words because I know that some of us are very sensitive to them. The fun of being addicted to written porn. But it's not a dirty word. Neither are most words. It's how we use them!

    1. This is a good point and I'm glad you brought it up. The word used to trigger me too and if it still did I'd be less prone to using it. I want to clarify that it's not a word I toss around. I'm respectful with it... I just no longer fear it. :-)

      Yes yes, by all means avoid triggers! But what's awesome.. is the further we work our recovery, the less some triggers are actually triggery:-)

    2. Very true! And sometimes I'm just more sensitive to words. :) We know who's behind that!


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