Friday, November 22, 2013

Progress Stand-Still

I went to move on to Step 6, but something didn't quite feel settled yet.  I think I need to open up and read my inventory to someone in it's entirety still, for my Step 5.  That's why I haven't posted again in a while.  I guess I'm feeling sorta stuck.  Because I don't know who to read my inventory to.  It's not a decision to be made lightly.

I do want to say that I feel so much better after completing what I have completed.  I feel like I've redefined myself.  I always used to define myself by my problems or weaknesses and after taking these steps, I have to consciously let go of that definition of myself.  It is no longer my problem because I have given it to the Lord.  So am I an addict anymore?  No, I don't think I am.

Of course, it wouldn't be right to assume I can ignore the past completely.  I do need to be careful to avoid temptations and continue to do what is right when I'm faced with temptations.  Because the temptations still come!  But I no longer need to define myself as someone who struggles all the time.  I need to redefine who I am in order to get rid of it completely.

I am no longer that person.

I think that's what Step 6 is actually about, so maybe that's where I'm headed after all.  My next post should be on that step.

How are my readers doing?  Anyone working the steps?  Feel free to comment.  You can comment under a profile or just anonymously.  I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fight the New Drug

Shout out to this awesome non-religious website about pornography addiction!

Check it out!  It has a great video!

Step 5: Confession


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.

Step 5 Reading

 As I've gone through the process of writing my inventory this time, I feel like I have learned so much about myself!  It's been an awesome learning experience and I really can see that I can grow from doing this, as hard as it is.

Step 5 can seem a little daunting and nerve wracking.  Even more then step 4 was, because now instead of just going over all of the nitty gritty details of my life to just myself, I am opening it up for someone else to react to.  Now, this reaction may be accepting and it may not be and that's the hard part about it.  But if I were to do step 4 without step 5, it would be like acknowledging an infected wound in my leg and just covering it over without cleaning it or taking care of it.

Step 4 is looking over the wounds and acknowledging the infections.  Step 5 is cleaning those infections out so they can be healed.  It's not fun, and can be painful, but it is absolutely necessary or the infections will fester and get worse.

So Step 5 must take place soon after Step 4 is completed.  Because right now it is fresh in the mind.  And since I have taken the time to really complete Step 4 by writing it down, there is a complete and written version of the problems and solutions there ready to be read aloud so nothing is missed.

It says to first confess to the Lord.  This I feel I have been doing while I was working step 4, but before I go to confess to anyone else I plan to kneel before the Lord and confess for everything all during a single humble prayer.  Because then it's serious.

After this, it says to confess to proper priesthood authority anything illegal or sinful that may prevent one from holding a temple recommend.  Of course this will include my self gratification addiction.  I don't know if my recommend will be taken away or not.  I feel like I'm making real progress.  But a part of me feels like perhaps I have been unworthy for long enough while holding a temple recommend that maybe I need it taken away just because of that.  But it's not my decision to make, and I don't want Satan's negativity to enter in and destroy my positive outlook on this.  So I'm going to leave it up to the bishop's inspiration, and trust in his judgement.

Step 5 also encourages me to select another person in which to read my inventory aloud in it's entirety.  I have never done this, even in the last couple of times working the steps.  I did talk to the bishop the first time through the steps, but I didn't feel better afterwards and couple explain why.  Now I understand it's because it wasn't my full inventory after all.  I was so majorly in denial I cannot explain it.  Anyway, I feel like this decision to disclose to another person is completely up to the individual working the step.  To me, I feel like I've been talking with my husband about the details during this entire process so I feel like I have been disclosing it.  However, I may feel inclined to share sometime in the near future if someone at the meetings seems like the right person for me to do this.  I just don't know who yet, and I feel it is very important to select the right person.

I do feel like this other person provides further opportunity for me to grow, because it will allow for another person's perspective to come forth in what I've written.  Maybe through this other person, the Lord would give me even more to learn.  It would further challenge me to be completely honest and open about who I am.

I made my appointment with my bishop for tonight.  I was actually kind of disappointed because I made this appointment on Saturday and wanted to get in for a Sunday appointment but he was fully booked.  Now, however, I feel like I've had the opportunity to add some more thoughts to my inventory.  I've had a couple more moments of heightened understanding since I made the appointment so now I have more to say to him.

The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Confessing my sins helps me to make positive changes because once I have confessed and those mistakes are out in the open, they are suddenly easier to leave in the past.  Now that I've confessed to myself, and to God, it is easier to recognize what is happening when temptation strikes.

I think having someone listen to all of my honest failings and weaknesses and sins and then react with love and understanding helps me heal because it would reinforce God's love and forgiveness as I put forth my best efforts to get better.  Being judged righteously in the way God would see it, I would also finally be able to forgive myself and put things behind me.

More on the Nature of Addiction

What's the most frustrating thing about the nature of my addiction to masturbation (or self gratification) is that I once decided that perhaps when I feel the temptation I could just go to my husband and after practicing a healthy expression of feelings the temptation would go away.  But no.  This is not what happens, sadly.  Because my body is practiced to react only to a certain kind of stimulus, not through healthy intercourse, the only way to satisfy the feelings is to fulfill it in the way my body recognizes.  Because it just doesn't work the same way.  The only way to deal with this is to abstain from the behavior my body craves and so I can develop a more healthy habit and my body can gain more practice in the right way of doing things.

I get so frustrated when I have just been with my husband sometime during the day and even in the same day I find my body giving me carnal signals of desire and temptation strikes.  And there is nothing I can do about it but pray and hope for the Lord to remove the temptation from me.

 I must believe that He will.

One way I have decided to practice is by really fasting.  I have talked about it before in another post.  But fasting is one way to exercise my ability to put the Lord before the natural man.  It strengthens my resolve to put aside my carnal desires and put the Lord first.  This past Sunday was fast Sunday and man was I struggling with it!  Not only was I incredibly hungry while giving my children their breakfast, when I escaped to my bedroom there was a box of See's candies calling to me...and then while I was journaling about it I was hit by another kind of temptation.  Then my husband ate a cinnamon roll of all things (his excuse was because he had to take some medication for back pain...) and I was so hungry and upset!  YET the hidden blessing was that at that point my hunger temptation overcame the other temptation and so I was able to get by.

Still haven't slipped since before I began step 1!  Harrah!

I was thinking more about the nature of my addiction and I realized that the character weaknesses I got because of this addiction bled into other aspects in my life a lot more then I previously realized.  I realized that there are patterns of behavior that reach back to my childhood where I would hide a negative thing about myself, either a deed or a motive, and play the innocent victim so other people would think I was just innocent and take pity on me or feel bad for me.  I did it to my peers and my family members all the time.  I remember thinking to myself that I could get away with anything because no one would suspect angelic me!  I was so prideful and self righteous but deep down I knew I was being wicked and covering it up to other people.

If I would feel bad for not doing something because of laziness, or if I didn't want to take responsibility for something I had done, I would outsource the blame and play the victim.  As a child I got away with this all the time and it reached all the way up into my college life, when I went before the bishop in order to tell him about how my new boyfriend had sinned by "taking advantage of me" and that his bishop needed to know about it.  My bishop had sat before me and looked at me in awe and amazement.  He'd told me that I was headed in a very dangerous direction and I needed to open my eyes.  I didn't understand what he was talking about.  Something in my head refused to get it.  But I was indeed refusing to acknowledge my own responsibility for what had happened.  I was prideful and unrepentant for my own sins, and because of that I WAS headed into a very dangerous place and I got myself into trouble!

Instead, I should have acknowledged my own fault in the situation and felt guilty at least a little bit.  If I had, I could have safeguarded my future a lot better then I did.  I was really in an unsafe mindset.

I realized then that I had entered into the life of college thinking that without my parents to set ground-rules I was just on my own to do my own thing my own way and I didn't need ground-rules because I knew better.  I wouldn't do what I didn't believe was right.  That's what I told myself.  But without setting my own ground-rules I was allowing myself to walk on dangerous ground.  I needed to set clear boundaries for myself!  But I think the way I saw things may even stem from my addiction.  I had been practicing the habit of hiding my own guilt from myself all my life!  I guess it bled into other aspects of my life outside of this one habit.  It prepped me to be more curious and open to perspicuity and sin as a young adult.  Addiction sucks!

Because of my addiction, I have developed character flaws of self-deception and self-righteousness all wrapped up together in a ball of pride and tied with a ribbon of vanity.  I cared more about what other people thought of me then what God thought, and that was bad.

I really hope that taking step 5 this time will help me beat away these tendencies for good.  I know it's just a baby step, however, and I will probably be fighting off these things for the rest of my life.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Baby Steps

Progress is what matters.  As long as you are stepping in the right direction,  it doesn't matter how big the steps are.
The personal inventory in step 4 is rather personal,  so I won't be sharing gory details in a blog entry but I will say I have made progress.  This is the third time I've done step 4, and I feel like it's the first time.  My first time taking this step,  I seemed intent on telling my life story.  But in actuality I have been doing that all my life because I have a tendency to revisit the past in my head over and over on a daily basis because I'm a masochistic self-analyst of sorts.  I the first time through step 4 was like rolling up all of those tendencies into a big wad and rolling in it until it was flat.  Then I proceeded to show this spread to my Bishop in step 5.
In a way,  this was good.  But after taking step 5 I couldn't honestly say I felt better.  Other people talked about how taking step 5 was a big relief and a weight of the shoulders.  I didn't feel that way.  I didn't know why.
The second time through,  I only focused on now instead of dicing into the past.  I dealt with the things that popped into my head,  but I was kind of brisk about it and so I think I might have caused problems with the way I excitedly tried to make amends all at once (when really that isn't supposed to happen until step 9).
This time,  I feel like I'm really doing it!  I've made parallels with patterns of behavior I recognize in myself that stem from my weaknesses. I have noticed how my strengths have sometimes begat my weaknesses.  Strange add that may seem, all of those things feed each other and the result is me.  I'm finally taking step 4 as a way to define myself.  It really feels good!
And on another note!  I faced my first encounter with pure temptation the other morning. I felt the slight desire to give in to addictive behavior (self gratification) and I did not fail!  Cheers! It's in those little successes we must celebrate!  I do feel like the tension on this may grow though.  So I'm on my guard. And I am thinking I need to carry out my step 5 soon.