Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ask, and Receive

Of course.

I felt I was doing well last night but my heartburn kept me up in the night, my mind wandered into indulgence and I slipped. I failed to stop when I could have. I should have.

This morning I waited for the guilt to crush me. It didn't. I confessed to my husband. I don't know what I wanted from his reaction but I didn't get it. From his reaction I couldn't even be sure he heard me as he left for work.

I sat to read the scriptures this morning. Only yesterday I re-committed myself to this daily study during breakfast. Don't stop now. As I pondered and journaled, I realized I was waiting for shame to crush me, not guilt. Shame is what hurts. I was already feeling guilty because I was disappointed in myself. I'm better then this! Why did I allow this?

I turned to 2 Nephi 4. This is the chapter when Nephi says he delights in the scriptures but is harrowed up by his own sins. "O, wretched man that I am!" I especially identified with verses 27-31. Why do I give in to these sins which destroy my peace? But then I can follow his example in beginning again. "Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin...give place no more for the enemy of my soul." Then he asks for help.

In my studies yesterday, I read about Prayer in the Bible Dictionary and was reminded that God gives to those who ask while submitting to His will and uniting with Christ by praying in His name. Matt. 7:7-11 reminded me that I'm praying to my father. He is forever willing to bless me with gifts. (This felt appropriate at Christmas time.) If an earthly father, being wicked, is so willing to provide gifts to his children, how much more willing is our Heavenly Father to bless us when we ask?

Well this morning this concept was repeated to me again from 2 Nephi 4:35. "I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh."

I need to ask Him. I need to pray in that moment of temptation. He will help if only I ask. It's all in my desire to ask His help. I think sometimes in those moments it's hardest because I am wrestling with my desires. A part of me, that human corrupt part, doesn't want Him to help me because that part of me desires indulgence. I must continue to strengthen the other part of me- that spiritual part of me that desires righteousness- because it must be stronger to win the fight.

So more then ever after a slip I must return to scriptures and prayer.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A New Heart, Like Riding a Bicycle, and the Power of Living Water

People shared some metaphors at the last meeting that really resignated with me.

First someone talked about how when someone gets a heart transplant the body has to accept the heart and so specific instructions are given by the doctor that will help that happen.  But if those instructions are not followed specifically, the body will reject the new heart.

Such is the same with a new spiritual heart. When we are blessed with a new spiritual heart, the Lord also gives us directions so as to keep the heart healthy and avoid rejection through a relapse. Then we would have to begin all over again.

Then right after I wrapped my mind around this concept, another person shared this metaphor.

Recover is like riding a bicycle. It may be difficult to learn at first and we may fall a lot. We fail and fail again, and sometimes it really hurts! But once we get the hang of it, it clicks, and we will never forget how to ride that bike. But we must keep pedaling and moving forward or the bike will fall over. However, after we know how to ride the bike, our Father in Heaven has let go of the seat. He knows we can do it on our own and therefore He expects us to be able to get back on and keep going without His hands-on supervision. He will encourage us but he won't hold onto our seat anymore. We just need to keep up the effort of moving forward.

However, we must also remember if we ever need His help, He is waiting for us to just ask. 2 Nephi 4:35.

Lastly, when we hear the phrase "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," have you ever answered it with "how?"

You can't make lemonade with just lemons. What else do you need? Sugar and water.
When you are given a challenge or a trial, and first you must squeeze out the good stuff and throw the rest away. Let it go. Look for the good, and sweeten it with your own perception of optimism. That's the sugar.
What's the water? The living water. Jesus Christ. He will take your trial, your effort, your little bit of optimism, and he will fill it up to the top to make it into a blessing. Because He knows, and He loves you.

That's how we make lemonade out of lemons. :)

Jesus taught in parables for a reason. It's speaks our language and resignates inside our hearts better then any other lesson tool. I love metaphors.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Separating Righteous Intimacy from Addiction

This post is along the same lines as my last one in the way that it pertains to both someone with an addiction, and a spouse of an addicted loved one.

Early one recent morning I awoke from a dream I was having with my heart pounding in anger. I looked over at my sleeping husband and vividly felt the angry feelings subside as I realized what had happened in the dream hadn't happened in real life. However, I do know that dreams have a way of working out subconscious emotions. I reviewed the dream in my head and came up with an interesting conclusion. My anger at my husband came because he had been acting exactly like me!

I'll give a bit of a warning before you read about my dream because it is a personal dream. However, I'm an open person and this blog is anonymous. I will attempt to write in the most tactical way so as not to trigger anybody.

In the beginning of the dream I was feeling devotion and affection for my husband and was trying to pull him closer to me. He was laying down, faced away from me and as I prodded him and tried to show him my interest, he did not respond. I even got a physical response from him, but he wasn't acknowledging it. I hope that makes sense without me having to go into any greater detail.

I started feeling sad then, and asked him what was the matter and why he wouldn't face me. He finally looked at me with a blank and withdrawn expression and said, "The only reason you want to be with me is because you've been looking at naked pictures online." I immediately objected. I told him I promised I hadn't at all that day and that I hadn't in a long time. I wracked my brain for when I had but he turned away and I knew he wouldn't believe me anyway. I was hurt, and then I was mad.

"How dare you!" I thought. "How could you use that against me when you know how much it hurts me. How could you even think my feelings for you have anything to do with that filth! How could you even suppose that I was that heartless!"

I cried. I ended up sitting on the floor on the other side of the bed crying. But then I got so angry at him, I threw myself back onto the bed to start striking him on the shoulder and scream at him that he was so mean!

That's when I woke up.

The feelings were so real because they are honest and true. My addiction has nothing to do with the way I feel about my husband.

And then the light came on at that thought. His feelings about me have nothing to do with his addiction either.

For so long I had felt hurt because his actions from his addiction were somehow connected to his feelings for me. I'm not saying they aren't to the spouse or loved one. To someone without a sexual addiction, physical intimacy is ONLY about love. Addiction is not about love at all. It's corrupt and is completely separate from love.

Now in my last post I addressed the myth that physical intimacy can help ease temptations from addiction. That is not true. Temptations will still exist, and could come on just as strong even after being intimate in a healthy relationship.  However I will add this. Having a truly loving relationship with someone still helps emotionally and spiritually.  Being intimate with my spouse helps me to appreciate the beauty in the act of a healthy spiritual, emotion, and physical experience with someone I have covenanted to love and care for. It's in complete contrast from addictive behaviors, which drag one down into shame and sorrow. Instead, a healthy experience with my loved one who I have covenanted to cherish for eternity uplifts my soul and brightens my spirit.

I'll add this experience doesn't always feel that way. I want to acknowledge those who still feel filthy during intimacy with their spouse. It's a very sad but true reality that sometimes even with a spouse we can feel like a tool or the outlet for addiction. This is when we are completely justified and right in saying, not tonight, dear.

The spirit is not here.

But as we pray together and work to have that spiritual presence with us, the experience can become healthy and beautiful again. I testify that it has worked for my relationship and has helped us both as we fight off our temptations and cleave to each other.

I hope sharing this will help somebody out there.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Myths about Intimacy and Temptation


Ok so Step 4 feels more daunting to me this time around for some reason.  I haven't picked it up.

I should.

I haven't yet.

That's why I haven't posted again in the last little while. But all excuses aside I'm just putting it off.

For now though, I have a few thoughts about being married with addictions present.

This post is going to get into some real detail that some people avoid. But I feel these things must be clarified. I needed them clarified. I know others do too. I'm going to try to keep my wording as appropriate and wholesome as possible and avoid triggering. I'd appreciate it if I make the mistake of writing anything triggering that someone will comment and make me aware so I can adjust it to avoid that the best I can.

I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine who went with me to addiction recovery meeting (the actual addiction recovery meeting, not the one for those supporting loved ones).

From her point of view, being physically intimate with her husband made temptations become more difficult for her because her body was more awake to those feelings. She expressed frustration in trying to balance having a healthy marital relationship but also battling the dirty feelings she sometimes got while being with her husband.  I am only sharing her experience because I don't see it as being too unique. I think there are many of us in the same boat. There have been other ladies in the meetings who expressed similar feelings.

Also those who have a husband struggling with addiction add feelings of responsibility to helping their husbands by being their physical outlet. Many women feel that if they ever say no, they may trigger the bad behaviors in their husbands. Their husbands might have a harder time withstanding temptations if they haven't been able to release that tension with their wives.

Let me just say one thing here.  My husband felt that way a year into recovery. He would always try to tell me it made it harder for him if I didn't feel up to things.  But as much as he was convinced this was true, it wasn't. He knows it now, three years into recovery.

I want to emphasize that point.

It doesn't help. It makes no difference. I knew it because we could be intimate and in the same day he could struggle with some temptation and even fail.

The reason? Because they are completely disconnected experiences.

I know this for myself now as well, with my own addiction.  I could be with my husband and still have temptations on my own because the experience is completely different.

Too many couples then turn to outside help for their marital intimacy to give their time together more "spice" to make it more exciting and so the temptations to go elsewhere will lessen. This is another lie. It doesn't work. It actually triggered my friends addiction now.

So Myth #1 is Physical Intimacy in marriage occurring more often and with more "spiciness" will help an addict withstand temptations.

Nope, sorry.

The next myth goes along to support this one and explain further. I've explained in another post somewhere about the way the body reacts to different stimulation. My body had practiced arousal the wrong way for so long, it was hard for my body to respond the right way to the healthy practice with my spouse. It was so much easier for my body to react when I wasn't with him. It was because of the practice. Things have gotten much better as I have withstood the wrong kind of practice and kept trying with the right kind.

So, what happens when we cross the wrong practice into the right one? If someone's body reacts best with pornography triggers or with self-gratification involved, and that is brought into the practice with their spouse to get things going, it might make things work a little better for a time.  But we are missing something important when we do that.  AND it's the most important thing.

The spirit.

When physically intimate with our spouses, we are engaging in a spiritual activity. SPIRITUAL. It's not just a physical thing.

The first time I heard that I was completely confused because I didn't know what it meant. I had never felt the spirit when I was physically intimate. I didn't know I could.  I didn't know I should!

But with the presence of the spirit, the experience is so much sweeter and more meaningful. It truly is where a husband and wife can become one, both body and spirit.

My friend felt dirty sometimes with her husband. I have had the same feelings. It's because the spirit is not there. Something is wrong. Do you need more excitement? More stimulation? No. You need the spirit.

If or when I feel this way I know I cannot keep participating.
Something has to change.

So I had a discussion with my husband about the need for the spirit when we were together. Because of the discussion, all I needed to say to him was that I couldn't feel the spirit and he'd understand in a much better way then before. It cut out the disagreements we used to have and we didn't fight about the subject anymore when I with-held myself from him. Instead, it drew us to prayer.

Sometimes praying helped us reset and begin again. Sometimes praying led to just cuddles and sleep (which isn't bad, after all). But it always left us feeling loving, and stopped the fighting.

Myth #2 is Self-Gratification or other outside "help" during physical intimacy can help make marital intimacy more fulfilling.

Instead, just make sure the spirit is present. You're welcome. :)

After my conversation with my friend about the struggles she felt, I hope things are going better with her and her husband. She was actually contemplating abstinence for a full year! I didn't judge her for it. Maybe for her personally it would help. However, I knew that would sound very daunting and impossible to her husband, and it very well could have been detrimental to their relationship as a whole. Instead I suggested taking a day at a time, prayerfully, and praying for her spouse.

It's helpful if both spouses are doing that. Praying unselfishly for what is best for the other person. This way, things can be sorted out in the best and loving way. However, I know that it's not always the case. It's hard to balance being unselfish and giving to ones spouse while also drawing boundaries and caring for oneself.

The best advice is to follow the spirit.

I feel rather advice-y on this post. I apologize for that. I usually refrain from too much advice because everyone's experience is different and there is no one right way for everyone. But that is the one thing I feel I can say that would be individual to everyone. Let the spirit guide you in your own decisions and they will be the right ones.

Thanks for your feedback!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Submitting to the Lord and Step 3


It seems like every single day has gone wrong because of something or other this week. All I can say is I'm glad I talked to the bishop because at least now I can feel the spirit whereas before taking that step I probably would have had a much harder time trying to do this on my own.

I want God to direct my path so badly but I have to stay out of my own way and let Him! I am inadequate and I need Him.  I think my problem, though, is that I want relief immediately and I need to be more willing to have my burdens lightened according to His timetable, like the example of the people of Alma who instead of having their burdens removed, were given the strength to lift their own burdens well enough.

Submitting to God is drawing nearer to Him through prayer and letting go of everything with the faith that He knows what He's doing. I need to be more ready to obey any promptings which come to me as well. Through immediate obedience I am submitting my will to the Lord.

I did really well once before with this one. When I would think about getting on my computer I would feel a heaviness pulling me toward that choice, as though it were dragging me into it. I knew that feeling wasn't from the Lord so I would then pray for a what I should do instead. The Lord always then would place an alternative for me to go to, like doing the laundry or other chore in the house instead. Of course, this wasn't always something I loved to do or even wanted to do, but it always felt lighter to do it. So when I immediately obeyed this and kept following that lighter feeling and turning away from the heaviness, I was growing closer and closer to the Lord. I felt so much lighter and happier, and I was choosing the better part. I was being more productive, I was feeling more worthwhile, I was being a better wife and a better mother, because I wasn't wasting my time away anymore.

When I submit my will to the Lord's will, He helps me keep my priorities where they should be, and my perspective on the eternities. My problem right now is trying to feel that way already without doing those things. I can't feel the success without the hard work.

I was thinking about the concept of fasting today. Being pregnant, I can't really fast like a regular person. But I had heard about people in my situation still sort of fasting by eating only the bare minimum and refraining from indulgence. Fasting helps with the submission of will because it is putting spiritual devotion ahead of physical desire. Great practice for refraining from bad habits.

Prayer in the moment of temptation is critical but SO HARD because the adversary KNOWS it works. So he tries his best to get us not to pray in that critical moment.

Another thing I need to be thinking about is temple attendance. It's been a while and I really need to go more often.

But that first choice I made to make that appointment with the bishop and be completely honest was my first step in the right direction. I am now bolstered up in my commitment to abstain from bad habits and be more careful. But I must keep that as a daily reminder every single day! I missed my studying yesterday enough that I felt pressure and temptations, and relapsed into my media addiction to get away. It wasn't a horrible relapse, I was watching little anime cartoons with my little boys. But I wasn't helping around the house. I was using it as an escape.

I hate having multiple addictions that intersect and cross over onto each other.

Anime has porn, of course, and I had to squelch my curiosity. I've never looked into porn before that slip and I don't want to start now.  I knew if I got caught up in it I would get stuck easily. If I fail at this, everything else in my life happiness hinges on it.

I must succeed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Prayer and Step 2

I need to pray more, and I mean really.

Lately I realized that unless I'm praying with my family or my husband, my personal prayers have become small moments of introspective thought between all the other things I need to do. I've been so busy with my "have-to"s. When was the last time I actually formally prayed on my knees?

This should be a daily thing. When did it suddenly become easier to waste time on Facebook or some pointless app then to kneel in prayer?

If I take the time to really talk to my Heavenly Father, I know I would feel closer to Him.

I have never thought about it this way but my love language is QUALITY TIME. I must spend quality time with my family and my husband to feel loved and close to them. I must feel attended to, and I pay attention to others to show them my love.

Am I paying attention to God? Am I spending quality time with Him? I haven't been. And I don't feel close to Him. And that's my own fault.

I must do this daily and this will help me follow His will because I'll be able to feel Him with me, instead of feel like I'm grasping in the dark. I cannot do this alone. But God doesn't give me impossible things to do. His will is always possible.

This morning I tried. I prayed. It felt forced though and I hate it. Why do I feel that way now? Has it become that distant and hard? During the prayer I began wondering this and suddenly a very gentle and quiet thought entered my mind that I had been shoving away because it's easy to do that to gentle, quiet things.

I need to talk to my bishop and confess about my slip. Because I haven't. I've told my husband and said I was sorry. I apologized to God in this prayer. But I remember when I had talked to my bishop he had said if I ever have a slip I was to speak with him and update him on my progress. It's been a year with no problems so I haven't talked to him about it again.

So I told Him I would.

There are so many rationalizations not to go to the bishop. My husband even seemed to tell me I didn't have to. That makes me wonder how much he confesses to the bishop, himself. But for me, I know I must. This problem has lasted since I was a small child all because I didn't ask for help, and I never confessed to the bishop. The thought came to do that, but I was always too scared and it trapped me.  Now I must do it, in order to really take Step 1 of being Honest and move on to the Hope in Step 2.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Step 1

That's right. I need Step 1.
Although there's a new support group program for the meetings I attend as a support person to an addict, I realized I really need to keep working the steps for my own problems and not just the principles. The principles are great, and all, but I have my own problems that I need to focus on, not just the pain caused from someone else.

So I realized the reason for my slip was because I hadn't been working very well on my own spirituality on a daily basis like I had before.

Fact: I have gone back into denial about my problems.
Fact: I thought I could rely on myself again, but I can't.
Fact: I never will be strong enough on my own because I am weak. The Lord is my strength.
Fact: When I rely on the Lord's strength, things become much easier.
Fact: In God's strength I can do ALL THINGS.

I felt trapped during and after my slip. My behavior and choice surprised and saddened me. I disappointed myself. I justified that I wouldn't give in to self grad, but just curiosity - but what could I really expect from myself when I put myself in a situation where I am separating myself from the Lord's presence?

Lately I have been also feeling more helpless and vulnerable because my son has been having major issues, and so we took him to child psychiatrist who diagnosed autism spectrum, ocd, depression and anxiety. At first I just thought, well, he's going to grow out of these things. I've thought that all his life. But I'm slowly realizing this is real. And it's making me feel helpless and sad, and I don't know what to do. I don't know what medicines are safe, I don't know if medication is right or wrong. I've heard such negatives about medication, but I know there is a purpose for it.  I've been desperate for answers from God and yet I'm not feeling close to Him.

So. Here's another Fact: I must make my relationship with God a priority every single day so I can be a better wife and mother.
Fact: These steps don't only apply to my addictive behaviors, but to my efforts as a mother.

God has a plan for me and my son. I must trust Him that if something we are doing is wrong, I will know it. God is great. I will rely on His strength.

When it comes to sin and shame, secrets are one of Satan's greatest tools and I must be brave enough to remain completely honest at all times about everything. I must humble myself and in doing so I will have greater strength to cope with this life.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Recovering from a Slip


My first slip.

In over a year.

I cried.

The slip was an odd one, I must add. I think the trigger was different then anything I've had before because I haven't had an addiction to pornography at all, just to self grad and I was doing so well staying away from that kind of thing until I was triggered by seeing pornography and giving into curiosity.

The thing is, I didn't even like the images I saw. They grossed me out and I felt awful because I knew I was looking at abuse victims. But when I tried to exit out, the sites wouldn't let me. I had heard how they catch you like that.  But, being on my phone, I knew if I didn't back out completely, the site would come up again the next time I opened the internet. It always opens the last page viewed automatically.  So it took a while but I finally managed to get out of the predicament I was in but by then my physical body was reacting in spite of the disgust I felt mental, emotionally, and spiritually.

Now I don't go online on my phone anymore. I took off my Facebook app because it has links to articles or other things I find interesting and those seem to have "related" links that just go downhill from there.

My computer has a good filtering system so it feels safer to use.

I felt like I had gone back to ground zero, but I think that's one of Satan's tools when we slip.  A slip is not a relapse unless we have completely given up on the effort in recovery. A slip is just a slip because of weakness. So I'm getting right back up on my recovery wagon and firmly staying seated.

I am not relapsing!

But what I must do is re-evaluate where I'm at right now.

A conference talk recently talked about prioritizing our spirituality and one specific sentence struck me.
"You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!"
Elder Richard G. Scott's talk from Saturday Afternoon.

I keep telling myself "I need to..." or "I really should..." but actually DOING it has become really difficult lately. I need to make prayer and scripture study a bigger priority every day so I can keep myself in check. I need to spend less time wasting time and more time doing things that are more important.

Laziness and idleness are my greatest pitfalls.

Saturday, September 13, 2014



About my posts here and here on lowering my expectations toward my husband,
I just wanted to say...

My husband gave me a ring and wrote me a poem on our anniversary this year!
I was shocked.

He also has been noticing and acknowledging little things lately that make me feel so loved and cared about.
For example, he asked me if I was doing ok when I laid down on the couch the other day.

Warm fuzzies. :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

To My Children When the Time Is Right

The following letter was prompted into my mind in the wee hours of the morning and I couldn't sleep until I wrote it down. I decided to share it here for others to gain from in whatever way you find helpful to your own family.


Dear Young Ones

First of all I want you to know that the way your body feels is not an evil thing. Your body's natural reaction is a beautiful and sacred gift of God. He's given us these powerful feelings as a gift to recognize the sacredness in our gift and ability to create life here on earth. Your body's sensations are beautiful and perfect, when it's the right time, place, and with the right thoughts and methods. The spirit helps you to know if it is right.

After your body has these feelings, the spirit can either fill you with light, joy, and goodness that is uplifting or you may feel darkness, sadness, and heaviness. This is the spirit's way of communicating to you if you are exercising this gift at the right time and place or not. The heaviness and darkness is a warning. It does not mean your body is bad for feeling these feelings. It means you must put off the natural man and wait for the appropriate time and place. Every gift from God is wonderful and special, but also Satan's target. he wants to corrupt, degrade, or ruin our gifts and blessings. When we use this special gift when it is not right, Satan wins control over our feelings.

The right time and place to feel these powerful feelings are only with a spouse who you have married and are committed to for life or eternity. When we use this gift at this correct time and place, with good thoughts and methods, we can experience great joy that is light and uplifting because our spirits can celebrate in this great gift God has given us to create life on earth.

Outside of this time and place, our body's natural feelings are still pleasurable, but the feelings of joy are not present. Instead it is lust, greed, and selfishness. These feelings are dark and Satan uses them to make us feel ashamed and lead us away from God's plan of happiness. Satan even has chains of addiction related with this path that can catch us in his sorrowful snare.

However, our Savior is infinitely more powerful. If we are ever led away by Satan's half-truths and caught in his dark plans of shame, we must remember our Savior's wonderful and perfect atonement. We never need to feel ashamed. We can give those mistakes to the Savior and He will cleanse us. This road is difficult, however. I truly desire for you to follow and head the warnings of the Spirit immediately to avoid Satan's traps.

You are a glorious child of God with infinite potential and you have a spirit inside you that feeds upon the light. Give your spirit light every day through scripture study and prayer and your spirit will be strong when temptations come. Follow the promptings from the Holy Ghost every time and it will become a habit that gets easier every time you face it. As you do this, you will be led down the path Heavenly Father has given for you in His plan of happiness.

I love you and want you to know you can always trust and rely on me to be there for you and listen to you. but I also want you to know that even more than me, your Father in Heaven loves you, understands you, and wants the best for you. Your Savior is also your friend that will always be there to listen and uplift you.

Love Mom

Thursday, July 31, 2014

New Support in Recovery Program


A new manual for loved ones of those who struggle with addiction has been long awaited. When I first began coming to support meetings, we were using a manual that then got pulled because although it was in the process of being approved by the church it didn't make it through and we could no longer use it officially.  I remember many of us were sad by this when we began using the regular addiction recovery manual.

Now the church has approved a new program and manual for us to use in meetings. I was excited for this but now it's happened the change has been harder then I anticipated for me to embrace. I love the 12 steps. I know I stand in a different spot then many, having used the steps for my own addiction as well as for the support of my spouse. But I feel like my own struggles with addiction are completely behind me, and now I'm focusing on just having a normal life while my husband is recovering.

Still, I feel like the change is more dramatic then I had expected. The new program is no longer steps, but principles, and the meetings are changing format. It was interesting to sit in a meeting where cross-talk was not only allowed but encouraged. Those of us in the meeting were still so used to the silence we didn't know how to talk to each other as openly as the new meetings allow. This is a good thing, yes. It will help the women in the support group to more freely express feelings that are locked inside. If I had been allowed to when I first started attending the meetings, I probably would have dominated the discussion because I always felt like I was going to burst with everything I kept inside. But now I have learned to really appreciate the idea and concept behind the rules as they had been. It provided safety for those who could be triggered by too much open conversation about the problems. I was nervous about this change.

However, the principles that guide the discussion help keep the discussion in a positive place. I really see the inspiration behind the thoughts that are brought up within the reading to help guide the discussion within the meetings.

But I'm struggling personally. I have always had a hard time with change. I guess this struggle includes positive changes as well. I'm torn because I am so used to working the steps that using the principles to guide study is stretching me. The new program requires me to look at outside materials and I'm so used to having the scripture right there in the manual for me to ponder. I feel like this is a silly thing to complain about. I should be able to look up scriptures, and talks...and videos. It just is more time consuming. I need to figure out my time in a more organized way.

That's probably the biggest slump about the way my life is right now. Lack of routine. With having a job where I work at home, my schedule isn't much of a schedule at all. You'd think a job would make me have more of a schedule but this one is so sparatic it throws everything off. Being pregnant has also drained my energy and I just feel lazy. I hope I can get into the new program.

Find the new principles here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

It Still Hurts

This is my first post really about living with a spouse who is addicted to pornography. Up until this point I've been writing about my own recovery. But today I can't go to my recovery meeting because my son is sick, and I just need to share just to let it out. Venting into the void, I guess.

I wish I could say I have overcome all pain associated with my husband's slips. I wanted to be there in that safe place where my peace was uninterrupted. But when my husband has the kind of slip that he has had now, it effects me again in a way I didn't expect. What hurts isn't necessarily what he looked at or if he acted out physically while looking, but that his intent was there. He sought it out.

For a while now every time my husband has confessed to me about a slip it has been because he was looking at something else online and got caught off guard with something. Or he was checking to see if the safe eyes system we have installed really works by purposefully searching a fowl keyword. That always drove me nuts. What does he think is going to happen? Of course if you look for it something will sneak its way through the system.

But this time, he'd happened upon a stupid YouTube video off to the side and ignored it, but days later was still haunted and tempted to go seek it out again until finally he did.

He told me he'd fought off the temptation all of Monday because it was my birthday and he didn't want to slip on that day.

So he waited until the next day...while I was in the other room no less!

That was the first I had it brought to my attention he'd struggled while I was home. It's been usually a problem if I go out for long periods of time and he's got idle time on his hands when temptation will strike.

I had a friend of mine give me a lecture recently on how I need to stand up for myself and take time away more often. My husband gets to go out to go golfing or fishing or off to (unbeknownst to her) recovery meetings, and I don't go out except for on the rare occasion that it's a friend's birthday or someone happens to be throwing a baby shower or something (or for my own recovery meeting). She went on about it until she finally started talking about herself, which I knew is where the lecture really rooted from in the first place. I could just sort of nod and shrug at her suggestions because I know how it looks to her. To an outsider who doesn't understand the situation, my husband gets to do whatever he wants and I watch the kids. Then when I go out I have got to get home soon to take care of the kids or because my husband is feeling anxious for some reason. It looks like I don't get a life or that I'm controlled.

Well, I am controlled, but it's not because of what they think.

I do feel like every single time I go out he has a slip. I know it's not my fault because I cannot take that responsibility. It's out of my control. But at the same time, I know it's easier for him to slip when I'm not there so it's made me, without realizing it, become more of a hermit. But it's not just to keep him from slipping, but it's a form of protection for my children. I hate going out with the risk that he will slip and one of these times my son will happen along to see or hear or witness something. It's my nightmare. At some point my kids will be exposed to something, at some point in their lives they will- it's inevitable- but my hope is to keep that point in time from happening until they're at least a little older. My oldest is only 7.

Not that there are a lot of friends for me to go out with anyway, but it is nice to have a night out once in a while, and I'm talking about more then twice a year, and I'm talking about more then just dates out with my husband.

That being said...somehow it hurt that much more that I was in the other room when he slipped this time. Why? Why couldn't he have just come to me or called his support person? He knew for days he was being tempted and trying to fight it off. He didn't.

The addiction doesn't want him to get support. The addiction wants to be kept a secret so it can continue to thrive and control his life.

I thought I was past feeling that disappointment in him and that hurt. My recovery has helped me understand him more, and become better for myself, and to be a stronger support for him, but I still cannot be his support person. He has to rely on someone else more then me because it still hurts me. As long as I've been in recovery, it still hurts.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Never Finished


Now that I've completed posting steps 1 through 12, you might think I'm finished blogging. I've reached the end of the manual. I'm done working the steps. I'm done blogging about it.


You see, I'm not dead yet. I'm not going to live the rest of my life perfectly with no regrets, and I still don't know everything about myself. I've just scratched the surface. If I stop now, not only will I be stunting my growth here, but I will eventually begin to lose the things I've learned thus far. As I go about the rest of my life, I will start repeating mistakes I've made in the past unless I keep working.

The 12 Step program for Addiction Recovery isn't just 12 steps really. It's not even just for addicts either. It's really a lifetime program for anyone in need of the atonement. Who does that include?

The addict. The addict in recovery. The addict not yet in recovery. The recovered addict. The addict's loved one. The addict's enemy. The one that doesn't know about the addict. The one that doesn't know the addict at all. And everybody else.

The atonement is for everyone. Whether they know about recovery or not.

Because in all reality, the 12 steps encompass the repentance process. I grew up learning the steps of repentance in primary where there are only four steps: Feeling sorry, Saying sorry, Righting the wrong, Keeping commandments from then on.

Well, really, those four steps are broken down into 12 for the addiction recovery program. Are we ever done with the repentance process? No.

Feeling Sorry: Steps 1-4
Start out with complete honesty with yourself and God. Believe God can help you make it right. Trust in Him to help you through it. Repeat being completely and thoroughly truthful with yourself and God.

Saying Sorry: Steps 5
Apologizing to yourself, God, the bishop, or anyone else it effects about your wrong without excuses.

Righting the wrong: Steps 6-9
Lean on God to help you become a better person and stop repeating wrongs. Humble yourself and ask God to help remove your weaknesses. Contemplate how to help make things better after your mistakes and do what you can do make it better. Talk to people about it. Act on things you can act on.

Keeping the commandments from then on: Steps 10-12
Keep track of your progress every day, every hour, every moment so you can avoid making the same mistakes. Seek the Lord's guidance in everything you do. Of course, part of keeping the commandments is helping others come unto Christ.

And we are never done.  The most important thing to remember after step 12 is that we have to keep up with our own progress in order to be a help to anyone else. The only way I can be an instrument in the hands of my Heavenly Father is if I am leaning on Him and doing my best in my own life.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Step 12: Service

Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share this message with others and practice these principles in all you do.

Step 12 Reading

One of the most important services I can offer is to share my testimony. That's one of the reasons for my blog. however, as I support others, I am only as effective as I am in my own recovery so I must keep up my own progress as a priority and avoid self-righteous tendencies.

I've noticed a big change in the way I support others after working the steps to the degree that I have. I don't give advice the same way I used to do. I don't try to fix other people. My thoughts don't dwell on ways to help solve other people's problems anymore. It's much more peaceful and I can keep myself separated from the drama in other people's lives.

Instead I am able to just listen and offer only things that I feel prayerfully enter my heart and that I'm impressed to say, and even then it's usually not in the form of advice but instead some kind of spiritual thought or personal application of my own that might apply to them.

My recovery doesn't only allow me to be a good support person for other people in recovery, but for all my friends and family in all aspects of my life. I'm a much more healthy support for any situation.

After going through recovery, and as I continue in recovery, I am also feeling more able to apply scriptures to my life on a more personal level. Recently I was at a support meeting and the line in step 11 stood out to me that said to pray and allow my meditation to be guided by the scriptures. I hadn't thought of meditation as a scripture study thing before because I had always thought of balancing the chakra and clearing the mind as "meditation" however, it's just saying thoughtful pondering.

So I looked up "Meditate" in the Topical Guide and found many scriptures to ponder about the meaning of meditation.  The scripture that stood out to me most was in Luke when Jesus tells his disciples to settle their answers in their hearts before they go out to preach because they when they are asked they won't have to think about (or meditate) on the answer. It would already be there. I had heard this before growing up in the gospel, when it comes to avoiding temptation. Already have the answer in decided so when temptation strikes you don't even think about it.  I hadn't realized that teaching was actual from Christ himself.

Then later the same thing, or similar, is said in D&C 84.  "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man." So it's another meaning behind meditating upon the words of Christ all the time so his words are in my heart and I am able to be guided in my words when the time comes.

I am converted in a much deeper way after working the steps. It's helped me to use the Lord's atonement in ways I hadn't thought about before and that has brought me into a deeper relationship with my Savior. I love Him more and rely on Him more in my life. I no longer rely on my own knowledge or even the knowledge of those around me. Instead I know the Lord gives the best answers and He will give me the words of support and comfort.  Whatever good I bring into the world comes from Him, not me.

I must admit that I am not perfect at this, however. Even now I slip up and find myself having to find balance again. As I serve others I constantly still need to check myself for any ulterior motives or expectations in my service. When I serve for the wrong reasons, I find myself triggered and trying to turn to my media addiction at every turn. But I need to forgive myself and go forward.

The Savior works through imperfect people. I just have to listen to His guidance and do my best to live so I can hear it.

I think there has been a theme to my studies lately whenever I look into the scriptures. I must need to hear it. Because the last scripture I looked into with this step is D&C 31:11-13 which says "Go your way whithersoever I will and it shall be given you by the comforter what to do and where to go. Pray faithful...I am with you." So not only study and it's given, but go my way wherever the Lord wills me to go. I will be told what to do and where to go as I pray and keep my heart open to acknowledging His constant presence. I need to pray always and do my best to follow Him.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Godly Sorrow: Guilt vs. Shame

I had a conversation with my husband the other night when he had slipped in his own addiction again. He was hitting a low on it, and I tried to tell him not to let it get him down so much but he thought he needed to feel bad, otherwise he felt like he wasn't taking it as seriously as it needed to be taken. I understood what he meant. We don't want to make light of serious things or shrug things off as "no big deal" because that is a tool of denial used in the past before recovery. In recovery we must take responsibility for our wrongs.

But I don't think we need to drag ourselves in the dust either.

Finally the idea came into my mind as an example that I could explain more clearly to my husband. We mustn't allow ourselves to get healthy feelings of guilt for sin mixed up with being ashamed of ourselves. There is a big difference in these two feelings after committing a wrong. One of them is another of Satan's tools to drag us further into our mistakes. The other is Godly sorrow. Can you guess which is which?

I described these examples:
When we feel guilty for our sin, feeling healthy Godly sorrow, we are separate from the sin. Our inner dialog would sound something like this: "I feel bad for doing what I have done because I know it is wrong. I shouldn't have done it because I am better than that. I am worth more than that. I don't want to do it again."

When we cross the line into shame, suddenly our inner dialog is much darker and Satan can use it against us to drive us further into our sins and problems. It sounds something like this: "I feel terrible for doing what I have done because I wanted to do it. But it is who I am and I loath myself because I did this terrible thing and feel like I want to do it again." We drive ourselves into self-loathing so much, while also enabling ourselves and excusing our behavior by saying it is who we are. Satan can take this and drive us further into doing terrible deeds until we hate ourselves even more, hate the world, and do even worse things that we hate.  It's a vicious cycle that I believe has driven people to all kinds of horrible acts in this world, even murder. I honestly think that at one point in a murderer's life they began innocently, but turned to this self loathing or self "acceptance" as some in the world may put it, and drive themselves deeper and deeper into the pit of sin.

I believe my examples hit home to my husband and helped him pull himself out of the despair of shame and into the more healthy light of feeling guilt for sin, or Godly sorrow, which is much more healthy and productive for recovery.

I hope as we all recover we can be careful about distinguishing between these feelings and so we can be kept free from Satan's shackles and remember our value as children of God with great purpose.

I am not my addiction.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Stop Dragging Him and Let Him Walk


I was just thinking to myself about when I was engaged and there was a point when we almost had to postpone our marriage. I remember thinking if we postponed it I wouldn't go through with it at all. I could already sense the hardships awaiting me in this marriage and I was not sure I trusted what I was getting myself into. But I prayed and made a deal with God. He had told me everything was going to be fine and to marry this man. I told God that if our wedding was postponed I would take that as His sign to call it off. But if we didn't postpone I would take that as His answer and the wedding was on.

You see, I am a romantic. But only in my dreams in my head at that point. I didn't believe romance was real. It was too good to be true. So because I didn't believe in it, I thought I wouldn't ever get romance in real life so why try for it? I dated with my head in the clouds and didn't pay attention very well. But I'm lucky I leaned on the Lord because he knew what I needed.

So as you can guess, our wedding wasn't postponed and I married him.

End of story. Happily ever after.
But happily ever after doesn't exist.

I was miserable. There were times I regretted the deal. There were times I second guessed myself.

But just now as I was thinking back at this experience, I was greeted with a very pleasant feeling.

I no longer feel regret, I feel relief.  Because instead of thinking, oh, if the wedding had been postponed, I wouldn't have married him, I am thinking... IF THE WEDDING HAD BEEN POSTPONED, I WOULDN'T HAVE MARRIED HIM!

I have taken for granted so many blessings.

I have been ungrateful, critical, and emotionally unfaithful. So much time wasted in negativity. I envisioned him as a dead weight that I had to drag along behind me. I came up with the metaphor when we were engaged and first married. Somewhere in Courtship and Marriage class at the LDS Institute someone said that when we are looking to get married we look for someone we can walk hand in hand with into Heaven.

I thought to myself after I got married...well, that's a great thought while we are dating but now that I'm married I'm DRAGGING him if I have to! I even wrote that on the board in the Institute building. Silly me.

 That metaphor stayed with me. I continued to be self-righteous. I continued to focus my energy on the things he wasn't doing perfectly. I expected too much from him and not enough from myself. As I envisioned him weighing me down, in actually I was kicking him down and then dragging him across the floor before he had any time to get up.  I never allowed him to stand so he could walk, I just continued dragging him and both of us were tired of it.


If only I would just let go he would stand and walk on his own, progress, and take my hand so we could walk together.

He is his own person after all. I certainly wouldn't grow well by being pulled on so much.

Now I am looking at our marriage and am amazed he's stuck with me so long without giving up and looking elsewhere for someone who would just love him. I'm so glad I'm not too late to be that someone.  I'm going to let go and just love him.  I'm going to trust God can teach him and guide him far better then I can.

After all, that's the way I grow. I can allow him to do the same.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pray without Ceasing, Follow His Will, Step 11 Cont

If I do my part,  the Lord will do the rest.   The Lord is near when I draw near to Him.  If I can make this my daily priority to draw near to the Lord in prayer, then He will be with me always in everything I do.

Pray without ceasing.

I need to put this as a plaque in my wall.  One way to pray always is to be grateful always, for everything,  even things I don't understand.

I just read The Hiding Place,  which follows Carrie Ten Bloom through her experiences during WWII. There is a part in it when she is in the concentration camp and her sister tells her they should give thanks to the Lord for the fleas.  She couldn't fathom a reason to thank the Lord for that,  but her sister insisted that everything the Lord gives is given for His wise purposes.

Later on they discover that the reason they have enough privacy in a certain area for gospel studies and spiritual sharing is because the Nazi soldiers wouldn't go in on account of the fleas! At that time she was able to grasp the Lord's divine purpose and she could say they were a blessing.

I love so much about that book because it has such great examples of faith and truth that pierce to the heart.

But it's true that sometimes we may not see the Lord's purpose in "blessing" us with His "fleas" but we can have the faith to know He has a divine purpose in everything He gives us and we can be grateful for it all.

It's hard to do sometimes.

I love that abstinence is described in step 11 as a form of fasting.  Fasting is denying the natural man and withstanding physical desires. So is abstinence!

Abstinence can increase our spirituality and ability to receive guidance and direction through revelation. And studying scriptures consistently also furthers that sensitivity to the spirit.  We can "learn the language" of the scriptures by studying them every day. Verses can have new and different meanings to each person, each time it's read,  if we are open to allow the spirit to teach us.

One more thing I thought about today with step 11 is that I must acknowledge Him in every good thing I do in this world. Because as I do good,  I am doing His work,  not mine.

Understanding this helps me to understand something I was told as a teen and I didn't understand. We know Christ is the creator of the world because He did the creating,  however I was told that Heavenly Father really created the world through Christ. I never understood that until now.  But really,  Christ was doing Heavenly Father's work! He was being God's hands. I can too.

I must submit to His will so I can be His hands and do great things according to His plan for me. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lowering Expectations in Love

I was gifted a book by Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go, which gives a thought to contemplate for each day of the year and so I've been following it and I've gained great perspectives.  Some days are better then others but today it prompted me to reflect on a concept that seems to be returning to my mind again and again lately.

Lately I have been striving to be more positive with my spouse and cease criticism of all kinds.  I've been striving to keep my thoughts more positive as well and stop my negativity or my wishful dreaming of "if only"s or "why not"s away so I can welcome in more contentment.  After all, Marjorie Pay Hinckley said more then once that to have a happy marriage, "lower your expectations" but as simple as it sounds, that's hard!  It was until today's thoughts that I was more deeply able to understand what she meant.

I've never really thought of myself as a perfectionist, but I'm discovering that this is exactly what I have been doing to my husband.  I think whenever anyone gets married they have some expectation about the way they assume marriage will be.  It's not really something we can discuss beforehand very well because we honestly believe what we expect is a typical common sense way to envision of marriage.  Then after married, we suddenly realize our spouse doesn't fit those expectations and also has his or her own that we don't fit perfectly into either.

There are things I always dreamed someone who "really loved me" would do without even trying - things I have desired so desperately and seem so simple to me, but don't come naturally to my own husband at all.  Some of these expectations are so deeply desired that it's painful to let them go.  I felt like my expectations should be easy and that I was entitled to want something from my husband like...simple courteous thoughtfulness.  But I was wrong.  Expressing how much I wish he would do these things doesn't seem to help either.  It only enforced his feelings of inadequacy in our marriage as he continues to try so hard to please me in his own way.

In Beattie's book it says "expecting others to be perfect" is "destructive; it makes others feel ashamed and may interfere with their growth."  (Emphasis added.)  By expecting my husband to be great at these things that don't come naturally to him, I am actually making it harder for him to do those very things.  Beattie goes on, "People are human and vulnerable, and that is wonderful.  We can accept and cherish that idea.  Expecting others to be perfect puts us in that codependent state of moral superiority."  Of course we shouldn't tolerate anything abusive or destructive, "We can still expect appropriate responsible behavior..." but we must loosen up and let go of the expectations that we already know are causing unnecessary pain on both sides.

Further it read that "when we stop expecting others to be perfect, we may discover that they're doing much better than we thought."  I have noticed as I strive to stop being so critical of my husband, and (painfully) let go of my (deeply) desired expectations, he has been able to progress and my eyes have been opened to see his progress.  It feels so much better to let go of the negativity that has been a dead weight, bringing us both down.

My husband is a sweet man who loves me his way.  His thought process doesn't dwell on sentimentality, the way mine does.  There is both good and bad in my way too!  And that's ok!  We are both human and vulnerable and that is beautiful!  So, I must let go of my expectation that my husband will be something he is not right now.  I married him because of who he is, not who he isn't.

AND according to Donald L. Hallstrom's great talk in the Priesthood session last weekend entitled "What Manner of Men?", "Who we are is NOT who we can become!"

For some reason sometimes we feel like we aren't entitled to feel happy, like we have no right to happiness.  But we are that we might have joy!  We exist so we can choose happiness and let go of pain and sorrow from failed expectations, pride, or sin.  Christ has allowed us to let all of that go and be joyful!

I must love and accept my husband just the way he is now and so he can become better, through Christ.  I must believe he will, but allow myself right not to be content and happy, waiting upon the Lord, and loving a good man.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Step 11: Personal Revelation

Seek through prayer and meditation to know the Lord's will and to have the power to carry it out.

Step 11 Reading

Notice that it says, "Our greatest desire was to improve our abilities to receive guidance...".  It doesn't talk about being exactly anywhere in our progress, but that we should be focused on going in the right direction and improving at whatever rate.  As long as we are getting better and drawing closer to the Lord.

"When others tried to love you, perhaps you couldn't feel it.  Their love was never enough."
This makes me think about how often people don't feel loved by others no matter what others do or say because first we must love ourselves.  If we are constantly ashamed it is hard to feel loveable and that's where it starts.  We must believe we are loveable first.  Before we feel loveable we must let go of shame and in order to let go of shame we must rely on Christ and repent.  Once we are free of sin and shame we are at peace and can then be free to love ourselves, feel God's love for us, and feel loveable.  Then we can feel love from other people, as well as show love to others.

It all starts with repentance and Christ's atoning sacrifice.  Of course studying the scriptures and daily prayer are essential in feeling the peace and happiness from the spirit all the time.  It's when I am always remembering Christ that I always have his spirit with me.  It's how the baptismal covenant works.  All I have to do is think of Him and He is there.  Always remember Him and I will always have His spirit with me.

One way for me to remember Christ always is to be grateful every day and in every moment for my blessings.  If I acknowledge His hand in my life at all times, I am recognizing Him and remembering Him.  Then He is always with me.  It's a humbling thing, as well as an uplifting and comforting feeling.

I have been going to recovery classes for almost three years now.  I have been "clean" or "sober" from self-grad since August, and have gotten through Step 11 for the third time now.  I keep wondering what the next round will be like for me because each time has been different.  It's a beautiful learning experience to be involved in. There is so much spiritual growth awaiting anyone who begins the program whether they feel like they have an addiction or not.

After dealing with my more prominent addiction, I still have other things like my gravitation to media for coping, or getting away from reality.  I, of course, never recognized the detrimental spiritual, emotional, and social affects of my addiction until working the 12 steps.  And then it took reworking the steps repeatedly before I recognized the depths of my own problems and could deal with them.  The Lord knows each one of us perfectly and helps us learn and grow at a perfect individual pace.  No one else will progress in the same way or at the same speed.

I can't tell another person how to progress or where they are in their recovery because only God can know that.  I don't even know what else lies ahead for me to uncover in my own recovery.  All we have to do is work the steps to personally trust in the Lord's plan, repent of our mistakes, rely on Christ, and do our best to follow His will.  That is what the steps do for me.  They are a wonderful study tool in partnership with scriptures study.

I now desire to have some kind of prayer and meditation every morning to get me on track spiritually for my day.  If I get thrown off by missing that or getting priorities mixed up, my day goes down the drain because I have been getting more and more busy with three jobs at home while I'm being a mom.  It's getting hectic!  But I have to make that time for the Lord every day or it's unbearable because I simply cannot do it all alone.  I have to have His guidance and spirit with me at all times or things fall apart...or I fall apart!

"Prayer and meditation are powerful antidotes to fear and depression."  Very comforting.  "By nature, we all tend to be undisciplined, yet by looking to Jesus Christ and the example He has set, you will find the humility to continue submitting to the Father."  I must rely on Him, even though I naturally try to do it myself.  It is so much better when I let Him have the burden.  He's already taken all my burdens away.  He already has felt it all.  So for me to feel it all too is silly and unnecessary and...well...sorta stupid on my part.  I must let Him take it and move forward.

I love my Savior for that so much.  I would never get through this life without Him.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Every Day, Every Moment

As I try to take daily inventory with step 10, I am living in the now, which is the only thing in my control.  I cannot change the past, I can only do what I can now to take accountability for it.  Then, I can only hope for a future I want.  I cannot control what the future brings either, but what I am doing now can have an impact on it.

Repentance is for everyone all the time, no exceptions.  Those who are righteously following the Lord are not perfectly following every commandment all the time, because we are imperfect.  But followers of Christ are constantly repenting.  That is the only difference between a follower of Christ and others in the world.

Others in the world may do just as much good as a follower of Christ, because they are usually doing their best to do what they think is right.  But they are not using the atonement to account for the mistakes they make.  No one is exempt from making mistakes.  We all do it whether we mean to or not.  But the Savior paid for every single one.

He paid not only for those mistakes, but all the negative effects of those mistakes.  All the pain, all the sadness, all the darkness, every fear, every form of suffering has been paid for by the Savior.  All it takes is trust in His ability to take it all away and He does.  Wouldn't we want to have that peace all the time as a constant thing?

No...I'll just feel sad right now.  I'll just feel this pain now because I can repent later.

What is wrong with us?

If we truly understood the power of the Lord's Atonement, we would use it every day and in every moment of every day!  Because it's better!  Because it works!

Suddenly that phrase from the scriptures about how we shouldn't procrastinate our repentance has a new meaning to me.

Right now, as I am trying to work step 10 in my daily life, I am committing myself to make Christ the center of my life.  I do this by reading and pondering the scriptures every day.  Every morning I need to read while I eat my breakfast.  I have to sit down and eat sometime, what better time to study then at that time?  Then I must pray and write in my journal a daily plan.  These are my goals today.  And in the evening I can look at those goals and account for whether I failed or succeeded, and try again tomorrow.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Step 10: Daily Accountability
Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.

Step 10 Reading

So, here I am in step 10 now and as I said in this post, this is where we start speeding it up so we work all the steps every day immediately.  It's where we start taking a daily inventory.  Taking steps 4 and 5 every day for every day.  It is no longer about looking back because we have already taken care of everything in the past and let it go.  It's about now.

In step 10 we start watching ourselves carefully throughout every day, taking any negative thought or feeling to Heavenly Father immediately.  Our desire has changed from holding on to the negative to desiring peace.  The goal is to have an open heart and a mind focused on the Saviors teachings all the time.

I used to think that when I got to this point in the steps I would be fixed and no longer be making mistakes anymore, but that is not what step 10 is about.

It says in the reading "You will continue to make mistakes as you interact with others, but a commitment to step 10 is a commitment to take responsibility for mistakes."

I am not perfect and I am not going to be made perfect in this life.  I will continue to mess up.  I will make the same mistakes over and over because of my weaknesses.  But the difference now is that I am more aware of my triggers and I am more aware of how to stop my mistakes from building up and becoming overwhelming.  I can take responsibility immediately and regain peace.

An important part about daily inventories is journaling.  Now, I still haven't bought a new journal, but I have began using a notebook because I have just. got. to. write.  I'm sure I'll get a nice fancy one again sometime soon.  For now I'm dealing with it.

Here's the plan:
Morning prayer consists of motives examined and a daily goal.  Something like to keep my temper that day or to follow the spirit.  Something like "today I will accomplish these tasks and maintain a positive attitude."

Then throughout the day, I am constantly checking myself.  Am I maintaining balance?  Do I still feel serenity in my day?  Am I avoiding negativity?  If I find a trigger, acknowledge it and immediately take a time out to apply the tools in the steps and regain my peace.

At the end of the day I have an evening prayer where I examine my day and hold a council with the Lord about where I've fallen short and what I have accomplished.  What have I achieved?  What can I do better at tomorrow?

If we take accountability like this daily, it no longer builds to threaten our abstinence.  One question the reading presents that goes really well with this is here: "Am I true?"  We must maintain complete honest with these questions and make self-corrections.

Another favorite part of the reading for me is this: "You will learn to value progress and to forgive imperfections in yourself and others."

Progress.  This is most important.  No one is expecting perfection.  Just progress.

I had a conversation with my husband recently (Yay!  He's progressing!) and we talked about how when we are making real progress we have a way to catch ourselves before the temptations can overpower us.  As we have been working the steps, we are getting to know ourselves and our weaknesses enough to recognize our triggers.  We can stop ourselves in the very thought process before temptation even begins.  At that time, we can do whatever helps curb us from the negativity escalating, whether it be calling a sponsor, another support person or friend, or doing something to keep busy and productive in a positive way (jogging, writing, praying, cleaning, creating art, playing with kids, etc. etc.).

At this point is where we see how the steps really work!  This is why we take the steps in the order we do.  This is why we must be patient with the steps seemingly slow progress.  Because in the end there IS hope.  Incredibly, there is a way to someday be able to pin down those little incremental things that lead up to the slips or relapses.  Now we can find hope in knowing there is another more healthy way to deal with triggers.  It is possible.  Don't give up.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Filling Up My Journal, Missing a Meeting, and in a Rut


My journal is full.

And I need a new one really REALLY bad.

Journaling is so important to recovery progress.  I can attest that my thinking is broadened and deepened when I am writing things down as I ponder spiritually about things.  So with the steps, I always write down my thoughts as they come.  Re-read my thoughts, and write down more thoughts.  Thus, I fill up my journals.

Using the little places in the Recovery book works too but for me there isn't enough space.  I need lots more space!

My husband?  He writes one sentence in response to each question and can't think of anything else, moves on, and then gets frustrated because he isn't really making progress.  That's because you really have to deeply think about your personal application for each question.  Don't just give the Sunday School answer to the questions.  Apply them to your life, your past, your present, your everyday habits.

I also missed group this week.  *sobs*  I really need to learn how to be more assertive!

So I have Relief Society tonight, and so I wasn't going to go to my usual Support Group meeting.  Instead I was going to drive yesterday to attend the Addiction Support Group a little farther away.  But I had a visitor over yesterday and when the time came that I needed to go or choose to miss, I wasn't assertive enough to tell my visitor it was time to go home.  Instead I let her stay for pizza with my family.  This little visitor of mine is a young girl and her mom texted me asking if she could come home but I didn't read the text until an HOUR later!!!  She had texted me just before I had decided I would miss the meeting.  If I had read the text it would have given me an excuse to send her home right away and get a move on to my meeting!  But no.

But with or without that text I should have been assertive enough to say I had a place to be.  This morning I wake up regretting that decision and missing out on that meeting.  Maybe I'll call and find out from my sponsor how the meeting went last night.  I know it isn't the same.

Part of me wants to just go to tonights meeting and miss Relief Society, but I have already told others I am going to be there.

Again, though, this is my excuse: "Someone else needs/wants me somewhere else."

Why do I always give in to what I feel others expect from me?  I honestly believe people would not be offended if I were to stand up and do what I need for ME!  Because it's the healthy thing to do.  I can't only do what other people want me to do all the time.

I really must learn how to do what's best for me sometimes.

I've read about this before.

"When people with a compulsive disorder do whatever it is they are compelled to do, they are not saying they don't love you - they are saying they don't love themselves." Codependent No More by Melody Beattie

Then added to that by Melody's The Language of Letting Go, "Yes, at times we need to be firm, assertive: ...when we need to convince others and ourselves we have rights. ...Help me find the balance between assertive action taken in my own best interests, and love for others.  Help me understand that at times those two ideas are one.  Help me find the right path for me."

I read that only a few days ago and now here I am.

I feel like my lesser addiction, to media, is also giving me a run for my money.  I've given in and sat around to watch some dumb tv show that is pointless instead of doing more important things.  And of course I don't feel any better.  If anything I feel worse because I just wasted that time being idol and lazy.  It puts me in a rut because then I don't feel the enthusiasm to do anything and the cycle just begins again.  More media.  More wasted time.  More guilt and self-loathing.  More discontent.  More media.

I have to break the cycle and choose to do something better instead of turning again to media.

I think maybe I just need to choose a big project to tackle and focus on to win back my productivity.

I DID send out a couple letters for my Step 9, to make reconciliation to a couple people.  That felt pretty good.  I'm hoping things will go well with that.  But, since I've done that I really need to get on my Step 10 now.  Which will probably boost my Daily Accountability.  Which is what I need right now, when it comes to this rut I've gotten myself into.  Daily Accountability will help me to go moment by moment again and choose the best things and not just the good or ok things for me to be doing.  Priorities.

But I need a new journal!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Step 9: Restitution and Reconciliation

Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.

Step 9 Reading

When it comes to taking the step to reach out to other people with your apologies, it's important to remember not to be impulsive but not to procrastinate either.  Personally, I have a tendency to jump into things too quickly because if I'm going to do something I usually feel like I just have to go do it before I forget or put it off too long.  So I'm naturally the type of person who jumps right into things.  Because of this, in my past I have usually dug up dirt a lot more then necessary with people.  I've apologized, then apologized again.  I think people get sick of hearing it from me.

So for the first couple times I've done this step I was really not changing much about my usual habits except for trying to pray a little more about how to talk to people about things that were still bothering me.

In one way, this was good.  But this time as I approached step 9 I had a realization that hit me hard.

I looked back at the list of people and the little notes I wrote to them but to myself, and I realized that most of them had already heard me tell them these very things.  Why was I still bringing this stuff up?  Do they really need to hear from me about this stuff again?

Realization #1: I need to forgive myself for these things.
Instead of approaching these people again, I decided to write another letter to myself with these events particularly mentioned so I could put it behind me.  I needed to let these things go.

Realization #2: I wasn't forgiving other people.
As I began Step 9 another person's name came to me and as I added them to the list, the fear of approaching this person was stronger.  I found myself asking myself why I was feeling the need to apologize, and REALLY asking.  I felt the figurative curtain being pulled back from my underlying motivations and realized that all my life I have actually used apologies as a tool to get an apology back.  I recalled times in my younger years when I would use just the right words to get the other person to feel guilty or sympathetic towards me so they would cave and apologize to me or at least show me pity.  I was disgusted with myself.

Realizing this made me realize I hadn't been forgiving these people.  Step 8 comes before Step 9 for a reason, and that is to forgive others FIRST before going to them to apologize.  Because if I have really forgiven these people already, then when I'm apologizing I have no other motivation then to just apologize to them.  I've already forgiven them, so I don't need them to apologize to me.  I don't even need to tell them, "I forgive you for..." because that is only digging things up again.  I can keep that part to myself.

So after thinking about this for a while I returned to my list of people, and began taking names off as I began forgiving myself.  After doing that my list only had a couple names left and so now I'm going to approach only those ones.

The Lord has His own timing for this stuff.  Sometimes you might feel like things have taken way too long for you to let them go, but it might just be the exact time for Heavenly Father's plan.  Things happen the way they do because if they did not, something wouldn't be right.  I truly do believe that the Lord puts things in our path when we are ready for them.  He gives us countless opportunities to do things and if we take those opportunities we are blessed.  If we don't take those opportunities, he gives the opportunity to someone else.  But that doesn't mean we don't get another opportunity later on.  I believe that the steps really give me an opportunity for more perspective.

Maybe the steps aren't for everybody.  I've recently read a post where a wife of an addict talked about how she didn't feel the steps were for her.  I respect how she feels.  You should do what works for you.  However, I know without a shadow of a doubt that the steps can work in some way for EVERYBODY.  This woman said she thought maybe the steps aren't for her because she is already doing these things every day.  She's already repenting and using the atonement in her life.  Great!  I felt the same way when I started the steps.  But the steps bring in a new way to contemplate the atonement.  It provides little areas where we can each do a little bit better.  And to me, that's worth a try.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Purpose of the Steps

As I work on Step 8, I noticed it is like another inventory, similar to step 4, but instead of an inventory of my inner self, I'm making an inventory of things outside of myself.  "Making a thorough inventory of our resentments & acknowledging them to our Savior."  It's about honestly letting go of offenses that have made me embarrassed, uncomfortable, or ashamed in any way.

I used to get a little confused with what the difference was between steps 4 and 5 and steps 8 and 9.  This time around I'm actually seeing how they are a little different but they are also the same for a reason.  As I contemplated the wisdom in taking the steps in order, I began to realize the main goal that we reach for when taking these steps.

The steps work from the inside out, much like that quote from Step 6: "The Lord works from the inside out.  The world works from the outside in.  The world would take people out of the slums.  Christ takes the slums out of the people, and then they take themselves out of the slums.  The world would mold men by changing their environment.  Christ changes men, who then change their environment.  The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature...May we be convinced that Jesus is the Christ, choose to follow Him, be changed for Him, captained by Him, consumed by Him, and born again." (Ezra Taft Benson in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 5-6; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6-7).

In Steps 1, 2, and 3, we are internally submitting to the Lord and making personal decisions with the Lord to trust and follow Him.  Step 4 is my self evaluation where I examine my internal attitudes and intents, and Step 5 puts that into greater light by bringing it out where someone else can see it.  Step 6 and 7 are about reviewing steps 1, 2, and 3 at a deeper and even more personal and life-changing level.  Submitting even more to the Lord's will and changing our hearts so we are really becoming His.  Then in steps 8 and 9, we are evaluating the external effects from my behaviors or how others have been impacted, then bringing that into greater light for other people to see and forgive.

Then we get to the fun part.  Step 10 takes all of Steps 1-9, wraps them up and says "Do this every day."  PHEW!
Then Step 11 adds the Lord's guidance and direction in again, to keep you always following His will every day.
And Step 12 is the continuation of the process with the addition of sharing testimony to support and guide others' efforts and be a missionary to bring others to the Savior in this life-changing way.

For the first time, I am completely grasping the goal from using the steps: To incorporate the repentance process into our daily lives in a genuine and heartfelt way so we then no longer take weeks to go through these baby steps, but can develop this as a new-found habit to turn to the Savior immediately, take responsibility for our actions, and return to His way.

That really does take a complete change of heart.  That is why these steps work.  That is why after we have taken steps 1-12 truly to heart and really applied these things to our lives, we have had a spiritual awakening, and can completely heal and change into a true disciple of Christ.  The steps work.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Step 8: Seeking Forgiveness

Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.

Step 8 Reading

This step reminds me of step 4 in a way.  It's like taking down another inventory but this time instead of focusing only on internal things, it's a focus on external things.  How have I affected other people/events?  How have other people/events affected me?  Step 8 is about prayerfully choosing people to apologize to in step 9.  I have done step 8 twice, mind you, and I have a habit of apologizing to people whenever it weighs heavily on my consciousness, but I think when it comes to my addictive tendencies there are always things subconsciously swept under the rug that I need to face.

So, that's what I'm going to try to do this time with my step 8.  It can't be a rushed thing, which is one of my tendencies.  I need to be more prayerful and open to what the Lord shows me needs to be done.  Writing about it has helped me immensely.

It's interesting to write about how we once felt about something and then about how we feel about it now.  It helps a lot to really dissect the effect of something.  How did I feel then?  How do I feel now?  What has changed and why?  What still needs to change?

Acknowledge and face resentments. Honestly attempt to let go of offenses and resolve feelings.  This can only be done by really figuring out the cause and the reasons for the feelings, which honestly have more to do with internal reactions because of history then about what actually happened to trigger the feelings.

This time with step 8 I was writing a persons name, then writing a short paragraph to them in my journal that I would decide to share or not share later in step 9.  I wrote first what I forgive the person for, and then I would write an apology for how I wronged the person.  It really helped me clearly put into words how I felt and be honest without any excuses when apologizing.

It mentions to add your own name to the list of people, so I did that too.  I ended up writing a letter to myself as though I were writing to another person.  It was actually quite therapeutic.

I forgive you for hurting me in your ignorant childlike curiosity and not dropping bad habits.  I forgive you for being in denial, lying to me, and letting things happen to me that shouldn't have.  I forgive you for disrespecting me and for lowering my standards.  I'm sorry for being blind and self-righteous without valuing you.  I'm sorry for putting you down and making you feel like it was more righteous for me to think you were ugly or worthless.  I'm sorry I didn't care for you more and take care of you like the daughter of God you are.  I love you now an I feel freed to say I always have and I'm sorry I didn't say it more often when you needed to hear it.  You are beautiful and you better believe it.
Love, Me

Another thing it says to do is deliberately pray for someone in whom I have hard feelings for a couple of weeks.  This really helps us to sort out the hard feelings because the Lord always blesses us with love when we ask for it.