Help. Hope. Healing.

When You’re Done Fighting Alone

By Rex Goode

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I think that the biggest temptation with sexual, and any other, addiction is to deal with it completely alone, in isolation. There are so many things working against those of us who struggle with sexual addiction. It takes more than the internal struggle that we can do inside ourselves.

The main thing that works against us is shame. I’m not talking about the natural and healthy aversion we have to sinning. We should feel some sense of guilt and ashamedness when we sin. I’m talking about the internal sense that sin instills in us, the feeling that we have that we are bad, unacceptable, and of no worth to God or anyone else.

This is the voice of Satan. It is not the message of the gospel. The message of the gospel is that we are of so much worth to our Heavenly Father, even in our sinful and fallen state, that He was willing to implement a plan that would result in unfathomable pain and suffering in His one sinless Son that we would all have the opportunity to partake of eternal life.

When we experience shame, we want to hide from God and from anyone else. I think that Satan likes it that way. If he can keep us fighting alone, his voice of shame and our own fears of discovery will keep us where he wants us–alone.

I think that even though we Latter-day Saints didn’t invent shame, we are particularly prone to wanting to fight things alone. Haven’t we heard most of our church lives the necessity of self-reliance?

The idea of self-reliance is a paradox. On the one hand, we know that our free agency grants us both the right to make mistakes and the responsibility for our actions. When we think of it in the vacuum of isolation, God has given me agency, the freedom to choose right from wrong, along with the necessity of suffering the consequences of my decisions. If we only think of ourselves, we would have to admit that we are lost.

Yet, faced with the consequences of sin, both immediate and eternal, we must cannot escape the truth that self-reliance is impossible. We cannot save ourselves. When I was working against acting out behavior, I kept thinking about how I needed to work to make myself good enough to save.

As a personal idea, free or moral agency is easier to grasp when we think of it as strictly between us and the Lord. I sin; I repent; God forgives me. It’s quite true.

What we tend to forget about moral agency is that it works in tangled mess of human relationships too. Not only do I have to suffer for my mistakes, but I also end up suffering for the mistakes of others when their mistakes are directed at me. In fact, if another person’s error did me no harm, how could it be an error?

So, moral agency doesn’t work in an isolationist vacuum. Neither does repentance.

The tried and true way of dealing with the kinds of sin that are addictive and compelling is to work on it with others. Of course, God must be involved in the whole thing, but if you think you’ll succeed strictly between you and the Lord, you will likely fail.

That’s not because God needs anyone else’s input to help you. It’s not because you might not have the faith to just work it out between you and Him. It’s because His entire plan is about relationships. It’s also because the entirety of addiction, especially sexual addictions, is about relationships.

Your challenge will be to learn how to have healthy, meaningful, and mutually supportive relationships. You can’t replace the kinds of sins that are distortions of healthy relationshps with the black hole of isolation.

When you’re done fighting alone, find a trusted group that will support you through the tough times that will surely come. Work with your priesthood leaders. Where appropriate, enlist the help of family members.

The fight is so much more effective when done with others. Posting here on LDSR is a good way to start. As much as I think that, if that’s all you do, you’ll like fail at that too.

“Alone” doesn’t work. When you finally want to find what does, do it all. Find all the support you can. Join the forums at LDSR. Go to a support group. If you think you need it, get counseling. Share with trusted friends and family. Talk to your bishop. Above all, pray.

Just because it is true that without God, there is no hope of recovery doesn’t mean that “with God” is where you stop.

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6 Responses to “When You’re Done Fighting Alone”

  1. ysolonely said:

    I am LDS married no a non LDS person. I am not joking when i say that since i have been married for near 10 years my husband will only have sex with me 2 times a year. He has at some point withheld it until i behaved. i married a virgin not knowing what normal was because talking about sex is taboo. Every excuse was and still is being given to me by him i smell bad, i am fat (i dont think so) i snore etc. I feel like a jerk for wanting more and he lets me know i am. Should i find a friend? I am unsure of what to do. We have 2 kids (miracle kids i call them considering the circumstances.

  2. Rex Goode said:

    I highly suggest you sign up for our discussion forums. Go to http://www.ldsr.org/intro.phtml and click on Subscribe.

  3. Bill said:

    I need help. I had recovered from porn addiction as a teenager when I was preparing to serve my mission. Since I’ve been home (almost 10 years now) I have had some relapses in the form of viewing swimsuit models and just yesterday for the first time in 12 years I viewed pornography on the internet. I feel so ashamed and so guilty. I am in leadership in my ward, have a wonderful wife, and four wonderful children and I feel so awful..I feel that I have let them down.

    I’m afraid to go the Bishop to confess this because I’m in a very small ward and word gets around fast, if you know what I mean. I also don’t want to tell my wife because she is pregnant, feeling ill, and has too much “on her plate” to be let in on this.

    I have been fasting and praying all day. I don’t know what I was thinking to view pornography again.

    Does anyone have any advice? I need some help and support.

    Thank you,
    Brother Bill

  4. Rex Goode said:

    I suggest you sign up for our support forums at http://www.ldsr.org/intro.phtml and our mailing list at http://www.springsofwater.com/desert/clean/.

  5. Tim B said:

    Bill — Come on in. The forums are a good place. Also, check into the “Success” button at the top of the screen. It’s a good place to start.

  6. dstanley92 said:

    How true Rex. I am lucky to have a great bishop, two great counselors, a great group of ward friends and a great ARP group, plus the support forums here. I couldn’t do this without having support from others.
    Deanna

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