Friday, December 13, 2013

To the Wives of Addicts from an Addict

In my study this morning, I read this "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted!" (3 Nephi 22:11). My first thought when I read this is that it is a perfect description of someone who is dealing with the addiction of a loved one. As I continued to think on this, I began to understand more about how many ways we, as addicts, contribute to your affliction. I thought about how we add to the tempests in your life and how we are not there to comfort you when you need it. With that in mind, I would like to offer my apologies.

First, I am sorry for all of the lies. You willingly gave yourselves to us. You deserve for us to give you ourselves in return. Instead, you got a bunch of lies and half-truths. We lied to you from the beginning. In fact, we lied to you so many times, we began to believe some of those lies, but the reality is that none of them were true. We were lying to ourselves at the same time we were lying to you.

I am also sorry for the damage we have done to your self-worth. We should have been the ones building you up. We should have been your best support. Instead, by our words and actions you made you feel like you weren't good enough, pretty enough, sexy enough, or any number of ways we made you feel like your worth was less than it really is. The truth is you are daughters of God. Your worth is infinite and eternal, and we have no right to make you feel that you are less than you truly are.

I'm sorry for the separation we have caused. You are our wives. You are the ones we should be most involved with, but due to our choices, we have caused an emotional separation between us and you. We have been withdrawn from you when you needed to feel closeness. We have kept a part of ourselves back from you when we covenanted to give our whole selves to you.

I am sorry for not supporting you. You depend on us to help you and lift you, but our addiction has held us back. When you needed us most, we were not there for you either physically, because we were in the midst of acting out in our addiction, or emotionally, because we were dealing with the internal turmoil created by our actions.

I know this is not a complete list of the many ways we have harmed you, but please accept this sincere attempt from one addict to begin the process of repairing the damage we have done. You are truly angels in our lives. We do not deserve your love and goodness, and you do not deserve the torment we have put you through. This may not always be clear to us when we are in the depths of our addiction, but in our moments of clarity, we recognize how wonderful you are and how much we have come to rely on you for our strength.

I would like to leave you with the words of Isaiah that come just a few verses after where I started today. "In righteousness shalt thou be established" (3 Nephi 22:14). You are simply amazing. You will be exalted because of your righteousness, and I hope that we come to our senses and join you on that journey.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dailies

When I first started to recognize my addiction, I started to read as much as I could find. Some of the greatest sources of comfort to me were the blogs of other LDS addicts and their spouses. One of the concepts that I kept reading about but didn't really understand was the concept of "Dailies".

As I got into a recovery program, I began to understand that dailies are the things we do each day in order to overcome our addiction. Even at this point, I still did not truly understand the concept of dailies. In fact, I am still learning more about this each day.

I started with a daily routine of prayer and scripture study. I later added meditation and a daily planning session to set goals for the day. The problem was, I was doing these things as a method of fighting against my addiction. The problem is that fighting against this addiction does not work.

The further I get into recovery, the more I understand that the battle over my addiction has already been fought and won. I was never even a participant in this battle. The battle over my addiction was won by my Savior, Jesus Christ, through the power of His infinite Atonement.

My daily routine is not a matter of fighting the battle. It is a matter of choosing which side I am on. I place myself on the side of the victor or of the defeated by my actions each day. This is a choice I have to make every day. That is what the concept of dailies means to me now.

I study my scriptures each day because I love my Savior and I want to be closer to Him. I pray each day to develop a relationship with my Father in heaven. I meditate each day to train my mind to focus on those things which are of the greatest importance and to teach me to give my full attention to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I set goals each day to help me move in the direction I want to go to be able to return to live with those I love and am learning to love more each day.

The wonderful thing about this is that, as I turn my life to my Father and my Savior in this manner, I am supported and sustained by them. I am able to withstand the challenges that face me each day because I choose to put myself on their side.

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Children Will Doubt Not That Their Mother Knew It

It has been a while since General Conference, but one talk hasn't left my mind.  I keep hearing the theme repeated over and over. Maybe I ought to learn something.   It is time to write it down.

Edmond and I watched General Conference with a prayer in our hearts, desiring to know how we can lead out in the fight against pornography.  What is it that the Lord needs us to do and be?  Interestingly our answers were a little different-- we are different people after all.  Edmond needed to do something, and I needed to understand something.  And I keep hearing it....

I'll admit, I went into conference ready to and willing to rally the troops, take a stand and go big or go home.  I am (and have always been) an action oriented lady.  Let me get in there and roll up my sleeves and get it done!  Show me that wheel and I will push it along and invite everyone else to join me too!

Elder Scott's talk, Personal Strength Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, touched my heart and my mind and helped me understand how my efforts need to be directed.  Do you remember his talk?  Elder Scott related the conversion and subsequent dilemma faced by the people of Ammon.

After their conversion, the people of Ammon abandoned the weapons of their rebellion and covenanted to never again take up weapons.  The Nephites offered protection to the converts during a long and brutal war.  But Nephite army began to suffer and the people of Ammon considered taking up the weapons of war again to defend their people.

Elder Scott explains

The people of Ammon were at a critical moment of their spiritual lives. They had been true to their covenant never to take up arms. But they understood that fathers are responsible to provide protection to their families. That need seemed great enough to merit consideration of breaking their covenant.

Their wise priesthood leader, Helaman, knew that breaking a covenant with the Lord is never justified. He offered an inspired alternative. He reminded them that their sons had never been guilty of the same sins and therefore had not needed to make the same covenant. Though the sons were very young, they were physically strong and, more important, they were virtuous and pure. The sons were fortified by the faith of their mothers.  Under the direction of their prophet-leader, these young men took their fathers’ place in defense of their families and homes.

Our beloved husbands and fathers are like the converted men in this story.  They have been "a wild and a hardened ” people (Alma 17:4).  Their addiction to lust is as powerful and destructive as the Ammonties' addiction to blood and carnage.  But like the Ammonites, they have covenanted and are covenanting to leave behind forever the weapons of their rebellion and follow the Lord at all cost.

And the cost is high.  Our families are under attack.  Enemies seen and unseen are seeking out the souls of our children.  Who is left to defend the family?  I love Elder Scott's empathy,
 
Consider the tender feelings of those fathers. How must they have felt to know that the rebellious actions of their past prevented them from protecting their wives and children at that moment of need? Knowing personally of the atrocities their sons would now face, they must have privately wept. Fathers, not children, are supposed to protect their families! Their sorrows must have been intense....
However, sometimes our poor choices leave us with long-term consequences. One of the vital steps to complete repentance is to bear the short- and long-term consequences of our past sins. Their past choices had exposed these Ammonite fathers to a carnal appetite that could again become a point of vulnerability that Satan would attempt to exploit.
Satan will try to use our memory of any previous guilt to lure us back into his influence. We must be ever vigilant to avoid his enticements. Such was the case of the faithful Ammonite fathers. Even after their years of faithful living, it was imperative for them to protect themselves spiritually from any attraction to the memory of past sins.
At times I wish more men would join in the battle against pornography.  They know the devastating damage first hand.  But this talk helped me understand how Satan might use the battle to destroy and hurt men on the mend.  Elder Scott taught of the Ammonites,
Their humble, lifelong commitment to forsaking their sins did more to protect their families than anything they could have done on the battlefield. Their submission did not deprive them of blessings. It strengthened them and blessed them and blessed future generations.
Our men and our families must be fortified.  We must help build the fortifications that will protect and nurture and stregthen the rising generation who will face the enemy.  Elder Scott spoke of the righteous influence of women-- the mothers of the Stripling Warriors.  

Elder Scott clearly taught that, "their sons, who were blessed with righteous traditions, were not as vulnerable to the same temptations. They were able to defend their families faithfully without compromising their spiritual well-being."   "The sons were fortified by the faith of their mothers."  As I send off my sons and daughters into battle, I feel confident.  They know that I KNOW!  They doubt not my faith.

What better fortification can we build than the shield of faith?

Elder Scott taught,
Though the sons fought in fierce battles where all received at least some injury, not one life was lost. The young men proved to be a vital boost to the weary Nephite army. They were faithful and spiritually stronger when they returned home. Their families were blessed, protected, and strengthened.

Undoubtedly, our sons and daughters will fight fierce battles and be injured.  But their faith will grow strong and they will see miracles.   They will succeed where we can't.  They are the hope.  They will fight to protect the family and their fathers.

So where should my efforts lie in the fight against pornography.  I must fortify my family-- and all I love-- my biological sons and daughters and the sons and daughters I teach and love.  I must teach powerfully.  I must prepare my sons to face the atrocities of battle with faith the the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that He will deliver them and give them victory.  They must be surrounded and enveloped with love and hope and faith so they will have no cause to doubt.  They will KNOW that I KNOW!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Secret Sign

Today has been glorious and not so glorious all at the same time.

Sick child at home (threw up last night and I slept through it!) means I get to play hookey from work-- and help the now feeling fine and energetic child find something to occupy themselves-- besides tv and video games.

No work means time to write and think and chat with friends I haven't had time to catch up with lately.  All glorious.

But sad.  As I confided in a good friend about the struggle this year has been in our marriage and the amazing blessings the Lord has poured into our family and home, tears welled up in her eyes because that is the same struggle she has been facing too.  The battle with porn has left its mark on my friend.

How would I have known?  How could she have known?  Women who see and love each other and share so much but leave so much of the heartbreak unsaid.  It's understandable of course.  It's not my sin.  It's not my problem.  It is not mine to embarrass or unveil my Edmond's problems in the eyes of the world-- even if it is my own small area of the globe.  And thankfully Edmond doesn't feel like my discussing my problems with his pron addiction is "outing" his secret.  But I still don't feel like I can walk into a group setting and outright talk about the issues I face.

I know I am not the only woman facing these same challenges in my neighborhood.  Blogs are great.  But they are still filtered, edited, and not the fully raw emotion.  There is something about crying with a friend and sharing tears of empathy that heals the soul.  There is something to knowing that a person you KNOW is going through the same muck that makes it more bearable... at least you can make a joke and they understand, or a comment that will not be taken the wrong way.

I remember the day Edmond told me.  I called a dear friend to talk.  She listened and she loved.  But she had no clue.  It took months for me to find a friend (one that I already had) who had experienced the same thing.  And now 8 months later, I know 3 women personally whose spouses have porn issues- this morning it was 2.  There has got to be a better way to support the women around us who bear this unspoken burden.

I am reminded of the story of the first Christians in the Roman Empire.  They lived in secrecy never knowing who among them shared their belief.  They developed a secret sign to distinguish themselves.  When they met someone they would draw half the outline of a fish in the sand with their toe.  If the person responded by finishing the figure, they each knew they were believers.
photo credit: teejaybee via photopin cc

Half a heart will be my sign.  Finish my heart and I will know you know.  I will know you share burdens and heartbreak.  I'll know that your heart is being healed just like mine is through the Atonement of Christ and His Love.  Christ's love is answer for each women of faith who turns to the Savoir.  

It will be His love that heals our homes and families.

photo credit: Miriam Cardoso de Souza via photopin cc

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thankful

As mentioned previously, I've recently been studying the visit of Christ to the Nephites in 3 Nephi. The past few days I have been focusing on these verses:
7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
8 For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.
9 And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.
10 And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears. (3 Nephi 17:7-10)
In reading these verses, I find it interesting that those who were afflicted in any manner needed to be brought to the Savior in order to be healed. They were not able to come to Him on their own. I was one of those who was afflicted and needed others to bring me to Christ.

Through pondering on these verses, I have come to a greater realization of how grateful I am for those who have helped to bring me to Christ that I may be healed of my affliction. I am truly thankful for my wife who is the most kind, loving, and forgiving person I know. She shouldn't have to deal with all I have put her through, but she chooses to go through it and love me anyway. She is the most Christlike person I have ever met, and I am amazed at how much love she has to give.

I am also thankful for my Bishop for listening to me and helping me in my quest to become worthy to hold the Priesthood of God and serve my family through that power. I am also grateful to him for helping me to find a therapist who is skilled in addiction recovery.

I am grateful to my therapist for helping me to understand the true nature of my addiction, and for teaching me practical tools to manage my addiction on a day to day basis and rely on my Savior for help.

Mostly I am thankful for my Father in Heaven and my Savior for finding ways to show their love for me even when I was in the depths of addiction. I am grateful for the healing that comes through Christ's Atonement, and I am grateful that they never give up on me.

Monday, November 11, 2013

To Hear and Do

Recently in my scripture study I have been reading the words of Christ to the Nephites in 3 Nephi. In my reading, I came across a passage that is very familiar to me and to just about anyone who has read the Book of Mormon or the Bible. This time, I recognized some things I had never noticed before.
 24 Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—
 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.
 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—
 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (3 Nephi 14:24-27)
 The first thing I noticed is that both the wise man and the foolish man hear the sayings of the Lord. In this context, to hear means to understand and to believe. So, both the wise man and the foolish man understand and believe the words of the Lord. The difference in these two is that the wise man "doeth them."

The second thing I noticed is that both men had to endure the same storm. The wise man was not spared from the trial (that would be counter to God's plan for us). He dealt with the same rain, floods, and wind as the foolish man. The difference is that the wise man was prepared to deal with the situation while the foolish man was not.

We are all going to face hard times in life. Sometimes those are of our own making like the choices I made in my youth that led to me becoming addicted to pornography. Sometimes our challenges are the result of the choices of others like my wife having to live with my addiction. Sometimes life is just hard. That is a normal part of our mortal existence.

Our ability to deal with those challenges without being destroyed is based on our preparation. I understand the words of Christ and I believe Him, but my foundation of faith is built in the doing of His words. I build my foundation every day when I get up and study my scriptures even if it would be nice to lay in bed for an extra half hour. I build my foundation every day when I make a plan for my day and then work to achieve the goals I have set.

I do want to be clear about one thing. Doing these actions of themselves does not give me the strength to withstand my challenges. Doing these actions helps me learn how to rely on Jesus Christ to aid me when I need it. Through doing the words of Christ, I come to know Him better and understand His love and care for me. Through doing the words of Christ, I am more prepared to receive of His grace because I am humble enough to recognize my inability to overcome on my own.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Reopened Wound

I thought I was doing ok.  I thought I was cruising and loving life.  Then I went to Relief Society.  Let me explain.  I've been working in the nursery or in primary or Young Womens for years-- I don't get to go Relief Society too often.  And I don't always miss it.

Recently is was my week to go to Relief Society instead of helping in the nursery.  I'll admit, I wasn't thrilled to begin with.  (I love singing, dancing, playing, teaching and LOVING the beautiful children in our nursery-- it is a happy, joyous, beautiful place.)  So my attitude wasn't in the perfect place, but I was where I was supposed to be.  At church, in Releif Society.

Our teacher taught about the need to love God more than the world.  She shared an anectdote about how she had learned recently that her love of decorating her house had kept her from loving God fully.  My heart burned;  is this really what we believe loving the world is.  Loving decorating or fashion?

But my heart hurt.  My soul ached.  I wanted to scream out to the room.  YOU HAVE NO CLUE!!!  Loving the world is believing and living the lies Satan teaches.  The lie that wealth is the end all and be all power.  That power is all you need to be happy.   That selfishness is the key to lasing happiness.  That our happiness and our identity is defined by our sexual relationships.  That orgasm makes everything better.  That the female body is an instrument of power through her sexuality.  That life is better when sex is better.

I hurt because I felt no one in the room could feel my pain or see the real elephants in the room-- the real issues we as women, mothers and grandmothers face.  Living in a world full of lies that prostitute the beauty of human life and sexuality.  Trying to teach our families to live in love when the world teaches us to live a life of self interest. Centering our family activities on the Lord instead of entertainment.

The teacher didn't take comments so I held my breath and walked out after the lesson with a false smile and went to home to my bed and cried.


I realize now that I am still healing.  My experience with sexual addiction colors and taints my world.  (I have learned that the majority of the men I know have struggled with sex addictions-- all  5 of my brothers , a brother in law, father in law, a grandfather and my spouse-- and those are just the men I know about.)  No wonder I feel that sex addiction, healing, and learning is a HUGE concern.  No wonder I want to teach and learn and practice selfless love.  No wonder I want to share and teach and embrace the joy of repentance.

Today I will embrace and love myself-- forgive myself for being so negative about Relief Society-- and give myself some time to feel, to hurt, to mourn and to return to loving.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Am the Captain of My Soul

One of my constant struggles is recognizing who I am. I have spent many years telling myself I was a sinner, I was no good, or that people would be appalled if they saw who I really was.

It turns out that I was the one who did not see who I really was and who I really am. I am a son of God who has been blessed with many talents and abilities that can be used to benefit those around me.

I have also been granted the ability to make choices. I have used this ability in the past to make choices that have harmed myself and others, but I am now making choices that are beginning to heal that harm. I am learning that my choices are mine to make again each moment of my life. I am not defined by the choices I have made in the past, I am defined by the choices I am making right now.

I came across a poem a few weeks ago that speaks to this point. I had heard pieces of it before, but I had never heard the entire poem before.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-"Invictus" William Ernest Henley

I am coming out of the blackness of the night. I may be bloodied. I have shed and caused many tears. There have been and may yet be consequences based on what I have done, but I will face them without fear. My head will continue to be unbowed. I am the captain of my soul because I am a son of God.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Such As Is Common To Man" and Women

I have been studying the lives of the women in the bible as part of my scripture study.  I wanted to know who those women were, what they experienced and how they lived lives of faith.  I found a list on a Christian website of ALL 180+ women listed (mentioned) in the Bible- Old and New Testament.  I started with the A's: Abigail, Anna and 25 more women I had never heard of.  Some women were mentioned only in passing, yet their stories pierced my heart.

I adored the account of Abishag and her tender watchcare of the elderly King David (1Kings 1-2).  The scriptures say she "cherished" the king while Bathsheba came to see David to secure the kingdom for her son Solomon.

Abiah's life gives balm to every widow's heart (1 Chronicles 2:24).  Abiah gave birth to Hezron's son after his death.  Yet she carried on.

My heart mourned with Abihail, niece of king David,  one of Rehoboam's  18 wives and 60 concubines (2Chronicles 11:18-19).  Yet I found peace knowing that sexual addiction has haunted the human family for centuries.

As I have read and pondered the lives of these women in the Bible (I'm just in the B's), I have redescovered the great importance of Paul's words in his letter to the Corinthians, (my changes in italics)

There hath no trial or problem taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tried above that ye are able; but will with the problem also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1Corrinthians 10:13)
God truly is faithful and will provide tender watchcare over his daughters as they grow and live and love.

Friday, October 4, 2013

My Power Trip

I read an article recently about the devastating effects of porn on the rising generation's view of sexuality and intimacy.  I was appalled at how the teens surveyed responded and how they viewed such a special moment.  I thought long and hard about the consequences our daughters will face in a time when most men have been exposed to degrading material.  How will they cope?  How will they protect the sacredness of sexuality?  How can we protect them, teach them and help them set a standard without scarring them for life?

Then the reality of my situation hit me square in the face.  I have been a victim of and a proponent of porn's propaganda:  women are objects to be lusted after, desired and conquered.

I have played the part, and even embraced the power that being objectified brought into my relationship with Edmond.  He wanted me.  I had power.  I played into his lusting because his lust feed my ego.  It was how I felt valued, wanted and special.  I knew I was loved, because Edmond loved lusted after my body.  I knew how to dress, act, behave, you name it, to get the reaction/action I wanted.  It worked; I worked it.

How unhealthy was that?  But I still find myself there.  Wanting to be wanted.  In a moment that should be just about love, I find myself wanting to be the piece of meat that gets the attention.  Craving that power that comes with controlling another person and being the object of their lust.  Edmond's addiction played into my weakness-- power + control = fun.

 How do I reclaim the joy of intimacy, when I miss the attention lust gave me?  It is time for my own addiction recovery process.

Step one....

Let Us Cheerfully Do All Things

Earlier this week, I read this blog post. As I read it, something didn't sit well with me. Not because she is wrong, but because she is right. Why is it that there are so few men leading in the fight against the evils of pornography? I started to think about this and what my role in this fight should be.

Then, yesterday morning, in my scripture study, I read Doctrine and Covenants 123. This section is part of a letter written by Joseph Smith to the saints while he was imprisoned in Liberty Jail. He is giving the saints instructions on what their duty is in relation to those who have been persecuting them.

As I was reading, these verses seemed to me to be as much about pornography as they are about the persecutions the saints suffered in Missouri:
8 It is an iron yoke, it is a strong band; they are the very handcuffs, and chains, and shackles, and fetters of hell.
 9 Therefore it is an imperative duty that we owe, not only to our own wives and children, but to the widows and fatherless, whose husbands and fathers have been murdered under its iron hand;
 10 Which dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder, and to stand aghast and pale, and the hands of the very devil to tremble and palsy.
While there may not be many who have been actually murdered through the scourge of pornography, there are many who have been torn from their wives and children because they were not able to overcome the urges and enticing of the addiction. Those wives and children are as much widows and fatherless as if the men were actually murdered.

The saints were urged to collect and publish reports of the abuses they suffered. I believe the blogs of those who are addicted and those who are suffering from the addictions of loved ones are a step in this direction. I hope that this blog is also a step in publishing the abuses of pornography to the world. I also hope this blog is a beacon to those who are looking for healing to know that it is available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I believe there is more to be done though. I am not sure what that is at this point, but I am making it a matter of prayerful study to learn what I can do to aid in the battle. I also ask you, the readers, to give me suggestions on what you think needs to be done.

I will leave today with the closing verse from section 123:
17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How I Would Answer

The latest edition of the New Era reached my mailbox yesterday.  After reading the comics with my kids, I flipped through a couple pages seeing what the different articles were about.  A call for responses in the Questions and Answers section caught my eye.

The Questions and Answers sections asks youth how they would answer a question from a friend and shares varied views on how to approach a topic.  The upcoming question is, "I'm trying to control  my thoughts, but there are so many temptations.  How can I have cleaner thoughts?"

The addict's wife in me wanted to jump up to my computer and write.  I wanted to compose a beautiful answer to these youth with real, meaningful answers from someone who has really had to live this (personally and vicariously with Edmond...)  But I have long passed any semblance of "young womanhood."  So I'll tell you what I would write and hope that will suffice.

Dear Concerned Teen,
Tempting and inappropriate thoughts are normal.  I'll say it again and even spell it out for you.  Temptations are N-O-R-M-A-L.  Everyone has them.  Even grown ups.  So what do you do when one pops into the mind.

Popular anecdotes suggest, running from the temptation (think Joseph in Egypt) and willing a positive/spiritual thought to take the tempting thought's place (think sing a hymn or reciting a scripture).  This may work for a while, but when and if they fail, they leave the helpless soul feeling frustrated, disillusioned, heartbroken and sorrowful.

The real lesson to be learned is this:Control is an illusion.  Control is futile.  Control is the way of the adversary-- remember how Satan tried to take away agency and force everyone to return to heaven. The Savior's way has never been to control or force the mind or will to obey.  If He won't use force, we shouldn't force us either.  Force, control and fleeing all lead down the wrong path (read about Edmond's experience).  The hymn teaches that the Savior will,
...call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.

The task given to us as mortals is to learn to guide, direct, lead and influence in love our thoughts so as to allow our minds to become one with the Savior- as He is one with the Father.  Thus we comprehend the magnitude of the covenant to remember Him always.  Much of the choice or power we have with our thoughts is the attention we give them. (Edmond wrote beautifully about this.)

One of my favorite books teaches, "Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle can not grow."  Giving attention to the rose means we we dig about it, prune it, dung it, nourish it.  In caring for the rose, no thistle has a chance to take root.  Filling your mind with who you are, who you represent, whose you are, the love you have received from the Savior, loving others around, the beauty of the world's creations and all the other positives of mortal life will not leave room for the negative or destructive thoughts.

Let me repeat, lest you misunderstand.  In a moment of temptation, you can not force clean thoughts;  you can not fight that demon.  Only one can--  and He already has.  You must fill your life with good before the temptation comes, so when it does come there won't be a place for it to stay.  The temptation can fade away gently from before your mind's eye and you can continue on in Love and Life.

What do you do when a temptation crosses your mind.  If you have filled your life with things of Christ, you can let it go with confidence, knowing that you can rely on the Savior.  Now get back to pruning that rose.

Much love and Many Prayers for You,
Haydee Dantes

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thankful for My Addiction?

In a recent group meeting we were talking about the daily struggle with sexual addiction. Our facilitator brought up Captain Moroni and how "his heart did glory in ... resisting temptation" (Alma 48:16). We went on to talk about finding glory in our struggles and tribulations. As we were discussing these things, the following story came back to my mind:

“A teacher, conducting a class, said it was unwise ever to attempt, even to permit them [the Martin handcart company] to come across the plains under such conditions.
“[According to a class member,] some sharp criticism of the Church and its leaders was being indulged in for permitting any company of converts to venture across the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart caravan afforded.
“An old man in the corner … sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it, then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.
“In substance [he] said, ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there, too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.
“‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’” He continues: “‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.
“‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.’”
This story was quoted by Elder James E. Faust in his talk "The Refiner's Fire" from the April 1979 General Conference (by the way, the entire talk is worth reading).

I have been thinking more about this the past several days. I have been looking at how this relates to my journey in recovery from sexual addiction. Was it a mistake for me to indulge in my addiction? YES, it was. Would I choose again to myself and my family through the devastation caused by my actions? NO, I would not.

With that being said, this addiction is something that requires me to humble myself and trust in the Lord. Those are things I am not very good at on my own. In fact, I am really terrible at them. This journey of recovery is the price I am paying to become acquainted with God, and for that, I am thankful.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A "New" Me



When Edmond and I started the recovery process, I was excited to write my statement of who I was. The statement came easily and naturally.  It was an expression of all the things I am and want to be. I even made it look pretty.

Read Edmond's Statement Here

 I loved this statement for months.  It was a catalyst for me to act and learn.  Now when I meditate on this vision of who I am, I tend to see and feel the list of things I have not been or done that day.  As I am trying to strengthen myself and focus my mind on loving myself, I get hung up on what I am not, instead of remembering who I want to be.

It must be time to simplify.

Things I do know:
  • My heavenly father has given me 3 amazing gifts-- my body, my agency and my Savior Jesus Christ
  • I treasure these most precious gifts
  • I know I am loved

My "New" Statement
I am a beloved daughter of my Father in Heaven.  Because He loves ME, he has given me the gift of a body, the gift of a Savior and the gift of agency.  I treasure these precious gifts and use them to love and serve others.  I am a powerful witness of the intense and enduring love of my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ.  Though Christ's healing power, I feel peace, hope, love and joy.

I love that I can change, adapt, modify, & adjust when I need to.  I don't have to stagnate and feel less about myself.  Because I am loved, I can move on.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Great Escape Artist

I'll be honest.  Summer kicks my trash.  Being a mom during the summer is harder for me than running a marathon (and that is not my idea of fun)!  Most days I wanted to yell at my kids, "YOU THREW OFF MY GROOVE!" and have them thrown out the window.

Summer full-time mom-ing throws into stark relief ALL my parenting/personality foibles.  The seemingly opposite desires to control those around me and keep everyone happy; to work hard and relax deeply; to keep the house tidy (at all times) and play freely; to sing joyfully amid complete silence.

As the summer progressed I found myself, struggling to balance life, the demands of my children, the chaos of happy (and sometimes not so happy)  play, and the managing of a household.  When I couldn't do it all, I began escaping into books, sneaking food to my room, eating with a closed door so nobody would ask, "Why can't I have cookies at 8 am?  I found myself thinking, I can't do it; I'm just going to ride out the storm.

Fast forward to today.  I have started running with a good friend who is getting into shape and has little running experience (AND she is joining the Army-- how cool is that!).  As we were running this morning I was explaining the difference between pushing through a run and relaxing into the run.  Powering through will get you to the finish line if you're close, but the goal is to relax and let your body do the work.  Your will can not overcome the workload-- it is irrelevant in running.  More energy is expended when power through something, than when you relax into it.  Surrender to the run-- or what ever workout you're doing and life will be fantastic.

Great concept right.  I've taught this concept many times; I've blogged about it before; I know this!  Maybe not.  Today I realized that I have been trying to Power Through my summer.  When the power method fails, I give up and escape into a my world of books/food/facebook/???.  My will does not need to be imposed, and I don't need to retreat.  I just need to surrender to life.  Allow my feelings to be real.  And run on.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Changing My Heart

I have had a hard time coming up with something to write for the past few weeks. Things have been going steady in my recovery, and I wasn't quite sure what the next step would be for me. For the last couple of weeks, I have had impressions from the Spirit guiding me to what the next step in my recovery should be, but I wasn't quite ready to take that step. Yesterday, I think the Lord realized that I wasn't quite getting it so He had to kind of beat me over the head with it (I am an incredibly stubborn person).

For the past few weeks, I have been feeling that I needed to start letting others into my heart. Due to things that happened as I was growing up, I closed off my heart to others. In fact, I built great barriers to my heart that only 5 people on this earth have been able to penetrate. Those people are my wife and children. I can honestly say that I have not even let my parents or siblings into my heart.

So anyway, I have been getting these impressions from time to time over the past few weeks, but I kept telling myself I was not ready to deal with the issues that caused me to close my heart in the first place. Yesterday, the Lord gently but firmly let me know that it is time.

During my scripture study in the morning, I found a cross-reference to this verse:
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
It was clear to me that, through the Atonement,  Christ is prepared to give me a new heart. He is just waiting for me. This was another nudge telling me that it is time and I need to move forward.

Later, while I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting, there was a talk about charity. While I was listening, this talk by Elder C. Max Caldwell that I read several years ago came back to my mind. In the talk, Elder Caldwell talks about what is meant by the "love of Christ." He lists three ways this phrase may be looked at:

  1. Love for Christ
  2. Love from Christ
  3. Love like Christ
I am beginning to understand that I have felt love for Christ and love from Christ, but I have never felt love like Christ. It is now clear to me that the next step in my recovery is to develop this love for others that is lacking in my life.

I know this is going to be incredibly difficult for me, and I am a little scared (and by a little scared I mean I am completely terrified) of what this process will require from me, but I also know that, with the help of my Savior, I will be able to give up my stony heart and receive the heart of flesh that has been prepared for me.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Trial of My Faith

And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. (Ether 12:6)
 I have always misunderstood the concept of a trial of my faith. I always thought of a trial of my faith as some great event that I would need to struggle through and rely on the Lord, and eventually He would help me through it. For a long time, I thought my addiction was that trial of my faith. I didn't understand that it was an addiction. I believed I didn't have enough faith because the Lord did not help me overcome my temptations.

Now, I realize that the Lord does help me overcome my temptations, but not in the way I expected. I always expected that these things would no longer be a temptation for me. Instead, the Lord helps me to overcome them by not giving in. I still have the temptations, but I don't act on them.

In my previous post, I talked about being able to walk away from temptation. I am able to do this right now with help from the Lord. I prepare myself each day to receive His help by doing my morning routine of scripture study, meditation, and daily planning.

The question is, "What does this have to do with faith?". I have come to realize that the trial of my faith is not to wait for the Lord to take my temptations away from me. The trial of my faith is to consistently do the little things each day that allow me to call upon Him for strength when I need it.

This has been a huge paradigm shift for me to realize that a trial of my faith is not about making it through some huge experience. Rather, the trial of my faith is to get up 45 minutes earlier each day so I can do the things I have been asked to do in order to be able to walk on the road of recovery.

The witness I receive after the daily trial of my faith is to be able to make it through one more day in active recovery. This cycle of trying my faith each day and receiving a witness of its power each day has grown into an even greater witness to me. I can now see the hand of the Lord in my life each day. With that comes and even greater faith and desire to do the things He has asked of me because I now know that He will help me to be able to do them.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Walking Away from Temptaion

I have struggled for a long time with how to deal with temptations (or triggers, or whatever you want to call them). All my life I have heard terms like "resist temptation" or "flee from evil". I always took this to mean I needed to fight against my temptations. I would try to ignore the temptation. I would sing a hymn. I would read my scriptures. I would do all of these things to fight against the temptation, but I always lost. Fighting the addiction would always lead to me eventually giving in. This would leave me with feelings of worthlessness because I was not strong enough to overcome.

I would read scriptures like 1 Cor 10:13 and think "maybe this doesn't apply to me, maybe it is just for the normal people". Like most addicts, I thought I was different. I thought I was so vile that I was beyond the reach of the Atonement.

I was completely wrong. I am NOT beyond the reach of the Atonement. I am a son of God. Jesus Christ is MY Savior and Redeemer. He is MY brother, and He went through everything to do with the Atonement for ME. It has taken me a long time to understand that if no one else ever lived on the earth, Christ would still carry out the Atonement just for me.

I was also wrong about how to deal with temptations. It always seemed like my options were to fight the temptation until I gave in to it, or to just give in immediately and get it over with. This isn't true. There is a third option for me. That option is to not do anything with a temptation. It sounds a little crazy when you first think about it, but it has all of the power for me.

Think of it like a boxing ring. A temptation comes and puts me in the ring with a champion heavyweight boxer (my addict). I could just stand there and take my beating (just giving in), or I could try to fight him and still take my beating. The third option is to just get out of the ring and walk away. To not do anything is not to ignore my temptation or addiction, I am still perfectly aware it is there. It is also not to try to actively fight against it. I can just acknowledge its existence and then go on with whatever I was already doing.

The incredible thing is this works for more than just the temptation view pornography or masturbate. It also works with the feelings of guilt and shame that have been coming the longer I get into sobriety and recovery. Recently, I have caught myself feeling frustrated if I even encounter a trigger. I would think "I should be beyond this. Why am I still having thoughts like this." I've come to realize these criticizing thoughts are just another way for my addict to get me back into the ring. I don't want to get back in the ring, so I just need to let these thoughts go as if they were actual thoughts to indulge in my addiction because this is what they really are.

My addiction has no more power over me as long as I continue to walk away from the ring.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Blooming in Rocky Places

Water trickling down the mountain
I was excited this year to hike with our Young Women.  I love nature.  I love the girls.  I love sitting quietly watching God's creations.  I admire the flora and fauna that grace the mountain praries and ridges.  I marvel at their ability to thrive in inhospitable circumstances.  Here are some of my favorite pictures of the trip-- they remind me that I can bloom, grow, and shine even in Rocky Places.




This tree grows off the face of the mountain.   It's sprawling roots cover the trail and are abused by hikers.  I love the bend of the tree as it reaches its way to the sun.








I love these little flowers that blooms in the rocks near a water fall.  Their only water comes from occasional off- spray from the falls.





















This little white flower grows along the trail.



Sunday, July 14, 2013

Choosing to Be Haydee

Are you familiar with the Count Of Monte Cristo's female characters? Haydee, Mercedes, and Valentine.  Each woman faced unthinkable hardship and heart break.  As I reread Monte Cristo recently, I thought about how each woman fared with the challenges she faced and finally understood why Edmond calls me his Haydee.

Mercedes grew up in a poor fisherman's village.  She was hours from her marriage when her fiance was arrested on spurious charges and whisked away.  She never was told if he was dead or rotting away in some prison.  A year later, she married her good friend Fernand, who amassed a fortune while serving in the army.  The fortune allowed them to live the high life in Parisian society.

When Mercedes learned the fraud surrounding her husband's fortune, she and her grown son abandoned their Parisian life, home and husband/father to build their own future.  Mercedes was without hope and extremely depressed.  Resignation and despair clouded all her visions of the future.  She accepted the charity of Edmond and lived a solitary and sad life.

We meet Valentine as a teen betrothed to a man she doesn't love (and who doesn't love her in return).  She secretly loved a decorated military officer her family had never met.  Her only friend and confidant was her paraplegic and mute grandfather.  When tragedy struck her family and her unwanted marriage is expedited she choose to trust her grandfather and followed his directions in faith.

As Valentine's world continued to crumble around her, she learned to see what is real, to recognize the true threats to her safety and through her trust in Higher Powers was able to be united with her love.  While she mourned for tragedy and hurt that surrounded her family, she found joy in the miracles she experienced.

As a young child, Haydee experienced unimaginable pain.  She witnessed the betrayal of her father and the mass slaughter of all her loved ones.  She was sold into slavery by one who professed to be her friend and protector.

Haydee was purchased by a wealthy man who planned to use her as leverage against his enemies.  He treated her like a queen, but his heart was cold and removed. Haydee quietly observed him, relished his presence and saw all the good he did do.  Haydee learned to love this man for who he really was.  When all he could see was his faults, the injuries he had caused others, his obsession with vengeance;  when all his future was beak with the hatred he had filled his heart with-- even in that moment Haydee saw his goodness.  And LOVED HIM.  Haydee lived in hope and love she found peace and a happily ever after life.


Our stories are filled with heartache and pain.  HOW we choose to live will determine our future.   You may be a Valentine or a Haydee or a Mary or a Martha.  You  may even feel like a Mercedes some days.  We can live in sorrow and be resigned to life and pain.  We can also live in faith and be joyful.

Today I choose to live like Haydee.  With love and trust.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Happy Thoughts

I am excited today to steal a moment away from the mayhem of summer break.  Kids are quietly watching a movie and the computer is unoccupied.  IT'S A MIRACLE!!!

I was reading Romans 5 the other day and I LOVED it.

Being justified by faith
we have peace with God 
through our Lord Jesus Christ... 
and rejoice in hope 
of the glory of God.  
--Romans 5:1-2

I have spent much of my life seeking peace.  Wanting peace.  Not just quiet cooperation among the kids, but the peace that calms the soul.  Through Jesus Christ, through our faith in Him, we can commune with our Father and feel His peace and rejoice in the hope of that rest with our Father.

We glory in tribulation also;
knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience;
and experience hope;
And hope maketh not ashamed
because the love of God 
is shed abroad in our hearts by 
the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
--Romans 5:3-5

Knowing, understanding, embracing this process-- problems, patience, experience, hope, LOVE-- allows me to relax and let life happen.

Off to play with the little ones.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Watching My Thoughts

This is a concept that has always been elusive to me. I know that we are commanded to "watch our thoughts," but what does that really mean? I have never understood how to actually watch my thoughts. I would "watch" as unwholesome thoughts would enter my mind and completely take over. Watching my thoughts almost made me feel powerless over them. Like I was just a bystander who could only watch and do nothing to help.

In the last few months, I have learned that watching my thoughts is much more than that. To truly watch my thoughts, I need to actively pay attention to them and then decide which thoughts to focus attention and energy on. It sounds so easy! Unfortunately, as someone who has spent the majority of my life allowing the addicted part of my brain run the show, it has been quite difficult to do this.

In my previous post, I mentioned that the key to this for me is meditation. The type of meditation I have learned is very simple but powerful in learning to watch my thoughts.

The first step in this type of meditation is to choose a passage to meditate on. It could be a passage of scripture, a quote, or any other passage that is meaningful to you. The only qualifications are that it must be long enough to have deep meaning to you, and it must be short enough to be easily committed to memory. I like to use my future picture statement that I developed earlier.

Next, you need to find a comfortable place and time to meditate. You need to be in a place where you will not be easily interrupted, and where you will not get uncomfortable. I like to meditate early in the morning before anyone else is awake. I have chosen my kitchen where I sit in a chair with my hands resting gently in my lap.

Take a few deep cleansing breaths to help clear your mind. Now, slowly repeat the words of your passage. Make sure that each word gets its own emphasis, but that they are still close enough together to have meaning. While you are repeating the passage, pay attention to what is happening in your mind. It will likely get bored fairly quickly and begin to wander. When this happens, acknowledge the thoughts that come into your mind and then gently set them aside and direct your mind back to your passage.

This will take a lot of practice, especially if you are like me and have spent the majority of your life allowing your mind to wander whenever it desires. Begin by meditating for 5 minutes and then as you become more proficient at directing your thoughts slowly increase the time. I have found that 10 minutes of this type of meditation each morning helps me to focus my mind and be aware of what thoughts enter it. I then have the ability to choose which thoughts to give attention to and which ones to allow to fall by the wayside.

With this level of awareness, I no longer have to fight inappropriate thoughts when they enter my mind. I can acknowledge them and set them aside. I am now able to watch my thoughts and choose where to focus my attention.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lessons From Bible Camp

Recently my kids went to a Bible day camp sponsored by a local church (not LDS).  They had a terrific time learning and singing and playing. I loved the theme they took from a popular song:  Jesus is my Super Hero.  (My kids haven't stopped singing that song since camp!)

On the final day they had a special guest visitor at camp-- one of the coolest super heroes ever: Batman came to share his story with the kids. 

Batman talked about his job as a hero-- catching the bad guys and putting them in jail.  Batman used the law to seek justice.  But the criminals would serve their time and never change  Batman would find them again back on the streets causing problems.  Justice wasn't enough to solve the problem.  The criminals needed mercy to change.  Batman explained that now, when he meets a bad guy, he puts his arm around them and says, "Let me tell you about my friend Jesus."  Jesus' grace alone is what can lead the bad guys home.

What a beautiful lesson.  Sometimes as victims of others actions we are so caught up in seeking justice and even vengeance, that we forget that the only way to bring about change is Christ's love and grace.  Only His power will enables us and the perpetrators to change.  Jesus really is a Super Hero.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Faith and Diligence

First off, I need to apologize for taking so long to write this post after the last one. Life has been incredibly hectic for me the last few weeks. I'm glad that Haydee was able to write during that time so there has been a presence here.

I have been thinking about a post that details the things I was able to do to remain engaged with my wife's family rather than withdrawing as I talked about in my previous post. I was struggling with how to approach the topic. Then, as I was doing my scripture study this morning I came across what I was looking for.

As part of his teachings to his son, Helaman, Alma talks about the experiences of Lehi's family with the Liahona:
And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day. (Alma 37:40)
There are a couple of key things here that are important. First, faith. This is not a generic "faith in Christ" kind of faith. While that type of faith is a necessary beginning, the faith Alma is talking about is the specific belief that "God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go." Lehi and his family had to have faith that the specific miracle they were looking for was possible.

The next key is that "they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God." By exercising this specific faith that the Liahona could point them in the direction they should travel in the wilderness, they received that miracle, but they also received other miracles based on their faith in that one specific thing.

The final key is that this was done "day by day." Lehi and his family had to look at the Liahona every day. They could not take a day off. They could not think to themselves, "we know what direction we are going; we don't need to look today." When they took this attitude, things did not work out for them:
Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;
Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions. (Alma 37:41-42)
So, how does this relate to my ability to be engaged with my wife's family? It's really simple. In learning about my addiction and recovery from addiction, I have been given a few simple things to do each day; my dailies. I do these things each day with faith that they will allow me access to the power of God to be able to overcome any temptations I may face that day.

There are three things I do every morning to help me in my recovery. I study the scriptures. I don't just read any more. I begin my study with a prayer asking for help to learn what the Lord would have me learn that day. I then read with a full purpose trying to understand every detail of what I read until I find what I feel the Lord has for me to learn that day. I do not read a certain number of verses or chapters or for a certain amount of time; I read until the Holy Ghost speaks to my heart and I learn something. I then record what I have learned in my study journal so I can go back and remember what I have learned.

The second thing I do is meditate. I'm not talking about sitting in the lotus position and chanting "ohmmmm". The meditation I do is much more focused. It is designed to help me be aware of my thoughts and lead them in the direction I want them to go. I will write a post describing this type of meditation later.

The third thing I do each day is to make a daily plan. This is a plan of small measurable goals that focus on different areas to help me be healthy. I make goals relating to my physical, emotional, spiritual, and sexual health. They are simple things that I need to do during the day to stay healthy. For example I might set a goal in the physical area to eat my 5 servings of fruits and vegetables that day. A goal in the emotional category could be something like having a conversation with one of my children. A spiritual goal would be something like listen to a General Conference talk. In the beginning, my goal in the sexual area was just to not act out that day, but now, I have come to the point where I focus on my thoughts more than my actions. If my thoughts are clean, my actions will follow.

The best part about these is that the miracles that come each day are not limited to my ability to remain sober. I am blessed with other miracles also. I am blessed with the ability to engage others even in crowded settings and not withdraw. I am also blessed with an ability to focus on my work and do more in a day than I have ever been able to before.

None of these things are difficult to do. They are small actions on my part. The key is that I do them each day with faith that I will be blessed to be able to progress on my journey in the most direct course that day. I have to remember why I do these things each day. If come to the point where I think I can do things on my own and I don't need these tools any more, the miracles I have been seeing will cease and I will not progress on my journey.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Beautiful like Strawberries


In another post I talked about the spiritual nature of beauty and how I learned to feel beautiful because my Savior and my Heavenly Father know I am beautiful.  Even after I understood and knew that I am beautiful, I questioned how Edmond could believe I am beautiful and still seek out porn.

Has that happened to you too?  Your lover says you are incredibly beautiful, but still finds pleasure looking at other women.  How can you regain your self confidence, feelings of beauty and (for me) the status of sex goddess, when you're not quite sure you can beilieve what your lover says. Understanding Edmond's brain helped me.

The Brain (the heart of the problem)-
I've already referred back to Edmond's post on the brain once, but understanding his brain helped me understand pornography's pull and why Edmond could believe I was beautiful and still seek out pornography.

photo credit: Double--M via photopin cc
Quick review:  the limbic system of the brain seeks pleasure and avoids pain.  The pre-frontal cortex (the moral center of the brain) says what is right and wrong and directs actions.  The pre-frontal cortex and the limbic system compete with each other for the desired results.  Pleasure seeking (limbic system) usually wins out.  The moral center of the brain may find an activity repugnant, disgusting and disgraceful, but if the limbic system derives pleasure from that activity, the limbic system will crave that thing.

Here's an easy to understand example.

I know cheesecake is unhealthy.  I recognize that I can eat cheesecake as a dessert occasionally, in moderation.  The health conscious me refuses to eat cheesecake daily, let alone for every meal.

The rational part of me knows strawberries are a sweet, delicious, and divine, especially with a touch of sugar. Strawberries are full of antioxidents and chock full of nutrition.  I can eat strawberries to my heart's content without feeling bad.

But put me in a stressful situation, with a cheesecake in the fridge and all rational thought goes out the window.  All I can think about is my need for cheesecake-- even if the strawberries are right next to the cheesecake.  I know as soon as I eat that first bite all my troubles will melt away in the pleasure of the sensations flooding my mouth.

Three (o.k. sometimes 6) pieces of cheesecake later, I feel sick, disgusting and gross.  I regret the decision to eat the cheesecake.  I wish I had been satisfied with the strawberries.

Does my eating the cheesecake decrease my love for strawberries.  Are strawberries less delicious because I chose to indulge in cheesecake.  NO.  In fact, strawberries are more desireable becasue I KNOW they are better for me.

Back to Beauty
I AM desirable and beautiful to Edmond's rational brain.  That is who he really is.  That is who he wants to  be.  That is who I want him to be.

Maybe the best help I can give him is to rejoice in being a strawberry and remembering that as a strawberry, I don't have to compete with cheesecake.  I am delicious and desirable on my own.

photo credit: Luz Adriana Villa A. via photopin cc

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Feeling Beautiful, Part One

I have started this post at least 4 different times-- maybe because it is such a tricky matter.  Feeling beautiful is just something I struggle with anyway-- then you add into it the feeling of not being enough that invariably comes when a loved one uses pornography-- well it just becomes one big mess.  For me at least.

I never want another woman to feel like their body is not enough.  We do enough to put ourselves down.  We don't need to do that too.  So, I have been indoctrinating teaching my Activity Day Girls that because they are a daughter of God, THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL!!!!  Maybe if they hear it enough when they are 8-9 years old it won't be an issue when they are 16, or 10, or 35.

When I was preparing a lesson for the girls, I came across a talk by Elaine S. Dalton, that moved me, and made me reevaluate how I see myself.  I watched this Mormon Message over and over again.


















The part that touched me was, "Hers was a beauty that cannot be purchased. It came from years of seeking the best gifts, becoming well educated, seeking knowledge by study and also by faith. It came from years of hard work, of faithfully enduring trials with optimism, trust, strength, and courage. It came from her unwavering devotion and fidelity to her husband, her family, and the Lord..... It is a beauty that is earned through faith, repentance, and honoring covenants."(full talk)

Deep beauty and confidence in ourselves comes from the inside out.  From the  whisperings of the Holy Ghost teaching us individually that we are each beloved daughters of our Father in Heaven, that He sees the innate beauty of our spirits.

I began embracing these truths:
  • The Lord loves and honors me for my effort to love Edmond;
  • He knows me and sees me as a beautiful daughter;
  • The beauty of spirit I am cultivating through my trials is more captivating than any earthly beauty money can buy.

I know that I am beautiful because I have become disciple of Jesus Christ.  I know I am beautiful becasue My Father told me and I trust HIM.  My beauty radiates from my spirit, not my body.  No make-up, no-sleep, bad hair day, pajamas and all, I am beautiful.

So are you!


Bonus quote because I like it so well:
"We have been taught that “the gift of the Holy Ghost … quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections. … It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. 16 Now, that is a great beauty secret!" 
Elaine S. Dalton-- she rocks! (full talk)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Musings on Answered Prayers

Remember the day I sat in the corner of the celestial room sobbing?  I do; maybe you've been there too.  I remember pleading for the blessings of the priesthood to be restored to my entire family.  I prayed and hoped for the day Edmond and I would sit there together again.  The future looked bleak.  I saw no silver lining in the storm that raged in my heart.  Yet the Lord sent me His peace.

May 29, Edmond accompanied me to the temple.  As I sat holding his hand, I marveled at the blessings the last three months have brought in our lives.  The power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, His love and His grace have enabled Edmond and me to to heal; to enact change in ourselves individually and as a couple; to hope in the future; to remember the pains of the past no more.

It has been a joy to see Edmond grow in his testimony of the Savior's healing power; to watch him strive to be his best; to enjoy Edmond just being present with our family playing and engaging with our children.

The promise of hope, of "sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored" has been ours through the miraculous gift of our Savior and Redeemer.  I never anticipated that the Lord would answer my prayers so completely.  I thank the Lord for His gracious goodness.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Trusting in the True Source

A few months ago, I wrote my future picture statement (a positive statement of who I am and who I want to be).  I felt inspired to include,  "Because I know who I am, I trust."  I want to trust the people around me, Edmond especially, but I have struggled with feeling down, because I do not always trust-- others or myself for that matter.  I feel disappointment that I don't measure up to my own expectations or hopes.

As I have been working through this, I realized that the only person I am commanded to trust is the Lord.  In fact, Nephi admonishes, "Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost" (2 Nephi 28:31).

Contrast that with, "And whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he" (Proverbs 16:20).

When I trust in the natural man, I am frustrated, bitter, angry, hurt and disappointed-- all the muck Satan wants me to wallow in.  When I rely on the Lord, I feel peace, hope, joy, compassion, and love-- the character traits of the Savior himself.

As I trust the Savior, I find Him near me, leading and guiding me to "green pastures" and "still waters."  Though I still must toil through my challenges, "I fear no evil for [He is] with me"  As I continue to trust the Lord, "goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalm 23).

When I feel overwhelmed and afraid, I can trust that, "the lord hath not given me the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).

When I feel discouraged I can "lift up [my] head and rejoice and trust in... that God who was the God of Abraham" and know that He will deliver me as he did the people of Israel (Mosiah 7:19).

When I feel sad I can remember that the Lord "in all cases" extends His "arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him" (Mosiah 29:20).

Because I am His Daughter, I Trust the Lord!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

So Many Things

It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks for me. First off, on Sunday, May 26th, I met with my bishop. He determined that it was time for me to get my temple recommend back. He gave me the interview, and it felt so wonderful to be able to answer those questions. Yes, I do have a testimony of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Yes, I do have a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the role it plays in my life. Yes, I do keep the covenants I have made. I may not have kept all of them in the past, but I do now and that it what matters. The following Tuesday, I got to answer all of those questions again with a member of the Stake Presidency.

Wednesday the 29th was a beautiful day. I was able to spend several hours in the temple with my amazing wife. We were able to do an endowment session and a sealing session. As I knelt across the altar from my wife I was reminded of the day we were sealed. I remembered why I fell in love with her in the first place, and I could also see the person she has become since then. She has been there to support and encourage me even when I was at my lowest, and she is still there encouraging me as I work to become the person I was meant to be. I am truly blessed to have her in my life. She is one of my angels.

The following day, we left to make the 15 hour drive to visit my wife's family. It was a family reunion with all of the siblings coming home to visit at the same time. 25 people in a small house with two toilets and one shower. Talk about a situation that makes me want to escape. These are the types of situations where I tend to withdraw and eventually sink into addictive behaviors, but this time was different. Using what I have learned in recovery, I was able to get myself grounded each day and make a plan to help me deal with any situations or temptations that may arise.

Using these tools, I was not only able to survive the week, but I was able to thrive in a manner that I was never capable of before. In the past, I would need to have a place to escape the chaos be alone for a while. This time, I was able to engage in conversations and be mentally present with the family. Only once did I feel so overwhelmed that I needed to leave, and I just went for a walk and then went back into the commotion. I never had to escape into a book or into a fantasy.

Yesterday, we made the drive home. For the first time I don't feel mentally or emotionally exhausted after a trip like that. I am certainly tired physically from not getting enough sleep and not eating enough healthy foods, but I don't feel like I need to take an extra day off of work in order to recover from the trip.

I am extremely grateful to the Lord for helping me to get to the point where I am right now. I can see the progress I have made in just a few short months, and I like who I am and who I am becoming. For the first time in a long time I can actually say that I like myself. It is only through the Atonement of Christ that I am here, and I hope to continue to learn more about that Atonement and become even more of the person I am meant to be.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tripping Over My Own Two Feet

I am an exercise junkie.  I relish the time each day I get to run, swim, bike, dance or strength train.  I'm not necessarily good at any of these activities, but I have learned a lot about myself while "working out."

While training for my first (and only) marathon, running finally clicked.  I had been running off and on for10 years and it had always been HARD WORK.  With each race I trained for, I would buckle down and determine how I was going to run, and at what pace and I would focus on achieving the desired result.  Mental toughness and determination were my watchwords with each training run.

Training for the marathon was a completely different experience.  I had never run long distances before.  Time became irrelevant in my training.  My only goal was to get back home at the end of each run-- hopefully in one piece.  About 5 miles into each run, my mind would let go of determination and toughness. Low and behold, my body kept running, even when I wasn't telling it what to do.   I could just let my body do its work without thought and without interruption and direction.  My body knew how to run.  I just had to get out of the way and let it do its job without my own mental interference.

Our bodies are amazing that way.  They know instinctivly what to do and how to react.  If I just let my body go, I stop tripping over my own feet.  Hard workouts aren't so hard when I relax and let my body do what it does best-- work.
photo credit: Meyer Felix via photopin cc

I think our spirits are a lot like a well trained body.  In the pre-existance we were trained spiritually for the rigors of mortal life.  We were prepared to face and race our mortal marathon.  My loving Heavenly Father provided me all the training and resources I would need pre-race.  Each day of my life He continues to provide rest stops and nutrition and hydration stations I need to cross the finish line with glory-- (even though a turtle could match my pace).

On my healing journey, I find peace most often when I let go of the mental battles and just let my spirit do the work it knows how to do.  My spirit knows how to forgive.  My spirit knows how to love.  My spirit knows how to encourage and lift others.  My spirit knows how to stand strong and immovable in Holy Places.

Today I am letting my mind rest and letting my spirit do the work for me.