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.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Finding the Real Me

Most of my life has been ruled by my addiction. I led a double life. I hid behind lies. I kept myself emotionally distant from those who tried to get to know me. I defined myself by my addiction. Whenever someone would say something nice about me, I would always think to myself "well, you don't know the real me, you wouldn't be saying this if you did."

I am starting to realize that I was the one who was wrong all those years. Others could see things in me that I could not see in myself. I was the one who was not seeing the real me.

As part of my recovery, my therapist encouraged me to write what he calls a "Future Picture Statement." This is a statement of qualities or attributes that I would like to have. It is a picture of what I want to be. I finally took the time this week to sit down and write this statement.

Now, as I read through it again and again, I realize this is not a statement of what I want to be. It is a statement of who I really am. This is the real me that I am learning to see.
I am a son of God. I am a powerful witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the infinite nature of His Atonement. I faithfully serve my brothers and sisters through service in the Lord's Church and individually as I give them my full attention. I care for my body as the divine temple of my eternal spirit. I am completely faithful to the covenants I have made with God and with my wife. I have been redeemed through the Atonement of Christ and I can do all things through Him.
I have not found all of this real me yet, but I am working on it. Pieces of him are coming out slowly, and I know that with the Lord's help, I will find all of him some day. What a glorious day that will be.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Feeling God's Love

Usually I love General Conference.  I plan my activities and groceries around a weekend on the couch soaking in the good word.  This year General Conference happened to fall a couple weeks after Edmond's confession and boy did I need spiritual nourishment.

Saturday afternoon I settled down ready to listen and learn (I was listening in to the radio while at a daughter's competition-- Edmond was home with the kids).   Elder Bednar spoke about the law of chastity and why honoring that commandment is crucial to finding happiness in our mortal journey.  His words pierced my heart; I felt the pain of wounds that were still a little raw;  my heart yearned to hold Edmond's hand and tell him I loved him-- that I knew this listening to this was painful for him too.  I had prepared my heart to listen and find joy in the Lord's word, and instead I was reminded of our biggest challenge.

Jump forward a couple months.

Today my little one asked me to read scriptures with her.  She directed me to Jacob 3--Jacob's message on morality delivered outside the temple.  Her innocent request led me to Jacob's consoling  words to the righteous in attendance.  In his address, Jacob laments the need to weigh down the minds of the pure in heart with the sins of others, when the innocent had come only to hear the pleasing word of God. (Been there felt that.)  At the end of his discourse, Jacob speaks to the pure in heart, the innocent victims of others actions.

Jacob invites the pure in heart to pray with "exceeding faith" and a "firm mind," with a promise promise that "he [the Lord] will console you in your afflictions and he plead your cause and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction. (Jacob 3:1)"

In the next verse Jacob pleads with the innocent to:
"lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and
feast upon his love;
for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever." (Jacob 3:2)

What a beautiful promise-- the promise of being enveloped in God's love forever as we receive His word and keep our minds firm.

Twice in two verses, Jacob reminds us to have a firm mind.  For me that means a mind not easily blown about by the whimsy of attention.   One of my favorite passages of scripture reminds me of the power I have to direct my mind to positive feelings.

"Peace I leave with you;  My peace I give unto you.
Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
John 14:27

I have the power to focus my mind on God's love.  I have the ability to feast upon God's love for me forever.  I have the strength to let not my heart be troubled.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Slow Progress is Still Progress

Do you ever have those days where you don't think you are doing as well as you should be? Maybe you feel like your progress has slowed or even stopped? Of course you do, we all do. When I am feeling like things aren't going the way I would like them to, I find comfort in the words of King Benjamin:
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. (Mosiah 4:27)
When it feels like our progress is slow, we need to remember that "it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength." Our progress may be slow at times, but it is still progress. Even if it feels like we are not making any progress, we can look back at where we have come from and see the differences in our lives and realize that we are making progress.

King Benjamin gives us the key for continuing on. We must be diligent. We must continue to do the daily things that got us to the point where we are. We cannot give up. When we begin to feel like our daily actions aren't making a difference, we need to keep going. Diligence is "constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind." If we stop doing the things that got us to this point, we will begin to lose the things we have.

Diligence is the key to winning the prize, and what a prize it is. All that our Father has shall be ours. What more could a child ask?

Every day is a new struggle, but every day we have the ability to call on our Savior and learn from Him how we can overcome our challenges. I recently read a CES Devotional Address by Elder D. Todd Christofferson titled "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread." In this talk, Elder Christofferson recounted a financial struggle he faced earlier in his life. He talks about how this struggle persisted over a period of several years. In looking back, he realized that he would not give up his challenges if he had the chance because of the lessons he learned from them.

Even though Elder Christofferson was speaking about a financial difficulty, his words are also applicable to us as addicts or loved ones of addicts.
Though I suffered then, as I look back now, I am grateful that there was not a quick solution to my problem. The fact that I was forced to turn to God for help almost daily over an extended period of years taught me truly how to pray and get answers to prayer and taught me in a very practical way to have faith in God. I came to know my Savior and my Heavenly Father in a way and to a degree that might not have happened otherwise or that might have taken me much longer to achieve. I learned that daily bread is a precious commodity. I learned that manna today can be as real as the physical manna of biblical history. I learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I learned to walk with Him day by day.
Always remember to walk with the Lord each day. Slowly, He will show us the way to true healing. Even slow progress is still progress.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Healing From Hurt

Nobody is immune to life and the injuries, wounds and hurts that make up this mortal journey least of all me. 

A few years back, I felt extremely weighed down by unfulfilled expectations, broken dreams, and perceived neglect in my marriage.   Edmond was extremely busy with work, school, and church callings and I felt obligated to make up the difference by sacrificing everything I wanted for the sake of our family.  I was proud of my sacrifice and the emotional wounds I bore; they made me feel like a real person who had done battle with life and conquered through sheer will.  I let the hurt canker and become infected. I wouldn't let my wounds heal.  If I healed, Edmond would never understand what I did for him-- or what he did to me.

Years after the injury, I still felt anger about the situation.  I was able to put the hurt away most days and just be happy, but when emotionally pushed the whole ugly mess erupted all over.  Our marriage was suffering because I wouldn't deal with, forgive and just get over the hurt from years past.

 I finally got to the point where I wanted to get rid of the junk.  I was tired of the wounds hurting and tired of being angry.  One quiet afternoon I opened my box of pain.  The following is what I wrote about that experience:

"I opened up the box and embraced the pain.  I let it wash over me.  Sometimes it the pain was so intense it took my breath away.  I wrote all the hurt down in my journal.  I cried in between sentences.  It wasn't pretty.

"I prayed to my God and told him about my pain.  How much I hurt and how I didn't want to carry it anymore.  I felt a gentle peace asking me what He could do to fix it.  I thought about it, and all I needed was a genuine apology and expression of love-- something I felt like I couldn't get from the perpetrators of hurt.  You might feel like you need something different to make it right.  Don't be afraid to ask for what you need to heal and ask the someone who can really give you exactly what you need.  It might be your God, your best friend, your mentor.  Allow that person to act for the person who hurt  you.  Accept and embrace the love you desperately need.  Write down the love you feel in that journal!

"I let all the pain go.  Actually, it just disappeared when I accepted the love of my God and His apology in behalf of another.  Pardon the analogy, but it really was as easy as flushing the toilet.  It was gone.  It hasn't bothered me since.

"The best part of that purge was being able to truly love again.  Love myself, love my family, love my husband, LOVE MYSELF!  Second best part was that all the other boxes [of hurt] that seemed insurmountable, are not so big now.  I opened [another] box and expected a big mess.  But, I found that the first apology for something completely different had covered the hurt in that box too.  It feels almost like Christmas here with all the box opening-- with the added benefit that I don't have to write creative thank you notes for each gift I don't like:)

"In my faith we call the ability of our God to take our hurts and heal our wounds the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for His love and the gift of healing that has come to my heart.  I hope you find the same peace and love I did."

Truly the best part of lettting the Savior hold onto the pain again is the renewed ability to love-- to feel it, to share it, to embrace it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Enduring My Cross

I was studying in the Book of Mormon recently and came across this verse:
But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever. (2 Nephi 9:18)
This verse struck me in a new light when I read it this time. I had always thought of the crosses of the world as the scoffing and ridicule that are endured by the humble followers of Christ. This time, I realized that there is so much more to the crosses of the world. The crosses of the world are the burdens that we must face as a necessary piece of our mortal existence. We all have our burdens to carry. One of my crosses happens to be sexual addiction, but that is by no means the only cross I must endure.

The next phrase is of particular interest to those of us who happen to be enduring a cross of addiction. It is not enough just to bear the cross; we must also despise the shame of it. We are all aware that shame is a huge component of addiction. It is the shame that drives us to secrecy and seclusion. It is the shame that leads to the lies and concealment. It is the shame that keeps us trying to fight on our own. It is the shame that keeps us from reaching out to those who may be able to help. It is the shame that leads us from a slip to a full-blown relapse.

So what does it mean to despise the shame of our cross? The word despise means to regard with contempt,  distaste, disgust, or disdain; scorn; loathe. When we despise the shame of our cross, we turn our backs on the shame. We become open and honest with ourselves and others about the true nature of our cross. This does not mean we necessarily have to tell everyone about our addictions, but we do need to be honest with those who have a right to know (spouse, bishop, etc.).

How do we get to the point of despising our shame? Honestly, I don't know. I'm sure it is different for each person. I do know that learning to despise the shame is an important part of my recovery.

The final piece of this verse is the blessings reserved for those who do learn this lesson, "...they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world..." This is a concept that I am still having difficulty grasping. The kingdom of God was prepared for me. The kingdom is not being prepared for me, that's already done. I'm just trying to prove myself worthy to inherit it.

The next blessing is also important for me, "...their joy shall be full forever." I have already tasted of the joy that came when I first started to despise the shame of my cross. The load that was lifted as I made a full confession to my wife and then to my bishop brought even more joy. I want to continue to feel of that joy. I can only imagine what a fullness of joy might be, and to experience that forever is beyond my comprehension at this time.

Until the time when I am able to fully understand the joy that is available to me, I will continue to endure my cross. I will continue to learn to despise the shame of it. I will continue to experience the joy that is available to me now, and I will continue to express my gratitude to my Father and my Savior for allowing me to make this journey.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Living With An Adict's Lies

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I never dreamed I would live with addicts--that wasn't my "happily ever after"; but in an odd way it has become my happily-ever-today.  I want to share the good and the ugly as I have watched my "addicts."

The Good

The best parts of living with an addict are the moments of candor and honesty.  The times when you can look into each other's soul and really connect and understand the pain the other is facing, the joy they experience and the hope they finally feel.  Watching another grow into the person they really, truly want to be is beautiful.

The Bad

Knowing you have been lied to.  Part of the web of addiction I have had to come to grips with is the network of lies told to protect and hide the truth.  As Edmond explained, the limbic system of the brain avoids pain and seeks pleasure.  Confrontation is pain; lies cover the pain; hide from enough pain and eventually you won't know what is a lie anymore.

Edmond was an exceptionally brilliant liar.  Like Snape of Harry Potter fame, Edmond could hide the truth deep down in his soul.  His cloak of goodness slipped occasionally and I would wonder what was wrong-- what was going on.  I knew that I wanted counseling, but had no idea why and what was really distancing us in our relationship.

Those years of struggle, wonder, and confusion pushed me to question who I was and what I wanted.  I was blessed to have dear friends challenge me to become a better person; not to ignore the issues, but to learn to love and forgive even when I didn't understand.  To open the boxes of pain, share the hurt with my Savior and ask him to take it for me, because I couldn't be the person I wanted when I was storing all my pain and hurt and never forgiving those around me.

Even in the bad, with the love of the Savior in my life, good things happened.  I grew and I loved.  Edmond's desire to change has been the icing on a cake baked in the crucible of hard work and love. (And really, while icing really compliments the cake, a good cake is nothing to turn up your nose about. My growth made the bad not so... well bad.)


Edmond is not the only addict I have lived with.  We hosted Fernand in our home for several months.  For the sake of differentiating the Bad from the UUUUGLY, let me compare Edmond and Fernand.

Edmond is at heart a really good guy!  His moral center is dead on.  He has known his whole life that the addiction that haunts him is a problem and not the way he wants to live. Edmond tried to fight the fight.  Edmond's lies were to hide his pain and suffering.  From what I understand, he lied as little as possible-- he really wanted to do the right thing.  (Note the desire was in the right place, even if the actions were not always following with that desire.)

Fernand was a different story.  Fernand lied to gain advantage and to get what he wanted.  Our communications were filled with stretches of truth, back peddling from statements, promises, blatant disregard for the promises made and lame excuses to justify himself.

I hate to make a distinction with lies-- some being better than others when they all stink-- but really there is a stark difference in the energy, peace, and joy in a home when this malicious kind of lie takes over.

Now, I don't consider myself a love light-wieght.  I can and have loved tough people.  I know that about myself.  Loving Fernand was INCREDIBLY challenging, draining and disheartening. I knew I couldn't control, cajole or force his behavior; all I could do was pray, hope, and watch him make poor choices.

Watching and waiting is painful.  I think WATCHING was the best gift Mary could give her son as He hung on the cross.  To watch with Him, stay beside Him and continue to love as He suffered and died.  Maybe that is the gift we can give to our Fernands.  To watch and love even when it is painful.

Ladies, we can LOVE, really LOVE as we focus on the Love our Savior has for us.  We will fail (been there, done that, doing it again tomorrow).  We will watch others fail.

But Love we can, through the Good, the Bad and the UGLY.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Two Brains

One of the most powerful things I have learned through my counselor is the psychological underpinnings of addiction. I learned why I always felt like there were two 'me's'. The me who wanted more than anything to get away from and defeat my addiction, and the me who was powerless to control myself when faced with temptations. The answer was in my two brains.

No, I don't really have two brains. What I do have is two parts to my brain, the limbic system, and the prefrontal cortex. The limbic system is the part of the brain that is responsible for survival. It is concerned with making sure we get the things we need to survive (food, water, air, shelter, etc.). The limbic systems main goals are to avoid pain and seek pleasure. The prefrontal cortex on the other hand is the rational part of the brain. This is the area of the brain where morals and values are processed. This is the part of the brain that processes right and wrong.

These two parts of the brain can be compared to the natural man and the spirit. King Benjamin teaches us:
 "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." (Mosiah 3:19)
This is what has become powerful to me in my recovery. The goal is not to fight the natural main. The goal is to "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit". Many of my challenges and failings have been that I was trying to fight the natural man, I was trying to fight my limbic system. The limbic system perceives this as a threat and tries to replace the pain of fighting with something pleasurable. For me that pleasurable thing was pornography and masturbation.

In trying to fight against my addiction, I was actually reinforcing it. I cannot fight my addiction. It is stronger and more skilled at fighting. Instead of fighting, I need to "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit." I need to become a saint through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

For me, this means I no longer fight when I am faced with temptations, triggers, challenges, or whatever term you want to use for them. Instead, I acknowledge them and choose to walk away. This is the beauty of my two brains. While the limbic system is very good at trying to get me to seek pleasure and avoid pain, it requires the permission of the prefrontal cortex to actually make any part of my body physically move. The natural man requires the permission of the spirit to be able to act. My challenge then is to strengthen my spirit so it has the power to say "I understand you want to do that, but I choose to yield to the Holy Spirit."

I choose to not fight, but instead to walk away from my addiction and into the arms of My Savior Jesus Christ.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

To my beautiful wife on Mother’s Day

I have had a hard time thinking of what to give you for Mother’s Day. I know I am not looking for a gift for a woman who has everything, but I have been looking for a gift for a woman who IS everything. You are kind, smart, beautiful, patient, funny, and full of love for all who know you. I am constantly amazed at your ability to be a friend to anyone you meet. Your willingness to forgive me of all I have done to hurt you astounds me on a daily basis.

As I have been thinking about what to give you for Mother’s Day this year, the only thing that made any sense to me was to give you my heart. I cannot promise to never hurt you again (I am too weak for that), but I can promise that I will continue to try to improve.

You know that I am not a man of many words, I prefer to be the one on the sidelines observing, but I do want you to know that I love you more than anything else in this world. I love you for being a wonderful wife and mother. I love you for being a friend to all you meet. I love you for your willingness to quickly serve those in need without being asked. I love you for your ability to be kind and thoughtful of others even when you are not feeling well yourself. I love you for loving me even after everything I have put you through. I love you for your ability to see more in me than I see in myself. I love you for the woman you are and for the woman you are still becoming.

You inspire me each day. You represent all that I wish I could be. I hope that someday I will be able to do as much for you as you have done for me.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Eyes Wide Open

I will never forget the night Edmond confessed to me that he had been viewing pornography again.  I had been under the impression that he had been clean since his last confession more than 10 years earlier.  Edmond admitted that his actions could put his career, marriage, and salvation in jeopardy and that he was committed to change.

I wanted to be angry--- to be livid; to scream, kick, hit and generally rip into him.   How DARE he risk our family's welfare!  How DARE he lie to me for years!  But in that moment, I was enveloped in an embrace of love.  I was given the gift of feeling God's deep, abiding love for His son.  I was powerfully reminded that I had married a GOOD MAN; and that good man still existed beneath the sin.  That gift of love silenced my anger, doubt and fears and allowed me the opportunity to express my love and the love I knew the Lord had for Edmond.

The next morning my new reality started sinking in, and I began to feel despair, worry and frustration.  In search of peace, I spent the day at the temple praying for the peace of the atonement to work in my life and in the life of my husband.  That day, I was the sobbing mess in the far corner of the Celestial Room.  But again I was given the gift of peace-- this time in comforting passages of scripture-- reminding me that my struggles and pleading and prayers were known to my Father in Heaven.  He would provide for and care for me.

Later that day Edmond revealed in an email that his addiction included masturbating, that the addiction had begun long before we even met and that while he had been clean when we married, he had struggled for most of our marriage with this problem.  At that point I broke down, again, in a ball of tears wanting to scream to the world, "MY LIFE, MY MARRIAGE HAS BEEN A LIE!"  I hid in my room, let my kids run wild and sobbed like a baby.

Yet again, peace was poured out into my soul.  I was able to be composed and call Edmond, thank him for his honesty and reassure him that, yes, I did want him to continue to be part of my life and that working together we could climb this mountain.

Looking back, I am overcome with gratitude at the tender mercies the Lord sent me in those early days.  The healing balm of love was able to overcome the hurt, confusion and fear.  In moments of panic, I would remember a favorite verse, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6);"  or, "Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid (John 14:27);" or "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)."   "My God hath been my support.... He hath filled me with his love (2Nephi 4: 19-20)."

To the other Edmonds out there:  be honest, frank and open.  Answer your Haydee's questions without guile.  What helped me most to trust Edmond again was his absolute honesty, even when he knew it would hurt me.  He understood that I deserved to know and understand how his actions had affected and infiltrated seemingly innocent aspects of our marriage.  When I questioned Edmond's past motives or wondered if his random spurts of depression were part a trigger or a side affect of the sin, he answered.  From the excuses he made to avoid temple attendance to the obsession with certain aspects of foreplay, Edmond was HONEST with me.  Be open and hide not in the darkness that tells you not to trust your Haydee.  Believe in her ability to love you despite your weaknesses.

To the other Haydees reading this:  be kind and be loving.  Your reaction and your ability to love at the time of confession-- your Edmond's moment of complete vulnerability-- is crucial.  Pray for God's ability to love to bless you as you love your spouse.  Satan will teach you to despair, hate and fear-- but "fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear (Moroni 8:16)."  Be a manifestation of God's divine love.  What greater gift can you give someone in the depths of despair than your love, faith, hope and encouragement.  When you doubt your ability to show love, remember Christ has said, "if ye have faith in me, ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me (Moroni 7:33 and again in Moroni 10:23)."  Have faith and hope in the power of atonement; Christ can and will teach you to love and trust again.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why Monte Cristo?

Edmond and I are book lovers by nature.  We find truth and beauty in the writings of others.  A year can not pass without one of us immersing ourselves in the conspiracy, treachery, revenge and kindness that makes up Aledandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo.

In the novel you meet Edmond Dantes.  He has a beautiful life-- he is marrying the girl of his dreams and has been promoted to the captaincy of a ship.  So called friends accuse him of treason and ill fortune shuts him in the prison on Chateau d'If.  Plunged into despair, he remains in prison for 18 years.  A true friend helps him escape his ignorance and Dantes learns to find hope in education and freedom of mind amid captivity.  After liberation from prison, Dantes learns the fates of the conspirators who betrayed him and is repulsed to find them living a life of ease.  Sworn to act as the Lord's tool of justice, Dantes assumes the identity of the Count of Monte Cristo and assists fate in the work of vengeance.

This masterpiece of French Literature thrills me each time I read it.  The inner struggles of Dantes as he reconciles his actions and the love of God rend my heart.  Dantes grows in light and wisdom as he finds and understands the healing power of love and the grace of God.

Each of us pass through journeys that plunge us into the prisons of despair and despondency.  Whether we land in that prison due to our own actions or the actions of others, the experience affords us the opportunity to grow in light and turn to the source of strength that can free us.

At the end of his healing journey, Dantes gives his protege Maximilian Morell a final piece of advice on how to find joy and peace amid the injustice of the world:
"Live then and be happy..., and never forget that until the day God will deign  to reveal the future to men, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, -- 'Wait and hope.'" (Dumas 1462)
I am honored to share my feelings and experiences with you as I learn to wait and hope on the Lord.

The Beginning

Hello, my name is Edmond Dantes. I have been married to my wife Haydee for a little over 15 years. For the past 25 years, I have been addicted to lust. For me, this has been manifest through my use of pornography and masturbation. About 11 years ago, I admitted my use of pornography to my wife and to my bishop. Haydee and I both thought that would be the end of it, but it wasn't. Within a few months, I was back into my addiction and my lies to cover it up.

About 2 months ago, I had an experience that caused me to realize that my life could no longer continue heading in the direction it was going. I started researching sex addiction and resources for overcoming it. I was hoping to find something that I could do on my own, but that is not how it works. A few days later, I was talking with my wife, and I couldn't stop myself from saying what I was going through. The next day, I told her more about the nature and extent of my addiction. I also called and made an appointment to see the bishop.

Both Haydee and the bishop responded in a manner that was beyond my comprehension. They both responded with love and a confidence that working together we could overcome this addiction. This response was unbelievable to my addicted mind. I could only see myself as a worthless sinner who was undeserving of love from anyone. Their response gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe there was more to me than my addiction. With their encouragement, I've started counseling and attending a support group.

I have also continued researching on my own. It was through this research that I found the LDS Addiction Recovery Blogs. I have found great strength and insights from both the blogs of those struggling with addiction and the blogs of those whose family members are struggling with addiction. What I did not find were any blogs in the middle. That is the inspiration for this blog. In this blog, Haydee and I will be documenting our journey of recovery, both individually and as a couple.

We hope that others will be able to find support and strength from this blog as we have found support and strength from the blogs of others.