My Experience

I feel prompted to share with you one decision I made early on in my recovery path that has blessed my life and hopefully blessed the lives of others.

I have consistently attended weekly ARP meetings since that first night in 2013 when I fearfully attended my first meeting. 

Soon after beginning the program, I came to the conclusion that I could not do this alone. I needed help--lots of help! So in each meeting, I started collecting the cell phone numbers of others who were attending the meeting. 

Then during the week, I would make an effort to send out text messages complimenting them on a particular share they had given or giving them encouragement.  I also asked specific individuals to pray for me when I was struggling.

I found that most everyone was receptive to receiving a text message and at the same time they were very willing to provide support.

Early on in this process, I also felt prompted to begin this blog and to share this blog with others in my group. With that goal in mind, I printed up small business-size cards with my first name, my blog address, and my phone number and invited my new friends to check out my blog and to call or text me at any time.

   

    Hello, My name is Xxxxxxxx

           Please check out my blog:
                   12StepLDS.com

        My number is 999-999-9999

  Feel free to call or text me at any time


Then each week as new participants joined our group, I handed them my card. As a result of my collecting phone numbers and passing out my cards, I have been blessed with some of the greatest friendships of my life.  And I can honestly say that these men who attend ARP meetings are some of the greatest men I have known in this life!!!

To this day I both receive and send text messages every week to many of these wonderful sons of God, who are doing their best to stay in recovery and keep the commandments.  

They do not judge me, and I do not judge them. But together we lift each other up.

 In the relationship I have with these friends in recovery, my favorite saying is:

 “When you reach out to another person you bless TWO lives!”

This one decision, to both offer support to others and request support from others has been one of the greatest blessings in my recovery.

Of course, the real source of recovery comes from the Savior.  But many times He sends His angels with flesh and bones to help us.  And these friends have been my angels.

Step 12 -- The Guy In The Library *

So I did something impulsive today... It was super good! :)

THE GUY IN THE LIBRARY
I was sitting on the second floor of the library and sat next to this guy who was browsing the web with unusually small windows. I immediately thought of how I've peeked at inappropriate material on school computers in a public venue using smaller windows.

Being the nosy person I am, I wanted to see if this guy had similar issues to me. So I looked at what he was looking at. He was looking at NBA stuff. But then he did a google image search on something inappropriate.

I suddenly got a very sad feeling. I thought I'd feel better knowing I was right, but I felt worse instead. My heart ached for this guy. So, I was inspired to whip out my yellow legal pad and I addressed a note to him.

MY NOTE
"Hey Man, ..."  I explained that I was an addict and that whether or not he was, was none of my business. But, that I acknowledged that I've been in the same exact situation--ritualizing, and browsing inappropriate media on a public computer, with someone sitting next to me.

I told him that I hurt for him, and that I was there for him. I left my name and number, and a reference to fightthenewdrug.org in case he didn't feel comfortable reaching out. I told him I'd support him in any way possible.

I folded it up like a letter, slid it towards him, tapped him on the shoulder (he was using ear phones) and said, "Hi, my name is Cody. I hope you're not offended or embarrassed."

Then I went to class.

HIS RESPONSE
I checked my phone after class.  I received this text message,

"Hey Cody. Thanks. Really thank you. After that I exited the screen and got off the computer. Thanks for reminding me that is not who I want to be. When you gave me that letter I didn't know what to expect. I was thinking it was going to say how horrible I was and that I am going to hell or something. I don't know if you believe in God but I felt like God reached out to me in the moment that I read your letter. 

When I read your note I immediately started to cry. Instead of being condemning it was understanding. I just thought wow someone cares enough to help me. I thought I was the only crazy person who was crazy enough to do that. I started off with good intentions to do school stuff and then I slowly got too complacent."

I was walking away from my class, being filled with the spirit. I knew that I had done what God wanted me to do this afternoon.

The Three-Second Rule

Get rid of a bad thought within the first three seconds


The following is based on what a therapist taught me early in my recovery:

First: bad thoughts are not sins, at least not at first. We have no control as to the temptations that enter our minds. It’s what we do with them that matters.

Now, what's the difference between a thought and a fantasy. The basic difference is duration. 

A thought is 2 to 5 seconds, after that it’s starting to become a fantasy and you have to be vigilant enough and motivated enough to dismiss the thought within 2 to 5 seconds. 

Also, fighting a bad thought can be just as bad as entertaining a bad thought – the result can be the same in our brain.

How to deal with temptations or cravings:

This therapist had an office with two doors, an in-door and out-door, and he would say to his clients when a craving or temptation comes in, your attitude must be just enough to dismiss it. 

When a bad thought comes in the door you need to say: “Oh, hi, I knew you'd be back. 

I was expecting you. There's a door goodbye.”  In other words: “Hi—welcome—goodbye.“

You’re not upset with yourself, but you’re motivated just enough to dismiss it.  And the thought is gone within three seconds.

The two things you don't want to do or to say is: “I can't believe you're back in here again, you weren't ever supposed to come! I was never going to be tempted again. I'm not supposed to have these cravings. This is horrible, this is wrong! What are you doing here?  I mean, you are attractive, but I still just wish you would get out of here. What are you doing now? 

Notice, with this example, you’ve gone a lot longer than five seconds. You’re focusing on it. You’re getting all churned up about it.  All you can think about is that bad thought. 

The other thing you don't want to do is to say “Oh hi, welcome back, I was hoping you'd come, have a seat, let's talk…..” 

You need just the right amount of motivation to dismiss the thought and not get upset.  

Guys who are successful at overcoming this problem are often lighthearted. They find joy in the process. They have accountability. 

Understand within yourself that what you're shooting for is motivation to dismiss the urge in the early stage, but not get caught up in it and be upset by it. 

For me, what has been helpful when a negative thought enters my mind, is to immediately say a prayer: Heavenly Father, please help me get rid of this thought. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”  And usually, the thought disappears from my mind within seconds.

Remember--do this in the first three seconds!


A Conversion Story *


I used to think commandments were just rules made by totalitarians designed to usurp my agency, and restrict my freedom. And then I gave the commandments a chance and followed them. (To be fair the bishop said I had to for a year, in other words, repent, before I could even think about serving. He nearly had a panic attack when I told him I wanted to go on a mission). In all honesty, though it was the best year of my life. It was the first year I didn't have to go to court for getting in trouble with the law, and it was the first year I wasn't a slave to addiction.

And I learned right away how wrong I was, in thinking commandments were constrictive in their nature and acted as deterrents of our freedom. When ironically it turned out to be the exact opposite. I can testify to you as a personal witness that they were given to us by an all-knowing God in the defense of our freedom and protection from enslavement by our carnal cravings and unholy desires. It was through obeying our Heavenly Father's commandments that I became the best version of myself I, and the world around me, has ever known.

-California

This post was taken from a Facebook account.  Click here to read the entire post.


 

Preparing for Steps 4 & 5

 

In the seven years I've been attending 12 Step meetings I estimate I have listened to shares regarding Steps 4 and 5 at least 35 times.

And in listening to those shares I have written down several notes which may be helpful for anyone who has not completed these steps.

First, there is no right or wrong way to do the Step 4 Inventory.  I think the ARP Guide is purposely vague so that we each can rely on
the Spirit to guide us.

Suggestions Regarding Writing Your Inventory in Step 4

These are suggestions I have heard over the last five years.  Hopefully, as you read through these the spirit will prompt you as to which suggestions, if any, are right for your situation. They are in no particular order.
  • Pick the person you are going to read your Step 4 Inventory to upfront, and make an appointment so that you then have a mental deadline to work towards. That way you will not be one of those who takes months or years working on your inventory. The future date can be anytime, even months away, but just pick a date!
  • Pray before you begin each writing session
  • If a thought enters your mind, write it down
  • If you feel like skipping something, write it down
  • If you feel too embarrassed to share something, write it down
  • If you feel this incident it too minor to write down, write it down
  • There is a reason these things are entering your mind, so include them
  • Once you begin, try to write down at least one incident a day
  • Not everything you write down has to be connected to your addiction
    Some things may only pertain to character weaknesses
  • Also include your strengths. If you're not sure what they are, ask a good friend.
  • Some guys have used a spreadsheet format; others have just written free form **
  • One friend shared that since he already had asked someone to listen in Step 5, he shared what he was writing while he was writing it. That way the person who was going to listen to his Inventory could give him suggestions along the way. He still felt he had to read the entire inventory to his friend, even though the friend had already read most of it.  He said the reading was necessary so he could hear his own voice confessing what he had done.
  • One friend admitted that he took over a year to write his inventory, it was about 80 pages in length and took him 8 hours to read it out loud to a friend.  (I don’t recommend this, but it was necessary for him to feel thorough)
  • Keep in mind that the things you are writing down are things Christ is going to take from you! So if you consider not writing down something -- think again -- stuff you don't write down is stuff you are going to keep! And you don't want to keep anything!
      
Thoughts Regarding Reading Your Inventory in Step 5
  • Pick someone you feel comfortable sharing with and someone who will keep what you read to them confidential. The ARP Guide states: "We tried to select Someone who had gone through steps 4 and 5 and who was well-grounded in the gospel."  That person is NOT your bishop.
  • You are not expected to read your Step 4 Inventory to your Bishop. He doesn’t need to know all the details of your life, like what happened when you were 11 years old, etc. He only needs to know enough to be your judge, like in giving a temple recommend interview.
  • You should ask someone who has already been through Steps 4 and 5 to be the one to listen to your inventory.  For that person, you should share what happened when you were 11 years old if it had an impact on your future life.  He will have empathy for you and will not judge you because he already knows what it’s like to be addicted. 
  • It’s probably not a good idea to read your inventory to your wife or girlfriend (unless you both feel good about it).  The "Support in Recovery" document or "Step 13" states: "Participants may decide not to share their personal inventories with immediate family members or people who might be hurt by hearing those inventories." I did not read my inventory to my wife or my bishop.  
  • A friend recently gave this advice: "Do not read your inventory to anyone who is mentioned in your inventory." -- Good advice.
  • If your inventory is long, you can read it over more than one session.
  • Choose a quiet safe place to read your inventory so you won’t be interrupted.

My Experience

I have been privileged to listen to multiple Step 4 Inventories. Each one was totally different because of the method used by the person who was writing, and his own background. But the one thing they had in common is that it was a spiritual experience, both for me and the other person.

We began with prayer and they read at their own speed. I just listened and gave encouragement.  I did not judge!!!  My respect and love for each of those guys was greater after they finished than it had been when they began.

Please don’t be afraid of either of these steps.  I promise you that they will bless your life!

Deven -- ARP Fireside Speaker

An Addiction Recovery Fireside was held March 28, 2021.

The speaker was Deven, a recovering addict, from pornography.

He shares his life story regarding his exposure to pornography beginning at age 11 through his becoming an effective facilitator in the Addiction Recovery Program.

This is a powerful and impactful presentation!

Please consider taking 20 minutes to listen to it.

Click here to listen.

Overcoming Our Challenges


Those of us who suffer from an addiction, many times, wonder WHY?  

Why do we have to suffer?  Why doesn't the Lord just take this away?

Is there anything for us to learn from our struggles?

A couple of nights ago my wife and I watched a presentation that put all this in perspective.

It wasn't about recovery from pornography, but it did answer many of my questions.

I would like to share that with you.  I hope it will do the same for you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G22etF5fZbI 


Doug's Plan Doesn't Work

A few year's ago I was sitting in an ARP 12 Step Meeting and it was sharing time.  Each of the participants was given the opportunity to share about their own recovery. 

There was a new guy attending out group for the first time. His name was Doug.

I remember his share as if it was yesterday.  He said:

My name is Doug.  I tried working Doug's plan.  But Doug's plan did not work!

I then tried to follow Doug's plan mixed with the Lord's plan.  And that did't work.

I am now following the Lord's plan and it's working!

He was referring to the complete Addiction Recovery Program, including:

  1. Attending weekly ARP Meetings
  2. Studying the 12 Steps of Recovery
  3. Working the Action Steps that go along with each recovery step.
  4. Reading and answering the questions in the Reading and Understanding section of the Guide Book.

Doug was now doing all of that.

If you, like Doug, are trying to do "your" plan and it's not working, consider being willing to do the Lord's plan.  Attend weekly meetings. Get contact information for those attending your group and reach out to them during the week. And actually work the steps.

If you don't know what step you're on, you are on Step 1.  Start there!

If you are hesitant to attend an ARP meeting, like I was, check out this short video.

https://addictionrecovery.churchofjesuschrist.org/videos?at=s&lang=eng&page-length=9&start=28&v=MTMzMzk4MDI4NDM2NzAyMTAxMTktZW5n

You will find that you are not alone. No one there will ever judge you.  And you will meet some of the greatest people in this world in those meetings.  I promise!

I Need To Ask The Right Questions

It has taken my whole life to figure this out. 
I stand at the door and knock.

If I don't ask the right question, I won't get the right answer.

In the case of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as a young boy he had a question, "Which church should I join, or should I join none of them?"

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ had the answer all along.  So why didn't they just tell him?

Here is the eternal truth--for Joseph's benefit, they needed to wait for him to ask!

Are there answers that the Lord is waiting to give me; if only I would ask the right questions?

I, like many of you have asked, "Please take this from me!"  or "Please fix me!"

But those are not questions. Those are requests to fix things without any effort on my part--and the Lord just doesn't do that. 

Perhaps instead of just begging for him to fix me, I should be asking questions like:
  • "What should I be doing that I'm not doing?"
  • "What am I doing that I should stop doing?"
  • "How can I be a better instrument in thy hands?"
I think He might answer those types of question--if only I would ask!

Let Me Share A Secret

Sometimes I think secrets are even better if you can share them with close friends.
 
This is one of those times.
 
I have a secret regarding a tool I use to strengthen my recovery. 
 
Now let me see if I can explain it.
 
The Problem
 
Satan has lots of tools in his toolkit that he can use against me.  Some of them are:
  • Feeling lonely
  • Feeling sad
  • Feeling hurt
  • Feeling weak
  • Feeling ugly
  • Feeling unloved
  • Feeling helpless
I’m sure you can add to this list.
 
Whenever I’m hit with any of these feelings, my natural-man tendency is to go inward, to shut down, to isolate myself  And then to seek comfort or instant gratification to make the pain go away—in other words, to act out.
 
That’s not a good solution.
 
The Solution
 
Instead on going inward—which is my natural-man inclination—the solution it to look outward—to reach out to others. I do this with text messages and emails—to those I care about.  It not only gets my mind off of myself, sometimes it may even bless the life of another person.
 
I try to make these texts and emails either uplifting, faith promoting, or humorous.  But I also try to be very sincere in any compliments I might give.  My goal is not to flatter anyone but to express sincere appreciation for them and their talents.
 
What does this do for me?  It gets my mind off of myself.  It causes me to be grateful for the friends I have and appreciate them for what they give to me.  One other benefit, even though it’s not necessary, is that sometimes they even respond.
 
Either way, it blesses my life, and sometimes it might even bless their lives.
 
Conclusion
 
I hope my telling you my secret, might be of some benefit.  It really works for me. 
 
Thank you for allowing me to be a friend!

I appreciate you for reading my blog!
 


 

We Must Be More Than Clean *

When I read the following analogy, I felt it pertained directly to me and my past.  So I want to share it with you:

Analogy: We must be more than clean.

President Dallin H. Oaks shared an analogy to explain how the Savior prepares us to return to God’s presence:
“We tend to think of the results of repentance as simply cleansing us from sin, but that is an incomplete view. … A person who sins is like a tree that bends easily in the wind. On a windy and rainy day, the tree bends so deeply against the ground that the leaves become soiled with mud, like sin. 
If we focus only on cleaning the leaves, the weakness in the tree that allowed it to bend and soil its leaves may remain. Similarly, a person who is merely sorry to be soiled by sin will sin again in the next high wind.  (How many times have I given in at the next high wind???)  The susceptibility to repetition continues until the tree has been strengthened.   (And that's the purpose of the Atonement of Christ and ARP--to give us new strength.)
“When a person has gone through the process that results in what the scriptures call ‘a broken heart and a contrite spirit,’ the Savior does more than cleanse that person from sin. He gives him or her new strength. That strengthening is essential for us to realize the purpose of the cleansing, which is to return to our Heavenly Father. 
To be admitted to His presence, we must be more than clean. We must also be changed from a morally weak person who has sinned into a strong person with the spiritual stature to dwell in the presence of God” 
* (“The Atonement and Faith,” Ensign, Apr. 2010, 33–34).

Isolation vs Isolation

As addicts, we are encouraged to avoid isolation.

However with COVID-19, we are encouraged to isolate ourselves.

What to do???

I have a good friend, Michael, from the ARP program.  He has a goal to phone at least one person a day.  I know this because, I'm on his list, and I receive phone calls from him on a regular basis.

He isn't necessarily calling because he's struggling.  He's calling just to "connect" with another person, and especially another person who understands his situation and his need to reach out.

Michael also receives phone calls from others.  So as a rule he is speaking with two or more people a day,

Thus with each phone call two people are blessed -- the one making the call and the one receiving the call.

What a great idea!!!

So let's each reach out and avoid isolation while we are isolating ourselves!

Driving From Provo to Salt Lake

I have two good friends who participate in the 12 Step Program.  I care about them both
So let me tell you something about each of them.

Let's call my first friend "Jim."  He had been sober for an extended period of time and had been doing really well.  He is a hard worker, dedicated, and sincerely wishes to follow the Savior.

Well one day he relapsed and felt really bad.  And, of course, Satan tried to make him feel even worse! Satan told him that he was a failure and that he now needed to beat himself up and start all over again.

To give him some perspective, I sent him the following story, which had been very helpful to me when I first heard it:

Let's say you are driving from Provo to Salt Lake City. And your car breaks down in American Fork. What should you do? You fix the car and get back on the road to Salt Lake. You don't have to go back to Provo and start over.  And you don't have to stay in American Fork. You just continue on the highway and don't look back!

The same is true of an addiction. If we ever make a mistake the time we have been sober still counts!  We don't have to start over. We just pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and continue on from where we left off.

I hope that story was helpful for Jim!

Well, let's call my second friend "Pete." Pete used to be like my first friend, Jim. And Pete, when he used to relapse, he felt really bad.  But at some point Pete heard the story of driving from Provo to Salt Lake and breaking down in American Fork.

However, Pete learned a different lesson from that story. He now, almost weekly, while figuratively driving from Provo to Salt Lake City runs out of gas in American Fork. Each time he fills up his tank in American Fork and continues on to Salt Lake.

In fact, he sometimes now carries an extra tank of gas along with him so that when he runs out of gas, he doesn't have to stop for very long.

I think Pete learned the wrong lesson.  He never fixed the real problem, he just made the problem less painful.

Do you possibly see yourself as either Jim or Pete?  Is there anything in your trip through this life that you need to fix?

The Ladder to Recovery

There may be some of us who feel we are climbing the ladder to recovery, but we may not realize that our ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

Here is some food for thought:

There is a difference between desiring to be worthy and desiring to not feel the pain of relapse.

There are some guys who's main goal is to reduce the pain of future relapses.  They are not yet ready to give us their addiction.  They want to hold on to it as long as they can, just in case they might need it.

The converted Lamonites buried the weapons deep in the earth, but these guys are burying their addictions in shallow ground with the handles stick up.

What is your ultimate goal?  To pursue a positive or avoid a negative?

If our whole focus is just to not act out then our focus is on the negative.  Like just counting days. If we can change our focus to pursue positive alternatives to our addiction and to repent daily and become more worthy each day, we should have better and more lasting success.

Example:  Let's say I have a bad habit of biting my fingernails.  So all day long I tell myself,  " Now remember, don't bite your fingernails!"  So what am I thinking about all day???  Of course, I'm thinking about biting my fingernails. If all day long I'm thinking "Don't act out!"  Then that's what I'm thinking about.  That's a not a good plan for success.

Let's focus on doing good, not just avoiding bad.

Do you attend 12 step meetings to simply stop acting out?  If so, you are missing the point.  We should be attending 12 step meetings to get to know the Savior and then He will help us overcome our addictions.



Instead of a Silver Bullet

Many of us have been unsuccessful in finding a Silver Bullet to cure our addiction.

Well I don't have a silver bullet -- but I do have something better:

A Prophetic Promise!

"I promise
 that as you 
 daily immerse* yourself
 in the Book of Mormon,
 you can be immunized** 
 against the evils of the day,  
 even the gripping plague of pornography!"

-- President Russell M. Nelson --
October 2017 General Conference

That is the promise! 

The requirement for each of us is 
to daily immerse ourselves in the Book of Mormon.


So how can we make reading the Book of Mormon a higher priority in our lives?
   

What would happen if we treated our Book of Mormon like we treat our cell phone?
  • What if we carried it around in our pocket?
  • What if we turned back to get it if we forgot it?
  • What if we flipped it open several times a day?
  • What if we spent an hour or more using it every day?
  • What if we used it consistently to receive messages from the text?
  • What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?
  • What if we searched for new applications?
  • What if we used it as we traveled?
  • What if we used it in case of an emergency?
What WOULD happen if we treated our Book of Mormon like we treat our cell phone?

  * To immerse is to plunge into something that surrounds or covers.
** Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease.

Now is Better Than Later


When tempted, many of us say to ourselves,

"I'll do something about it when it gets worse."

And the next thing we know, it's too late!

There is no downside to doing something sooner.

And now is even better than  sooner!

So when deciding what to do
I always recommend PMS.





Step 12: The Guy In The Library

So I did something impulsive today... It was super good! :)

THE GUY IN THE LIBRARY
I was sitting on the second floor of the library and sat next to this guy who was browsing the web with unusually small windows. I immediately thought of how I've peeked at inappropriate material on school computers in a public venue using smaller windows.

Being the nosy person I am, I wanted to see if this guy had similar issues to me. So I looked at what he was looking at. He was looking at NBA stuff. But then he did a google image search on something inappropriate.

I suddenly got a very sad feeling. I thought I'd feel better knowing I was right, but I felt worse instead. My heart ached for this guy. So, I was inspired to whip out my yellow legal pad and I addressed a note to him.

MY NOTE
"Hey Man, ..."  I explained that I was an addict and that whether or not he was, was none of my business. But, that I acknowledged that I've been in the same exact situation--ritualizing, and browsing inappropriate media on a public computer, with someone sitting next to me.

I told him that I hurt for him, and that I was there for him. I left my name and number, and a reference to fightthenewdrug.org in case he didn't feel comfortable reaching out. I told him I'd support him in any way possible.

I folded it up like a letter, slid it towards him, tapped him on the shoulder (he was using ear phones) and said, "Hi, my name is Cody. I hope you're not offended or embarrassed."

Then I went to class.

HIS RESPONSE
I checked my phone after class.  I received this text message,

"Hey Cody. Thanks. Really thank you. After that I exited the screen and got off the computer. Thanks for reminding me that is not who I want to be. When you gave me that letter I didn't know what to expect. I was thinking it was going to say how horrible I was and that I am going to hell or something. I don't know if you believe in God but I felt like God reached out to me in the moment that I read your letter. 

When I read your note I immediately started to cry. Instead of being condemning it was understanding. I just thought wow someone cares enough to help me. I thought I was the only crazy person who was crazy enough to do that. I started off with good intentions to do school stuff and then I slowly got too complacent."

I was walking away from my class, being filled with the spirit. I knew that I had done what God wanted me to do this afternoon.

The Real Pain Caused by Relapse

How many of us try to minimize a relapse by calling it a "slip-up" or some other term. Are we perhaps minimizing our actions so much that we may be relapsing weekly with no real consequences. But in doing so we are being dishonest with ourselves and seriously hurting our loved ones.

The following are direct quotes from the Spouse and Family Support Guide.  This Guide and the corresponding weekly meetings are provided to help our loved ones understand that they are not at fault for our addiction.  And also to help them learn how they might better support us in our recovery.

Please read the paragraphs below from the "Support Guide" with an open mind to see how your actions might be affecting those you love the most.

Principle 11: Responding Appropriately to Relapse 

Relapse occurs when a person slides back into bad choices after partial recovery. Relapse is very common and may range from a single incident to a complete return to former patterns. Because relapse is so common, some may rationalize that it is part of recovery as long as they are doing their best. However, it is important to remember that relapse is not part of the recovery process. We should be careful not to condone our loved ones’ excuses or justifications for their poor choices. 

Chronic relapse indicates that our loved ones have not yet fully recovered. It may mean that loved ones need to make greater efforts and receive more intensive treatment. We may need to set additional boundaries or limits with them. If our loved ones try to minimize the seriousness of a relapse, our clear and honest perspective can help them see that they are deceiving themselves and need additional help.

It is important to respond appropriately to our loved ones’ relapses, not only to help us heal but also to help them in their recovery. Enabling or ignoring their behavior may perpetuate their behavior and increase our suffering. They need to understand that we love them but that we cannot condone continued poor choices and their rationalizing their decisions. We can lovingly and honestly respond to their relapse and rationalizations to help them understand how their actions affect us and themselves. We can support others with “love unfeigned” (D&C 121:41) while also clearly communicating our feelings of disapproval of their behavior “when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love” (D&C 121:43).

It's important not to minimize a relapse.  It is harmful for us and for our loved ones if we continue to relapse and think it is somehow "normal."

Beware of Open Gates

Many of us have set up boundaries between us and a possible relapse. And those boundaries are like gates along a path. As long as we keep those gates locked and do not go down that path we will remain safe.
At times we are tempted to go down the path. And if we give in what happens? As we start down the path we begin breaking our boundaries and we unlock each gate one by one. We lie to ourselves saying, "I'm only going to go a little way down the path."
Hopefully, at some point we come to our senses and ask ourselves.  Wow!!! What am I doing???  And we immediately stop and get off the path. We do PMS -- We Pray to Heavenly Father, Move away from the path, and reach out to others for Support.  We admit to God, to ourselves, and to others what we were doing and ask for help.
Now here is where the unexpected happens. Hours or even days later we may come back to that path. And instead of running into closed gates, we find that the gates we previously opened are still open!!!  And that that point we find that we are already close to relapsing.
If we are not extremely careful in those hours or days after the first experience we will find ourselves in a relapse. That's how relapses and binges happen. And Satan is more than happy to whisper to us, "Hey you've already messed up, it doesn't matter anymore, so just keep going."

So what is the solution?  The solution is repentance. Those gates don't just close by themselves. We need to repent for each of those open gates. Then we can close them. In that process we should pray more intently, be more honest and ask Heavenly Father for His help.  At the same time we can reach out to trusted friends for support.

As a friend recently stated: "Repentance is the only way out!"
 

Preparing for Steps 4 & 5


In the five years I've been attending 12 Step meetings I estimate I have listened to shares regarding Steps 4 and 5 at least 21 times.

And in listening to those shares I have written down several notes which may be helpful for anyone who has not completed these steps.

First there is no right or wrong way to do the Step 4 Inventory.  I think the ARP Guide is purposely vague so that we each can rely on
the Spirit to guide us.

Suggestions Regarding Writing Your Inventory in Step 4

These are suggestions I have heard over the last five years.  Hopefully, as you read through these the spirit will prompt you as to which suggestions, if any, are right for your situation. They are in no particular order.
  • Pick the person you are going to read your Step 4 Inventory to up front, and make an appointment so that you then have a mental deadline to work towards. That way you will not be one of those who takes months or years working on your inventory. The future date can be anytime, even months away, but just pick a date!
  • Pray before you begin each writing session
  • If a thought enters you mind, write it down
  • If you feel like skipping something, write it down
  • If you feel too embarrassed to share something, write it down
  • If you feel this incident it too minor to write down, write it down
  • There is a reason these things are entering your mind, so include them
  • Once you begin, try to write down at least one incident a day
  • Not everything you write down has to be connected to your addiction
    Some things may only pertain to character weaknesses
  • Also include your strengths. If you're not sure what they are, ask a good friend.
  • Some guys have used a spreadsheet format; others have just written free form **
  • One friend shared that since he already had asked someone to listen in Step 5, he shared what he was writing while he was writing it. That way the person who was going to listen to his Inventory could give him suggestions along the way. He still felt he had to read the entire inventory to his friend, even though the friend had already read most of it.  He said the reading was necessary so he could hear his own voice confessing what he had done.
  • One friend admitted that he took over a year to write his inventory, it was about 80 pages in length and took him 8 hours to read it out loud to a friend.  (I don’t recommend this, but it was necessary for him to feel thorough)
  • Keep in mind that the things you are writing down are things Christ is going to take from you! So if you consider not writing down something -- think again -- stuff you don't write down is stuff you are going to keep! And you don't want to keep anything!
      
** The ARP Guide suggests possibly using a spreadsheet, but I didn't do that.  My inventory was just free-form, in a Word document, in chronological order.  However, Brandon, a good friend and facilitator, sent me a spreadsheet template that he created, which he said was very helpful when he did his Steps 4 & 5.  You may download it from This link.

Thoughts Regarding Reading Your Inventory in Step 5
  • Pick someone you feel comfortable sharing with and someone who will keep what you read to them confidential. The ARP Guide states: "We tried to select Someone who had gone through steps 4 and 5 and who was well-grounded in the gospel."  That person is NOT your bishop.
  • You are not expected to read your Step 4 Inventory to your Bishop. He doesn’t need to know all the details of your life, like what happened when you were 11 years old, etc. He only needs to know enough to be your judge, like in giving a temple recommend interview.
  • You should ask someone who has already been through Steps 4 and 5 to be the one to listen to your inventory.  For that person you should share what happened when you were 11 years old if it had an impact on your future life.  He will have empathy for you and will not judge you because he already knows what it’s like to be addicted. 
  • It’s probably not a good idea to read your inventory to your wife or girlfriend (unless you both feel good about it).  The "Support in Recovery" document or "Step 13" states: "Participants may decide not to share their personal inventories with immediate family members or people who might be hurt by hearing those inventories." I did not read my inventory to my wife or my bishop.  
  • A friend recently gave this advice: "Do not read your inventory to anyone who is mentioned in your inventory." -- Good advice.
  • If your inventory is long, you can read it over more than one session.
  • Choose a quiet safe place to read your inventory so you won’t be interrupted.

My Experience

I have been privileged to listen to multiple Step 4 Inventories. Each one was totally different because of the method used by the person who was writing, and his own background. But the one thing they had in common is that it was a spiritual experience, both for me and the other person.

We began with prayer and they read at their own speed. I just listened and gave encouragement.  I did not judge!!!  My respect and love for each of those guys was greater after they finished than it had been when they began.

Please don’t be afraid of either of these steps.  I promise you that they will bless your life!

Gethsemane A Tender Mercy II


The Lord tells me through tender mercies that "he knows me and he loves me!"

I wrote about one such tender mercy a while back. The post was called Gethsemane A Tender Mercy.  Well that tender mercy still continues.

Today as I left our Easter Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School class, I got into my car and turned on the radio.  The first thing I heard was the beginning of an interview with the author of Gethsemane Jesus Loves Me, telling how she was inspired to write that song.

Her explanation was then followed by the recording of a young woman singing the song.

Tears welled up in my eyes --- just like for all the other tender mercies I have experienced.

Was that just a coincidence???  I didn't think so.

But the Lord wanted to make sure I knew it was a tender mercy, just for me.

So later on, as I came back from dinner, I walked into my house and sat down.

The radio was already on; and what did I hear next? -- That same interview!

That was no coincidence!!!  Once again, the Lord was telling me, "I know you and I love you!"

The chorus in that song is, "Gethsemane -- Jesus Loves Me!"  I know He loves me---and He loves you too!!!

I pray that you will recognize tender mercies in your life!

I know that they are there, if you just look for them!!!   Ask Heavenly Father to help you see them.

Here is that radio interview.

Let's Stop the Blame Game


Let’s stop playing the “blame game.”

With our addictive minds, we try to avoid taking responsibility for our actions. Here are some of the statements I have heard guys make after they relapsed:
  • “My roommate is supposed to enable the password on his laptop when he leaves the apartment. Well yesterday he didn’t and I relapsed. It’s my roommate’s fault.”
  • “The filter on my computer stopped working and I relapsed. It’s the filter’s fault.”
  • “The pattern my Bishop used to lock down my cell phone was too easy to crack and I relapsed. It was my Bishop’s fault.”
  • “When I signed up for high speed Internet, they gave me a free tablet. It didn’t have a filter so I relapsed. It was Internet provider's fault”
  • “My phone is supposed to be locked down. But I discovered that this particular app was able to give me access to google and I relapsed. So it was the app’s fault.”
In each of these situations, the person making the statement had very weak boundaries or no boundaries at all. Each one of them was depending on some-one or some-thing to protect them from the Internet. Thus, they felt little hesitation in trying to get passed whatever barrier had been put in their path.  

It's like: “If I can find a way around this road block then it's my duty to try and I'm not responsible."

But what would happen if I put a pack of cigarettes on the night stand next to their bed. What would be their response?  I’ll bet – without hesitation, most would reject it.  And they wouldn’t have to think twice about it. Why is that?  

Perhaps it’s because they, a long time ago, made a decision not to smoke. It was a single decision and they only had to make it one time. They don't have to make that decision every time they are given the opportunity.

But what about pornography and related activities?  What happens when those opportunities to act out present themselves?  Do we immediately reject those thoughts – or do we have to think about them first? If we have to make a decision each time, we will have a 50% chance of making a bad decision.

Wouldn’t it be much better to make that decision just once and get it over with  -- just like we did with smoking. So why don’t we just do that right now???

If we are willing to make a firm decision to avoid pornography, just once, and get it over with, we won’t be tempted to keep testing the boundaries and blaming others for our sins.

Think about it!


The Bare Minimum

A therapist once told me about a client who came into his office and said the following:

“I hate this addiction! I hate it--I hate it--I hate it!  It’s ruining my life. It’s ruining my family. It’s hurting my job. I’ll do anything to get rid of this addiction.  So tell me doctor, what’s the bare minimum I have to do to overcome it?”

How many of us are like that client?  We acknowledge that we hate the addiction--that it’s affecting our family, our job, our church service, our faith, our testimony, our self-respect, and virtually all aspects of our lives.  But then what are we really willing to do to overcome it?

Are we all talk but little action?
  
Are we looking for the minimum effort to overcome our addiction--such as:
  • What’s the fewest number of minutes I need to spend daily in the scriptures?
  • What’s the fewest number of times I need to pray each day?
  • When I do pray what’s the least number of minutes?
  • Can I get away with only fasting once a month on Fast Sunday?
  • Is it OK to just fast one meal?
  • What is the fewest number of ARP meetings I need to attend?
  • Can I get away with only going to a meeting when I’m feeling triggered?
  • Can’t I just read the guide and not go to any meetings?
  • Can't I just read through the steps and not do the writing part?
  • Do I really need to write in a Recovery Journal?
  • Can I avoid getting a support person?  It’s so embarrassing.
  • Isn't it good enough to just have a support person on call in case you might need him?
  • Can't I just keep this problem between me the Lord and not tell anyone else?
  • Can't I just confess to the bishop each time I act out and leave it at that?
We may not be asking those questions out loud.  But might that actually be our attitude?
Where exactly is recovery on our priority list?  Is it near the top or near the bottom?
If someone were to monitor our actions would our actions correspond with what we say?

What About Our Prayers for Help?

In our prayers we have all asked Heavenly Father to either take this addiction away or at least help us to overcome it.  But then when he tries to help us, do we say "No thanks, I'll do it my way?"

I can just imagine us, at some point, asking the Heavenly Father, "Why didn't you help me when I asked?"  And Heavenly Father answering:

"I tried to help you but your pride got in the way. I put wonderful people and tools in your path and you pretty much ignored them.

"I created a whole program just to help YOU.  It was called the Addiction Recovery Program with meetings almost every day of the week.  I had missionaries and facilitators called just for YOU.  Those brethren gave up one or more nights a week just for YOU.  But you didn't take the meetings seriously.  Many times your social life and your friends took precedence over the meetings.  And then when you did attend, you arrived late or left early. Were you attending just so you could check it off your list?

"I inspired the brethren to create an Addiction Recovery Guide with step by step instruction to help you overcome your addiction. And in that guide were Action Steps, that if you had followed, would have been a great help.  Also in that guide were sections called Study and Understanding, and if you had read, pondered, and answered the questions, you would have made great progress. But you didn't seriously follow the steps. And many times you didn't even know what step you were on.

"So to answer your question, I really did try to answer your prayers, but you were not listening to my answers!  You wanted different answers.  You were more like Naaman when he was asked to immerse himself in the Jordan River seven times.  Naaman didn't like that answer, he wanted a different answer." 

Do I Have My Own Bottle of Whiskey?

I think we would all agree that for an alcoholic to carry a bottle of whiskey around in his pocket would be "stupid!" But how about a pornography addict carrying pornography around in his pocket??  How many of us are doing exactly that with our smartphone and then wonder why we still have a problem?

Or what about an alcoholic keeping a bottle of whiskey on his desk at home -- still stupid -- right?  But might we have a "pornography box" also called a computer or tablet on our desk with open access to the internet?

How really serious are we about recovery?  Or are we still trying to do "the bare minimum?"

Let's go back and re-read the bulleted items at the top of this post.  This time let's be more honest!

Are we willing to make any changes in our attitude and our actions?  If so, what?