Before recovery began for me over 3 years ago, I had logged 20+ years of confused, misled oft times deceitful duplicity on my time card. It was so hard being, on one side of my fractured personality, “the good kid”, the one that always read his scriptures every night, that didn’t drink or go to parties. In fact, I deliberately avoided them knowing that what they offered would bring only trouble and pain. I wouldn’t (for the most part) watch rated R movies and would be regularly ridiculed by my LDS friends for it. My parents hailed me as the son that finally had his crap together and wasn’t rebelling or causing them heartache. I was responsible, I worked all through high school and paid my way through college. I confessed my sins before college, I didn’t lie, but the Bishop (and I) didn’t grasp the gravity of the situation, most didn’t back then, many still do not. I confessed again before I went on a mission. Same story. I told the truth and they approved me for full-time service. I felt like I was worthy to go and tried to serve with all that my broken soul could give.
I wasn’t trying to be duplicit. I wanted to be that person that everybody thought I was. It was a sincere part of me and a true desire of my heart. But I was ADDICTED to pornography and masturbation. Without the right tools, the desire to be good is just something your captor uses to beat your hope to death with.
I struggled with masturbation intermittently on my mission and once through an elaborate scheme, I even smuggled a Maxim magazine into my apartment which I binged on for an entire week while my companion was sick in bed. The shame of it all hurt so bad. I confessed to my mission President, surely I would be sent home. I felt so broken. I wanted to be good, but the other broken part of me wanted so badly to be bad, to abandon my roots, my anchor and to go diving head long into the fantasy world that looked so unbelievably enticing.
He didn’t send me home, he was compassionate. He worked with me, he was the first person that seemed to understand the gravity of the addiction. He offered regular accountability, mercy, encouragement and understanding. I finished my mission feeling like I had hope again.
Not long after being home, I was made very aware of how very frail this recovery attempt had been. I fell and fell hard. I tried to hold it together. I tried so hard to be the good kid. I was a return missionary now, so I should know even better, right? Trying to keep my Bishop’s endorsement for school, I confessed…again. I assured the bishop I would be strong and would not descend into that filth again. The declaration was sincere and ultimately meaningless. A few weeks later I slipped. How could I possibly go back and tell him I failed after my resolute proclamation to the contrary? So I said nothing.
For a time, I was one of the most “Mormon” people I knew. I was attending a church school as a return missionary, was an elder’s quorum president and an executive secretary, while working at a church bookstore, and was from a stereotypical large Mormon family. I looked the part, tall, dark and handsome, clean cut, fresh hair cut, and attended devotional regularly. Those, by the way, were all things that I chose to do. Those are all things that I wanted to do. Those were all things that were a sincere part of me.
But all the while I felt like a complete and utter fraud.
If anybody ever knew the “real” me, the “other me”, what would they say? What would they think? I was so ashamed of my actions, my addiction, the pain and the dirty feeling inside was such a constant reminder that no matter what I did on the outside, I would never be good enough on the inside. This theme is still a faulty core belief that I struggle with regularly.
I won’t rehash the details that can be read in the about me section, but suffice it to say that my addiction followed me into marriage, as did the shame and guilt. My addiction escalated and got worse, as did the shame. Finally over 3 years ago, in an effort to save myself and my marriage from complete self-destruction that would have surely ended in affairs and literally suicide, and as humbly as I could I came forward with it all. That is without a doubt one of the darkest times of my life. And yet, during the same time, I felt the love of God embracing me, leading me through it, and holding me up when the pain and shame was pushing me to my breaking point.
I spent months and months meeting with and educating my bishop on the addiction. I spent 2 years in a counseling group and private counseling on my own and with my wife. I read books, I researched and continue to, I went to presentations and AR groups. I learned tools and practiced what to do prior to and even after a slip. I developed some shame resilience and have been making great strides in the right direction. It is truly amazing to look back and see how far I have come, and how far my wife and I have come as a couple. We are truly blessed.
One thing that I am still working through is that I despise the “duplicit me” with a passion. I hate that in my past I was so “righteous” on the outside while I was so terribly lost on the inside. I struggle because like I said, it was truly my sincere desire to be a good person and to be the best me I could be but it was so up and down! Like a teetor-totter, at times I wanted to be so good and others it was my complete selfish desire to consume my life in carnal lust.
I utilize my recovery tools and my wife and I love each other more now then we could have before. I consider myself pretty devout and I have very deep spiritual convictions, but since starting recovery I almost shy away from the spiritual side of me because, in a way, I associate that with duplicity. I feel like if I get in a good streak reading my scriptures or if I were to get up and bare my testimony or to volunteer for a project of sorts, that it is the fraud in me attempting to show his ugly face, just trying to look the part without whole-heartedly being the part. I also know that is a little bit rediculous…
However, I am not sure exactly how to reconcile that yet. Unwinding two very distinct polar opposite personalities that existed in one mind and body for so long is not an easy task. I wish that Christ could just throw some demons out and that I could be instantly healed, but this, as many of you know is a more chronic condition, like the Apostle Paul’s thorn in his side. I am sure it will take time and more practice to differentiate between and make sure that I am despising the appropriate side of me.
Any thoughts or comments are always welcome and appreciated.