Looking for a new way to find relief
9/9/2009 1:09:09 PM
I'm a new recovering addict, and I'd just like to share my story and ask for some advice from fellow addicts.

I come from a very strong LDS family, and I've always had a firm testimony of Jesus Christ and His atonement. In spite of my testimony, I've struggled with pornography and masturbation off and on for about the last ten years (or since I was 12). I tried to work my problems out with the Bishop and my parents when I was an early teenager, but it seemed like no matter how hard I tried to stop my addictions, I couldn't even go a week without caving in. I never had much trouble giving up pornography, but I just couldn't give up masturbation.

I finally gave up on the repentance process after several months of being forbidden to take or pass or prepare the sacrament (I come from a very conservative part of the church) because I couldn't stop masturbating. So I decided to just lie to the bishop and my parents. That was when I was about forteen. From age forteen to nineteen I continued lying and indulging in my bad habits, stayed active in the church, went to BYU, got a mission call, got endowed, and went on a mission.

On my mission, I finally broke my long history of lies and told my mission president everything. I was so surprised when he acted like it really wasn't a big deal and he told me to study the atonement and try to clean up my act. I felt a lot of relief from his kind words, and years of guilt were lifted from my shoulders. Although I never had any issues with pornography as a missionary, I never could stop masturbating.

After my mission I got back into pornography and started lying again, up until about nine weeks ago. I went to my Bishop, told him the whole story, and he told me that I needed to get professional help at LDS Family Services.

Since my first visit with my counselor, seven weeks ago, I've finally been able to stay clean from porn AND masturbation. The biggest difference between what I'm doing now and what I was doing before is that now I don't suppress my urges anymore. I simply accept them, say a silent prayer, give them to God, and do my part by thinking or doing something else immediately. I guess you could say that now I abandon my urges instead of suppressing them. That might not make a lot of sense, but it's made all the difference in my life.

Anyway, I'm feeling really good about life now, but I still doubt that I'll ever really be free. I know Christ has forgiven me of my sins, but deep down inside I know that sooner or later, I'll give in to my urges. Does anyone have any advice for how to get rid of these feelings of hopelessness?

Also, now that I've been free for seven weeks, I'm having a lot of trouble finding the relief from reality that I used to find through masturbation. In other words, how can I ever fill the enormous space masturbation used to take up in my life?

Sorry, this post is out-of-control long. But I do feel a lot better already, just by writing it all out.


keep up the good work    
"Masturbation is both a physical and psychological addiction. It is a form of chemical dependency on your own hormones. My understanding is that it takes approximately 12 weeks for your body to regulate and get used to your new chemical balance in your body (to kick the chemical dependency). During that time, it is still very hard to abstain and "cravings" can become overwhelming. But the longer you stay in control, the easier it becomes to dismiss those urges. Try your best to keep hope. The hope thing becomes easier with time as well, it's about rebuilding your confidence. Self-confidence is something that I think most addicts lack. The inability, or perceived inability to gain control of a particular aspect of your life makes it hard to believe in yourself.

I understand what you mean about suppressing vs. abandoning the urges. When you suppress the urge, you are in essence dwelling on the desire, which usually makes the desire stronger. When you abandon them, you look the temptation in the face and say "I know you are there, I CHOOSE not to give in".

Again, congrats on 7 weeks. I have faith in you, that you can keep going."
posted at 18:13:08 on September 9, 2009 by ican
"I read your post the day you wrote it. Sorry it has taken a while to get back to you.

AA has a saying, “Let go and let God”. What you said about saying a prayer, giving your urges to God and moving on mentally and physically makes absolute sense. That is the only way I have ever had any success. My story sounds a lot like yours except I am 48 now. I never could find any success until I got into the addiction recovery program 9 years ago. I have gone back to trying it on my own a number of times and proved that I can’t do it. I have also found a lot of peace, hope and real success on the journey. I’ve had a number of clean periods of 9 and 6 months. Using the criteria I used back in my addicted days I have had a few years clean, but that is another topic.

The point I wanted to make is that yes you can be free of this. I believe that the potential will always be there. Satan won’t ever take us off the list. If I don’t stay vigilant he is always ready to give it another shot and he certainly knows what works with me. On the other hand if I get on my knees every morning and plead for Heavenly Father to take my addictive urges away it feels like what I would imagine a normal person feels like throughout the day. At this point my full morning routine includes a kneeling prayer, reading in the Book of Mormon and sometimes other inspirational reading (other scriptures, AA’s Big Book, “Jesus the Christ” etc.) and time pondering afterwards. When I do that, most of my days are smooth sailing. Mostly at this point I am working on just the habit of looking, but feeling “the need” to look is gone. Occasionally I find myself following my old habits and need to reel myself back in and surrender it to God, but then I am able to move on without any lasting effects.

One difference between a sexual addiction and any others that I can think of is that with others you can see a trigger and be tempted to get your “drug of choice” into your system. With this just seeing something even if it is unintentional often puts something into our system. The great thing is that God can remove it. He has done it for me a number of times, even a few after I had intentionally been “injecting” porn. I used to not have the faith that I could really be healed completely, but that changed and on March 7th of this year I was praying for a change of heart and a removal of lustful desires and it happened. I don’t know how to describe the feeling, but I knew it was gone and the coming days proved it beyond any doubt for me. Later I quit being vigilant and got stupid, so since then I just look at it as a daily reprieve from addiction. Today is 70 days clean and I am not really even counting. I made a calendar at the first of the year that keeps track for me. The last time I check so that I could tell someone how long it had been was at 44 days. I understand that 70 days isn’t that long. The important thing to me is the lack of addictive compulsion.

Most importantly I just want to testify that God is still a God of miracles. He can heal us completely. Christ didn’t heal anyone just part way when He was here. When He said, “arise and walk” nobody limped away; they were made whole. The atonement in infinite, not just for people who aren’t addicted. When He said “white as snow” He meant it. He has paid the price already. The 12 Steps is a sure way to apply the atonement to ANYTHING!

Keep up the good work. We're pulling for you."
posted at 07:52:31 on September 11, 2009 by justjohn
One more thought.    
"It has also been helpful to me to find out what is really triggering me. I was surprised one time when I was feeling compulsions to look at porn to realize that I was actually just bored. Being tired is a major trigger for me. It really is nice now when I’m able to see that rather than just looking at the lust and trying to fight it. Often when I have those first thoughts about browsing for porn I quickly recognize that it is just late and I am tired. I simply get off the computer and often go to bed right away and the fight is over.

Take care,
posted at 08:16:31 on September 11, 2009 by justjohn
Different this Time    
"Understanding the chemical element has been huge for me. I know in past times I've said this time it will be different but having that knowledge this time I FEEL that it IS different. I've struggled off and on with this for 19 years being exposed at such a young age. At times I knew I had it beat and then whammo I slip and fall. Not this time though... It feels different, like I know what I am fighting. The longer I go without the porn drug the more clearly I think. 38 days now and counting."
posted at 12:10:16 on September 13, 2009 by aug7change
Thats Great    
"I have felt similar... I wish I had not wasted so many years in this sin. At one point I realized too that battling our sexual nature was not going to work. Instead I decided to let God take care of it... I accepted it as a part of my being and decided to only use it for righteousness. With God's help we are still doing good.

Only battle one day at a time. 1 yard is hard, but a inch is a snitch (AKA ... its easer done by little pieces) No matter what we will always have to fight the good fight. It is a part of the whole opposition and our progression. We will always be tried.

((( Hey! Aug7Change... Thats Kool! I'm on day 38 too! )))"
posted at 14:03:29 on September 13, 2009 by Gondor44646
Thanks, John.    
"I really appreciate your perspective and advice. It makes me feel better that I'm not the only person out there who's fighting this addiction with all I've got.

I thought about how you said being bored or tired seems to be a trigger for you, and that seems to be the exact same case for me. I've gotten more involved in school clubs, service opportunities, and MMA training at my gym over the last week, and I haven't felt anywhere near the same level of temptation I've been dealing with over the last 7 weeks. I've gone 54 days now, and I'm positive I have LDS Family services, the 12-step program, this website, and of course the Lord to thank for that.

I realize that now I need to follow your example and stay vigilant with my prayers and my thoughts. So far, that's been the hardest part because I tire easily and am not very dilligent, but I'll do my best!"
posted at 12:24:23 on September 14, 2009 by ETTE
"Does it really take 12 weeks to no longer depend on the way those chemicals and hormones make you feel during masturbation? If that's the case, I should start counting down days, rather than up. Thanks! "
posted at 20:25:20 on October 4, 2011 by SeminaryKid
No it doens't!    
"When I was 16 I made it 4 months without any relapses. I thought I was cured, and then one night I just lost all willpower, broke down, and was back into my old habit immediatley. There are people on the site that have gone YEARS (100s of weeks) and then fallen back into it.

There is no set time to when the you will not feel dependent on the hormones (aka being addicted.) I used to think it was 25 days, can't remember where I heard that... to break any habit. That definitely didn't work.

Going 12 weeks sober is awesome, but it doesn't really mean much in terms of being addicted anymore. Maybe it worked for ICAN, maybe it will work for you, but it didn't work for me and what seems like a majority of the people on this site. And it definitely isn't the only thing you need to do to get over your addiction."
posted at 21:19:13 on October 4, 2011 by PaulThomas
It does get easier though...    
"It DOES get easier... I'm of the belief that temptation will NEVER go away... but it definitely DOES get easier.. and I wish more and more people told me that when I was struggling.

most mormons who have never struggled with addiction... have no clue what it's like to go through 'withdraws' I have never felt such strong emotions.. as when I was fighting those temptations... in the midst of my addiction..

slowly but surely the spirit got stronger and stronger.. and know I'm absolutely ruthless about anyone who tries to tempt me with stuff.. I have to live on higher ground now... which makes it easier for me... and some of the "Mormons" who were judging me years ago.. now.. can't understand why I choose not to have a TV... choose not to date women who like to makeout all the time.. etc...

notwithstanding, Satan throws fiery darts at me... but God has been so good to me.
because I pray daily.. and often many times throughout the day... I have received warnings from god... "Watch out tomorrow" "Go to the temple this week" etc....

30-90 days recovery is big...

it's like getting to a ledge while hiking up a mountain... there is safety in getting to that point... collect your thoughts, remember where you are going, ask god for directions

and then take it one day at a time.

I have noticed that there isn't anyone in my recovery group with longer than 10 months recovery time... sometimes when I get down... I think about the dream I have to have 5 years recovery time.. and to attend a group.. to give hope to all the men/young men who are just trying to figure out.

From what I gather about you ETTE... you are a warrior.. and someone who will inspire men/women to righteous living.. just by the sheer force of God's presence in you. "
posted at 02:04:28 on October 5, 2011 by gracefull

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"Each one who resolves to climb that steep road to recovery must gird up for the fight of a lifetime. But a lifetime is a prize well worth the price. This challenge uniquely involves the will, and the will can prevail. Healing doesn’t come after the first dose of any medicine. So the prescription must be followed firmly, bearing in mind that it often takes as long to recover as it did to become ill. But if made consistently and persistently, correct choices can cure. "

— Russell M. Nelson

General Conference, October 1988