Who I Really Am

morning_trail_run

You are not alone on this journey. Your Heavenly Father knows you. Even when no one else hears you, He hears you. When you rejoice in righteousness, He rejoices with you. When you are beset with trial, He grieves with you.

Heavenly Father’s interest in you does not depend on how rich or beautiful or healthy or smart you are. He sees you not as the world sees you; He sees who you really are. He looks on your heart. And He loves you because you are His child…

Seek Him earnestly, and you will find Him.

I promise you, you are not alone.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Full talk here.

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Porn stars feel the pain too

“I couldn’t feel anymore. See, for me, I had to go to work… to do the porn… so that I could buy the drugs… to bury the pain… of doing the porn.

So I’d go to work…

…to do the porn…

…so I could buy the drugs…

…to bury the pain…

…and around, and around it went.

…I wanted so bad to get off that merry-go-round.”

Chunky Butter

I couldn’t think of a title for this post, so there ya go.

The last month has been hard. My anti-depression meds seem to have lost their edge. Work has become remarkably stressful and at times degrading. I feel my emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical energy draining constantly.

I feel like I’m maddeningly thirsty all the time but nothing can quench my thirst. I feel dehydrated and depleted. Come to think of it, I feel now much like I did exactly one year ago.

Every morning I wake up sucking mud and by the end of the day I’m even more dehydrated than I was that morning. Every night I go to bed pretending the dirt sates my desperate thirst, and I hope with frailty that maybe I’ll discover a fresh well tomorrow.

I feel like there’s no end to this. I want to believe otherwise and I don’t feel ready to throw in the towel, but most days are dark. My wife’s and daughter’s love get me through them.

Most likely anyone reading this has heard of Robin Williams’ tragic death. His suicide pains me. I feel sorrow for him. I wish I could meet him, sit with him, and try to express how sorry I am that he had to face such a powerful demon as depression. I’m sorry it drove him to despair and suicide.

I wish I could tell Mr. Williams that I don’t think he should’ve or could’ve put on a happy face and silently allowed the demon to continue crushing him slowly. I hope he knows that he’s not alone and that so many people care and understand.

I read a blog post tonight that really hit home for me. Click here to read it. The author is genuine and open. Her words and experiences help me understand my own struggles. Whether or not you know depression first-hand (perhaps especially if you don’t), I invite you to read her post.

I’ll pass along a quote she shared. It helps me answer the question, “Why would a person end his own life?”

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.” 

David Foster Wallace

Tottering, falling, and trying to get up again

mormonad-down-on-yourself

I relapsed this past weekend after nearly six months of blessed recovery + sobriety. After acting out, it didn’t feel real. I wished it was a dream. I hate this.

I’d forgotten how difficult getting up can be after falling down like this. I didn’t miss the feeling.

Discouragement came quickly once I became willing to accept my relapse, as did a plethora of whispered lies from the evil one:

“You knew you wouldn’t make it. You knew you weren’t good enough.”

“You’re worthless. All that progress and you threw it away.”

“Your wife and daughter won’t love you anymore.”

“Why try again? You’re likely to fail. Why go through with it? It won’t make a difference for you anyway. You’re too broken. You can’t be fixed.”

Sometimes I wish the devil had a body so that I could punch him.

I thank God for Sidreis Agla’s bravery and testimony (read her blog here). I got her book, “By the Light of Grace,” on Kindle nearly twenty-four hours before I fell. Saturday night after acting out I started reading it. I couldn’t put it down! I eagerly finished reading it the next day. It was like reading my own auto-biography about my addictions and life. Certainly, our lives aren’t the same, nor are we; but her analogies and terminology fit so perfectly with what the Lord has taught me so far. Her testimony is powerful!

The most significant part of her testimony that stuck onto my heart and wouldn’t shake off is her audacity to keep trying. She never gave up, even when it seemed logical to do so.

Within the twenty-four hours leading up to my relapse, I learned that my two sponsees had relapsed also. I talked with them both and they were willing to start the program over. They wouldn’t give up.

After my relapse I contacted my sponsor. He informed me that he had relapsed recently, too. He said, “It is what it is. I have something more to learn, so I’ll keep working the steps” (paraphrased). He won’t give up.

It’s as if Father in Heaven knew I would relapse at this point, so he surrounded me with brothers and friends who He knew would show me the way. Their tenacity inspires me. It moves me to turn to my Deliverer again and trust in His mercy and love for me.

Still, finding courage to get up again is remarkably hard. It’s hard not to feel like a failure. It’s hard not to replay my stupidity over and over again in my mind. It’s hard not to keep it a secret and try to bury my ugliness. It’s hard not to feel like a fraud when I see the pain in my wife’s eyes again. It’s hard not to feel hopeless.

I just want to do the right thing. I don’t know if I won’t relapse again, but I’m willing to work the steps. I think I have more to learn.

My new sponsor shared the following thought with me tonight after we met on the phone. It was given by Dieter F. Uchtdorf in a general conference address a little over one year ago (read the full talk here).

“It can be discouraging at times to know what it means to be a son of God and yet come up short. The adversary likes to take advantage of these feelings. Satan would rather that you define yourself by your sins instead of your divine potential. Brethren, don’t listen to him.

“We have all seen a toddler learn to walk. He takes a small step and totters. He falls. Do we scold such an attempt? Of course not. What father would punish a toddler for stumbling? We encourage, we applaud, and we praise because with every small step, the child is becoming more like his parents.

“Now, brethren, compared to the perfection of God, we mortals are scarcely more than awkward, faltering toddlers. But our loving Heavenly Father wants us to become more like Him, and, dear brethren, that should be our eternal goal too. God understands that we get there not in an instant but by taking one step at a time.

“I do not believe in a God who would set up rules and commandments only to wait for us to fail so He could punish us. I believe in a Heavenly Father who is loving and caring and who rejoices in our every effort to stand tall and walk toward Him. Even when we stumble, He urges us not to be discouraged—never to give up or flee our allotted field of service—but to take courage, find our faith, and keep trying.”

Still shaking my head over this, too

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I really, really love this talk by President Uchtdorf. Here’s an excerpt:

Not long ago I was skiing with my 12-year-old grandson. We were enjoying our time together when I hit an icy spot and ended up making a glorious crash landing on a steep slope.

I tried every trick to stand up, but I couldn’t—I had fallen, and I couldn’t get up.

I felt fine physically, but my ego was a bit bruised. So I made sure that my helmet and goggles were in place, since I much preferred that other skiers not recognize me. I could imagine myself sitting there helplessly as they skied by elegantly, shouting a cheery, “Hello, Brother Uchtdorf!”

I began to wonder what it would take to rescue me. That was when my grandson came to my side. I told him what had happened, but he didn’t seem very interested in my explanations of why I couldn’t get up. He looked me in the eyes, reached out, took my hand, and in a firm tone said, “Opa, you can do it now!”

Instantly, I stood.

I am still shaking my head over this. What had seemed impossible only a moment before immediately became a reality because a 12-year-old boy reached out to me and said, “You can do it now!” To me, it was an infusion of confidence, enthusiasm, and strength.

Brethren, there may be times in our lives when rising up and continuing on may seem beyond our own ability. That day on a snow-covered slope, I learned something. Even when we think we cannot rise up, there is still hope. And sometimes we just need someone to look us in the eyes, take our hand, and say, “You can do it now!”

So many words here remind me of myself,  my addictions, and my ongoing recovery “I tried every trick to stand up, but I couldn’t—I had fallen, and I couldn’t get up… I began to wonder what it would take to rescue me.”

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Video

“Don’t You Quit”

As an addict I watch this video and I can’t help but think of the frustration and despair that accompanies relapse, especially while sincerely striving to abstain.

If you’re not an addict or if you’re an addict who doesn’t know this yet, please know that I’m talking precisely about a lack of willpower. By definition, addicts don’t have willpower sufficient to stop ourselves from acting out.

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