I put this together to share with you my experience. I am not finished with my journey yet, but I have come so far. I know there are others who share in the feelings that I have felt; who have had similar experiences as I have. I married someone who was addicted to pornography. He was addicted to it long before we married. He was addicted to it long after. Only in the last 15 months has he been able to say that he is in recovery, that he is overcoming, or has overcome his addiction. It has been a long hard road for us. We have tried many different things, been through a couple of different programs. While some of them were mildly to moderately helpful, there has only been one that has been truly helpful.
The program is the Addiction Recovery Program from the Church. My husband started in this program a couple of times, the last time he started it was when our stake introduced the night specifically for pornography. We now have a third ARP group. This one is for us, the women who are married to addicts. It is a group for us to learn how we can overcome the feelings that we may have felt during this addiction; the feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, control, anger, hate, frustration, sadness, hopelessness, isolation, helplessness. How many times have we felt that we were not a good enough wife, mother, daughter of God? How many times have we felt that we did something terribly wrong at some point in order to deserve these feelings?
Doctrine and Covenants 121:37 states “when we undertake…to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men…the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved.”
Through the ARP program we learn that there is hope. There is healing. There is forgiveness. All of this is given to us through Christ. We learn that the more we try to fix our loved ones the more out of control our own lives become. Elder Bednar taught us that “You and I cannot control the intentions or the behavior of other people. However, we do determine how we will act” (Ensign November 2006)
We learn that we are not the saviors of our spouse. The only one that can save them is Jesus Christ. He is also the only one that can save us. First we have to be willing to let Him. Just as we cannot control others our Savior cannot control us. We can hand our lives over to our Heavenly Father and have Him guide us while using the Atonement to help us heal and forgive. We cannot improve our situation by waiting around for things to change. We have to be willing to make the changes that we can make, and let the Savior through His Atonement do the rest.
Mathew 11:28-29 states “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
Sisters, Come unto Christ. Give him your sorrow, your ill feelings, let Him help heal you. Learn that the atonement was not given only for sinners, but for those with heavy hearts, minds. Who are troubled in any manner? The Atonement is as much for us as it is for our husbands.
No longer can you tell yourself that no one understands. No one knows. The Savior knows. He is waiting to help heal you.
I know, I understand. That is why I am writing this. That is why I am willing to do anything I can to further this work. It is the work or our Father in Heaven, the work of our Savior Jesus Christ, our older brother!
There is help, there is healing, there is hope, forgiveness. The ARP program can help you see that.
Elder Richard G Scott Taught: “ Trust in God…no matter how challenging the circumstance… Your peace of mind, Your assurance of answers to vexing problems, your ultimate joy depend on your trust in Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.”
Elder Jeffrey R Holland reminded us “every person in every era has had to walk by Faith into what has always been some uncertainty. This is the plan. Just be faithful and know God is in charge He knows your name and He knows your need”
Please know that you are not alone. Your husband may or may not be ready to overcome his addiction, if he isn’t do not let that stop you from healing. Attend the meetings. Do whatever you can to get there. For some in our stake it is a long way to travel. I tell you it is worth it. Talk to your Bishop if you need help in getting there. Talk to your Bishop if you plan to attend and can take someone else. If you go to your Bishop and say, I want to go to the support group and I can take someone with me. The Bishop can then go to the person that has come to him and asked for a way to get there. Go to your Bishop or your Relief Society President and tell them that you want to offer help to anyone who has the desire to attend the meetings, some sisters may need a babysitter. I know we did for awhile. We had a lovely Sister in our ward offer to babysit so we could attend the meetings together before they separated out the nights. That was invaluable for us.
Attend the Temple when you can. If you do not feel worthy to attend, talk to your Bishop; talk to your Father in Heaven. If the only reason you don’t feel worthy is because you feel held down by the addiction of another, let it go. You can do it. There is hope, healing and forgiveness.
I know firsthand the struggle to fully feel the spirit in your life. To not be able to feel the fullness of the saviors love for you, for your Father in Heavens love for you. When your mind is so full of the negative, the hurt, shame and guilt it buries your spirit. Through using the Atonement to help heal you can learn again of your worthiness of a Daughter of God. You can learn that you are loved and cherished. That you are a beautiful person inside and out and you can do whatever you want to do with and in your life as long as you are close to the spirit.
Even if you are not the spouse of an addict you can feel some of these same feelings. You too can use the atonement of our Savior to overcome these feelings. Do not disregard these things just because you may not be the spouse of an addict. If you have feelings of not being enough, use the Atonement in your life.