By Katie W
I’m only 25, but have already lived a long life. My life struggling with addiction began 15 years ago. I was ten when curiosity turned into pornography addiction. I don’t think I realized I had a problem until I was 13 and the behavior became habitual compulsive action. In school I learned about addictions, but only to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, so I presumed my addiction must not be a problem.
Little by little I had awakenings to the true nature of my struggle and it scared me. The smallest things became triggers and I found myself becoming further removed from the Holy Spirit and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I still went to church and went through motions. I justified that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. But when my brother returned from his church mission, we talked and he said: “It seems you are struggling with something, and I don’t need to know what it is. But I am here for you. If it is something you need to talk with the Bishop about, please do.” I had been struggling for eight years off and on, and it was an off time. I still went to the Bishop to confess and begin the repentance process.
I went because I wanted to feel again. I had become deadened by years of sin and lying to others and myself. We didn’t talk about the full process. We didn’t talk about anything besides the need to come with godly sorrow, a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I didn’t know what those looked like in application. So after one visit I thought I was good! I went about my life and when the urge for addictive behavior came I “white knuckled” through it. I abstained for two and a half years and thought I had it beat. I would handle addictive behavior by doing other things, distracting myself. This didn’t set me up for success though because I wasn’t building positive habits like reading my scriptures or praying for help.
The two and half years I abstained I wasn’t dealing with my addictive behaviors. I wasn’t being mindful of my behavior, and found another outlet in destructive eating habits. At the end of these years in college, I moved home and fell back into old habits. This happened because of a lack of spiritual grounding, not seeking therapy, and not being mindful of the emotions I was feeling.
This time though I didn’t want to become removed from the warmth of the Spirit. I went to my Bishop. This time I knew the full extent of my wrongs. I felt loved and safe as we talked about the need to build constructive behaviors to replace the addictive ones. I worked with my Bishop using the Addiction Recovery Program as well to help me work toward healing through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
In the following months my relationship with my Savior grew and my addictive behaviors lessened significantly. I turned to the scriptures, made prayer a matter of communicating with God rather than a daily report, and I faithfully attended church. As I grew to know of my Savior’s love for me and His desires for my healing, I knew I could find His strength. My Bishop walked each step with me and helped me see the saving value in the gospel.
I have come to deal with addictive behavior not only through the Gospel, but through therapy as well. I went to three therapists and finally found a good fit. I felt satisfaction with how he taught me tools and positive coping mechanisms. He showed me ways to utilize mindfulness and meditation. He also gave me a safe space to fully express and explore the entirety of what happened that got me where I was. Therapy is still an integral part of how I deal with my addictive behaviors.
Both the Gospel and therapy taught me the benefits of positive coping skills and provided tools for me to use. But only the Gospel of Jesus Christ has helped me find peace in recovery from addiction. The Gospel is where I have found the hope to try again each day.