I love the ARP videos. They remind me that others who struggle with addiction overcame it one step at a time through Jesus Christ and His infinite atonement which provides a way for healing, mercy, justice, and grace.
Somehow, I’m still here. Still struggling, yet, I believe I can be healed. Why? Because I’ve come so far. I’ve overcome so much. I make hundreds of mistakes each day, but I know as I’m honest to what I know is true and keep trying, keep believing, and keep repenting I will draw closer to the Savior and become who I truly desire to become, and it is through the enabling power of Jesus Christ’s atonement I will be able to withstand temptation for a minute longer. Even if it’s just for a second longer than before, I’ve progressed.
I wish I could say it’s gotten easier. I can’t describe how I feel. I still feel “down” about past mistakes. I believe in the atonement of Jesus Christ. I’ve learned that these feelings are from the adversary, not Christ.
October 19, 2021 6:46 AM
Though I’m still battling temptation and addiction, I have been able to withstand these behaviors and habits more often. This is my longest period of time without completely returning, physically, to past patterns. Though I still struggle emotionally and spiritually, I have progressed. Grace for Grace. Through Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice, I have progressed.
I can trace my first experience with secrecy to when I was about 5 years old. A neighbor boy I didn’t know too well wanted to play a “game,” and he told me not to tell anyone about the game. It’s the same game played by many regardless of age. It’s basically an attempt to explore the sacred physical aspects of our bodies in a degrading manner. The game didn’t last long, but I must have felt confused and conflicted with what just happened.
He was around age 8. I didn’t tell anyone what happened, and I’m not sure why. I may have been afraid of what my mom would do because she said, “Don’t ever let someone touch your private parts.” I may have thought it was my fault. Maybe I thought he’d get in trouble, and I didn’t want to get him into trouble. I still don’t understand what happened there, but I wasn’t the kind of child to ask questions or talk about things.
When I came across pornography at age 8, the friend I was with told her mom, and her mom called my mom. I remember my mom walking into my room while I played with my little ponies, and she mentioned something about getting a phone call from my friend’s mom and asked if there was anything I wanted to talk about. I didn’t make eye-contact with her, I remember that. I must have said “no” then she closed the door behind her. After that I felt like I had this “dark secret,” and I felt I had two dark secrets I couldn’t tell anyone. Looking back, I understand these are common experiences just in talking with friends and family, unfortunately, but I was always scared to talk to anyone about what I went through.
Grade School to High School
I would mark that I did my school reading every day, so I could watch TV or earn a pizza. I cheated on a test in second grade because I wanted to get the answer right. I lied about eating my brothers sugar-crystal science project because I didn’t want to get in trouble. These are common feelings! We all have pride and we’re all selfish. It’s just part of the natural man.
Eventually, these lies lead me to change my behaviors and habits. I wanted some type of approval from my family and friends. It seemed that many people around me obsessed over relationships. Whenever I’d see a certain family member, they’d ask me how all of my boyfriends were doing. I would always blush because I didn’t understand why I didn’t have any boyfriends.
From my perspective, as a fourth and fifth grader, the boys liked the girls who weren’t so tall and awkward. They liked the girls who were more “girly,” and I dressed like a boy sometimes. I liked wearing baggy jeans and a plain white Tee or add a button up shirt, and leave all the buttons undone, like my brothers and many other who followed the 90’s grunge trend.
All of my friends seemed to have their own boyfriends, and on TV, it seemed that by having a boyfriend, I would gain approval, friendship, and popularity. I made this promise to myself that I would become popular no matter what it took to get “revenge” on my friends for abandoning me in fifth grade. Maybe I got this idea from films like Never Been Kissed, Clueless, She’s all That, Miss Congeneality, or the Princess Diaries. I’m still not sure where it came from, but I pursued it.
I began cursing, piereced my navel, changed the way I dressed. I “went out” with boys in middle school just to have a boyfriend, and I continued this pattern through my sophmore year. I began drinking at age 15 and experimenting with others substances until age 17. My mom pulled me out of high school which was one of the best decisions she could have made to help me.
I didn’t go to Senior Graduation, but I graduated high school. I remember on the day of graduation, I had one friend message me. Out of the people I considered my friends, I had one person message me. I remember feeling shocked and empty, but at the same time grateful for this one friend. In my experience, it’s rare to find a genuine friend whoe is honest and has integrity during high school – I know I didn’t possess these qualities.
I still kept in touch with my high school friends. At age 18, I went to a party where my friends were going to college. I wasn’t going to drink that night, but I had one or two beers. The police showed up, and I hid from them. They found me and questioned me. They asked if I had anything to drink, and something inside of me knew I could lie and get away with saying, “No.” But for some reason, I chose to be honest. I went to the local correcitonal facility and spent the night there. I remember the song “A Child’s Prayer” coming to my mind. I sang it, and clung tight to my knees in a sitting fetal position on the cold cement bench inside the cild narrow holding cell.
In the morning, my dad and uncle showed up. I had made a phone call to a friend when I first arrived to the facility, but I didn’t realize that at the beginning of the message when they answer the phone, something like “An inmate at ‘XYZ’ Corrctional Facility wants to speak with you.” She and her mom called my mom, which really hurt my mom that I wouldn’t call her. I just didn’t want her to know. I’m still not sure why, but whenever I did something wrong, I just didn’t want my mom to know. Maybe it’s because “she raised me better.”
I was fined $500 and had to enter into an addiciton recovery program. I also had to start seeing a psychologist. I can’t say the psychologist helped because I felt he was blaming my mom for my choices rather than helping me to see my own choices for what they were: rebellion, secrecy, and trying to self-medicate from school bullying. I had also developed an eating disorder around age 15, so I didn’t realize this may have influenced how I was processing and making my decisions too.
After the Addiction Recovery Program, I thought I was good. I wasn’t interested in drinking anymore. I moved out into my own apartment with a friend, but I was still dealing with my eating disorder (e.d). I would spend many nights up late exercising or tyring to purge the food I binge-ate. I would starve myself, and I would go on intense diets. I followed one diet when I learned my friend had lost 15 lbs in 2 weeks. We went on it together, and it required a 2-3 day binge then for 27 days we ate 500 calories. I lost 20 lbs, but less than two months later I had gained over 30 lbs. I continued to gain weight until I gained close to 55 lbs (and to think I just wanted to lose 10 lbs to begin with; 10 years later, my hair is still thin and brittle). Ironically, during my time of extreme caloric restriction, I felt to quit my job at a restaurant I was working at. I didn’t follow this thought (which I now recognize as the Holy Ghost trying to guide me) because the thought didn’t make sense. “I have bills to pay! I can’t quit my job!” Several months later, I found myself in a room with my coworker, Tucker* and his friends, and they were doing drugs. I just wanted to leave, but apart of me wanted to stay. I had already put my two weeks notice in at this point at the restaurant, but at this point I had already met Tucker’s friend, Jake*, who got me a job where he was working.
From this point, I began waking up at 2:30am to exercise rigorously, so I could go to work by 4am, and do an online class through the summer. I was hardly sleeping or eating, and I was overexercising constantly. Towards the end of summer, I met a coworker, Dan* from my new job, who was also living at Jake’s home and who was also friends with Tucker. I eventually went back to drinking and began dating Dan on and off for close to 5 years.
To this day I can’t help but wonder, “What if I followed that prompting to quit my job at the restaurant?” Another thought that came was “What if I had chosen to live at home and go to school to save money?” I can’t say I felt super good about moving out because I was still struggling, but I never once prayed to know what was best for me. I just wanted to be independent. So, there is no “what if.” There’s only, “Now I know, I just need to remember to listen.”
We’ve been fishing more. I’ve felt to eat more protein and fiber and try to eat foods as close as possible to their “natural form” to aide my mental health (counsel I read from Ezra Taft Benson). Adding fiber is where I’ve been reaching for food in an unnatural state (like wheat dextrin), but I read that the RDV is 20-25 grams. So, until I figure out which foods are bothering me, I may have to stick to added fiber.
I struggle to eat enough food most of the time too. Maybe it’s a matter of how many calories I’m consuming to combat my brain fog. Ironically, I’ve been reading doctrine and covenants in my personal studies and section 89 discusses the word of wisdom.
Here’s an excerpt of what caught my attention yesterday and today:
11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
14 All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
15 And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
16 All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—
17 Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.
18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.
How often should I eat meat then? Does fish count? Is it only in times of famine, winter, and cold? Are we in a famine right now? Meaning, look at our supply of food. It seems much of the food today is tainted. What happens when we consume preservatives, antibiotics, and excessive amounts of added sugar?
How much food do I need to eat in a day? 1400-1800 calories? 2000 just seems like too much. Maybe on a really active day 2000 is good….? Am I wrong? Should I be eating more like 1800 on a regular day and 2000 on more active days? I know when I felt pretty healthy I was eating around 1800 calories.
Everyone is different but I have faith and hope that as I counsel with the Lord and study for knowledge and understanding I believe the Lord will help my husband and I through this.
I have been suffering from addiction for nearly 20 years. My addictions began out of curiosity and were fueled by secrecy, rebellion, and the high. In taking the first step to be honest, I had to be honest with the one person I’ve deceived the longest, myself.
I was first introduced to the Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 18. In the last 11 years, I’ve tried and failed many times to overcome multiple addictions, but “no failure ever need be final” (Thomas S. Monson). I began to accomplish more than I could imagine once I tried to learn true doctrine, true principle, and apply what I learned in the ARP manual. I have been able to abstain from multiple destructive behaviors for over 4 years and have experienced for myself and know that “The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. “ –Boyd K. Packer
A PDF version of the ARP manual is available here and an online version of the ARP manual is available here.
Step 2 – Hope
KEY PRINCIPLE: Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.
I go between steps 1 and 2 most often. I’ve made it through the entire 12 steps once in the course of 11 years. Many of those years I wasn’t really trying. I believed I was happy, but happiness is the wrong word to use (see Alma 41:10). I was content. I was going with the flow. I believed in philosophies similar to Karma and Nirvana. I believed that “if it were natural” and made me feel good then I should pursue it. There wasn’t a need for hope, until I came to realize the “awful state” of my situation. Once I came to this understanding, and was honest with myself about my situation, I tried to move in a different direction.
To progress, I had to sever ties to relationships, move to another city, get rid of items that triggered temptation, thoughts, feelings, or memories tied to my past. I had to completely change my media selection because when I viewed certain films, listened to certain music, or read certain material, I always, without fail, ended up where I did not want to be. This required complete honesty (Step-1) with myself and my husband about my addictions, and I continued to have hope (step-2) in the Savior’s Atonement. I believe The Lord can help me because I’ve come so far, but I haven’t come this far to just come this far! I have experienced for myself to know this truth that
[The Lord’s Spirit] will help you begin to see your choices more honestly and clearly; you will make decisions in harmony with gospel principles. For some… this miracle was almost instantaneous; for others [like me], recovery has been more gradual. However it may occur for you, you will eventually be able to say… that through “steadfastness in Christ,” you are rescued from addiction and enjoy a “perfect brightness of hope” (2 Nephi 31:20).
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a asteadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a clove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and dendure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life (2 Nephi 31:20).
Each day, I try to act in faith as a I pray and try to read, study, and ponder the scriptures every day; this is what I cling to! I try to have faith and believe that Heavenly Father is aware of me, that Jesus Christ is His only Begotten son of God, and that I can “Hear Him!” and receive personal revelation. I know and have experienced for myself that the Holy Ghost can guide, direct, comfort and warn me of danger, so I can choose to protect myself and my family and experience joy, peace, and strength beyond my own to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ (2 Nephi 31:20).
I have been suffering from addiction for nearly 20 years. My addiction began out of curiosity and was fueled by secrecy, rebellion, and the high. In taking the first step to be honest, I had to be honest with the one person I’ve deceived the longest, myself.
Step 1 – HONESTY KEY PRINCIPLE: Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable
The ARP manual is located at the end of this post or available here.
I did not realize that my dishonesty with myself and others solidfied my addiction. I’ve not met a single person who didn’t first decieve themselves before becoming addicted to some substance or harmful habit later.
Overcoming Addiction One Step at a Time
Because I was addicted to multiple substances and harmful habits, I couldn’t see where I was or where I needed to go. I couldn’t see I was miserable. I couldn’t see my addiction lead my life and that I was no longer in control of my fate.
Russell M. Nelson of the [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] observed: “Addiction surrenders later freedom to choose. Through chemical means, one can literally become disconnected from his or her own will” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 7; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 7).
Once I began being honest with myself, I realized I wanted a family. I wanted to be with people I trusted, and I wanted to be trusted. I wanted a husband I knew was honest, and I wanted all of this for the children I would bring into this world too. It was a hard decision to disconnect from those tying me to my addiction, but to this day, I can’t believe where I am, and I know I didn’t get here on my own.
I chose to follow the ARP’s manual to my best ability, I attended meetings in person, and I listened to the videos and life stories of recovering addicts. After graduating with my Bachelors of Science in Marriage and Family Studies, I couldn’t help but thank the Lord for all he has done to help me get where I am today. As other’s congratulated me on my accomplishments, I would repeat this scripture because there is no way I could have done this without the good Lord.
“I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things.”
I know that because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, I was able to be strengthened to choose to be honest with myself. Because I try to be honest with myself and rely on the Savior’s merits, mercy, and grace, I am here. I still make mistakes and there is still trial and hardship, but life is better. I have more peace, more joy, and more happiness living my life this way. Through Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice, I have been able to be honest, and that’s the first step to recovery.
I was first introduced to the Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) Manual at age 18. In the last 11 years, I’ve tried and failed many times to overcome multiple addictions, but “no failure ever need be final” (Thomas S. Monson). I began accomplishing more than I could imagine once I tried to learn true doctrine, true principle, and apply what I’ve learned in this manual. I have been able to abstain from multiple destructive behaviors for over 4 years and have experienced for myself and know that “The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. “ –Boyd K. Packer
I just finished watching Love Kennedy which is a true story about Kennedy Hansen’s experience with a very rare disease, Juvenile Batten Disease. I’ve never experienced such deep emotion over a film. Words fail to express the beautiful finite details of her life that were so intricitaley woven together to bring truth, peace, love, joy and understanding to those around her and anyone who knows her story.
At one point in the film, all the cheer leaders were gathered in a circle discussing their challenges. When they came to Kennedy and asked her what her challenges were, she simply responded, “none.” The cheer coach thought she didn’t understand the question due to her declining health, blindness, and mental deteoriation, but Kennedy repeated the same response when the coach again asked her about her challenges.
We all have challenges, we all face hardship, and some survive unspeakable trauma. From mental health, physical health, sickness, death, infinite forms of abuse, murder, violence, suicide, human trafficking, bullying, infedility, divorce, homelessness, poverty, hunger, and addiction. The trials,the hurt, and the pain seems endless.
I can relate to many suffering the pains of addiction. I’ve struggled with addiction for close to 20 years. Sometimes I wonder if I continue to struggle with my addiction because I struggle with obedience, being kind, withholding judgement, and exercising faith and trust in The Lord.
I wonder if I could just learn to be obedient then maybe I’d overcome my multiple addictions. What’s stopping me?
Sometimes, I just need to numb my brain; however, I know that this is a form of “putting other Gods before [Christ]” (Exodus 20:3). I know it’s some form of idol worship, but here I am, still struggling. This may be something that I struggle with all my life, but I take comfort in believing that there is hope (I don’t always remember to have hope). It seems too simple, but I have hope that one day I will “Come to believe that the power of God can restore [me] to complete spiritual health”¹ I have hope that I will overcome these trials, challenges, and afflictions through the power of Jesus Christ’s infinite atoning sacrifice.
The Book of Mormon is the keystone of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
First, What is a keystone? According to one definition, a keystone is a “central stone at the summit of an arch, locking the whole together.” If this is the case, the Book of Mormon is vital to understanding the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as taught by members of his restored Church.
In 1986, Ezra Taft Benson, former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, compared the Book of Mormon to being the keystone of our faith. He declared,
[T]he Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion—the keystone of our testimony, the keystone of our doctrine, and the keystone in the witness of our Lord and Savior.
Yes, we have the bible (see article faith 8), but the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ in a way that I cannot describe. It helped me understand the healing power that comes from Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice, and it brought a greater desire in my life to strive to become better.
The Book of Mormon contains truths, that if followed, will bring any person closer to Jesus Christ
Joseph Smith also taught the Book of Mormon is the keystone of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that it is “the most correct of any book on earth…and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” History of the Church, 4:461; from instructions given by Joseph Smith on Nov. 28, 1841, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff).
The Book of Mormon tesifies Jesus Christ throughout its pages. It mentions the Savior an average of nearly every two verses of scripture and has over 3900 references to him total.
Reading the Book of Mormon has changed my life. I have changed many harmful patterns in my life, including alcoholism. I have found peace, and I know if you are struggling, feel alone or abandoned, I promise you that if you read the Book of Mormon with an open heart and mind, you will find truth, and you will find a way to change your life for the best.
Let’s be real, telling the truth can be really hard, and sometimes it just seems easier to lie. But why does it seem easier to lie? Is it because you can avoid punishment, judgment, or confrontation? Or maybe there’s some type of reward such as money, gifts, affection, attention, or power. A person may justify lying because they fear what others may think, or they may fear not appearing a certain way.
For example, some may have begun cheating because they wanted A’s to appear smart, or they were afraid of punishment from their parents. Perhaps some begin lying about washing their hands before dinner because they’re tired of washing their hands, or maybe they were starving and realized, “Hey, I didn’t have to wash my hands, and I still got dinner!” As some grow older maybe this habit turns into more severe lying to obtain employment, financial gain, or a relationship.
Being deceitful may help a person avoid or attain something they want, for now. But it will not last forever (See Alma 41:10). I firmly believe in the saying “What goes around comes around” (See also Alma 41: 13-15; Gal. 6:7). Deceitfulness may cause a great deal of anxiety, pain, and unnecessary hardship that may lead to patterns of behavior to “numb” these feelings. These patterns of deceit begin with one person, ourselves.
My main goal in this article is to share my journey and my experience with Step 1: Honesty of the Addiction Recovery Program from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Being honest with myself was vital in progressing and finding The Way back to peace and joy. Honesty is key in overcoming destructive patterns of addiction. Pride
Lying is easy and lying is a natural response when feelings of pride exist, but an ancient government ruler reminded us that “the natural man is an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19). Some may argue there’s no need to change because “everyone lies,” and to me, this mindset indicates the existence of pride (I should know because this is the same reasoning I’ve used too). What is pride, and what does it have to do with being honest?
Ezra Taft Benson taught,
Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.
The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us (“Beware of Pride” April 1989 General Conference Address. Ezra Taft Benson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1985 to 1994).
Trying to make sense of my choices at age 15 requires that I look at the small choices I made when I was between the ages of 8 and 12.
Around the age of 8, I was exposed to pornography. I became self-obsessed with the way I looked, talked, and walked (people literally made fun of the way I walked, so I had to change my stride to avoid teasing. I wish I didn’t care, but I did). I engaged in disordered eating patterns around the age of 9 or 10 (excluding Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). I was raised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but around the age of 12, I didn’t want to be a member of the Church anymore. I would make up stories in my mind that I wanted to tell others about how I was a member of some other church, and I remember fabricating stories to my friends about some fake boyfriend I had.
I remember hearing rumors about girls my age (in 6th grade) dating and partying with 18-year-olds. I remember watching a show about 13 year-olds girls which glamorized sex, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, and self-harm. For some reason, when I learned about these patterns, it only solidified my belief that boys, partying, and popularity meant success and happiness. Why? I’m still trying to understand why. Maybe because that’s what I heard about everyday at school and what I saw on TV (See Alma 37:35).
But I have come to better understand the truth of Ralph Waldo Emerson that, “The only person you are destined to become, is the person you decide to be” and President Monson’s statement that “Decisions determine destiny.” Lying to myself was a repeated decision I made that eventually lead me into several addictive cycles later in life.
I began drinking around the age of 15 and experimenting with drugs and sneaking out around the age of 16. Why was I lying about seemingly silly things, and why didn’t I want to go to church anymore? The short answer is pride.
The long explanation includes fear of rejection, fear of judgement from others, experiences of being made fun of, experiences of being left out, witnessing on TV what it meant to have fun and “be happy” (including partying, sex, drugs, and alcohol).
I thought I was miserable because of my parent’s rules and traditions. To me, their beliefs seemed foolish. I felt restricted and I thought my parents were paranoid because Rated R shows, tight or revealing clothes, and sleepovers at a stranger’s home went against their rules.
My friends’ parents would let us wander the mall or go to the movies unsupervised, and when I was doing whatever I wanted when I wanted, I equated this to being free, happy, and independent. It’s true, we are free to choose (see2 Nephi 2:27; see also Moses 4:3), but there are consequences to every choice, whether good or bad according to the person’s understanding (see also D&C 14:7; Article of Faith 11).
This first step began when I found myself saying “I need …..(xyz)…” (Wow, just like the movies. I remember hearing phrases I like “I need a drink,” and I couldn’t understand this concept of “needing” something unnecessary for survival-you know, like water, food, shelter, and family). Once I recognized I needed certain substances to “numb” and “deal” with life, pain, hurt, anxiety, fear, or energy levels, I pursued these needs to the point of self-sabotaging patterns which began in high school with coffee and continued through college with alcohol and relationships.
Through several experiences, I came to realize the truth of my situation. I was in a bad place, and I didn’t know how to get out. But, I recognized I wanted peace and joy back in my life. I was tired of the pain and hurt. I wanted relief.
If you’ve read the Anatomy of Peace by Arbinger Institute, you may have realized that the key to freeing yourself from harmful behaviors is being honest. According to the Anatomy of Peace, there are four reasons why we may be untrue to ourselves.
We think we’re better than others
We think we deserve something
We must be seen as something (need to be well thought of).
We think we’re worse than others (see Anatomy of Peace “Better-than box,” “I-deserve box,” “must-be-seen-as box,” and “worse-than box”).
Overcoming fears and telling the truth
First, I’m not perfect. I’ve exaggerated or left out details to avoid embarrassment or ridicule (aka pride), but lying to others to people-please is dishonest. I have a long ways to go, but I want to change, and I’m trying to change. I’m mainly here to share my experiences with being honest with myself. I first had to have a desire to change which required self-awareness and realizing that I was only deceiving myself with my lies. This included telling myself stories like “I deserve to do ‘xyz’ (any way to escape reality) because it’s been a hard day,” or “I deserve to do ‘xyz’ (any mind numbing pattern) because ‘so-and-so’ (person’s name your frustrated with) did ‘abcdefg’ (upsetting action) and I can’t take it anymore.” Basically, anytime I had a trigger or was experiencing boredom, pain, anxiety, frustration, or anger, I would pursue my mind-numbing cycle.
Most of my deceitful thoughts and actions involved relationships. Some stories I’d tell myself, included, “I’m happy/content with where I’m at.” Once I realized that I was lying to myself, I still remained prideful. “I’m not going to conform to what everyone else wants for me.” Well, what did everyone want for me? It depended on the person. True friends and loved ones wanted me to be happy, while others only appeared to want the same thing when really they couldn’t care less. Once I learned who cared and who didn’t, I had to face the truth.
I wanted to be an honest person, and I wanted have relationships with honest people. Looking back, I recognize just how deceitful many of my relationships were. It started off with small little lies like trying to get out of hanging out with someone, especially if something better came up. It was the most insane thing to lie about, but there came a point where I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone, and it seemed like I didn’t know the people I hung out with anymore. I was equally unrecognizable. My thoughts, my words, and my actions were abhorrent, and I just wanted to change. I desired so desperately to change.
A Desire to Change
That’s all it took. A genuine desire followed by a sincere prayer, and five years later (with much struggle, but much trying), I am becoming who I want to be. I want to be clean. I want to be pure. I want to love others and show that love. I want to help others, which is a complete 180 direction from where I was.
I didn’t instantly start reading my scriptures every day or praying every day. This has been a slow and sometimes painful process. Sometimes I don’t want to do everything I know in my heart to be right, but I have learned that I can pray for that desire, and that desire can come. Ultimately, the more I told myself the truth, the more courage I was given to pursue my truest desires.
Overcoming harmful habits and behaviors requires a higher power, but we cannot access that power without first admitting that we alone are “powerless to overcome” the poisons of addiction (see “Honesty,” p. 7, Addiction Recovery Program Manual, 2005).
I can attest to the power that will come as you strive to be honest in all your dealings. There is power in telling the truth, and I promise as you begin this practice, first with yourself, you will find the answers you need to overcome any harmful behavior, whether it’s substance abuse (including food), lying, cheating, uncontrollable anger, or leaving an abusive situation.
To paint a better picture of taking that first step into being honest, view David’s story about sex addiction. It’s quite profound. He demonstrates the first principle in changing any pattern of behavior in life.
Recovery is difficiult, but if you have a true desire to change, you can find The Way.
There are many factors and choices I made to allow for addiction to take precedent in my life. Many choices began when I was around 2nd grade, and these choices continued the influence future choices which eventually fed into my adulthood. The majority of these choices had one thing in common: dishonesty threaded with pride. Though some addictions have lasted close to 20 years, I have been able to abstain from from many of them for several years; however, I first had to tell myself the truth and admit to myself that I needed help and that I couldn’t overcome my addictionsthis on my own (let go of pride). I first attempted going through the 12 steps using the ARP manual from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was around 18 years old, but I wasn’t interested in recovery, only appeasing others. Now, I’ve referred to the steps several times, and I’m still working on the steps today (see Addiction Recovery Manual retrieved from https://addictionrecovery.churchofjesuschrist.org/bc/content/arp/content/manuals/ARPGuide_English_36764.pdf?lang=eng).
Where there is desire, there is hope.
Several times I have listened to the Podcasts of the Addiction Recovery meetings from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (See Addiction Recovery Audio Podcast Step 1 retrieved from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/inspiration/latter-day-saints-channel/listen/collection/addiction-recovery-program-audio/step-1-honesty?lang=eng). My favorite method for motivation has been listening and watching the stories of others face their fears to overcome each step. Hearing others stories of recovery have helped me maintain hope by remembering The Way to recovery depends on my willingness and desire to continue. No one can make me choose to recover. This is my choice. True change only comes through my decions to remain honest with myself and continually and fully rely on the atonement of Jesus Christ.
“Because of the love and grace of the Savior, you do
not have to be what you have been” (Addiction Recovery Program, 2005, p. 23)
It may seem easier to be complacent, but why would I want to remain complacent or “comfortable” when I am meant to progress, learn and grow?
Well, for one… it’s hard! I’m still learning how to overcome behaviors and habits that hinder my ability to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, which ultimately allows me to receive direction and inspiration in my life (D&C 121:45–46; D&C 20:37, Doctrine & Covenants; Moroni 4:3, Book of Mormon).
I’m going through the Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for the third time because I just want to progress; I want to move on and move forward in my life. I’ve struggled with an eating disorder for as long as I can remember. I never saw it as a problem, but from the time I was a kid I was doing normal kid things which meant stealing candy from my parents’ closet.
Eventually I began binge eating then extreme dieting and rigorous workout regimes. I was obsessed with food, diet and exercise, and I still am. It haunts my thoughts constantly, and takes away time I could be investing time with loved ones or creating or doing something worthwhile. Instead, I’ve chosen to fill my time with activities that “numb” my mind from the anxiety I feel with daily stressors.
Stress is a part of life, and stress is not unhealthy. The way I view stress is. I recently learned that stress causes the same physical response in your body as excitement; however, the only thing that changes is how I’m perceiving the stress. If I tell my brain, “I’m freaking out” then my body reacts negatively with anxiety. If I tell my brain “everything is okay” then my body reacts accordingly.
When I experience some advanced form of stress in my life, I would turn to habits to numb my mind. Now, when even the tiniest bit of stress shows itself, I typically don’t think twice and go straight to spiritually destructive patterns. I have a desire to change, and I know I can. If you’re struggling with any addiction whether it’s alcohol, drugs, anger, eating, watching shows, listening to music, having unhealthy thoughts or anything that drives the spirit away; I know there’s hope to overcome these patterns, but I must always be honest with myself.