Sunday, February 2, 2014

Learning the Atonement

This is an extremely difficult post for me to write.  As I mentioned in my last post, there would probably be some really emotional things for me to write about.  I was thinking about this post, or series of posts, when I wrote that.  It is honestly one of the most frightening things to think about writing, but I felt that it needed to happen.  I knew that I would be writing something on this subject shortly, but I figured it would be a couple of posts down the road.  I even had my next post somewhat planned out, but I just couldn't stop thinking about this particular post.  All day as I have been fasting I have been thinking about it, and it has been weighing very heavily on my mind.  I knew that it was time to start this topic.  The topic itself lends to some fear, but it became even scarier for me as I thought about what exactly I wanted to share.  I pondered, prayed, and researched to better understand what I wanted to share and what was appropriate to share.  I changed my mind several times about sharing everything or not.  After much thought and prayer, I have decided to share much more than I originally intended.  I do this with the hope than someone can find some benefit.  I hope and pray that what I share does not create a cause for judgement.  I just love this Gospel so much, I think many of the things I write may help someone out there.

I will be splitting this topic into several posts because it is a huge topic to discuss.  I am basically sharing over ten years of my life which very few, if any, people know about.  I have a lot of thoughts, feelings, and material to share.  As such I figured that it would be better to start a series of posts rather than one freaking huge post.  Doing it this way also makes sure that I actually go through with this rather than chicken out at the last moment.  This first post will be somewhat of a backstory/setup post for the meat of my thoughts, but it is also by far the most difficult one to write.  It is likely that after posting I will want to add/change some things within the post as I think of other things I want to say.  So, here goes.

When I was around eleven or twelve years old, I got to browsing the Internet, looking at stuff that I probably shouldn't have been in the first place.  I kept looking at this junk, and through it, I had an encounter with pornography.  I have the kind of brain that just seems to have some sort of trap on it, and I just remember stuff really well (unless it's remembering to take something important with me, but that is a subject for another post).  As soon as I saw that garbage, I knew that I shouldn't be seeing it, but I just couldn't unsee or stop thinking about it.  I knew within the next 24 hours that I was in trouble and had a problem, but I was too afraid to say anything about it.  I figured that I could just forget about it and move on, but that just wasn't the way it worked.  It was always right there in mind.  Within a few days I knew that I had become addicted, but I just couldn't tell anyone.

This started a new cycle of lying and covering up to my family.  I immediately hated myself for the things which I got myself into.  Each time I viewed this filth, I vowed to never participate again, only to relapse again a few days later.  As my teenage years progressed, I became much worse.  I looked at everything much differently.  I looked at people, especially females differently.  I didn't like who I had become, but I felt like there wasn't much I could do to change that.  I felt kind of like slime all those years going to church and seminary and serving in the Priesthood with this junk going on in my life.  I don't know but I think that I was truly depressed from all of the effects that pornography had on me.  I basically went to church, sometimes read my scriptures, and sometimes prayed because it was what I was supposed to do.  I was just completely failing.  The social shell which I had naturally come with become a much more comfortable home, and I found myself just wanting to be alone much of the time.  I didn't really have much to do with anyone outside of school once I hit junior high and high school.  Pornography was honestly just ruining my life.  While this was all going on, my addiction just became worse rather than better.

Upon my graduation, I went to the College of Southern Idaho.  On my own for the first time in my life, the wheels just completely fell off.  I still tried what I could to get over my problem, but things just became so much worse at college.  I truly became a shell of my former self.  I didn't go to church, I wasn't reading my scriptures, and I wasn't praying.  It all kind of came to a head one night as I was in my apartment.  I looked at my life and what I was involved with.  I had just again relapsed, and I was hit with that all too familiar feeling of being completely empty.  I felt completely abandoned, like I was truly alone.  I felt that my Savior had left me completely alone.  I remember lying on my bed, and I questioned myself as to whether I even had any kind of testimony anymore.  I then had a thought that scared the daylights out of me.  Have I ever had a testimony of the Church?  I decided at that moment that this very broken boy had to find out.

That concludes this post.  I again hope that this post hasn't come between myself and the reader in any way.  I know some of these things may be difficult to hear.  They were extremely hard to write.  That third paragraph alone took me about thirty minutes to write.  I originally didn't intend to be specific about my issues growing up, but I felt that someone who may well read this may need to see what I was dealing with.  In some ways it is really nice to have it out there.  For those who read this that may have been somewhat skeptical about the effects of pornography, especially the addictiveness of it, it is real.  It really screws with your brain chemistry, and it is not easy for many to overcome.  An excellent book that I would recommend for anyone wanting more info on the effects of pornography on the brain is He Restoreth My Soul by Donald Hilton, linked at

*Updated with a better link for the book.  I would also like to point out that this book is great at discussing the cleansing power of the Atonement in general, not just for pornography addiction.

I know that this was somewhat of a heavy post, even excluding some of my own thoughts/feelings, but much like the book of Isaiah, I will follow up this post of doom with a post of hope very soon.  Thank you to all of you who read this post.  I love you all!

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