I am a daughter of God recovering from a sexual addiction. My addiction was the darkest, most hopeless, and loneliest experience in my life. I felt as though I was stuck in a deep pit. All I could hear was my own echo as I called for help. I was only met with silence–silence from my friends, family, and seemingly the Lord. I felt completely alone with no hope that anyone would reach down to pull me out.
Sexual addiction interfered with my life in so many ways. As a result of the shame I felt because of my addiction, I felt that no one loved me and that I had no purpose or value in this life. Even if I tried as hard as I could, there would always be better, more righteous people than me. I felt my soul literally wither from the inside out. For as long as I can remember I trudged through life, keeping a pasted smile on my face so no one would know the real pain. But I was not happy; I was merely surviving. I had always tried to overcome my addiction my way, simply striving for abstinence, rather than striving for recovery.
I decided to see my bishop and he introduced me to the LDS Addiction Recovery Program. He gave me the Addiction Recovery Program guide and suggested I attend meetings. I dismissed the idea, as I was too scared to face other people, even if they did struggle with the same things I did. I decided to work the steps on my own and continued to see my bishop weekly. Satan worked day and night to keep me down, but I found that he was left at the doorstep of the church building whenever I met with my bishop.
It took time, but as I worked through Step 1, my heart softened and I began to realize that there was no way I could do this alone. I needed strength in numbers to be able to overcome my addiction. I realized that Satan’s strength was much stronger when I was alone, and although my bishop was amazing, there was no way he could remain my sole support forever. I needed to find and maintain my own support system, so I decided to attend my first meeting.
I vividly remember the night of my first meeting. I was afraid the women in the support group would look at me with accusatory eyes and just know what a terrible person I was. I was also fearful that I would see others who knew me. I realize now that the adversary was working to keep me in that fearful state of mind. I was so scared on the way there. But as I arrived, my bishop was there to guide me through the door.
When I first walked in, there was only one sister there. She welcomed me so warmly that my fears dissipated a little. However, as more women filtered in, I felt my fear returning. I shrunk in my seat and didn’t make eye contact with anyone. I found myself wondering what I was doing there.
As the meeting started, I felt the Spirit enter the room and surround me with a beautiful healing light. Tears immediately started streaming down my face and I felt my Heavenly Father whisper to me that he loved me and that I was in the right place. With each woman who shared, my waves of shame were slowly replaced by waves of validation—validation that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t the sick and perverted person I had grown to believe I was. Never in my life prior to that had I ever imagined there were others like me, and here I was in a room full of beautiful daughters of God who were faced with the same challenges I was. I left the meeting that night feeling more accepted, loved, empowered, and committed than I had felt in my entire life.
Now as I continue to attend meetings, I leave with renewed hope that I am not alone in my journey. I have met many wonderful people along this path who have continually lifted me.
I am most grateful to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I always loved my Savior, but my shame had been so great that I didn’t believe I was worthy to call on His grace. I never knew how to personally rely on His power to save me. All I had to do was believe that if I reached out and trusted Him, He would be there. And He was. He lowered a 12-step ladder down to me in the form of the gospel principles taught in the steps of the Addiction Recovery Program. With this ladder, and my Savior at my side blessing me with strength and courage, I could no longer deny His outstretched hand. I began by admitting I was powerless to overcome my addiction on my own. I trusted God and started my climb to recovery.
I recently passed a year and a half of being sober. I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for patiently working with me, molding me, and helping me gain clarity and understanding. There was a time when I struggled with my addiction on a daily basis, but now I have finally been freed of the chains of those every day triggers and struggles. I learned that my sexual addiction is only a symptom of a greater personal tragedy—not realizing my own self-worth. I now know that I am a beautiful daughter of God. I no longer look in the mirror and think I am ugly and worthless. I no longer shy away from my own image, for I am made in His image, and that makes me of infinite worth.