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Friday, March 30, 2012

Battling Pornography

Dear Bro Jo,

So I have problems (obviously), and I need advice.

I'll start with what I consider the back story of sorts.

Sometime between 5 and 7, I was essentially molested by a sibling (same gender, and in high school at the time). I've only told one person about this, and only recently.

Parents got divorced when I was 9. Turns out my dad had (at least) 1 affair, and other related problems. Growing up at home has always been anything but peaceful. My mom even says I went through the worst of it.

Plus, I was raised with essentially every bad show possible on tv. Everything from rated R horror movies to Mad Tv to MTV "Spring Break". No. Filter. It was bad.

So my main reason for writing this is because I've had porn and other related issues (not involving others) for as long as I can remember. I think it started around the time my sibling did that. It's been at least 13 years. You'd think I would have been able to get over it by now. I probably should talk to the branch pres, but I have a hard time telling people things anything even remotely like this. I tend to not trust people with my heavier and more serious thoughts.

Anyway, I also frequently have depression, don't tell people what's really bothering me, and miss church (partly because I have a hard time waking up and partly because I feel horribly inadequate and guilty being there, and I don't feel like I can take the sacrament).

I'm usually ok, but things usually get the worst when I'm alone and get depressed.
I don't know what other info would help you help me, but I really need help. I figure since this is practically anonymous, I can ask and trust you.

Please help.

I don't know who I can really talk to, and no one else knows what's going on.

- Lost

Dear Lost,

I'll do my best to earn and maintain your trust.

I'm saddened by the difficult things you've had to endure, but I want you to know that you're not alone in facing those trials! Others have overcome, and you can too.

When battling addiction, and pornography certainly is (it enters the system through the soft tissue and mucus membranes - your eyes - and yet, unlike other addictions, much of society claims that it's "okay", completely ignoring the damage it does to people), one of the best things we can do is to identify the "triggers", the things that make it more difficult for us to fight the temptations of addiction.

You've already identified two of pornography's biggest triggers: being alone and being depressed. (One of the other big ones is being up late, by the way.) The addiction follows a cycle. You're alone, it's late at night, you're depressed, the computer is there . . . and the next thing you know you're looking at something you know you ought not look at. You realize the mistake you're making, but the chemical rush to the brain (really no different than cocaine) drives your body to override what your good sense is telling you. When its all over you feel . . . well, more depressed than you did before.

And thus the addictive cycle.

So to fight the cycle we need to break the cycle.

We go to bed early every night.

We only use the computer in a public place. (Kitchen table, in front of roommates, at the school library, etc.) Or not at all.

We find something else that distracts us from our addiction, something that makes us feel better in a positive way. (Go for a run. Read a Good Book. Call a Good Friend.)

And we seek Christ's love, help, and forgiveness.

Don't let Satan talk you out of Church attendance. Look for More Opportunities to feel the Spirit, not less. We need not be perfect to be at Church.

And, while I know it will be difficult, do set the appointment and go talk to your Branch President. Pray for help, and spill it all. At least as much as you feel you can. He will be able to help you on your journey.

You're a Good Person. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

May you feel the blessing of the Savior as you battle your trials; may His Spirit pour out upon you.

Know that you're loved and not alone!

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you. I really appreciate that you didn't basically say I'm a terrible person, and I'm grateful for the advice. It's probably the most helpful I've found anywhere.

In the branch I go to, it's like I can't do anything without someone judging me and telling me I'm always doing something wrong. They don't even know any of what I've told you either. It's harder to trust people who are always talking trash about everyone else all the time, and gossip spreads like wildfire here.

Once again, thank you. It's nice to be able to talk to someone. Especially when all everyone else ever seems to see are the flaws.

- Less Lost

Dear Less Lost,

Thank you for the kind words.  I hope I deserve them.

Gossip, and the fear of it, is one of Satan's most dangerous weapons.

As difficult as it is, and I agree it can be very daunting, we can't let our concerns over the opinions of others keep us from the love of the Savior.  Don't let that happen!  Remember that He who truly knows all of our flaws loves us unconditionally.

May the Lord bless you on your journey back to him,

- Bro Jo

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