I am human and make mistakes.
Being human is hard. I have always had trouble keeping my emotions under control. I cry easily – when I’m happy, sad, scared, worried, etc. This does not serve me very well. People did not understand and sometimes would misunderstand and think I was trying to manipulate them. I would also become very emotional when other people were emotional. This would sometimes lead to escalations.
I’m a very quiet person and when I get emotional I do not think very well and don’t know what to say. Conversation is very important, especially in relationships. Imagine trying to have a conversation about a subject that I felt very strongly about and my loved one thought something totally different. It was impossible and would either end up in an escalation or fight or I would go to bed crying and mad at myself for not being able to express myself. I also thought that if I agreed to something under duress, that I had to live with it.
Over time, I have learned to “detach with love”, meaning I can think more clearly and without crying during a conversation. I’ve also given myself permission to go back and amend something that I later regret saying or agreeing to. It’s OK to change my mind or my opinion. I’m still working on these things. Everyone is human and makes mistakes. I give myself permission to be human.
Being a victim is a choice!
I didn’t begin to find peace and hope and healing until I discovered that I could choose not to be a victim. I thought that if I was going through hard things that I could not be happy. I did not know that I could choose peace and hope and healing through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I was miserable, angry and hopeless.
Support groups have taught me how to apply the atonement of Jesus Christ to myself. I have learned that being a victim is a choice. I have learned that I can be happy and confident no matter what is going on around me.
I am so thankful to know that God cares about me as well as my loved ones who suffer from addiction. I’m so thankful to know that I don’t have to suffer just because my loved ones might have an addiction. “I didn’t cause it. I can’t control it. I can’t cure it.” But, Jesus Christ can help my loved ones if they turn to Him. I can put my loved ones in God’s hands. I can work on my own healing and turn to God myself. He will help me know what I can do. Today I choose peace, hope and healing.
Sometimes I start slipping back into old ways of denial and not living in the present. A lot of pain returns and stays around. I start asking myself negative questions. Why do these things happen to me? Why can’t my loved one give me the love and support I need?
At these times I have found it very helpful to attend more than one support meeting a week. When I do this I am reminded to live in the present instead of living in denial. I am reminded that feelings are good – that I am alive and feelings remind me that I am alive. I remember to feel my feelings even if they hurt and to go through them so that I can let them go. I am reminded that I tend to turn to people for love and support that cannot give me that love and support. As I relax and accept these truths I can stop blaming, let go of the pain and find others who can and will support me. It is unreasonable to expect that one person can give me all that I need. It is OK to seek support from multiple people. I am reminded to reach out and not isolate. I am reminded of the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Making mistakes or slipping back into old ways is normal and human. I need the atonement, reminders and support from those who are going through similar problems to help me. I guess that’s why I’ve been going to support groups for 6 years now and have no plan on stopping! I want to keep the happiness, growth and change I have in my life now.
Feelings are part of life – they are part of what make me human. Being human is okay and having feelings is okay. It’s important to feel my negative emotions, go through them, and then be able to let them go. Sometimes I run away from feelings. Running away from emotions can look like many things: addictions, obsessions, not being present, hiding, reading, trying to control other people and situations, running away, etc.
I run away because I don’t want to feel bad. Negative emotions include: anger, being tired, feeling lonely, stress, sadness, feeling bored, being hungry, not feeling good enough, low self-esteem, fear, pain anxiety, confusion, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, etc. But, good and bad feelings are part of life. And dealing with them in healthy ways is one of the things I am here on earth to learn.
I can feel emotions, go through them and let them go. It’s okay to feel deeply, to cry and feel bad. And then I need to let them go – sometimes this is the hard part. I can write in a journal or go for a walk and think. I can pray and tell God exactly what I’m feeling and ask for help. I might get insights about a situation that may have caused the feeling, sometimes the bad feelings just go away, or sometimes I get ideas of things I can do. I know God knows what I feel and what I’m going through, but when I take the time to actually tell Him everything it really helps. I can ask myself: how old is this feeling and what is this feeling about? Sometimes it is a childhood wound that just keeps popping up until I acknowledge it and heal my inner child.
I feel many more good emotions of peace, joy and happiness when I take care of my bad feelings. Ignoring and numbing my bad feelings makes me unable to feel my good emotions too!
Knowledge is power 4.
Addiction loses it’s power as you learn about it. Knowledge is power.
Addictive behaviors are often triggered by negative feelings. Many people do not know how to handle their negative feelings. If I know what to do and how to handle negative feelings, then I can choose healthy ways to deal with bad feelings. Many addiction counselors talk about the acronym HALT or BLAST: Hungry, Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stressed (Sad), Tired. These are negative emotional or physical states that the feeling brain wants to escape from. If the brain has a strong pleasure memory (such as the excitement of seeing pornography) stored in the hippocampus, it brings that out and turns it into a craving.
I like good feelings, it’s the bad feelings I have trouble with. I can teach myself and my children and grandchildren about feelings and how to deal with them. Family home evenings are good times to learn about feelings and positive ways to deal with them. We can play charades, role play events and emotions and positive responses.
It is important to teach children about pornography and how to have an internal filter. When my children were young I did not even think about teaching them about pornography and about having a plan to know what to do when they came across it. I did not think about teaching them about emotions and choosing healthy ways to deal with them. I was doing to the best I could at the time. Today I know better. I am trying to teach those around me.
Learn more at arp.lds.org and pornproofkids.org.