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This is my story. I have never told a soul. I am american. I was baptized at 8 and served a faithful mission at 19. Sealed in the temple to my wife and sweetheart at 21. Four wonderful children and many years later, my life began to come unraveled. I had for years, secretly been viewing pornography. A problem I simply couldn't admit to. Sixteen years into our marriage my wife had an affair. I was hurt, devastated even.. Together we went to our Bishop. I, at the time being the second counselor in that Bishopric. There I confessed to him my problems with pornography and she admitted her affair. We were both placed on informal probation and released from our callings. Some six months later when the Bishop and Stake President were comfortable that our repentance was complete we began again to take the sacrament and again became members of good standing. However, a couple of years later and I found myself again struggling with the same problems of pornography. I admitted my problem to my wife who was very angry.. She accused me of adultery by saying that pornography was the very same thing. To bolster her accusations of adultery she pointed to the fact that previously she and I had received the same church discipline when she'd committed adultery and I had looked at pornography. Within a few months I noticed some odd behavior and some marks on my wife's breasts.. After some arguing she admitted she was again carrying on an affair with another man. She claimed I had pushed her to it with my viewing of pornography. We again went to our Bishop and Stake President. My wife was excommunicated from the Church and I was placed on formal probation. We worked hard to go through the repentance process. A year and a half later she was again readmitted into the church through baptism but our lives were never again the same. She never forgave me and never apologized to me. As the years went by I continued to struggled off and on with pornography and I suspected at times, that my wife continued to be unfaithful. But I loved her and I felt guilty for what I had been doing. I had finally admitted to myself that the pornography and her adultery amounted to the same thing. So I didn't make waves. One day I began to be investigated for pornography at work. Because I was a high ranking police officer, the investigation was outsourced to the Attorney Generals office to see what laws I might have broken. Through the long and embarrassing investigation, they interviewed my wife, neighbors and my friends. There were questions of everything from pornography to physical abuse and abuses of power. In the end my wife hated me. In a fit of rage told me that she hadn't loved me in years and admitted that she was again having an affair. She said that it was all my fault..She said that if she had married a better man she would have never done these horrible things..I agreed..I was so humiliated.. and so embarrassed, and I felt so guilty.. I was fired from my job.. In disgrace.. Hearings were held to remove my nearly thirty year pension.. I lost all sense of self respect.. My parents, my friends and even my grown children found out. Rumors were running wild at church and in the community. I despised myself. I became self destructive, and suicidal. I felt that even Heavenly Father had abandoned me. I truly felt that I could never be forgiven for what I had done to our family and the pain I had caused them and my good parents. I went to the Bishop and Stake President and again confessed everything. But I found no peace.. no solace.. The Stake President said they could not begin a Church Court until the investigations were completed by Law Enforcement and that would be months.. I knew I could never recover what I had lost. I wanted to give up and just die.. I wanted to run away from everything. In the midst of the pending divorce and all the my troubles, I did just that. I gave power of attorney to my wife and daughter to handle the divorce as they saw fit and I bought one way ticket to Central America, and I left. I hated myself. I had so much pride that even then I couldn't humble myself. I couldn't pray. I couldn't ask for help because i knew I didn't deserve help. I wrote a letter to SLC to the First Presidency renouncing my membership in the Church. I still believed in the Church, but I knew I didn't deserve to be a member. I didn't see a way to go through the church court process in a foreign country and I wanted that stress over. I began to abuse alcohol and drugs.I had no real fear of anything. I just didn't care anymore. I hoped I would go to sleep and not wake up. I committed many sins and transgressions. I had no friends. I struggled in a new culture, and a new language and a lack of money, in a very dangerous and unknown country. I met a kind and beautiful younger woman. She took pity on me and took me in. She smiled, and laughed a lot. She was worried that I was headed for disaster. I told her I had already been there. Over time I learned to understand and to speak Spanish from her. She believed in me. She taught me about the culture, about corruption, about Cartels. She taught me to live safe..and she taught me to dance. She gave me hope and a reason to live, to feel needed and to feel cherished. I tried to tell her of my history but she told me she had no interest in my past. She tried to convince me that I was the answer to her prayers. That the Lord had sent me to her. She had been in four marriages, all of them abusive and violent. Together, her money and mine, we purchased a small non functional shrimp farm in the jungle near the southern border of Columbia and very near the Coast. A beautiful, wild and dangerous place. No electricity, and no roadways. We accessed the farm in canoe via the river. Traveling to the farm only when the tide was rising and leaving only when the tide was ebbing. It was a hard life with dirt floors and mosquito netting. Bathing and doing our laundry in the river. We married, I attended Mass in a nearby pueblo with my new wife and her children often, but I simply could not find the peace there that I so desperately needed.. In time I began attending an LDS branch an hour and a half away from the farm by bus. Soon after, my wife began attending with me as it was unsafe for me, a gringo, to travel alone. At the Church, the branch members met in an upstairs apartment and treated us with much care, kindness and love. I felt peace there as we sang hymns and listened to the speakers. On Sundays we often attended mass together and then attended the LDS branch after. Some weeks we could not attend depending on the hour of the tide. After many months of this, my wife lost her desire to attend early morning Mass and only attended the Branch with me. As the years passed, we sold the farm on a contract for a modest profit and moved to the big City. There I began donating my time teaching English and we have begun a non profit sewing organization to benefit women's hygiene. Here we again began attending a ward together with our children. The Missionaries came to our home and taught our family the Gospel and nearly two years later, the family was baptized. Excepting me of course. It feels awkward at times, them being members and me not. And yet I do all I can to lead and teach them with much love and in righteousness. I am happy again. I accept my life for what it is, and I accept my place in it. I have lost whatever pride I once had. I am still sorry for my past but I no longer mourn for what I have lost. I have no ill feelings toward my ex-wife, in fact I still have feelings of love for her and I sincerely hope for her, much happiness and joy. I do not dwell in the past nor do I have lofty dreams of the future. I live for today and it is enough. For the first time in so many years, I am at peace. I know that God is mindful of me and always has been. He has blessed my life even when I was so undeserving. The collapse of my life those years ago was not the condemnation of God, but was simply the natural reaction of the choices I had made. A reaction I had brought upon myself. I have become convinced that the Lord helped unite me with my dear wife. She is an incredible blessing in my life and she tells me daily how fortunate she is to have me in hers. I don't know the future but I think there will be many more blessings ahead. I do desire to be re baptized. The Stake President has directed me to send a letter to the First Presidency when I am ready, requesting re admission into the Church. He has assured me that when I do, he will also send them a personal letter of support. I simply want to be completely worthy when I do. The Stake has tasked me with teaching English to members in the Stake who desire to learn and I am very happy to serve however I am able. I know I am not alone having such problems stemming from pornography. I hope that with this letter, someone else may be helped and not have to suffer as I have rather than finding help and turning things around. However bad things are, they can, and probably will get worse if you don't change. Please, put your pride aside and make the necessary changes before it's too late. If you are an addict, you can't do it alone. I have never written about my story or told it to another soul. It feels good to have told my story at last. What a horribly... beautiful tapestry... our journey through life makes!
LDS Family Services runs an addiction support group that can be a wonderful resource to those struggling with any sort of addiction. You can find the nearest group by going to the new website LDS Addiction Recovery Program. These steps are also very helpful for those who need to go through the repentance process. Here is a link to the ARP manual. May the Lord be with you as you strive to overcome and heal from your addictions. Here are the twelve steps: Step 1. Honesty Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable. Step 2. Hope Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health. Step 3. Trust in God Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Step 4. Truth Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself. Step 5. Confession Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs. Step 6. Change of Heart Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses. Step 7. Humility Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings. Step 8. Seeking Forgiveness Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them. Step 9. Restitution and Reconciliation Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed. Step 10. Daily acountability Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it. Step 11. Personal Revelation Seek through prayer and meditation to know the Lord’s will and to have the power to carry it out. Step 12. Service Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share this message with others and practice these principles in all you do.