Women Also Struggle with Porn

Although this site is intended to help men who are struggling with sexual integrity, I thought it was important for readers to understand women also can have trouble dealing with sexual integrity. The usage of pornography among women is growing rapidly and with it an increase in the number of women who are becoming addicted. Here is one woman’s story toward recovery.

To my dear friends, family members, random readers, church leaders, loved ones of addicts and addicts…

watching_porn_bed_laptop_woman

Please know that my story is a very personal one.  I do not share my story lightly and I admit I do have fears that there will be negative repercussions both for me but especially for my family.   But, I trust in the Lord and I continually find safety in the words of King David: “The Lord is on my side, I will not fear what can man do unto me.”  It has slowly been revealed to me over the past couple of years that it is my mission in life to spread hope to those who currently feel the shame that I have felt; who are bound by the chains of the adversary as I was and who feel totally and completely lost as I once did.  To you I say; you are not aloneThere is hope.  To the rest of you, if you have negative things to say, please just don’t.  My target audience is to spread hope to those who can relate to what I have to share and awareness to those who have loved ones that may be struggling, or just to those who want to hear a great story of how the Savior rescues and heals the broken.

I am Sidreis and I am daughter of God recovering from a pornography and masturbation addiction; an addiction that is difficult for many to comprehend or understand.  My addiction started in my early childhood and it has made most of my life very dark, hopeless and lonely.  During the times I acted out in my addiction, I felt as though I was stuck in a very deep, sealed well; completely dark and cramped, with walls so high I couldn’t see the top. I felt completely alone with no hope of ever getting out.
As a result of the shame I felt from my addiction I doubted that anyone cared about me; I felt that no one loved me and that I had no purpose or value in this life. I felt that even if I tried as hard as I could, there would always be better, more righteous people than me.  I felt that if I wasn’t going to make it to the Celestial Kingdom anyway, then why try at all?  Why even be here on this earth where people would waste their time and energy on me?  I felt my spirit and my soul literally wither from the inside out.  For as long as I can remember I trudged through life, day after day, keeping a pasted smile on my face so no one would know the real pain that ruled every aspect of my life.  I was not happy, I was merely surviving.  I have struggled with suicidal thoughts throughout my life, and have attempted twice, most recently in 2007.

There finally came a point though, about three years ago, that I realized that throughout my life I had been trying to overcome my addiction my way, simply striving for abstinence rather than reaching for my Savior.  It was at this point, when I finally admitted just a bit that I was powerless over my addiction, that I made room for a glimmer of hope to finally shine.

I decided to go see my Bishop and go through the process of yet again confessing my indiscretions.  This time was different though.  My wonderful Bishop introduced me to the LDS Addiction Recovery Program.  He gave me the 12-Step manual and suggested I attend meetings.  I promptly dismissed that suggestion as I was too scared to face other people.  I still felt very alone and couldn’t believe anyone else actually struggled with the same thing as I did.  I did, however, decide to work the steps on my own and continued to see my Bishop weekly.  Those meetings with my Bishop were instrumental to my recovery.  Satan was working day and night to keep me down, but I found that he was left at the doorstep of the church building when I would meet with my Bishop.  His office became my sanctuary and I longed for those meetings each week.  I drank in his counsel and the constant reminder that my Savior loved me.

It took time, but as I worked through Step 1 in the manual my heart softened a little and I began to realize that there was no way I could recover alone.  I needed strength in numbers to be able to overcome my addiction.  I realized that Satan’s influence is much stronger when I am alone, and even though my Bishop was amazing with me, there was no way he could remain in that role of sole supporter forever.  I needed to find and maintain my own support system.  So, I decided to attend my first Twelve Step meeting.

When I first walked through the door of the meeting there was only one sister there.  She welcomed me so warmly that my fears dissipated a little and I felt relatively comfortable.  However, as I sat there and more women filtered in, I felt my fear return.  I shrank in my seat and didn’t make eye contact with anyone.  I squeezed my recovery book close to my chest not wanting anyone to see it—as if hiding the book would hide my addiction from them.  I found myself wondering what I was doing there and how it would help me.  At that time, I felt no person, no God, and especially no program could release me from the binding chains of hell.  Looking back, I really can’t pinpoint exactly what got me to group, except that I wanted to be able to tell God in the end, at the judgment seat, that I had done everything I could to fix myself.  So there I was, trying to make that happen.  I didn’t expect it to work, but I was there.

As the meeting started I felt the Spirit enter the room and surround me with beautiful healing light.  Tears immediately started streaming down my face as I felt the tender hand of my Savior touch me and whisper to me that He loved me and that I was in the right place.  Never in my life prior to that moment had I ever imagined there were others like me, and here I was in the presence of a room full of beautiful daughters of God, my very own sisters, that were faced with the same challenges as I was.  I left the meeting that night feeling more accepted, loved, empowered, and committed than I had felt in my entire life.  But most importantly, I felt hope.

That hope that I felt that night is what has kept me going back week after week.  First it was only hope for my own recovery but over time I began to find joy in offering hope to others.  Through this journey hope has been essential to my recovery process and I am so grateful for it.

I feel the most exquisite gratitude for my Savior for I would not be where I am right now if it were not for His loving guidance and Grace; for His rescue.  I have been blessed with a sure knowledge through personal revelation, tender mercies and undeniable miracles that He loves me.  This knowledge helps me everyday to strive to stay on the recovery path, and keep my Savior as my focus.

There was a time when I would struggle with my addiction on a daily basis; whether it was through stress, anxiety, depression, or at times just pure temptation.  This world can be so dark and sometimes it just seems like it would be so much easier to give up.  But now, since I have kept focus on my Savior, His Atoning sacrifice and His infinite love for me; and strive everyday to be humble and full of surrender to my Heavenly Father’s will, I have finally been freed of the chains of active addiction. I feel full of purpose now and I know the reward for doing what is right and fighting this disease is far more rewarding than the false sense of happiness I get from acting out.  My sexual addiction is only a symptom of a greater personal tragedy–not realizing my own self-worth.  If I can combat that, then I have won. But that is only possible by way of my Savior.

I did love my Savior prior to finding recovery, but it was from a distance.  My shame was so great that I didn’t believe I was worthy to call on Him.  I never knew how to personally rely on His power to save me.  But I have come to find that all I had to do was believe that if I reached out and trusted Him, He would be there.  And as I did that, I found that He was.  He provided the means for me to learn and live the principles of His restored Gospel by guiding me to the 12-Step Addiction Recovery Program.  I could no longer deny His outstretched hand.  It was then that I began working my recovery program—by admitting I was powerless to overcome my addiction on my own, reaching out to my Bishop and trusting God.

The message I want to carry is of Hope in the Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; hope that each mistake that has tarnished us can be washed clean as if it was never there.  And hope that when we meet Him again we can be confident in His presence and boldly approach His throne and feel absolute peace as our gaze meets His.

I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for patiently working with me, molding me, and helping me gain clarity and understanding to be able to see, learn and absorb truth; and for rescuing me from the bondage Satan had me in.  Instead of believing that I am the runt of God’s children, I now know that I am His beautiful daughter; I know I am worth the world to Him; more than the world, for He created this world for me; for each of us.  I no longer look in the mirror and think I am ugly and worthless.  I now look in the mirror and see a change in my countenance, I see myself glowing in light with the power of Christ to protect me.  I no longer shy away from my own image, for I am made in His image, and I am clean.

In the wake of my addiction the most important virtue that I lost was my ability to choose.  Agency is the single most important gift my Father in Heaven has given me and by action of my own my ability to choose had been stunted. I am so grateful to have that gift restored to me and know that no matter what challenge is placed before me that I once again have full capacity to choose for myself the path which I want to take.
I pray constantly that those who are struggling will be blessed with courage to see their Bishops and seek out meetings so they may be able to experience the Spirit that dwells there.  That they may also feel such undeniable love from their Father in Heaven and know, without any doubt, of His absolute love for them; that they may find refuge in the arms of our loving Savior; our brother.

I am grateful everyday for my addiction.  If I didn’t have it I’d be a complete fence sitter.  But because of my addiction I am presented with opportunities everyday to turn to my Savior, to rely on Him and to love Him.

Early in my recovery I had the opportunity to share some of my story in the book He Restoreth My Soul by Dr. Donald Hilton and more recently my story has been published on the LDS Addiction Recovery website.  I also had the opportunity to film an interview for the church regarding key points in my recovery process.  That interview, among others, is available here.

I do understand that some of you reading may not be members of the Mormon Church and may not believe that the aspects of sexual addiction that I struggle with are wrong.  That is OK.  We are taught in the Mormon faith the principle of the law of chastity which counsels against (among other things) participating in masturbation and pornography.

My goal is to spread awareness and hope among the LDS population, especially women, but also to the world; that through the cleansing power of the Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we can all be healed.  That won’t happen unless we share – so by all means, keep it moving! Much Love.

Sidreis

You can read more of Sidreis story and support her mission by visiting her website at:  www.bythelightofgrace.com

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