My struggle with pornography began when I was about 12 years old. It wasn’t until my high school years that it really took hold of me. I felt as though I could handle it by myself and that when I got older it would stop on its own. I had thought that this was only a teenage problem and that adults didn’t struggle with this because when you are an adult you are mature and not addicted to pornography. I began to realize that this problem was far worse among adults than children because the hormones in children are not as strong as those in adults and that I had only started to explore the changes taking place in my body. So, I felt that I could wait for a little while. But each succeeding year in high school it got worse and worse. I felt so alone and helpless.
Even though I had many friends and was well-liked by many people, I could not see the value of their friendship. I felt that I was different than them because “they didn’t struggle with what I was struggling with which made me worse than them in all regards.” I would push away the help that my parents offered me because I didn’t want them involved even though all that they did was to help me. They loved me, but in my heart I couldn’t feel it even though deep down I longed for it. I felt that I could overcome this problem on my own and I didn’t want any help. This is one of the great traps that people who struggle with pornography fall into–they want to be by themselves because they can’t stand the pain that it causes them to be around people who are living righteous lives. Even though I would push everyone away mentally, what I really needed was a friend; someone who wouldn’t give up on me.
I somehow managed to maintain hope that the only way for me to overcome this addiction was to rely on my Savior, Jesus Christ and his atonement. But I didn’t know how to access it. I tried reading the scriptures and praying every day. After a little while, my bishop gave me a temple recommend and I went to the temple for a few times. All of these things helped, but I was still weighed down with guilt and the addiction did not go away. As the time for my mission drew closer, I increased my efforts on trying to overcome this beast. When I turned 19 I knew that I could wait no longer. I needed to get on my mission. I increased the intensity of my prayers, I read the Book of Mormon every day, I finally humbled myself and gingerly accepted help from my parents. I worked with my bishop regularly. I eventually conquered it enough to be clean when I left on my mission.
While I was on my mission, I was nearly completely flawless in maintaining control over my addiction. After I returned home I thought that I had built a solid enough foundation that I would never fall back into those evil ways again. For 4 months after I came home, I had zero incidents. Then Christmas break happened and I had no school and no job. I had lots of free time. My old ways started to creep back in and fell again. But this time the struggle was different. I never felt as bound by the addiction this time as I did before my mission. Yet still I needed help to overcome it completely. I decided that I would try a new tactic. That is what led me to the Sons of Helaman program.
It was there that I learned how to defend myself against Satan, and to really harness the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I view the program as a means to the real end to this addiction which can only come through Jesus Christ. The biggest help for me was keeping hope that one day, if I didn’t give up, I would be free of this addiction. I am now 20 weeks clean and I am an ordinance worker in the Holy Temple of God. I know that the atonement of Jesus Christ is real. It does work. What I needed to do to make it to this point is to never give up. I kept moving forward. Even though I had pushed people away outwardly, especially my parents whenever they offered help, secretly I savored every last piece of love that was offered to me and I value it very highly today. If you are not struggling with pornography, but you know someone who is, don’t ever give up on them. Keep loving them no matter what. So long as you and them don’t give up, even in the darkest of nights, remember that in the morning the sun ALWAYS rises to reveal the beautiful morning. Through Jesus Christ I have been made clean. It works. Believe it. – Spencer –