Why I’m still a Mormon

I’m not a shining example of  “Good Mormon.”

I’ve struggled with pornography most of my adult life.

I’ve lied countless times.  I don’t want people thinking bad things about me.

I’ve been inactive in the Church for most of my adult life.

It would be easier to just leave the Church completely.

But I don’t.

I can’t.

I know it’s true.

Turning my back on the Church would be like turning my back on myself.

When I was twenty-four I hadn’t gone to church for several years.

I felt like I needed to go back.  I was afraid to talk to a bishop.  Afraid to confess my sins.

I decided to take some religion classes.  I could get some spirituality in my life without any pressure.

After about six months I decided to go to church.

I only went for Sacrament meeting.  I didn’t go in the chapel.  I sat out in the foyer and listened.

After a few months I had my records transferred to that ward.

I started sitting in the chapel during Sacrament meeting.

Eventually I started going to all the meetings.

Then one day in priesthood meeting one of the other guys told me a group of guys were going to see a movie together.  He asked if I’d like to come.

I got spooked.

I didn’t go back to church for awhile.

I slowly started going again, eventually going to all the meetings.

Then one Sunday it happened.

Just before Sacrament the Bishop’s Secretary came up to me.  He asked if I could see the Bishop after the meeting.

This was it.

The Bishop had just wanted to meet me.  I spilled my guts anyway.

I felt so much better afterward.

I started meeting with him every week.

At that point I decided I’d better find out for myself if the Church was really true.

I’d believed it was for years.  I was never quite sure, though.

I’d been reading the Book of Mormon on and off for several months.

I’d never finished the whole thing.

I decided now was the time.

I finished it.  Then I prayed about it.

I got a feeling I’d never felt before.

I knew it was true.

I still do.

I’m not a “Good Mormon”

I’m a hypocrite.  I’m lazy.  I just don’t wanna go.

I don’t say these things to condemn myself.  I just need to work on them.

I haven’t gone to church for most of my adult life.  I’ve been wandering in the wilderness.

I don’t have a good reason.

That’s not to say I don’t have any reasons.

I have social anxiety.  Especially around people I don’t consider friends.

I haven’t made any friends at church.  Because of the social anxiety.

I feel ashamed.  I don’t live up to the Church’s standards.  I want to, but it’s hard.

That’s no excuse, though.

I love the feeling I get when I’m at Church (as long as no one’s trying to talk to me).

Sometimes I feel the Spirit so strong.

It moves me to tears.

Every week I think, “I’m going to go to church next Sunday.”

Then Sunday morning comes.

Those of you who struggle with getting to church know what I’m talking about.

Dragging myself out of bed.

Dragging the kids out of bed.

Getting them ready.

Getting me ready.

Etc.

The people who go to church every week have these problems, too.  Well, maybe not all of them.

I want to be more like them.

Divorce

My wife told me at the end of June that she wanted to separate.

This wasn’t the first time she’d said that.  This time was different, though.  This time she wouldn’t be talked out of it.

She felt like she couldn’t trust me anymore.

I’d lied to her about watching porn.  That was worse than the fact that I’d been watching porn.

Six months earlier I’d decided to come clean to her.  We’d been going through marriage counseling, and I started feeling a lot closer to her.

I knew my lies were getting in the way of us getting closer.

One night she confessed something to me.  So I confessed to her that I’d been lying.

At first she seemed ok.  By the time I came home from work the next day I could tell she wasn’t ok.

She went into a deep depression for several months.  I was worried, but I didn’t know what I could do.  Most of the things I tried to do were mistakes.

We went through cycles.  She’d let me know she wasn’t happy with me.  I’d work hard at being the best husband ever.  After a while I’d slack off.  I couldn’t stick with it.  She’d get upset again.

She was gentle when she told me.  More gentle than I expected.  I cried.  She comforted me.

I told her I was really going to change this time.  I meant it when I said it.

Eventually I got used to the idea.  She was going to divorce me no matter what I did.

I decided once we were divorced I’d change.  I’d become the best version of myself, and hope she’d like the new me.  Then maybe she’d want me back.

Later it sunk in that she was probably never going to take me back.

Now I’ve accepted it.  I’m ready to move on with my life.

I think…

I’m a liar

When people ask me how I am I always say “fine,” or “good.” Liar.

My mom would ask me if I’d done something I knew she disapproved of. I’d say no, whether I had or not. Liar.

I lied to my wife about watching porn. When I told her the truth she was more upset about the lies than the porn. Liar.

I told myself I was happy when my life was clearly not going well. Liar.

I don’t like hurting people’s feelings. I’m afraid of getting in trouble. I don’t think people want to hear the truth. I don’t want to disappoint someone who I care about. So I lie.

The truth always comes out, though. And lying makes the end result worse that the truth would have been.

So why do I lie? Probably because I lie to myself. I tell myself the other person will never find out. But they will.

I tell myself I’m going to be honest from now on. Maybe even brutally honest.

Is that a lie, too?

I’m a porn addict

She showed me her brother’s stash.  I wasn’t interested.  I thought it was kind of disgusting.

Later she suggested that I get a stash of my own.  I didn’t want to at first, but eventually I found myself in a magazine shop downtown.

I developed a pattern.  I’d buy several Playboys, then after a few weeks or months I’d get disgusted with myself and throw them all away.  This went on for years.

I discovered internet porn.  I never got into the really hard stuff, nothing that looked like abuse.  I couldn’t stomach that.  Just stuff I thought looked like regular sex.

Then I decided to go back to church.  After a while the bishop called me into his office to get to know me.  I spilled my guts.  Eventually I was able to take the Sacrament again.  I even had a temple recommend.  I went with friends to do baptisms for the dead a couple of times.  But it didn’t last.

I fell back into my old habits.  I’d buy porn DVDs from stores.  I’d usually try to go to a male cashier.  One night there was only a female cashier available.  She was cute and she was friendly to me.  Then she saw what I was buying.  I felt awful, but that didn’t stop me from watching the DVDs.

Eventually I met my wife.  I didn’t watch porn from the time we were married until after our first son was born.  A few months after he was born she started going over to her parents’ house after he fell asleep.  She’d go there every night and play video games.  I didn’t want her to go, but I never told her. He’d usually wake up a little while after she left, and I’d take care of him by myself.  After a while he’d go back to sleep, and I’d get lonely.  Rather than telling her I was struggling, I started watching porn again.  I went back to my old pattern of quitting for a while, then watching porn.

I few years later I went to our bishop.  I told him about my porn addiction.  He told my I needed to tell my wife.  He also offered to pay for counseling, which I took him up on.

The night I told my wife about my ongoing porn addiction was one of the longest of my life.  She could tell something was wrong, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell her.  For hours we sat there, her asking what was wrong.  I was mostly silent.  Eventually I mumbled, “It’s porn.”  She had lots of uncomfortable questions, but after I’d answered them it seemed like we were closer than ever.

I avoided porn successfully for a few years after that.  Eventually being left home alone for several hours while my wife and kids were visiting her parents took its toll.  Once again I was in the grip of porn.  I’ve been struggling with it on and off since then.

For several months I kept it a secret from my wife.  Id lie to her about it when she asked if I’d been watching porn.  When I told her the truth she became really upset and went into a deep depression.

After several months my wife told me she wants to separate.  She hasn’t filed yet, but it’s just a matter of time now.

If anyone reading this is tempted to watch porn, don’t do it, you’ll regret it.  Maybe not now, but someday.  If you already do watch it, get help.  There are people and resources out there for porn addicts.  Here are a few:

Overcoming Pornography

Fight the New Drug

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