The things I have told very few...

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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youngcy
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Joined: 17 Jun 2017, 02:00

The things I have told very few...

Post by youngcy » 18 Jun 2017, 02:30

[Moderator note: This post has been edited to remove explicit descriptions of sexual abuse and other minor items of forum decorum. DJ]

Hello,

I am very doubtful about the Mormon religion. I currently attend a church school, I actually enjoy it very much. My experience as a member of the church has been favorable. I grew up a member. I have served a mission and I still actively go to church. I can say that at one time, I fully believed in the church as the "only true and living church upon the face of the earth".

I'll cut right to the chase, so you fine folks do not have to read an entire biography of my life. My biggest downfall as a member of the church has been pornography. I can say from about the time I was 12, I have viewed pornography regularly. I would have extended amounts of time without watching porn, my mission being one of those periods. Most orthodox members would say I have an addiction, but I'll let you be the judge.

I was sexually abused when I was about 7 or 8 years old. This did not go on for very long.

I was about 10 when I saw pornography for the first time. My older brother had showed it to me. I remember feeling excited by it the first time. I even asked him to show me more on occasion, which he would.

In my culture many young boys have long hair. My mom wanted me to have long hair as a child, even though I wanted to have it cut short because most people thought I was a girl. I had a neighborhood "friend" who would have me come into his room. He convinced me to take off my clothes. I think he was attracted to me because I had long hair and resembled a girl.

Fast forward a few years. I would still watch pornography when my family was not at home. It seemed like a natural thing for me as a teenager. I would watch porn with friends and we would share videos with each other. Kids at school talked all the time about porn and who they had sex with over the weekend.

I felt pretty guilty as a youth, going to church every week. I never told anyone what happened and never confronted the people who had abused me. I kind of thought it was my fault those things had happened to me. I would actively participate in church, as a priesthood holder and in scouting. But still, I watched pornography on a weekly basis, and although I felt guilty, I was afraid to tell anyone because of the chastity lessons I had sat through my childhood and the fear of my parents reaction.

I still wanted to be a good person and a member of the church. I was about 16 when I decided to quit watching pornography. My mother finally allowed me to cut my long hair a year earlier, and I started to catch the eyes of girls at my school. I had liked one girl for a couple of years. We began dating my Junior year of high school. I had stopped watching porn for about 6 months when we started dating. It was incredible, I felt a connection with someone I genuinely cared about, and porn could not replicate what I was feeling. We had been dating for about 9 months when we had sex for the first time. For a period of about 3 months, we had sex regularly, until my brother caught us on the couch in my parents house. I was taken over to my bishops house that same day to confess. My parents were out of town at the time and telling them was a very difficult thing for me to do. My mother was hysterical and my father was extremely disappointed. But I repented according to the LDS church policies for dealing with pre-marital sex. But good news was I was still eligible to serve a mission.

I began serving my mission in 2012. I was very excited to serve. But I think this was the beginning of most of my struggles. I was an "obedient" missionary, and I did what was required of me. I felt like I had served honorably and I gave it everything I had. But I still had doubts about doctrine and how honest the church is about its past. I studied very intently during my missionary service, and I was becoming a fundamentalist. I say fundamentalist because I believed in things like a 7,000 year old earth and the inflammatory material within Bruce McConkie's Mormon Doctrine. I had many a discussion with my companions about "exact obedience". I didn't feel it was necessary to be exactly obedient to every unnecessary mission rule. It weighed a heavy toll on my mental health. I began to believe God would punish me if I did not follow exactly. I was very hard on myself and I had months of continuous depression, but I pushed through it. It was a white-knuckle ride. I develop a debilitating social anxiety among my other faith and mental struggles. I found myself belittling myself before priesthood leaders when I felt I did not live up to their expectations. I wanted to follow so well, I would never interact with a woman that could be misconstrued as flirtatious, which meant I would only interact with a woman if it was in the realm of official missionary business. Needless to say, I was relieved when it was time for me to go home, but I still loved my time as a missionary, mostly because of the people and the elders I served with, they were absolutely incredible.

When I came home, I was rather disappointed. I had become intolerably self-righteous and I just wanted to be a missionary again. You see I did not realize all mental damage that had been done through the course of my mission. I had developed very unhealthy thought patterns and the people I told my problems too either didn't want to listen or did not offer good advice or counsel. About 2 months home from my mission, I started watching pornography again. It had been an established coping mechanism for loneliness through out my life and it was calling me home.

After I watched porn for the first time since coming home from my mission, I immediately contacted my bishop. The YSA bishop I had before my mission was such a blessing and I expected him to be the same way but I was mistaken. He was a "git-r-done" conservative type, the kind of bishop you would want if you were a stake president to whip the young adults into shape and take no prisoners. I was surprised by his reaction when I confessed to him. He was mildly upset I had disrespected my priesthood. I didn't take it very personal, but so began my "repentance process". It didn't take long before I watched porn again and I was back in his office. I felt extremely guilty and he was a little more compassionate this time around. I thought if I just led him through my past he might understand better my situation and we might be able to find a solution together. I told him about my abuse, and he said verbatim "well that is just something you are going to have to get over." I am no psychologist but I don't think that is the way you are supposed to approach my situation. So he decided he would pay for two sessions for me to see a psychologist.

I showed up at the house of the head shrink. A man I had known for a while. We met in his home office. I felt comfortable and excited about finally dealing with my problem directly. He was a member of the church and was well respected in my community. The first session was great and I felt optimistic about the second. The second session went well, until a strange interaction we had at the very end. He asked me how I was going to pay for a third session. I went to the meeting with the intent of not paying for a third, but just thanking him for the first two sessions and leaving it at that. He was more persistent by getting me to recognize the progress I had made the past two meetings. I told him I was scared to tell my parents I was meeting with a psychologist and I didn't want them to know why. He ended by saying this, "well right now I am the devil and I will tell you, you don't need my help and the struggles you face are only going to continue if you try and do this on your own." I stood my ground and politely told him I would be leaving.

It felt like strike two for adult leadership in my local church. I was feeling pretty bitter and continued to view porn. During this time, I began to recognize my doubts more. I began reading more about church history. I wanted a reason to hate the church, and I found many reasons. I didn't stop going to church though. Church satisfied my social requirements and all of my friends were Mormon. I was still disappointed with church leadership and I would get cold shoulders from my bishop and is counselors as I was released "spiritual" callings. I was totally honest with them and I did not feel respected, or even loved as I had felt with previous church leaders. I felt like a screw up, even though I was not. I was very busy with work, school, and an activities committee calling.

I eventually told my father the things that have happened to me as a child and through out my youth. He reacted as a loving Father would, and did not punish me but supported me in anyway he possibly could. I should have told him in the first place rather put my trust in my local leadership.

I touched a little on fundamentalism while reflecting on my mission. I think those leaders who I interacted with are guided and driven by the fundamental Mormon doctrinal system which manifests itself in the form of policy. I have read handbook 1(thank you Wikileaks) and the guidance stake presidents and bishops are given and how to handle disciplinary matters. I think they did what was required of them by policy and they are not in the wrong in the eyes of the church, but had they used their common sense and listened to my story, maybe they would understand where I am coming from. I don't expect people to understand my story, because it is complicated. I still struggle with pornography, but I have learned I am still a good person and trying to breakdown the unhealthy thought patterns perpetuated upon me by church culture and doctrine. I don't seek out more deviant forms of pornography and it hasn't led me to have promiscuous sex with woman even though I have had the opportunity, I never did. I am looking for love and a meaningful relationship with a special person.

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Reuben
Posts: 290
Joined: 05 Nov 2016, 10:04

Re: The things I have told very few...

Post by Reuben » 18 Jun 2017, 11:38

Welcome!

I imagine that sharing so much of your past so candidly was scary. I think you'll find your bravery rewarded: nobody here will judge you harshly or declare that any past action is the cause of your doubts.

So many abuse survivors tell similar stories: using porn and sex to cope, guilt, shame, anxiety, scrupulosity, and ignorant but well-intentioned leaders. You're not alone.

Two things in your story stand out. First, that psychiatrist sounds nuts. Wow. Second, your dad sounds awesome. It's great that you've got support at home.

If your beliefs still include the need for a savior, I recommend the book "Believing Christ" as an antidote to some of the harmful messaging we sometimes get at church.

Again, welcome! I look forward to getting to know you better.
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Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before sanctity or certainty.

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DarkJedi
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Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: The things I have told very few...

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Jun 2017, 11:41

First, I'm sorry you have been the victim of such abuse. I will mourn with you.

From you description of where you live it seems likely there would be at least one ARP nearby. Have you tried that? There is something to what the psychologist said about not being able to do some things on your own. And it's free.

ETA Reuben and I were typing at the same time. No offense intended regarding the psychologist. It is a tenet of 12-step programs that we can't do it on our own.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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ydeve
Posts: 176
Joined: 30 May 2016, 21:38

Re: The things I have told very few...

Post by ydeve » 18 Jun 2017, 11:50

When it comes to porn and addiction, do realize that very few people who describe themselves as porn addicts are actually *addicted* to porn. I'm not necessarily saying you aren't, but approaching it as an addiction may be the wrong way to go.

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dande48
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Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35

Re: The things I have told very few...

Post by dande48 » 18 Jun 2017, 20:11

Welcome to the site! I'm happy you could join us. I appreciated hearing your story, and wish you the best.

I can't help but mention, I am very cynical when it comes to approaching members of the Church for help in areas where there could be a conflict of interest. Healthcare providers, dentists, auto-repairmen... just because they're members and treat you like a brother, doesn't mean they're not going to take full advantage...

On my mission, I used to assist in the ARP. They are EXCELLENT; a lot of things they teach you apply in so many different areas beyond traditional "addiction". The biggest difficulty with addiction, I've found, is the cycle. You feel bad, you give in, it makes you feel guilty, so you feel worse, so you give in again. The whole "guilt" approach many Church leaders take simply doesn't work. Plus, when you repent, doesn't that mean a divine, innocent man (Christ), is suffering in your behalf? For me, that makes the repentance process all the harder.

There are plenty of reasons why we should keep the law of chastity, beyond "PMO is a sin". There is plenty of scientific evidence that porn and masturbation is awful for your physical, psychological, emotional, and sexual health; plenty of reasons to quit, whether you believe in God or the Church, or not. There is an online-movement that started several years ago, called NoFap (so elegant). https://www.nofap.com/ It's a secular community, and I honestly can't say I've personally had much experience with them. But I have heard wonderful things. It looks like they have a very active and supportive group going. It might be worth looking into.

Roy
Posts: 3953
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: The things I have told very few...

Post by Roy » 19 Jun 2017, 14:27

Please visit this thread and the accompanying blog post:

viewtopic.php?t=6664

I do not know you or your struggle. I do know that I had felt that my own struggles with porn and masturbation would completely ruin me from ever finding fulfillment with a single real woman. I am happy to report that I am very devoted, happy, and fulfilled as a husband of one such real woman.
youngcy wrote:
18 Jun 2017, 02:30
It had been an established coping mechanism for loneliness through out my life and it was calling me home.
youngcy wrote:
18 Jun 2017, 02:30
I am looking for love and a meaningful relationship with a special person.
My hope is that you will find that special person, the loneliness subsides, and you are granted the acceptance and validation that we, as humans, crave. I hope that as these feelings of love, belonging, acceptance, and worth grow that you find the pornography less appealing (that as your reality improves the fantasy will hold less importance) until it is of no consequence in your life. That is my hope and my prayer for you.

It does get better - this I know.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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DevilsAdvocate
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Joined: 19 Feb 2010, 12:56
Location: Utah

Re: The things I have told very few...

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 20 Jun 2017, 19:57

To be honest I think experiences like yours are a lot more common in the Church than most members including the leaders want to admit, it's just that the Church likes to maintain this image of strict conformity and being separate and protected from "the world." So those that are completely honest about some of this will typically be punished and those that tell them what they want to hear will basically be rewarded in the Church (if having a temple recommend, callings, etc. can be considered a reward).

Even in the case of abuse where it seems like the Church should have sympathy for victims the impression I get is that many would rather just not talk about it and pretend it doesn't exist most of the time. To me it looks like porn would be a relative non-issue at this stage in your life if it wasn't for the influence of the Church making a big deal about it. I wouldn't be too hard on yourself about that; for example 10 years from now what difference will it make whether you watched some porn or you didn't?
"Truth is what works." - William James

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