Dear Addi

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My addiction journey part 7

Hello friends.  This is second to the last part of my journey.  It is the final escalation that led to my rescue.  I have been very careful to not share too many details...just events.  If, however, you find yourself getting "triggered" by such things, I am putting up this disclaimer.  I needed to share this part.  It shows just how far an addiction like this can go if allowed to fester.  I hope this helps someone.

It started out again as it always did...simply viewing. Soon I again found myself on web sites to chat only this time I was finding it easier to chat with women of all ages and i was finding fewer and fewer barriers or lines that I wouldn't cross. Any person willing to give me what I needed was fair game. All the while I was using the same deceitful tactics and lies. Next came the perusing of the online classifieds and the answering of ads until finally I found myself  writing an ad to pull in someone to chat with locally.

It sounds so calculated and designed. But it was just a natural progression for me except this time was different. What initially took 24 years of slowly slipping deeper and deeper, gradually relaxing my standards and loosening my morals, now took me less then 5 months to return to in entirety.   Each outlet was never enough.  It always led to more and more until finally I found myself chatting with as many as 5 women at once. It took almost all of my time at the office.  Little did they know that my cute and dorky, charming facade was simply a replay of what I had said so many times before. None of them ever received an original thought that had not already been proven on another.

After a couple of weeks I had narrowed it down and found myself chatting with 2 women. I see now just how manipulative I was. I preyed on their vulnerabilities hoping for something more than just a chat buddy. They were single, lonely, and eager for attention and affection.

It turned out one lived an hour away and the other in my home town. Keep in mind I sincerely believed that I was only going to chat with them and exchange stories and fantasies.   My goal was to get it out of my system. But it never gets out of your system. Your system will always want more and more.

I chatted with both. However, the one in my home town was more available to chat when I was and so that is where I concentrated most of my efforts. We talked via email daily. After a full month of chatting I discovered through some questioning that she lived only a few blocks away from our home.

I felt the urge to disconnect. This was far too close. She could easily know me or someone who knows me. This was way too risky. I knew I should disconnect but again, I did not. You see, things had suddenly become more complicated. Before discovering that we might be neighbors, I had shared photos of myself with her. She knew my face now. To cut and run as I had done before would be difficult to do. What if we ran into each other?  She could possibly expose my lies to all. I told myself that this was my reason for allowing it to continue. But this was just another excuse. In truth, I was again completely sucked in by the lust that surrounded every conversation.

Right before Halloween, she began to see through some of my lies. They were the lies I told about my name and family and work. She became angry that I had kept lying all that time and told me not to contact her again.  Part of me felt that I had found a way out. The other part of me felt like I had just lost a constant source for feeding my addiction..

On Halloween night, I spotted her trick or treating with her kids on our street. Up until now, she had no Idea where I lived. She came right up to our house with her kids. I panicked. Not knowing if she had seen me, I decide to quickly walk down the street to avoid meeting in person.  The next day she sent me an email saying she had seen me and felt that If I could answer a few more questions that perhaps she would be OK to continue chatting.  I saw an opportunity to keep my deception going but I answered her questions with half truths and more lies.  My answers satisfied her and before another week had passed, she had invited me to come visit her at her home.

My urges were on high alert. I remembered only too well what happened the last time I was invited to meet someone in this way. I knew the consequences of such a visit. But unlike last time, I found myself almost on auto pilot. It was no longer a battle anymore. I had lost the battle long ago. I was now numb to any enticings of the spirit completely. I still knew that what I was doing was wrong, but I had absolutely no will power to push back against the desires.  I had already decided I was going to hell for the things I had done…. It mattered not if I screwed up again.

That simple statement became my doctrine. It allowed me to rationalize my actions and behavior and so, I went.  That was the first of many visits that took place over the next 2 months.  I continued with my lies and deceit. I continued with my quest to receive what i needed to fulfill my appetite… and here I had someone willing.  So effective were my lies and manipulation that she began to have real feelings for me.   How could she feel that way about someone she barely knew especially when all she knew was filled with half truth?  I allowed her to let her feelings grow because it meant that I would be able to continue to take advantage of the relationship. I cared not about what I was doing to her, her heart or her head...only what she could do for me.  My actions were motivated by my own selfish desires.

At the same time I was feeling torn.  I really wanted it over.  In my heart I needed this to end. I felt trapped.  Even if I did have the willpower to stop, I had a problem.  She knew where I lived. She could possibly out me if I hurt her feelings. I told myself that the only way to protect my family and my marriage was to continue my lies and the relationship. This was just one more of the rationalizations that perpetuated my sins.

It was a relationship of convenience. I had discovered a person who needed what I could provide her.  She needed to be complimented, to be made to feel good about herself and to feel loved and of worth and of value.  So, thinking only of myself, I did that for her.   I handed out loving words, gifts, poems, and more to manipulate her and to help her feel like she needed me. I had fallen in lust and I was using every sweet, silly, or romantic idea I had to keep it flowing.

I mistakenly  thought that now that I had reached this point, that perhaps I would finally find a way to quench that thirst that never goes away.  My desires and needs had been my overriding objective for months. I had finally found someone who was willing to try and satisfy that urge.   Of course she had no idea that she was a victim of my addiction. She never knew that she  was just my latest prey.

And as the the weeks progressed,  I began to discover that the hole I thought I could fill with my most recent sexual escalation was still gaping wide open. My urges started again. I needed to find filler for that hole.  In the meantime, my self hate was beyond comprehension. I had been lying, and hurting and deceiving so many people. I hated my actions but with no hope for forgiveness or redemption from my sins,  I for the first time in my life, began to have thoughts that perhaps life would be better without me in it.

If I weren't around, my wife  would be able to find a man who could be honest with her. She could have the promised eternal blessings with someone who was worthy. She deserved that after all. More than anybody in this she deserved to be made whole. My children could have a father who wasn't completely warped with thoughts of filthiness and corruption. They could have a genuine response from a man who loved them openly, instead of the protective love of a man who feared he might expose his sins at any moment. I felt on several occasions that maybe that was the only way to escape this crippling infection. Again, I found myself filled with Satan's lies.  I knew that they were lies as I would never ever consider taking my life, at least not seriously.   But the thought found its way into my mind on more than a few occasions. My self loathing simply sent me deeper into dark waters and I ended up escalating one more time.

This time it was easy to take it to the next level.  At the same time I had been enjoying the spoils of a willing partner, I was also continuing to chat with one of the women that answered my ad from several weeks earlier. She invited me to come and see her in her home an hour out of town.

Yes you are reading this correctly. In the middle of my affair, I decided to have a second affair. All I could think about now was sex. I had become a runaway train and I was gaining speed. There were no road blocks or stop signs I wouldn't blast through. All that mattered was the next thing. Surely I could do no more damage  by indulging with another?   It had become a free for all into depravity.  As far as my distorted mind was concerned, nothing would be off limits. How completely broken I had become. I was spinning out of control. I was taking risks and throwing caution to the wind. Blinded by lust and desire, all of my rational thought had been blurred.

I went and met the woman out of town in her home and again found myself engaged with her intimately.  Just so you know how single focused and obsessed I had become, here is a description of that day in a nutshell.  I  went to see Alice in the morning, then headed out of town to see the other woman. I had so little respect for each that I spent time with both on the same day.  And of course after a day filled with both women,  I came back home to my wife and put on a smile.

I continued to live with the guilt and shame but I had become so accustomed to it that it had begun to feel like my own skin. I hated everything about myself. My self loathing and hate only served to send me deeper into my spiral of indulgence.

I deleted all my information and never spoke to the 2nd  woman after that but over the next couple of weeks, I met with at least 2 other women in person,  hoping with each to flirt and impress my way into intimate situations. And while I didn't become involved with either, I continued to reach out to many others hoping to trap them in my web of deceit.

In the final 2 weeks of the affair with Alice, I knew things were winding down.  My lust felt unsatisfied (because lust is NEVER satisfied) and I again posted an ad online. A few interested parties responded and I began chatting with them right away.  Three days before everything came crashing down,  I was beginning to chat seriously with another woman in my home town.   We'll call her Kim. Kim and I chatted back and forth through email and  began sharing pictures and started up a flirty conversation.

While I was beginning a new relationship with this new Kim, things were coming quickly to a halt with Alice. We had decided that it was time to call it off. It was beginning to get too risky and we were going to get caught.   I was so grateful that we had finally brought it to an end.  I felt horrible about it.   It was never supposed to become this long drawn out affair.  I was just supposed to get what I needed and get out  and so I was anxious for it to end, especially as she began to express more and more of her feelings.

The opportunity came and we decided that I would come by to see her one last time on a Tuesday morning. We spent the morning chatting and pledging to never contact each other again. “I wish it could go on but I really need to try and fix my family, “ I had said. This of course was a lie. What I really wanted was to rid myself of the guilt.  What I really wanted was to stop this behavior and never do it again. I wanted to shove the last 2 months deep into my past and never speak of them to another soul forever more. I told myself I would use this moment to start fresh. I would recommit harder than ever this time.  Yes, this would be the time that it would be behind me forever.

Okay, yes...I did mean that but maybe not this second...or this morning.   I would start  this afternoon because as I was saying goodbye to Alice,  I was preparing to meet with another woman,  just to see if we clicked.

Side note…. I am so completely filled with disgust at myself as I write this. I have literally spoken of chatting or meeting with 4 different woman in the space of 2 weeks. How completely addicted to this life of darkness and shame I had become.

I told My wife that I had a meeting with a client an hour out of town.   While away, my wife would be going into my office to work. I went and met with this woman. We chatted for about 20 minutes and then said goodbye.  For some reason, this became the moment that I finally began to see how completely stuck in this hell I had become. Here I was, literally less than 2 hours from trying to put an end to everything and getting control and I am already chatting alone with another woman. There was no way to exit. I was on this runaway train for the rest of my life. And it is getting faster and faster.   I did not have the strength to pull the brake.  I would go on lying and deceiving and hurting others the rest of my life because this is just who I was.  Perhaps someday I would find a way off the train.  Perhaps someday I would find the courage to jump,  ending this hell forever.  The crushing weight of shame and guilt came again. I drove aimlessly lost in my guilt and loathing.

At one point during my drive, my phone rang.  It was my wife. I could not bring myself to answer the phone. I was too ashamed and filthy to talk with her right now. I felt like the weight was getting so heavy that I might slip up and reveal myself. So, I ignored the call. My phone chimed announcing that I had a new message.  As I listened to her message,  I heard my wife  through pain and tears and weeping say,  “Jason… I need you to call me right away…...Please call me.”  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A War of Words and Thoughts

(her story)

Satan and I are engaged in a vicious battle against each other.  He was so very close to destroying my family.  He was so close to permanently having one of the Lord's valiant sons firmly in his camp.  My husband was spiritually dead...having very nearly crossed over to Satan's side all the way.  Luckily for him (and not so luckily for the adversary), the Lord took over.  Oh sure, my husband had to finally hit the lowest point
possible to be willing to turn everything over to Him, but once he did, we have felt the Savior step in and take the reins.  Our family is drifting away from hell and back towards heaven...finally.  Satan isn't happy about it so he is attacking both myself and my husband with renewed vigor.

I posted a little bit last time about my struggles with a new temptation here:

The adversary is leaning heavily on my husband, tempting him to give in or "slip," and he's leaning on me to do things that are unholy and impure.  The adversary is also filling my head with doubts, fears and anxieties.  When we first started on this journey a few months ago, I wrote in my journal about the thoughts that were flying around in my head.  I then tried to determine if I should assign those thoughts to Satan or to the Lord.

To illustrate the epic battle that I am waging in my mind, I thought I would share some of those "promptings."

1.  "He's going to lose his enthusiasm.  This is just the honeymoon period.  Just wait until things quiet down..he will be right back at it."  Okay, this one was from Satan.  I am learning that the Lord doesn't send promptings that stir up contention and worry.  He sends thoughts of peace and strength.  I will admit, I still wrestle with this thought constantly and I find myself always on the lookout for clues that my husband is being dishonest again or acting out.  (I think that is an okay thing to do...I would be irresponsible if I didn't keep a watchful eye but I need to stop obsessing about it as Satan would have me do.)

2.  "You were brought to your husband by me.  Don't ever doubt your choice in partners.  He was struggling with this before I brought you to him.  I knew that but I prepared you to be able to handle it."  I received this prompting in the temple so I am certain it came from my Heavenly father.  Our meeting and eventual marriage to this day is the biggest miracle in my life.  The Lord literally pulled me out of Provo and sent me here (a place I had never even seen) to work so that in the first week, I could meet my husband.  When I first met him, I felt like I was coming home.

3.  "The loss of all of those blessings though his excommunication is going to be awful for your family.  You will miss out on so much.  Get out now and find someone worthy to hold the priesthood and make temple covenants."  No doubt about it, this one was from Satan.  Yes, the loss of the priesthood in our home and the loss of my sealing to my husband has been hard.  But, as the Savior promises, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  I should be devastated by the excommunication but I am not.  I am learning that it is a necessary step in restoring my husband to full health and worthiness.

4.  "In comparison to the rest of your lives together, this time of trial will be short.  In the meantime, know that there are unseen angels everywhere, holding you up and pushing you along."  Yep, another one from the Lord.  That should be obvious right?  What peace these thoughts bring.  My husband and I have an eternity to spend together.  Yes, this trial is hard but I have the hope that one day we can look back on it and be grateful for the way it changed our lives and our eternity.

5.  "How could he cheat on you with three other women?  He doesn't really care about you.  There is something wrong with him."  This one was my overwhelming thought in the first few weeks and it is certainly from Satan.  Part of it was true.  There was something wrong with my husband.  It wasn't until I set about to learn more about his addiction that I could stop obsessing about this thought and gain some understanding.  I have discovered that gaining knowledge through prayer, books, talks and therapy are some of the best ways to combat the adversary.

6.  "Stop being so positive.  When this eventually fails, you will look like such a fool."  Any guesses as to where this one came from?  Truth be told, I still have that worry from time to time.  I don't want to sound too confident when talking to my bishop, parents, friends because what if it fails?  This again is the adversary talking and I need to continue to work on this.  I want my husband to feel like I have confidence in him and that I don't doubt his ability to do this.  It is hard sometimes to do that though since all of this is still so fresh and new.

7.  "Your husband will once again be worthy to take you to the temple. Only this time, he will finally feel worthy to be there."  This one is pretty easy.  My husband has never really felt worthy to be at the temple because his sins had never been properly repented of by full disclosure to the Bishop or Stake President.  I am excited for that day.  It is still 22 months away but it is coming.

8.   "You are going to war.  You are taking on the adversary himself but rest assured, you have the most powerful being in the universe on your side."  This one came to me right after my husband revealed that his addiction had led him to be with three women, not just the one that he initially told me about.  Surprisingly, at that moment, I didn't cry or scream.  Instead, I felt an intense anger at the adversary and an overwhelming feeling of going to war.  It was empowering and I know it came from the Lord.

So, there you go.  There are so many more and thankfully, my list of promptings from my Heavenly Father is twice as long as my list of thoughts from the adversary.  I am at war.  Some days, Satan gains the upper hand...particularly if I don't chase those bad thoughts away.  But when I let those peaceful loving thoughts from the Lord fill my head, my day is so much better.  I am working hard to let the Lord in and keep the adversary out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Playing in the dirt

(her story)
It has been three months.  How is it that three short months can feel like a lifetime?  I look back on the few weeks following my husband's revelation and it feels like it's been years.  We have packed so much into January, February and March.  We have had countless meetings with Priesthood holders. We have been through a church court.  We have traveled an hour out of town once a week to attend our 12 step pornography addiction recovery classes.  (Our gas bill has skyrocketed!)  We have been to therapists.  We have spent hours and hours and hours rehashing details, feelings and future plans.  We have cried and  hurt and prayed.  We have listened to so many talks on the subject of addiction, bondage, sin and repentance that I can't even name them anymore.  We have written a small book already in our journals alone.  So yes, the last three months have felt like so much longer.

I have watched my mourning process go from shock to grief to anger to bargaining and now, I am at a different phase...a phase that scares me.  Oh, I still feel all of those things.  I feel them daily.  Only now, I am having scary urges to act out myself.  What??!!!  Why would I want to subject myself to the same poison that has claimed my husband?  Haven't I learned a lesson from his mistakes?

My warped thought process has three parts.  First, I am confused.  I don't understand the madness that my husband was living with.  What could have possibly been so enticing to want to make him look at pornography and eventually act out?  Why not see for myself?  I will admit, I have spent a brief amount of time perusing some of the porn sights that I knew he may have looked at.

Here is the problem with that line of thinking.  Even though I only lasted about five minutes on those porn sights before I got tired of them (and a little disgusted), the images are now in my head.  So, enter my second line of thinking.  I have had images of my husband being intimate with other women running through my head at varying times of the day for three solid months.  They just come, and each time they come, they cause me tremendous pain.  In my mind, I think that perhaps it would be better to replace those thoughts of my husband's sexual escapades with images of strangers.  Stupid right?

Third, I have been so hurt by this whole thing it is easy to "medicate" with something that makes me feel good and that mimics the sins committed by my husband.  Perhaps it is some sick way of leveling the playing field so that his screw ups don't hurt so much.  I know, I sounds like I am devaluing myself to play in the dirt.  I know what I am doing and yet I feel compelled to do it.

I know it is Satan.  I know he is upset that his prize (my husband) is slipping from his grasp with each day of sobriety.  He can still destroy the family by taking down the wife.  I know his game and yet, I have fallen for it a few times.  Thankfully, my husband and I have made a pact of total honesty in all things.  I have told him each and every time I have found myself feeding that need with filth.

I have never been perfect in this area.  I have had a horrible addiction to romance novels and "written" pornography in my life.  (Particularly my college years.)  I am no stranger to these feelings.  I just feel like this trial has re-ignited some of those urges and I am quickly finding myself on a path that leads to addiction.  So, I am being honest with my husband, with my bishop and this week, with my  Stake President.  I have to.  I cannot let myself slip into the same nightmare that my husband has been living in.  I am too important and I have too much work to do in this life to be wrapped in the endless chains of sexual fantasy.

Sidenote: I know this is terrible and I don't want to find myself on this sinister path but it has been beneficial in one way.  I have more empathy for my husband.  I am beginning to better understand the urges and the pull of pornography and then acting out.  Though I am no where near playing at the level he was at, I can now better understand what he was going through.

Pray for me friends...and if you have any words of advice, feel free to offer them!

Friday, April 11, 2014

My addiction story part 6

Part 6 of His Story
We arrived at the Stake building and were greeted by the stake president.  He invited us directly into his office. As we walked through the doorway I immediately took stock of the room. To my left sat the apostle. To his left sat his traveling companion and there sitting in the chair that used to belong to the Stake president was a man I had become familiar with over the past several years. He was the bishop of one of the other wards in the stake. Seeing him in that chair filled me with an instant relief. If he was sitting there, then I was safe from that call.  Maybe this wouldn't be so bad.
As I approached the seat nearest the apostle I turned to the new Stake President and said out loud “I am so happy to see you sitting in that seat right now”.

We all laughed for a moment and then the apostle took control of the meeting. He looked at me and said, “ Brother Arnold, we would like to issue you a calling but before I can do that I need to ask you a couple of questions.First, are you worthy to hold your current temple recommend?

I looked him in the eyes and lied. ”Yes of course I am.”.

“Good Thank you. The second question is, is there anything in your life that might embarrass me or the church?”

I responded quickly with a “No, Of course not”.

I felt myself dying inside. I felt like any second he was going to call my bluff, that he might share with me that he knew I was a sinner and it was time to come clean.  But he didn't.

Instead he said, “Sister Arnold, Is this a good man?” I suddenly felt buried by a life time of lies.  I thought I was anything but a “Good Man.”  I believed I was the complete opposite. The crushing weight intensified as she said, “Yes, he is one of the best”.

Then the apostle said, “Brother Arnold, the new stake president has asked that you serve as his second Counselor.  Will you accept this calling to serve in this role?”.

I simply said, “Yes. I would be honored”.

Over the next 2 days we sat in training with the apostle. Each and every minute I smiled and played my part but privateIy I was still waiting for the moment when he revealed my secret to all.  I was tortured by the thought that my evil was going to slip out. I’m going to mess up and say something to tip him off that I don't belong in this room with these righteous men.  It never happened.  Two days of training and meetings came and went and my sickness never showed it’s face.

Finally, he gathered all of us together with our families to be set apart. The 2 of them were taking turns acting as voice to each blessing. I was hoping that it would not be the apostle setting me apart but since they were alternating, and I was 3rd to be done, it fell to him.

As he placed his hands on my head. I went numb. He and the other men would have to be in tune.  They would have to feel my guilt and shame.  They would certainly discover my lies and deceit and immoral thoughts and actions.  I had long since turned the lever on my view master to the ‘righteous leader’ setting. But I felt as if I was about to be outed, and in front of all these people.  Instead,  I received a beautiful and powerful blessing. This blessing felt so specific to me. It did not call out my  weaknesses but instead spoke of my strengths. It built me up and offered encouragement. It spoke of many of my unique talents and abilities and challenged me to use them in helping to teach and grow the stake.

When all was over, I sat there in awe. This was a blessing from my Father in Heaven by the hand of an apostle and he spoke specific things to me. The Lord was trying to tell me that He knows me. If ever there was a moment to recognize my sin, it was now. If ever I felt the need to unload it all, it was now.  My guilt was heavy and my shame was heavier but neither of them could equal the size of my pride. So great was my pride that I dare not let go of my weakness or sins. I could never ever share my sins. Not now. I am a trusted leader of the stake. I have now successfully lied to an apostle of God. I was surely doomed to hell. Hell might be awful but it could not be worse then the embarrassment and shame it would bring upon myself, my family, and the leadership of the church if I dared to speak of my double life as a slave to sin. I could do this. I had already been clean from acting out for a few months now. I would serve with all my heart and prove that I am willing to serve the Lord.

I vowed that this would be my restart and that I would never let myself fall into that trap again. I could be good.  I could Be strong and then, once I had been clean long enough, I would go to the Lord in my own private prayer and repent of everything. It would be between me and the Lord and as long as I had stopped the habit, He would of course forgive me… right?.. right?

Time went by and for several months I did very good. I felt strong, I felt unbeatable. It was one of the highest moments in my life. The men I was serving with were amazing. Every meeting was a chance to feel of their spirit and be trained in the administration of the Gospel. I loved my assignment to work with the youth. They were a huge inspiration to me. How did they do it? How did they face the adversary daily at school? How did they confront him and come out unscathed? They were 14 or 15 years old and they were winning. I enjoyed being a part of many wonderful events and loved the opportunity to serve in this way.

But, as you might imagine, I became overconfident again.  Without a full confession, without a support group, and without help…… I could not last.  And so again, over time the draw sucked me back in.  It started with viewing a little bit of pornography in my private time.  I was horrified by my error and pushed it away…. for a time.  But having given in once, it came much easier the next time and then easier and easier until I found that I was again chatting with women online, manipulating videos and indulging in my habit of viewing porn.

After a few weeks I felt empty. Sadly, it wasn’t because of the garbage I had been shoveling in to me, but because I felt I was still not finding what I needed to feed my depravity anymore. What I was finding and viewing was no longer meeting my needs. I needed something more!  There must be something else to satisfy this hunger.

One day while searching an online classifieds web site for junk to buy, I noticed a category titled ‘personals’. I had read the personals in the newspaper and knew that there could be many different kinds of ads posted there.  My interest was peaked and I decided to read the posts.  I discovered that there were many people both men and women that were looking for someone to spend time with. One category was dedicated to those that were just looking for someone to have a sexual encounter with and nothing more. In reading the ads, I found that all of my triggers were firing. These were real people, right near my home. They wanted to discreetly meet up.

I never ever wanted to betray my vows or covenants so to answer these ads was not an option but oh, how they made my mind run with fantasies. This became my new drug; reading the personals.

Then one day I decided to answer a couple of ads. It seemed harmless enough. After all, I had chatted with countless women over the years and never met them. I just chatted with them and flirted with them and allowed it to become an online pen pal for my lusts. Why would this be any different?  The responses were pretty much nothing. And worse, those that did respond wanted to see a picture to decide if It was worth continuing. So I did like I always did and gave them a fake picture. Before long they would start to ask if I wanted to meet.

Wooooah!!.. that was not part of the package. Besides, I gave them a picture of someone else. So I was safe. I would never ever meet them as they would surly know I was lying. I would delete them and start over the next day with someone new.

But the idea of meeting someone began to be the most prominent fantasy of all. I would always push it away because I could never let that happen. If I'm just looking at porn, and even chatting, then I have still not done anything  that can’t be reconciled. But to meet someone.. even if it was just to meet.. that would be a real breaking of my vows. I would never do it.  At least that is what I kept telling myself.

But with those fantasies playing out in my mind, I decided that perhaps this time I would send my real picture instead. The thought both excited me and scared me at the same time.  What if they know me? I had decided to protect myself by only answering ads from a city 2 hours away. This seemed logical. I would certainly be safe from recognition this way and this also meant it was too far for me to act on my desires. In this way, my rationalization continued.

I answered an ad and began to chat with a woman who traveled all over the state for work.  We chatted and flirted for about 2 weeks. I thought this would be like any other conversation. I would manipulate her into playing with me and then I would delete her and move on….. except it didn't happen that way at all.  She was on the hunt it seemed and no matter how I tried to deflect her, she was not going to give up.  Soon she began to insist that we meet.

I was ready to delete and run.  I really should have. Her invitation to meet should have been the red flag but all of a sudden I was seeing a fantasy come to life before my eyes. It was playing on a loop in my head over and over and over. I was so weak in my resolve, and she was willing.. even without my manipulation. I found myself completely torn. Should I do what my head wants or what my heart wants?

I began to let the idea of a meeting linger and work in my mind. I imagined it as an innocent meeting.. simple lunch or coffee shop… nothing more.  But I was too afraid.  I was too worried to get caught, too nervous to lose everything,  too uncertain if I really wanted to open that door, even if it was going to simply be innocent.

I should have gone invisible. I should have simply said no and been done…..but I didn’t.  The lure was too strong. This was the closest I had ever come to seeing one of the fantasies that had been bouncing and plotting and performing in my mind.  The guilt became unbearable.  I tried to distance myself from her. That’s when the pangs and urges and hungers and fantasies and thoughts became stronger and more vivid.  I was fighting what I felt to be an unbeatable battle.  I wanted both things so badly…. not to do it.. and to do it.

Ultimately the urges and needs took over and I arranged to meet her.  The first meeting was supposed to take place at a coffee shop in my home town. I hated this idea.  It was too close to home. I was petrified but we scheduled the appointment time.  She arrived on time…I did not. I let the time slip by.  I drove over.  I even sat outside the coffee shop in my car trying to work up the courage but I couldn't get out of my seat.  Finally I texted her and told her that I just couldn’t do this and that I was sorry to waste her time.

Again, I should have deleted.  I should have made it go away but again, the urge and drive and the ability to flirt and chat so freely continued to draw me in. I was like a moth to a flame.   We continued to email and text and a 2nd meeting was set.

Scared out of my mind, I went and met her at a coffee shop. We chatted for about 20 minutes about nothing at all. I just wanted out of there. I couldn't believe what I was doing. I never in my life planned to sit with a woman alone. That was breaking a cardinal rule. I wanted to run from that place. I couldn't wait for the meeting to be over.

At the end of our chat she said, “I still want to do this.”   I said, “Do what?”  She said,  “You know… hook up.”

I was a little taken back.. she was so forward about it. She too was married. She told me that she had cheated on her husband several times and she liked me.

I said, “ok, well...I'm not sure that I still want to do that.  I was a lot of talk in the emails, but I never intended to actually betray my wife… and my marriage."  Meeting her was the most I would ever do.

We parted and I felt like I handled it well.  She was out of town for a few days and I thought she had lost interest. I felt good.  I had passed the test.  I was strong enough to say no.  I was wrong on all counts.

She came to town again and texted me saying,  “I'm here for a few hours and thought maybe we could meet to chat on my lunch break.”

I had already met with her once and had been strong.  I could do it again…. couldn't I?
The battle raged again. The draw to meet her was painful. I was so engulfed by desire that I had decided in that moment to simply stop thinking and just go with it.  I shut my brain off completely to the influence of the spirit, not that I had felt it lately at all anyway, and made a conscious effort to keep from feeling shame and I forged ahead.

We met at a little park on the other side of town where I felt no one would recognize me. We sat and talked for a while on a park bench. After some more casual chat and flirting she said, “You know you want to meet me alone sometime don't you.”  I didn't… but I did.

Never in my life have I had some one throwing themselves at me. The allure was too much.  It was the substance of all my fantasies. It was images that played in my mind over and over for years. This particular woman had nothing to do with it at all. But my porn addiction had always been filled with imaginations of this type. After all, what was pornography doing for me if not constantly feeding me with the idea that this exact occasion could happen in real life? It made me want it to happen in real life. It set me up for it so that when I was presented with it, I would be weak and unable to say no.

The adversary knows us so well. He tricks us into thinking that porn is just a visual medium.   We come to feel that looking at it hurts no one but ourselves, that taking it from viewing to chatting is no harm. As long as it is online or just a meeting alone it’s okay.  When you have subjected yourself to that kind of willful invasion of your soul for that long, then there is no question what your response will be when the actual situation  presents itself.

Again, this time I somehow found enough strength to say..”I don’t think its going happen”.

Over the next few days she began emailing me pictures of her.  I was allowing myself to completely let down my guard.  The temptations were stronger and the urges almost impossible to ignore.

Finally, after a couple of weeks of back and forth she told me she had reserved a hotel room an hour out of town and wanted me to come and meet her there in the morning. I was absolutely terrified. I wanted to go but I knew I couldn't.  I knew what might happen if I did.

She reassured me that we wouldn't have to do anything but chat if that is all I wanted to do.  With this in mind, I gave up completely and in my delusional state thought, “Okay, we will just chat in her room.  Nothing can hurt me if we just chat.”

Quick Digression…. I remember years ago hearing Gordon B Hinkley share a story about a young Indian brave. I love this story and have embellished it a bit with my own thoughts. A young Indian brave had come of age and was to prove he was a man. The test came in his ability to journey to the top of a nearby mountain and return with some shrubbery from the top to prove he had completed his quest.

As he traveled, he came across a poisonous snake. The story goes that the snake spoke to the boy and said “I am so tired and want so badly to climb to the top of this mountain and bask in the warmth of the sun upon the rocks. Please pick me up and carry me to the top of the mountain.  I am too weak to make it on my own.” The boy considered this for a moment and said “No, I know what you are. You are a poisonous snake. You will surely bite me and leave me to die upon the mountain top.” The Snake said, “No, I will not bite you. I promise you I will keep you safe from my venom. If you will simply carry me to the top, you will see that I will keep you company and be your friend. We will arrive at the top and you will have stories to tell the other Braves about how you carried the snake to the top.”

The boy considered this for a moment and then decided that he would make the snake his companion. He picked up the snake and it coiled itself up on his shoulder. They traveled together to the top. The snake and the boy talked and laughed and he began to feel very comfortable with the snake. He even felt as if they were becoming friends. After the long journey, they crested the final ridge and saw the gorgeous view presented at the top of the mountain. He reached a resting place and lowered the snake to the ground. The boy turned to survey the view and in that brief respite, heard the snake spring out towards him strike him hard in the leg.

The boy collapsed from the pain of the venom as it coursed through his veins and turned to the snake with tears running down his cheeks he said, “Why? Why did you strike me? You promised me I would be safe.  You made me believe we were friends. Why did you bite me knowing I would be left to die here at the top of the mountain?” The snake answered with a slither in his voice by simply saying, ”You knew what I was when you picked me up”  The snake slithered away and the young Indian brave was left to die on the mountain.

I always think of this story when I consider my choice to make that decision.  We will just chat… in her room.  Nothing can hurt me if we just chat…. (You knew what I was when you picked me up!)

I went.  I went in a complete and total state of numbness.  I knew what I was about to do.  I knew that chatting might happen at first but I knew what my fantasies and desires had conjured up already.  I was driving to my destruction.  I felt it deep in my soul and I couldn't turn around. I wouldn't.  I had convinced myself that this was what I needed to fill the hunger and part of me still thought I could be strong.

I wasn't.   In one short hour I had given up my soul. I knew it in that moment. I had just condemned myself to hell.  I had taken everything most sacred to me and thrown it away. I learned just how much I hated myself as I drove home that day.  I knew it because I said it over and over audibly in the car. It was that day that I realized I was too far gone to be saved.  I drove home alone in silence riddled with guilt and shame and knowing that in a few short hours, I would have to give the performance of my life as I looked my wife in the eyes and lied to her.  I had never felt more low or more disgusted with myself.  No one had ever hated me more than I did that day.

It occurred to me for the first time ever that I had actually become just like the one person that I held the least amount of respect for in the Dad.  I hated myself. I hated that I had betrayed my wife, my children my covenants, my God. I realized that I must be beyond saving for I had just done the most horrific thing I could do to my wife and still I wanted to hide it. I wanted to never tell her.  I had just permanently destroyed our happily ever after. I was leaving her without any life preserver as she floated free, still believing that our eternity was secure.  But it was not… I had ruined it.

And so yes, for the first time I began to believe there was no repentance for me. I could never tell. I would keep my wife for this life and have my kids for now knowing that I would have to lose them forever in the next. I was miserable.

This woman contacted me again within a couple days… letting me know that she would have the room for two more nights and would I like to meet her in two days time? I never wanted to see her again. I wanted to delete and run.  I wanted to tell her to never contact me again but all it took was one day to forget my pain and begin fantasizing again.  Besides, I had already relegated myself to hell.  The damage was done so how much more could I do?

I went and visited her one more time.  Afterwards,  the shame hit even heavier than the first time.  The guilt and pain and disappointment in myself came with force and weight.

I knew I was too weak to withstand the invitations and flirtations. I was so completely broken that I did not feel I had any will power left. My only option was to vanish. I had to disappear so that I could never find her again and she could never find me.  I Immediately deleted her from my life. My fake name and fake emails offered me exactly the escape route I needed.

I went into hiding.  I knew I could never tell of this. I could never confess it.  I knew I would die with this sin. But I thought I could start now and perhaps stop everything.  I could make an effort to prove I wanted to change my life. This was the bottom after all. I had gone as low as I could go hadn't I?

I became so desperate to never give in again. But I wasn't desperate enough to confess. You may ask yourself… why? If this was the bottom, if the guilt and shame were so heavy, why not get out from under it and rescue myself once and for all? My answer is not profound or deep. It is very simple and is summed up in one small word :Pride. Here I was, serving in the stake presidency, a former bishop, respected father, husband, neighbor and businessman. How could I admit to such a disgusting and horrible thing?  I had just broken my sacred covenants to my wife. I had become convinced that she would leave me. I was certain I would lose my family. And could you imagine the scandal within our stake? How would we ever recover? Of course I also took a more ‘Godly’ approach.  What of those I had counseled over the years? How would they respond?  Would they suddenly feel my counsel was of no value? Would my confession bring about the loss of testimony or cause doubt in others? I convinced myself that all of these outcomes were not only possible but likely. Therefore I could not and would not ever divulge the truth. I would have to take it to my grave.  

I was clean for a long time…. many months in fact.  I again became determined to not fall backwards and I set myself on a course to at least looking and sounding like a righteous leader, even if I couldn't be one for real.  I could play the part.

This may have also been the first time that I allowed myself to begin doubting the church.  It wasn’t in any major sort of way but I would begin griping about the amount of time required of me to attend so many meetings. I would complain about procedure. I even began to feel that my callings required me to put on an act and pretend to be righteous.  Of course this last fact was true… at least for me. So, with this horrific sin behind me, I continued to serve in my assignments. I still loved the men I served with. They were my strength and my pillars. I trusted and loved them. I felt we could talk about anything…. well almost anything that is.

Sadly, over time,  those little thoughts began to play themselves over in my mind. I began to have doubts about things that I would have never questioned only months before. They crept in little by little.  They were never enough to send me running, but they were enough to allow me to let my guard down and before long, even while serving in the stake presidency, I let the darkness back into my heart.  I should clarify.  I didn’t let it back in as it was already there because it had never been expelled.  No, what I did was uncover it from its hiding place and I again began to allow myself to indulge in my favorite past time and addiction of pornography, breaking my streak and sending me back into the world of darkness that I had become so comfortable with.