Tuesday, June 28

Addiction Recovery Program

I went to an addiction recovery program meeting. My first one for me. I've been a couple times in the past - helping to support others in their addictions - but never for myself. Never for real.

The Addiction Recovery Program is based on AA - Alcoholics Anonymous - and is run by senior missionaries for the Church. At its core, the program is simple: weekly anonymous support meetings for those looking for healing, help, and hope. It follows 12 steps, just like AA, but approaches the addiction recovery process from a gospel perspective that takes advantage of a relationship with God and Church support.

But it's more than that. It's an opportunity to be open, honest, and candid with others who get it. It's an opportunity to listen to the miracles that happen in the lives of other people and to see the hand of God touch them. To get help. To feel belonging.

I was stressed about which meeting to choose. Going to the church website for addiction recovery program meetings (https://addictionrecovery.churchofjesuschrist.org/?lang=eng) was overwhelming. There are roughly 6 types of weekly meetings:
  1. For both men and women
  2. For men
  3. For women
  4. For family members
  5. For men, specifically for pornography
  6. For women, specifically for pornography

I found one for men & pornography at a time and place not far from where I live. I didn't know what to expect, so I emailed the coordinator and he gave me some basic directions. Introduce yourself with just your first name, don't feel obligated to say anything.

I got there a few minutes early and waited in my car. The room was changed, but easy to find... so I was the first one there. 

Meetings are built on both anonymity and trust - something I want and understand, so I'm definitely not going to go into detail about people or the things they shared. 

But my personal experience hit me.

We had an opportunity to share something positive in our lives - a tender mercy - if we wanted to. We read the 12 steps, then read the details of one specific step a paragraph at a time. Some people shared their thoughts on the step itself. Then we moved into the sharing portion, where we had the opportunity to share our own experiences.

And this is where it hit me.


Hey. My name is David.

The other guys: "Hey David."

I'm a recovering addict, from X.
This is day ###.

(Claps from the other guys)

And then I was able to honestly talk about me. My life. My issues this past week. The up, the down, the places I saw God and the places I struggled. Without fear of anyone thinking I was weird. Without fear of someone getting angry because I hadn't shared before. Just simple acceptance from a group of strangers who will be there next week to cheer me on.

Thanks I'm David

"Thanks David"

I didn't know what to say about my addictions. I wasn't really sure of the definitions, or the days, and to be honest I felt inadequate and alone.

I didn't know anyone. I wasn't sure of myself. But as I listened and watched and felt, I felt something there in that room that has only rarely happened before.

I felt like I belonged.

Here's a handful of guys who want God in their lives. Who are willing to own up to their inadequacies and sometimes talk about them. Who have their own lives, their own struggles, their own motivation, but once a week they come together into a room and bare a piece of their souls, "This is Day 1," or like the guy who did a 5th Sunday Meeting in my ward, "This is day 3000 and something."

There was something powerful there. A sense of camaraderie, a sense of hope, and the simple presence of God there reminding us all that He cares. It's the feeling I've always craved from Elder's Quorum and other meetings. 

Complete safety. Complete belonging. Completely someplace ok for me to be me.

I don't know anyone in the group. And anything they said, like most everything people say thanks to autism, disappears from my memory overnight. But there is something powerful about the fact that I can come again a week later, and see some of the same faces. Listen again to their lives, applaud the hope they have for themselves, be there for them and them for me. I find myself hoping that all of us will be able to add more days to our counts and wanting to keep them in my prayers.

They'll probably never read this. But thanks guys, for being there for me.

And to any of you here at (G)MG. Anyone who has ever lived with addiction - whether it's pornography or sex or video games or anything at all, far in the past or still in the present - I'll make a rare invitation.

Try it.

You don't have to be a member of the Church. You don't have to be a faithful member of the Church. You don't have to commit to going every week. You don't have to say anything at all. 

But try it.

Look up a meeting online. Find one close to you, or find one that offers videoing in if that isn't possible (I saw some offered that). Email the coordinator if you're stressed about it. Download the Addiction Recovery Program manual on the Gospel Library app, or get one for a couple dollars at a distribution center. Go, for yourself, and really be present.

And hopefully, your experience will be like mine... and you'll find a place where you can be yourself, surrounded by people who can support you week after week, in a place where God resides.

Sunday, June 26

Ask Him for Miracles

 Is it ok to just write here? I think it is, right? Sometimes I worry about writing the "right" thing. Something that's meaningful, impactful, something that can reach out and be worth your time.

I guess I worry about you a lot. The people who find (G)MG and spend your moments here reading. Something made you come here - whether it's something as light as wanting to hear about my life... or as deep as wanting hope and help and perspective and hoping that something here will somehow help.

And then I feel inadequate.

I mean, right? Who's kidding me. If you get anything from reading here, it probably has nothing to do with me.


Tonight I'm just writing. I'm not going to promise to write more regularly. I am trying to write more, as a coping mechanism for some of the messes inside my head. But I'm not going to make a promise only to forget about it and then break it and not feel bad until I remember it sometime somewhere far in the future when I think about making it again. Some of my thoughts, some of my hopes. 

This week I felt... dead. Different from depression. When I'm depressed, I feel bad about myself. But this time my emotions disappeared completely, and I felt like there was nothing inside me. On the upside, all the bad emotions that have been holding me down disappeared for a day as well. No anxiety, no... anything. So I worked out at the gym. I talked with my parents about the issues in my life for the first time in a long time. My mom knew a therapist from her ward who was able to give references and I'm going to start therapy again. Well, at least try again after going through maybe 15? 20? therapists in the past and feeling a disconnect with all of them. Simply finding someone who can communicate with me, and get where I'm coming from... I don't have high hopes, but then again you can find meaning in the most unreasonable places. That's what (G)MG is right? So why can't I find a therapist that works for me in the same way? 

I started taking supplements and at least one of them gave me crazy dreams and anxiety and insomnia. So maybe I should take it in the morning. Except I designed it to be taken at night. So I'm gonna try it for a week and see if it keeps happening before I switch it up. I don't want to take a slew of pills so it's just 3. A combination supplement with Ashwagandha and other stuff that my family business sometimes makes. Omega 3 krill oil. NACET. It's ironic that I designed supplements so long ago and have the most issues of anyone I know and yet I don't take them regularly. I think it might be the NACET that gives me crazy dreams.

But I also had a conversation with God. Like a real conversation. I talked to Him and told Him everything. That I felt so lost. That I wanted something to be a guiding goal. That I felt so messed after feeling like I had lost the central aspect of my faith. Twice during the conversation someone knocked on my door. Just to tell me they loved me. That only happens when I have intense conversations with God. Yes God, I know You're there. And that You love me and want me to get the message. I knew it already. It's not like I forget. I think. But even You sometimes make a show of love. Like a knocking door in the middle of the night.

We talked, and I thought about what I would want, if I could have anything. Truly Anything anything. If God could do a miracle, or a dozen miracles, what would fix my soul? What would fill my heart?

And I thought of what I want.

It's a lot.

It's more than I have ever felt like I could ask for before. Partly because it's more than I've ever seen someone have. And more than I could ever accomplish in a handful of lifetimes. I calculated, and playing with the stuff I've got, I'm pretty sure it would be tough.

So we talked. I asked God for a handful of miracles. And then I started to figure out what I should do on my side.

Reality: nothing I do will really make a difference when it comes to what I'm asking for. Saving a couple of cents will never bring world peace. That's the difference I see in scope.

But that's how my past conversations with God have gone. He asks me to be better. To push myself. To do things that I wouldn't normally do. To be a person that I wouldn't normally be. And He fills in everything else.

So I have a list of things I feel like I need to do. Stuff that, as soon as I asked God for miracles, I knew I had to do on my side.

And I'm doing them.

And I'm already seeing stuff.

I mean I went to a potluck tonight with like 800 people. I knew maybe 3 of them. I sat at an empty table, left to grab food, and when I got back there were a bunch of other people. And 4 of them have adult kids with autism. And wanted to talk about it.


Autism in 2000 was around 1:150. Which means in a group of 800, there are around 5 who are autistic, assuming they have half a dozen close family members, maybe 30 max would have autistic kids. That 4 out of those 30 would sit at my table, just by percentage... yeah I don't remember percentage calculations. 8 spots at the table. 100 tables. 799 people could sit next to me. There's less than a 30% chance that one would sit at the table... let alone one.

So as I tried to be social, I found myself surrounded by people who wanted to listen to me. Who gave me an easy role to play. Who asked me more questions than I wanted to answer, but who really wanted to know the answers. One of the roles I know, one of the things I can do. And, yet again, I knew that God cared.


I'm here. I'm trying. I'm wanting to be a better guy. I'm putting myself in the right places. And He's here right beside me.

I have to get confirmation on my goals before I share them here. I want to go to the temple and feel like they're ok to ask for before I put them on the internet. Before I tell all of you what I'm wanting. Because maybe it's what I've wanted for forever, but I haven't been willing to want it for real. Or maybe I haven't been able to believe it was possible.

And it probably isn't. Yet miracles happen , right? And if I've learned anything at all from my conversations with God, it's that I don't expect enough. I ask for little miracles. But not the ones that would change my existence forever.

So do it.

Whether you're me as a kid, looking for hope when you feel all alone, or me today looking for meaning and hope when everything feels lost.

Talk with God. Tell Him everything.

Commit to changing. To doing anything He asks.

And then ask Him for miracles.