It’s time for another couple’s journey through all the difficulty that addiction is and finding hope and healing. James and Kristy took 14 years to finally start their real journey with God, but it was worth it. As you read and listen I hope that there are parts of their story that resonate and that you can relate to. Their story is a great example of becoming unashamed about who they are and the mistakes they’ve made and unafraid of really connecting with God and seeing the life He has for them.
James first found pornography at 8 years old. In a more typical type of experience he knew it was wrong, but as he went through his adolescence and teenage years it kept coming up.
James’ father was an alcoholic who he mostly remembers as drunk. Then had a stepfather that was very strict and not emotionally available. He describes his childhood as holding a lot of shame and that he didn’t have a safe place or person to talk to. He did have one friend whom he did talk to about his masturbation issue, but also other friends who helped him find pornography.
“He spoke to me ‘Neither do I condemn thee’, I was the woman in the story, and it lifted all that shame and self-condemnation away from me. All that judgment, self-hatred, and loathing started to be lifted and healed within me. For the first, time I could start to accept myself, even with my weaknesses.” - James
Addiction really took off for James when the Internet came out, which happened right when James got back from his LDS Mission in England. Working at a tech company, pornography addiction started to “sink its teeth in.” During this time, it was happening on a daily and weekly basis. For a while he was working the “try harder” gospel on one side of the dual life and addiction on the other. He was in this state when he met Kristy.
“Sex was how I gauged if I was loved or accepted.” -James
Kristy was brought up in the Mormon Church but her family wasn’t really that into God. As she became a teenager she started to move away from a life with God. When she and James met she had started on a path of making changes in her life to get closer to God. When they got married she disclosed her own past and gave James the opportunity to be honest about his demons. To James’ credit he was honest about his pornography addiction (although at the time he didn’t really know it was an addiction.) They both figured after they got married it wouldn’t be a problem anymore. Like the rest of us, crossing marriage didn’t make the difference.
James and Kristy spent the next 14 years on the rollercoaster of addiction. Sometimes James would tell the truth sometimes he wouldn’t. Even though James was only viewing pornography around every 3 months they talked about how it really damaged their emotional intimacy. Having an alcoholic father who was a mess it was hard for James to think of himself as an addict. His dad was the picture of an addict, not him. They both had shame around seeing this "Occasional" porn use as an addiction.
“The once every three months...the part that sucked about that was it was long enough to make you feel like you did not have that much of a problem with it, but it was often enough to remind you that you had a problem with it.” - James
“Anyone that is a liar knows what a heavy burden that lying is.” - James
One day James felt the temptation coming on and asked God to help him avoid it this time, but again he slipped. This really made him downward spiral. Then he was reading about pornography in a book. On the back of the book was a question asking, “If you have told yourself that you are never going to look at pornography again, and you go back to it, you’re probably an addict.” This was a light blub moment because James believed if he was an addict that meant he could get help. This was the start of their recovery. James and Kristy did group and individual therapy at LifeSTAR. Kristy was not happy about it at first, but found her own journey in healing and self-discovery.
“At some point, when you’ve been hurt repeatedly by the person who is supposed to be the one who loves you the most, it shuts you down emotionally.” -Kristy
James has had some great sobriety and found some big changes in his life with Kristy and his relationship with God. One of the first things that was big for James was embracing full transparency both with Kristy and with himself about his past and who he is now. Honesty is so hard to start doing, but James talked about the heavy the burden of living a lie was. The next big thing for James was working on understanding how much shame he had. Working to recognize and heal from shame was another burden lifted. The other big “ah-ha” moment is when James was really able to reconnect with God on a personal level. For him, he felt his experience with God was like the woman taken in adultery. He finally felt God’s love and acceptance and this was a huge part of removing shame and self-hatred. These experiences also helped him have a greater capacity to love others. He still had some anger with God, asking, “Why did you take so long?” In our post on the Wild at Heart Retreat, James talks about how he was able to get past this anger with God and how God really showed up for him there.
“Wanting not only her to know me, but to start to fully know myself and to start not hiding from my own demons and my past.” - James
“God told me, “I love you right where you are at.” And that was unbelievable to me.” - James
Both James and Kristy have made big changes in recovery and seen some big miracles. They have changes in their happiness, intimacy, and relationship with God. They both talked about how a lot of these changes aren’t easy, but so worth it! They have a new way of life with God that has passion and joy and purpose. I hope you take the opportunity to listen to their story.
“The most beautiful and wonderful things that happen to the human heart are a result of the brokenness. It is the broken heart that God can take and fix. The one that thinks it’s whole, God can’t do a lot with that.” - Kristy
Unashamed & Unafraid
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