I first heard Dave’s story in 2014 and it was amazing. I apologize that this episode is so long, but his story is amazing. I just couldn’t edit anything out. I hope you take the chance to listen to his whole story—there is so much openness and wisdom to gain from Dave’s journey.
Dave was raised LDS in a small town and, like most of us, ran into pornography randomly when he found a magazine with some friends. This did something emotionally for Dave. Dave knew what he was doing was wrong, but didn’t really connect everything together. Also, like most of us, Dave ran into a number of things in his childhood years that made him feel less-than and shame. For example, Dave shares how he did not have nice clothes and was made fun of for the way he looked. These themes and challenges led to him becoming somewhat of an outsider and introduced him to the drug culture.
In high school Dave started to smoke pot and start sexually acting out. By the time Dave was in his early twenties he had found his drug of choice: meth. He also experienced a big emotional difficulty when his younger brother died. Dave took his brother’s death as his fault for not being a good example, which put him deeper in shame. His sexual addiction and drug addiction were big addictions that continued to run his life. At one point in time, Dave robbed a grocery store with his girlfriend. He spent time in and out of prison and went through different sexual relationships that were toxic and unhealthy.
However, a big turning point for Dave was the second time he went to rehab. He talks about how in rehab two big things finally stuck with him. First, he had to be accountable and quit shifting blame to others or circumstances. He finally wanted to be accountable for himself and his life. A book that really helped was, Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself, by Melody Beattie. Second, as Dave would say, “Leaning into the wind.” Meaning, if you stand there the wind (difficult emotions and experiences) will just knock you over. However, if you lean into the wind by being unafraid and face those difficult emotions and experiences head on, you do path through them. It had also become clear to Dave that he did indeed have a sexual addiction, not just drug addiction. This made all the difference for Dave.
Another important thing to highlight in Dave’s story is how his parents reacted. Throughout his entire drug-using years his parents always met him with unconditional love. His mom used to leave him letters on his pillow bearing testimony of Christ and her love for Dave. They would let him come live at home every time he would be dusting himself off and looking to get clean. After being a year and half sober of drugs, Dave moved from his small town to Salt Lake to pursue college and move on in life.
This is when he met his wife. She knew of his history and that he still struggled with sexual addiction. This helped him and his marriage, as they hit some rough spots during continued recovery. At one point he came into prescription pills and again relapsed. He was a congregational leader in his men’s group at the time of this relapse and it hit his wife really hard. Dave got put on formal probation at his church. At this point, Dave and his wife had already been going to a sexual addiction recovery program and doing 12 Step. Again, Dave and his wife found a key recovery component: leaning into the wind and having accountability. For Dave’s wife, it was realizing that it wasn’t her job to change him. In their marriage, Dave had several rounds of relapse with both drug and sexual addiction. However, being completely honest and continuing to work recovery allowed for the full change to happen.
Today, Dave is still accountable and honest; still leans into the winds in his life. But he doesn’t let shame define him anymore. He’s let a lot of those feelings go and given them to Christ. He talks about becoming honest about all of these feelings and truly accepting his story. This includes letting his wife go through her own process, not just trying to fix things so she won’t be mad. He doesn’t know his exact date of sobriety but it’s somewhere around 7-8 years. Addiction isn’t something Dave thinks about everyday or something he worries about all the time. His marriage is a place of growth, joy, and connection. He is humble, honest, open and broken, not perfect.
I imagine if we all could have met Dave as a meth addict in his early twenties, it would have been expected for all of us to write him off as a lost cause. I first heard Dave’s story five years ago. Hearing it again five years later, it’s the same amazing story. His wife came and shared with him then and she’s in a great place too. You can see the trust and love between them. Dave currently services in his bishopric (congregational leadership), has a busy job, and is raising kids. However, his addiction is not a part of his life anymore. His story is a reminder that none of us in addiction are outside of God’s reach and healing power.
Unashamed & Unafraid
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