Wipe My Sins and Tears Away
My name is Ryan, and I have been addicted to pornography, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, meth, ecstasy, mushrooms, prescription pills, and tobacco.
When I was 13, I became addicted to pornography. Being addicted to pornography at such a young age caused me to feel empty and confused. I started to live a second life. I lived one life that was full of Boy Scout activities and sports like football, wrestling, swimming, track, and my favorite sport, baseball. The other life was a secret life engulfed in looking at pornography.
When I was a high school freshman, I got cut from the baseball team because the coaches told me I was too small. When I got cut, I didn’t know who I was anymore—baseball was my life. I also had a teacher who told me I would never amount to anything, which made me feel completely worthless. My feelings of worthlessness worsened and worsened until one night I decided to take my own life. As I was getting ready to commit suicide, the Spirit told me to stop immediately. I did stop, but instead of seeking help, I decided to use prescription drugs to drown out my pain and confusion. I was already addicted to pornography, and now I also had an addiction to pills. And that’s where my journey with addictions began.
By the time I was 17, I was addicted to alcohol, drugs, and the partying lifestyle. I also consistently watched pornography, which made me feel even more terrible. My friends were bad influences and I was always in tempting environments where the Spirit couldn’t stay with me. My identity became someone who partied, drank, and did other immoral things.
As my addictions grew stronger, I distanced myself more and more from the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was raised in the Church but chose to not be affiliated anymore. However, when I turned 21, I started dating a girl I knew from high school. We both battled addictions and we both knew we needed to change. We started going back to church together and started trying to quit our addictions. I also started attending institute classes to give myself the spiritual connection to God that I was missing for so long. I finally felt like I had gotten a handle on my addictions.
I married my girlfriend and my life was looking up—until two years later. My wife and I had a newborn baby and a new business and I was going to school. I was also working out of town a lot at a youth facility for troubled teenage boys. To top it off, my wife and I were struggling financially, and the stress of it all was weighing on me like the weight of the world. After a long day’s work at the facility, my coworkers would go to the bar to wind down. I started joining them, and shortly afterward I began again my addictions to alcohol and chewing tobacco. I found myself hanging around the same bad, tempting environments I loved before—the environments where my addictions flourished.
I hid the drinking and drugs from my wife for a while. Then one day she told me she had started drinking again and I confessed that I had too. We started drinking together, and I got into further addictions like spice, bath salts, and prescription drugs. I started selling bath salts and spice to smoke shops.
It wasn’t until my wife stayed up drinking for seven days straight that both of our families held an intervention and told us we needed help. They told me to quit my drug-selling business, but I was reluctant. My wife started attending the Addiction Recovery Program meetings and asked that I go with her, even threatening divorce if I didn’t go, but I was still too prideful and bitter and didn’t think I needed the meetings. I had been court-ordered to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and other 12-step groups before, and they had never worked. Finally, though, I recognized that I needed help when I realized that I couldn’t go one day without drinking or doing drugs.
I started going to the Addiction Recovery Program meetings. I liked the 12-step handbook, but I was still struggling with wanting to go back to my old lifestyle. I prayed to God for the first time in years and asked Him to give me something—anything—that would distract me from the desire to use and sell drugs. I got a prompting that I should call my old boss. When I called him, he told me that he had been looking for an employee to come with him to Boston for a few months to work on a project. I counseled with God and felt that it was right, so we left the next day.
In Boston I read through the 12-step guide of the Addiction Recovery Program multiple times. I also read through the Book of Mormon for the first time and gained a testimony of its truth. Boston turned out to be the environment I needed to fully recover from my desire to sell drugs. I left three months later feeling spiritually rejuvenated and replenished.
When I got back to Utah, I started attending the Addiction Recovery Program meetings every day for 90 days. I gained a profound relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. I finally understood that I was never alone. He filled with me with the hope that I could recover and that He had a better life for me. Christ had saved my life when I was a freshman in high school and was now saving it again. I believe with all my heart that attending the Addiction Recovery Program meetings truly saved my life.
Through my healing experiences in the Addiction Recovery Program, I have also been able to help other people. I helped my brother get over his addictions, and now I’m a meeting facilitator. I tell the people I help that they’re not alone—that there are others who know exactly the pain and struggles they’re going through. I tell them that I have felt their loneliness and shamefulness and worthlessness and that no one is too far gone. When I started using the program in my personal life, I came to the realization that Christ is here for me and for everyone, and that He paid for our sins. Our sins are not meant for us to carry around—they’re meant to be repented of and let go.
Unfortunately, my wife still wanted a divorce and so my first marriage ended. But now I am remarried and have another beautiful daughter. Because I have my addictions under control and have a stronger relationship with God, I am a much better husband and father. I’ve learned to take my life one day at a time and offer myself up to the Lord each day. I’ve been able to apply the Atonement to each day of my life, and I am so grateful for its power. It’s one thing to think abstractly about Jesus Christ and His Atonement, but it’s another, much more powerful experience to feel Him wipe your sins and tears away.
I’ve learned that in order to avoid the temptations that make me succumb to my addictions, I need to stand on holy ground and remove myself from bad environments. I trust in my Savior and rely on Him and His strength every day. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).