We recently had our first-ever SA Lifeline Mother’s topic study meeting. I was very happy to see this group get started. As a mother of two sons whose lives have been seriously affected by pornography use, I know the fear, pain, regret, and loss that come with that sorrowful experience. They are now young adults and have spent more than half their lives struggling with pornography. Attending an SAL 12 Step group and working the 12 Steps at home have helped me find peace while I wait for them to want to do the work to find their own recovery.
Many years ago, I realized that the emotions of finding that a child is involved with pornography can follow the same process of grieving the death of a loved one. This makes sense, since in both cases we suffer the loss of something very precious. At the time, it helped me to list these emotions to validate what I was feeling and what I hoped the process of healing would be:
You can see that the end goal is hope. So for our very first mother’s meeting, I decided we should begin with the end in mind, as Steven Covey would say.
What is hope, anyway? Hope is a confident expectation of happiness to come.
“The things we hope for are often future events . . . The things we hope in sustain us during our daily walk.” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Infinite Power of Hope, Ensign, Nov. 2008.) We can hope for a full recovery from addiction and a restoration of happy times. We can hope in the everyday blessings of life, good friends, and God’s undiminishing care. Even while our loved ones continue to struggle, we can hope for happy things to come into our lives through the grace and love of God.
“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16: 33
Learning a better way to “Help”
As mothers, what do we want to accomplish? Before working the 12 Steps, I would have said I want to “help” (in other words, compel, enforce and require) my sons to quit using pornography. Now I have a better goal, one that is actually in my control: I work to feel hope, as well as peace, love, spiritual strength, comfort, and positive energy in my family life.
This is obviously a happier way for me to live, but it is also the best way to truly help my family. I’m pretty sure that if they usually sense disappointment and sorrow directed at them, they will keep their distance from me. I can’t have any influence on them if we don’t have a good relationship. When I am peaceful, loving, spiritually grounded, comforting, and positive, my family is more likely to want to be around me. Instead of trying to push them on to recovery, I can do better at drawing them in closer where they feel loved by someone who knows their worth. Emotional stability can be a rock for our children. Someday when they decide they want to be happier, I hope they will turn to my husband and I because they have seen us live in a happy, peaceful way in spite of our challenges. They might even accidentally ask for advice (hope lives!).
I love this thought from Sarah Ban Breathnach: “What if you began to expect the best from any situation? Isn’t it possible that you could write new chapters in your life with happy endings? Suspend your disbelief. Take a leap of faith. You’ll discover, much to your amazement and delight, that such blessings have been waiting patiently for you to claim them all along.” After so many years of seeing no progress, hope sometimes starts to fade like a cut rose. But with God at my center, hope stays fresh and I can imagine the day when my sons can say they are free and happy.