I believe this question is aimed at those of us who fear meeting someone to share our inventory with. I must say confessing was terrifying for me. I believe I’ve come a long way.
When I attended my first meeting I was determined to “pass.” As people went around telling their stories and their struggles, I realized these people were like me, addicted to pornography. Likewise, I realized they were not afraid to share their weakness. I felt secure; I felt they wouldn’t judge me. I confessed my sins to them. It was so relieving. It was liberating! The next day and the following day I felt so free. Honesty, coming out of the shadows really helps!
The next step was to confess to my wife. I could not have done it without God. I mean that literally. God inspired my wife to read my journal–where I had written about my addiction and recently started recovery. It was hard, but liberating.
I confessed to priesthood leaders, but because of my pride–my desire to keep an image people had of me alive–I minimized things. I made it seem like my addiction was a habit and that I was just “confessing to complete the cycle of repentance.” I gave them the impression that “everything is under control now, and I haven’t had a relapse in weeks.” I truly mixed truths with lies. Last Tuesday I met with my bishop and finally confessed the truth: Things as they really are (Jacob 4:13) Again, I felt freedom. I felt understood. I felt the shame that accompanies this addiction–perhaps fostered by our Mormon culture of perfectionism and apparent righteousness–was melting down.
I try to live in honesty and always be quick to confess my lapses. It is hard; it brings tears; but it is needed. It helps when I know it is the will of God and that in the long run it will be for the better. It helps me when I strip myself from pride, from thinking I need to maintain a certain image with the people around me (including bishops, sponsor, 12-step-group friends, and wife). I rather live in truth than in lies. I refuse to have a double life.
One last word about confessing. I do not believe in confessing my sins and shortcomings to everyone. I do not confess my sins to people that don’t need to know them. I mingle with friends and relatives. I don’t tell them I am a pornography addict. I may say I am familiar with the 12-step program because of past bad choices, but I need not to go into detail with some people. I trust that God and his Spirit will guide me to truly know the difference between those who need to know and those who don’t.