Name Withheld is a prolific contributor of sad, embarrassing, and painful articles to other sources like STD Digest, Modern Train Aficionado, and Ensign. He also reports on Middle Eastern drone attacks under the name "sources who could not be identified because of the sensitivity of information," and he has written thousands of lousy poems and given hundreds of so-so paintings to museums under the names “Anonymous” and “Anonymous Donor.” As this story would hurt his wife deeply, he chooses to remain anonymous. Read his other guest posts here.
1. I could not do it on my own: Before I joined ARP, I tried to overcome my addiction on my own. I tried everything—reading my scriptures more, praying more, seeing the Bishop (many times), going to the temple, home teaching (yes, even that!), reading books, doing missionary work, studying Isaiah (I figured that the answer must be in there somewhere). I remember one month when I fasted every Sunday, but by Wednesday I had relapsed. What I discovered from this is that I could not do it on my own.
2. For me the keys were compassion and community: What I found in ARP was compassion. To be with people who knew the worst about me, who knew how defeated and ashamed I felt and how broken I was and who still loved and supported and even admired me was amazing. In ARP I found a community where my burden was lighter because it was shared. I also found the deep satisfaction of extending compassion to others. I discovered that it really is not good for man or woman to be alone. To the degree that my addiction made me feel isolated and alone, ARP helped me feel connected in bonds of compassion. It was like cool rain on parched desert soil.
3. It is NOT about repentance: One thing that kept me back from the program was thinking that it was really just about repentance. I figured I could repent on my own; I didn't need a program for that. I had the erroneous idea that the core of the program is repentance or "really getting a broken heart and a contrite spirit" or learning about the Atonement. I learned nothing new about repentance from ARP. I had had a broken heart and contrite spirit many, many times before. And I did not discover anything new about the Atonement. The steps mirror repentance and one might feel more of the Savior's love, but that is not what ARP offered me.
4. You do not have to talk: ARP does not require any sort of confession. When one attends, you can read from the manual if you'd like and speak if you'd like, but you never have to say anything. At all. It is not like the typical images of Alcoholics Anonymous. You will never have to confess anything or talk about your addiction at all. Some people find it useful to speak and relay elements of their struggle, but no one is ever required to in any way.
5. There are many different people with struggles in ARP: You might be surprised who you see there—old, young, new in the church, a long time in the church, men, women, etc. Some struggle with what we traditionally think of as addictions. Some struggle with the lasting effects of "addictive" or unhealthy relationships.
6. Yes, it is frightening to go the first time: I have a substantial fear of the water, and going to ARP for the first time was like jumping off of the high dive. I only went because the pain of my addiction trumped my fear.
7. Help, Peace, Love, and the beginning of an ending of one’s addiction are on the other side of that first meeting: Just on the other side of that door to that first meeting were blessings that the Lord had for me. Frightening though it was, it was the beginning of the end.