Beyond The Checklist

037: How Jesus Christ’s Atonement is Helping One Young Woman Heal from Pornography Addiction || Ashlee Ayre


Darla: [00:00:00] Welcome to the spiritually minded women podcast. If you’re a woman who is ready and willing to be a follower of Jesus, you’re in the right place. Join me as we dive in deep to learn how to embrace your journey on the covenant path with checkpoints instead of checklists, I’m your host Darla Trendler, and I’m cheering you on.

Welcome to your journey.

 Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Women podcast. This is Darla. I’m so happy to be back here with you today. Again, thank you for tuning in. I have a guest today. Her name is Ashley Ayre, and I am really excited to introduce you to her and to have her share part of her journey on the covenant path. So Ashley, welcome.

Thank you so much. 

Ashlee: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited. 

Darla: Do you want to just introduce yourself really quickly? Tell everyone a little bit about you. 

Ashlee: I’m Ashley, I’m 20 years old and I am located in Utah Salt Lake City [00:01:00] area. And right now I’m just working. I work at a daycare. I play the piano. I’ve been playing for about 13 years.

I love anything acting. I have a big family. I am the third of eight kids and I’m just trying to figure out life and I found out that I love public speaking, so I’ve been on a bunch of different podcasts trying to share my story and bring light to a lot of issues that teenagers are facing now.

Darla: I’m really glad that you actually reached out to me to come on the podcast. And I was very intrigued by your story, and I’m very excited to share it. So today we’re going to talk about your experience with pornography and how you have healed from that and what that has looked like in your life.

I’m really happy that you want to share your story because I think it’s not something typical that we hear, especially from young women and young adult women. And so I’m really grateful that you would come on and share this, and I know that it’s going to help other people, and I’m really excited to hear about your journey.

So thank you so much for being willing to do that. And just to start off, can you just tell me how did it start? What did it look [00:02:00] like? When were you first exposed? 

Ashlee: That all started when I was about 11 years old. I had a great childhood.

Like we were just, we were raised on a farm. We were homeschooled just not a very typical family, and we didn’t really do much technology at all. Basically my parents had the sex talk with me and I am very curious and. love art and books and stuff. And so I found pornography in dictionaries in my house.

So pretty strange. It’s not the typical way. But I was pretty much hooked on that. 

Darla: So when you see dictionaries were you looking up words or what did that look like? 

Ashlee: Words. 

Darla: Okay. 

Ashlee: Words and some pictures, so I was, I just didn’t really know what it was, but I was really intrigued with this idea.

And also I came across a different book and it was about this kid who found pornography. And so I had this idea of what it was. But I was so curious about it. And of course I was always told that pornography is [00:03:00] bad, stay away from it. But it didn’t seem bad. It was just so unique. And there was only soft porn of course at that time.

So I wasn’t really scared away. Everything really went downhill when we moved from our comfortable home an hour way to a grandma house with two bedrooms for seven kids at the time. And we jumped right into school for first time. We were remodeling the whole house and just everyone was pulled away.

And so that’s when my life fell apart. It was pretty much the perfect storm and I asked my parents for a smartphone. I always had the perfect kid label on me. Like I was, I don’t want to say I was better than anyone else in my family, but I was more responsible for my age. My parents trusted me.

I was such a good girl. And so when I asked for the phone, it was pretty much no brainer. They handed it over and with that came social media, games, everything that is on phones which is a lot for a 12 year old girl. So I was super [00:04:00] busy with piano lessons, performing, school, but there was this issue, this pornography that I was finding from Instagram and from all those other apps it was just there and it started getting worse and worse.

 I even started turning to it as a coping mechanism and I was noticing how it was affecting my performance in school and my relationships with my family. I wasn’t acting the same, I was growing up really fast and it was scaring me seeing that I was really getting addicted. There were some times when I went to seminary and church, when the leaders would talk about pornography and it really scared me because first off they’re talking about this issue and I’m like, oh yeah, okay.

I have this. And no one else around me has this issue. Maybe some of the guys, because we know that this is a guy problem. We know it’s not true. But I felt so alone and they talked about it in such a shameful way. A lot of it was if you’re going to date a guy that struggles with this, don’t even go there basically [00:05:00] then they’re not trustworthy. You don’t want to get second.

 And so I got the idea that if you were struggling with pornography, then you were bad and then of course there’s the double layer of shame because I’m a girl. So it was pretty bad and it just escalated. And I was hiding it. I had my phone in my bedroom at night.

And of course I was on my phone, and that’s very common for teenagers. If they’re ever found their bedroom, they’re not sleeping. Maybe at 2:00 AM. So that was a big issue. Another thing that was going on was I discovered masturbation and those two went in hand-in-hand for awhile.

So after while probably three years I started feeling really gross about it and I wanted to make a change. I hated that I was turning to it so much. And so in, I believe it was end of 2017. I was talking to my best friend and somehow the topic came up.

Of course, that was God, it was a tender mercy. I don’t understand how that all worked out, but the topic came up and I just blurted it out [00:06:00] and I decided that I was going to go and talk to the bishops the next week. And this was amazing because for such a long time, I was trying. I couldn’t get myself to do it.

I was writing notes. I was going to try to sneak them to my parents or to the Bishop. I just didn’t want to put another stress on my parents. I didn’t want to talk to them. I didn’t want my perfect kid label to be taken away from me. And so those are some of the big reasons why I could never get myself to open up and tell them that.

So I went into the Bishop’s office and he really helped me. And I was so excited that I basically just turned my whole life around. I clear ed out all of the apps that are triggering to me. And I started doing more temple work and just really changed everything I was doing. And basically I just stopped.

I stopped doing pornography and stopped masturbating and everything. And so I was like, sweet. That was way easier than I thought. And I didn’t even have to tell my parents, I didn’t have to work that [00:07:00] hard, tuck away some apps. So I was really excited and I was grateful because I felt so good. I felt God’s love in my life more.

But of course I didn’t really heal. And so it came back later. In June, 2018. I had a double jaw surgery and I wasn’t able to eat for a whole month. I had some pretty bad body image issues. Big reason is because of social media. But anyways I lost a ton of weight and when I was able to start eating again, I started binge-eating and I developed binge-eating disorder and to cope with that, I reverted back to pornography and masturbation.

So I was like, are you serious? I didn’t heal. And now I have this other problem too. So I didn’t really know what to do. After about nine months, I was able to quit the binge-eating and I started working on the pornography and masturbation again. I actually was able to quit that [00:08:00] pretty well.

I was going long stretches at a time and that made me really excited. I think I went probably six months and so I thought that I was sober again. I thought I made it.

Darla: So this is the second time that you quit. 

Ashlee: Yep.

Darla: So you’re like, I’m sober. This is all good. 

Ashlee: Yup. Yup.

Darla: Okay. 

Ashlee: And then in, I guess last year I was on Collin Kartchner’s Instagram and he posted this story about a kid. His name is Smith Valley. He’s 17 years old and he was talking about his story with pornography. And I was like, oh my goodness. I wish that I had heard a story about a kid struggling with pornography when I was struggling with that. And so I, I messaged Colin and I was like, this is so cool.

Have you ever considered having a girl on? Not saying I would do it. I was just saying we should have some girls talking about it 

Darla: It sounds like you just wanted to see someone like you and know that you weren’t alone. 

Ashlee: Yeah. Yeah. I couldn’t find that anywhere. It’s still to this day, I only know probably 5, women that [00:09:00] have struggled with it that have talked about it.

I told him my story and he was like, why don’t you just come on? So it was like, okay I guess I should tell my parents before I tell the whole world. 

Darla: Okay. That’s what I was going to ask. Did your parents know? And I want to back up a second here, because you said I was able to quit for six months.

Like, how were you able to do that on your own? You didn’t have the support of your parents. Sounds like you had your Bishop, maybe a friend. How were you able to do that? 

Ashlee: I think a big thing that helped was putting limits on my phone and my parents know that I am very self-aware and I don’t like to waste time.

So I disguise that as well if there’s limits on my phone and stuff. And so I did some things to help me stay away from that. 

Darla: I think you described it when, before we were talking, prepping, it was white knuckling.

It like, you were just sorta taking your own self and trying to put these limits on. All right. So back to your story. So Colin Kartchner says, why don’t you share your story? And then at this point, you’re like, I haven’t even told my parents. So you’re about to tell the whole world on a social media account.

What did that look like when you went to your parents? 

Ashlee: Oh man, I was [00:10:00] so nervous. I was so nervous, but honestly they reacted so much better than I was expecting. Which I’m so grateful for. So I told my mom, I told my dad later. Right after that, I went on to Collin’s podcast and that was the first time I ever told my story.

So It’s really raw and I don’t know if it’s my favorite episode because I’m just telling that story for the first time. But after that, so many people messaged me and said that they were struggling with pornography too. Or I don’t know, even like my friends that are girls, they reached out to me and it was so cool to see that reaction.

And so I was like, holy cow, I needed to do this. I don’t know why I can be vulnerable, but if I can do that and if I can help someone feel that they’re not alone I’m going to do it. After that Colin invited me to speak with him in St. George at the, Utah Coalition Against Pornography.

And after that, I’ve been on a ton of different podcasts. I’m still doing that, but because I was opening up so much [00:11:00] and, spraying this light on this dark topic Satan and the adversary really attacked me so hard the end of last year. And I’m like, oh wait, hold on. Am I legit healed? Still? Have I really let Christ enter into my life yet? And so I, took a break and I found a support group, this therapy group It’s called Warrior Woman of Light by Life Changing Services. And that changed everything. They taught me how to identify Satan in my daily life.

The lies that he tells me. Even though I think it’s like myself, no, it’s actually Satan. And he’s worked with any situation, anything that happens during my day to sneak in and tried to convince me to act outside of my values. So that’s what I’ve been doing for months now just learning how to identify him.

And by doing that, I’ve also turned so much to the savior. And I know that I couldn’t, [00:12:00] be where I’m at without his help. And so for about the past six months, I think it’s longer now. I consider this like an actually feeling. I don’t want to say I’m healed because I know that’s going to be forever.

I’m going to struggle with this. Probably for awhile, of course. But it’s so different this time compared to the other times when I was white knuckling it. Now, I feel like I have God right by my side and he’s helping me and I’m not scared anymore. And it’s just amazing how far I’ve come.

And I just want everyone to know that they can do that and they don’t have to live in the secret every day. 

Darla: Okay. So a question I have for you is, you talked about sobriety, like you were able to give it up and you did it for long stretches of time. I think that’s a remarkable that says a lot about, who you are as a person.

But that you see a difference now in experiencing true healing because you brought the savior into that and you’ve allowed Christ to help you. So what do you think has made the difference going from just “okay I’m not going to do this anymore” to “I really want to heal and I [00:13:00] really want to be better.”

How have you seen Christ help you in your life to be able to get to that point? 

Ashlee: Yeah,

I think about that for a second. That’s fine.

So many different ways. They’re like trying to figure out what I want to talk about.

Can you say that question one more time? 

Darla: Okay. Yeah. So I would love to know how, what that transition was [00:14:00] like when you realized, oh, I’m just going to quit this. And I’m just going to be sober to when you realize you really needed to experience healing and that, that had to come from the savior.

And how have you seen him in your life? How has he shown up to help you?

Ashlee: I think the biggest thing that has helped me is understanding my worth. All my life, I really struggled with knowing who I am and whose I am. This has been something I’ve been working on for a long time. And now I know that I am an amazing daughter of God and that I want to choose his way.

I want to be with him. I want to repent. I want to follow that plan. I don’t want to be quote unquote sober because I’m scared that people will find out. I’ve really changed my desires and I guess looking at the bigger picture I now understand why I’m fighting, why I’m actually trying and seeking God’s help and looking for him in my life and really working on the relationship with him.

Because I know who I am and I want to live up [00:15:00] to that potential. I want to help as many people as I can while I’m on my journey. 

Darla: I love that answer and I will tell you personally, I had to teach a group of young women at a girls camp in my stake earlier this summer.

And we were talking about the challenging things like we’re talking about today, like pornography, we were talking about LGBTQ issues and mental health and struggles within their family and with their friends and their self-worth. And I kept praying and I kept thinking, how do I teach this? Like, how do I convey to them?

What do you want me to know? And I prayed and he gave me the same answer that he gave to you. He said, teach them their divine identity. And I found this quote by President Nelson, another general authority had shared that President Nelson was training some general authorities.

This was before he was the prophet and somebody asked him, how do we help people who are struggling? And he inserted the word pornography. He said, how do we help people that are struggling with pornography? And President Nelson said that this applies to any struggle that we have in [00:16:00] life. Teach them who they are, teach them their divine identity.

And so I love that you have clued into that and know that when you know who you are, that’s like the best way to combat Satan. And it really is something that applies to you in your struggle and a place to me in my struggle. And anybody else that’s out there listening that if you can know who you are and whose you are, that is going to be the first step to help you to embrace the change that you need. 

I’m listening to your story Ashlee and I’m hearing the change that you made. You made a big shift going from sobriety to healing to letting the savior heal you in your life. And that’s miraculous. That is so miraculous that you can let him in and do that.

And that is what the savior does for us in our life. His atonement is real and it’s powerful. And he can help us overcome things that we think we can never overcome. And we can’t do it on our own. Your story shows that you can’t do it on your own. We need him. And so I love that you shared that answer.

You’re saying that and I’m like, [00:17:00] yes, I just had that same experience to know knowing who you are is going to help you. So thank you so much for sharing that. I just love your faith and that you are just coming out of your teen years and you recognize that is so wonderful.

And, you mentioned before, too that, when you were in seminary, you heard a lot about pornography and nobody ever really talked about the girls struggling with it. And what they did talk about was very shameful. How do you think that message can be changed in the church? I know that’s a big question, but I’m sure you’ve thought about that.

How do we teach this without being shameful? Because most people are going to see pornography at some point in their life, whether they turn back to it or don’t get as heavily into it as some other people. There’s different degrees of that, but how do we teach it without being shameful?

Ashlee: I love how you just said that we probably will all see it. I think that’s definitely something that we need to think about more when we’re talking about it. Talking about it, preparing them for when they see it, not if they see it. Because this is so shame-filled and it’s [00:18:00] just so big for teenagers to even understand. They see this and they get so many feelings. They get so many chemicals and they just want to hide it. And so if we talk about being honest and saying yes, you’ll probably see this. And yes, this is really what it is. You will feel this way and just, helping them be more aware with what it is instead of just sweeping it under the rug.

I think we need to bring that up also emphasizing that repentance is beautiful and that is the plan. And, if we do get stuck in this, our parents are there to help us our bishop is there to help us. God wants us to turn to Him and that is the plan. It’s not a backup plan. If we focus more on the hope and what it is and that we probably will all see it and that no one is immune from it, I think that will change a lot of things. 

Darla: You said the word beautiful repentance is beautiful. That is exactly what I was thinking when you were talking. When we use shame to teach about pornography or [00:19:00] any other addiction or anything that we struggle with, we take the Atonement of Jesus Christ out of it.

We’re taking that completely out and you’re so right. Repentance is beautiful. I love, love, love that. And I think that can apply in so many areas of our life. If we just remember that there is always repentance. It’s miraculous. It’s beautiful and the savior is always there. Thank you so much, Ashlee, for sharing that. You’ve given me so much to think about.

I think of myself as a mom. I’ve talked a lot. I have two boys and two girls. My kids are 13 to 22, and I’ve talked a lot to my sons about pornography, and I have not talked as much to my daughters about it. And, I’ve tried to talk to my son’s Hey, we know you’re going to see it.

What do you do when you do? And, we’ve had those conversations. I haven’t had those with my daughters. And so you’ve helped me to know that I need to have more open conversations about that and, teach about the Atonement and that there’s repentance and I’m so grateful that you would come on and share.

Is there anything else that you’re just feeling on your heart that you really want to share before we wrap up today? 

Ashlee: I just want everyone to know that [00:20:00] you were doing amazing and that God loves you so much. I know there’s so many different things that people struggle with. and I just love how you talk about Christ on here. I think that’s so important because Christ can help us get through anything. No matter what it is, no matter how old we are or anything. So I just love that. And.

I’m grateful that you do this 

Darla: Thank you, Ashlee I know you’ve already answered this, but I’m going to ask you my final question that I ask every guest, because just to give you a chance to wrap up and share your thoughts about the savior, but how have you seen him felt the savior in your journey on the covenant path?

Ashlee: He’s been everywhere. In the past, I don’t think I could have seen that. But just looking back through the day, looking back through the months, just seeing his hand in every single detail. It’s so amazing. And I can’t even comprehend how much he loves me and how much he loves every single one of us.

And that he really wants to be here with us and help us along our path. And that he really has all the answers. [00:21:00] He knows exactly what we’re going through. It’s so amazing that we can build this relationship with him throughout our life. I’m just so grateful for my Savior and that he has so much love that He would perform the Atonement for me and for all of us. And he has already paid the price and that we just need to turn to him. And it really comes down to us, just being humble enough to open up and get the help that we need. So I’m just so grateful for my savior and for everything that he’s put into place so that I can even be here right now. 

Darla: Yeah, that’s beautiful. Thank you so much, Ashlee. He is so good and he is the reason that we are here and that we can progress on the path that we can keep going.

And your story illustrates that so beautifully and I am just so grateful that you would be willing to share. And come on and talk about these things that are so close to your heart, because I just feel like and you mentioned this earlier in your story that Satan wants you to live in the dark.

He wants you to not let the light in. And one of the ways that you can let the light in is to share. And I think [00:22:00] you, you mentioned that earlier and that’s what you’ve experienced in your journey. I’ve experienced that. So for anybody out there that’s, has something that they feel like they have to stay in the dark that’s Satan and the savior wants you to be in the light and to open up and share with someone.

And that will help you to step in the light. You’ve illustrated that. So beautifully Ashlee again, I can’t thank you enough. I have felt the spirit so strongly, and I know that your story is going to help someone else. So thanks for being here. 

Ashlee: Thank you. I appreciate that.

And now here are this week’s journal questions. The Life Help section of the church’s Gospel Library app is a great resource when you need guidance and help with challenges. The section for pornography provides ways you can help yourself, your spouse, your child or others. Open up the Gospel Library app on your phone and click on the Life Help button. Explore the topics you feel guided to to help yourself and those [00:23:00] around you. 

Darla: Ashlee shared that a major shift happened in her healing when she started to understand her worth. President Nelson was once asked how to help those struggling with pornography and his response was, “Teach them their identity and their purpose.” President Nelson’s counsel can apply to any personal challenge. How can you learn more about your identity and purpose? How can you help those you serve such as your children or youth understand their worth and purpose? 

Satan wants us to feel shame and keep things we are struggling with to ourselves. But as Ashlee shared, when we are humble and open up, we can get the help we need. Sharing also helps [00:24:00]us get out of darkness and shame and step into the light and love of Jesus Christ and the repentance His atonement offers. Is there something you are keeping inside that feels dark and shameful? Who could you share it with to let the Savior’s light into your journey? Pray for guidance to know how to share your struggle. 

I hope you enjoyed the podcast. And if you did, please share it with a friend. I would love it. If you would leave a review and rate it on apple podcasts, this actually helps more women find the podcast and embrace their own journey on the covenant path to find more ways to be a part of the spiritually minded women community, head over to spiritually minded for more [00:25:00]inspiration follow along on Instagram at spiritually minded women have an amazing day.

I’m cheering you on in your journey.