My Brave Best Friend

I think it honestly just wouldn’t even be fair if my first real post (the last one was just introductory so it doesn’t count) wasn’t about my husband.

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Us on our wedding day. Photo Credit: Jaclyn Heward Photography

The Awkward Meeting

Payson and I met WAAAY back in Jr. High and I thought he was a straight up weird-o. We were in the same choir class and had to sit next to each other. I distinctly remember thinking that this kid was strange and decided not to really talk to him. WHAT WAS I THINKING!? At least it all worked out eventually.

In high school we both landed spots in the chamber choir although we still weren’t friends. The summer after 10th grade I decided to go on a youth ambassador trip to Europe for a month and when I came back Payson sent me a message on Facebook. We started chatting and then the messages got straight up WEIRD. Payson wrote me dweeby stories about magical Oreos mixed with fairy tales and I pretty much cried of laughter. I told you, I’m slightly strange. But for some reason Pays totally digs it.

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Payson and I in high school doing weird things. I think we made this fort to watch a movie? Who knows.

High school went on and we became BEST friends. Like the kind of friends where he could show up unannounced and just start eating food from my family’s pantry. The kind of friends where Payson took me on a long road trip through the canyon just so I could see my dad get a silly Woodbadge camping award. The kind of friends… you get the point.

We never dated in High School somehow, though everyone thought we would. College came and we both decided to attend BYU in Provo, Utah. First Payson left to serve a mission for our church in Germany, then I followed a few months later and went to St. Louis.

My Gutsy Move

I got home about two months before Payson and started thinking “Now, what if I date him? He is my best friend…”

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The day Payson got home and I realized he was cute.

Ladies, this is a DANGEROUS game. In one foul move you could either destroy a friendship or enter into the BEST relationship of your life! Luckily what happened to me was the latter.

The day Payson got home from his church mission I asked him on a date! I KNOW! IT JUST CAME OUT! I am honestly never that brave. When the weekend rolled around I was out-of-my-mind nervous. He was my best friend, why should I be so scared right!?

The day was only semi-awkward as we got to know each other again. After all, we’d been apart for 2 and 1/2 years! We both had changed and matured a lot, yet we still fit together like a puzzle. Well, long story short he ended up KISSING ME (I know, I was FREAKING out)! I made him decide right then and there if he liked me, luckily he did, and a relationship began.

The Struggles

From the moment Payson and I started dating he was straight-up honest with me. Honesty is like my #1 rule of relationships so that went a long way.  It made the giant bomb he dropped on me a lot easier. This (the Italicized text is Payson writing) is what he told me.

I struggle with sexual addiction.

That’s a big sentence to stare at now and realize that’s a major factor defining who I am. I am an addict to pornography and masterbation. It makes me feel dirty, the scum of the earth even just typing it. I’ve spent a better part of my life trying to hide it. I wanted to be that good boy. I put on the façade of being a good student, a regular church-goer, responsible type, but underneath was a self-loathing hypocrite.  I hated that disgusting part of me for a long time until I heard these words:

“I’m thankful for my trials.”

And that’s where we were at. Sexual addiction is something powerful, sometimes beyond my comprehension. But the fact that Payson was willing to be so honest with me, and EVERYONE who needs wants to talk about it is incredibly inspiring. It’s something that he battles every day, and recently he’s been winning.

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Payson in his happy place- AKA the entire outdoors.

A Bit Of Advice-From One Addict to Another

We all have problems. It could be something as small as biting our fingernails too much (guilty), or not being able to open a bag of chips without consequently finishing said bag (also guilty). It could be something as big as a rampant drug addiction. You could be the pope, you could be a convicted felon, it doesn’t matter, nobody is perfect. But it takes someone awesome to just accept that and move on, realizing that it’s these imperfections that often make us the most beautiful.

I hope there’s people out there that might realize from this that there’s no shame in having a problem. EVERYONE HAS A PROBLEM. Love yourself, love others. See the good that’s come of it, I guarantee it’s there.

Talk about an inspirational man! I’ll be honest, dealing with Payson’s sex addiction was incredibly difficult for our relationship. But because we were both able to separate the problem from his individual identity, we made it through. We’ve held hands through countless addiction recovery meetings together, and experienced a roller coaster of emotions.

To anyone currently experiencing the same thing, we commend you. This is honestly super hard for everyone involved. If you need support or advice we’re here for you. PLEASE leave us a comment if you have anything at all to say. Also feel free to share our story, we want it to help as many people as possible.

Your trials don’t define who you are. You decide that yourself every morning when you wake up.

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17 Replies to “My Brave Best Friend”

  1. You know of my struggle….so to read of other church going…God loving people REALLY dies help.. You know h ow much .my family admires you. You just kicked it up another otch…We love you S. FIRESTONE *ASHmEad ♡♥♡♡♥♥♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lorra! I adore you and your family. I miss you guys like crazy. Thank you so so much for the comment. Even in your struggles you have always been a good example to me of perseverance and strength. Thanks for all you do. Love you!

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  2. I’m concerned that ya’ll might be making mountains out of molehills. Hear me out. Sexual Addiction, or hyper sexuality, is defined by extreme damage to personal life, such as constantly hiring prostitutes or something. However, most experts would that agree that moderate viewing of porn and masturbaton doesn not constitute sexual addiction. More than sixty percent of the US population masturbates and/or watches pornography (it even happens inside religious cultures: they are just taught to feel guilty about it!)

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    1. Hey Cam! Thanks for the comment on the blog and for seeking me out and sending a Facebook message! Payson and I really liked talking with you. I’m just going to post a summary of what we talked about on here in case someone else was thinking the same thing.

      I really like what you said about there being unnecessary guilt about sexuality in the LDS culture. This really bothers me too and it’s something I hope to change, even if it’s just within my own family. It’s not the doctrine that I disagree with, but the way we often present it.

      I think the addiction label we put on things sometimes varies depending on the person and what they view as being unacceptable. So I think scientifically you’re totally right with your definition of sexual addiction. But for Payson and I, we choose to define it as something that stunts growth, controls your spirituality, and influences your emotions. Sexual addiction was something that often prevented Payson from doing what he wanted to do and made him feel trapped. So that’s kind of where we were going with our post. Addiction is somewhat of a subjective term, depending on your personal goals and standards. Thanks again so much for your comment! I really like your life perspective.

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    2. Pornography is any depiction, in pictures or writing, that is intended to inappropriately arouse sexual feelings. Pornography is more prevalent in today’s world than ever before. It may be found in written material (including romance novels), photographs, movies, electronic images, video games, social media posts, phone apps, erotic telephone conversations, music, or any other medium.

      Physical intimacy is a sacred part of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. However, the adversary tries to thwart the Lord’s plan of happiness by suggesting that physical intimacy is only for personal gratification. Pornography is a tool of the adversary and its use causes the Spirit of the Lord to withdraw from us (see D&C 63:16).

      Potential effects of pornography include isolation, secrecy, and deceit that damage relationships and leave one vulnerable to poor self-esteem, anxiety, and depression; unrealistic expectations and misinformation about sexual intimacy; conditioning us to see people as objects to be used and abused; and the development of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

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  3. Hey, congratulations for sharing your story. God placed us on earth to learn to overcome those things we are weak in. You are working to become perfect, me too, but a finer couple I have not met yet. God loves you even more. With his blessings you will be able to overcome and become that perfect man. May God’s love be with you both and know I am proud to call you both my friends.

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  4. Emily!!! I don’t know if you even remember me but we used to play soccer together! But I wanted to thankyou for this story! I needed to hear this so bad! I don’t have the same problems but like you said We all have problems and that’s what I needed!!i think it’s the fact that I get things inside my head like how could I keep screwing up and how can I be so awful and I think if only others had my problems! But the bright side is we all have different trials and problems and that’s what makes each of us so amazing and unique In our own way! Our trials DO NOT Define is…but REFINE us!and for that I’m eternally grateful! Thanks again for sharing this! I needed it!!

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    1. Lauren! I totally remember you! You were the best left wing we had ;). Thank you so much for reading. I totally agree with you, our trials only make us better. That’s kind of my goal with this whole blog is to highlight the hard parts of life along with the happy, because we need all of it to become better people. You’re so awesome, thanks again for reading! Hope you’re doing well!

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  5. It takes a brave, brave person to admit one’s imperfections, much less to do it openly. I, like Emily, value honesty above almost all else. Payson, I truly admire your honesty and courage to admit your personal burden to the world in hope that it will strengthen and encourage others to deal with their own imperfections in an honest way. I think the world of Emily and her awesome faith. With her at your side you can overcome anything. My love and admiration to you both for coming forward for others.

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  6. Em- Wow! We are both very proud of both of you and support you 150% in your struggles and wins! We will always be here for both of you. Love, Grandma and Diana

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  7. Emily you know how much I love you for your bright bubble positivity and for bringing my little girl back to life. But reading this was so inspiring I am still fighting tears. I admire you both so much more for sharing this.
    My problem is with depression and anxiety and I try to surround myself with amazing folks like you to help me fight myself.
    I will share your story because I know there are a lot of people good people who have this same fight.

    Like

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