I’ve seen a lot of articles as of late discussing porn from the perspective of the hurt partner. The viewpoints have been very enlightening and tend to follow a pattern of doing their best to support their significant other, married or otherwise, but sadly with a total lack of understanding. It is seriously appalling to me how little most of these women understand about addiction and porn considering how much it seems to have influenced their lives. I’d like to shine a little light on the subject.
I remain anonymous because it allows me to write more freely and honestly without the worry of being misjudged by family and friends. Here’s my story. When I was probably close to 13 I was browsing the internet, I came across an advertisement that had some sort of enticing text, I can’t remember what it said. I clicked it, not looking for porn and I didn’t find porn, but a gallery of women in bikinis. Unrealistically top heavy women that barely fit in their swimsuits. My mother walked in and emphasized how inappropriate the site was but that is where it started. I was aroused by pictures, that was the moment of weakness when my brain figured out that it could be aroused with images, I remember a feeling of guilt of having clicked something I shouldn’t have.
That did not necessarily lead to porn addiction but it did create some mental wanting, whether that would have been as strong as it would’ve had I never seen the bikini clad women I have no idea. The first time I saw porn I think it was an unwanted pop up part of some malware. Someone had accidentally downloaded or installed something that caused frequent pop ups trying to get people to go to porn sites. The first time it happened I saw and looked away, closing the window. I knew porn was bad, I knew I shouldn’t look. I had seen it though. It happened again. I told my parents there was something wrong with the computer, they had a tech come fix it. I honestly cannot remember when I began actually looking for porn, when the addiction was in full swing, I just know that when it started I wasn’t looking for it, it found me.
I don’t say that as an excuse for my own weakness. I have never done drugs, I have never said a swear word in front of anyone, I have never drunk alcohol or smoked and I went about 24 years without ever drinking caffeine, we’ll come back to that one. I don’t say that as a way to brag but as a way to point out that porn is unlike any other kind of addiction in that way. It’s based on an inherent weakness of the human mind. It is not a gender specific issue, though it may have started that way. It makes me incredibly sad that pornography is becoming an increasing problem for women as well. It was freshman year in high school when I saw porn for the first time. A good friend and I were in our first class, only 1 other kid there, he asked if we wanted to see something. Not thinking it would be porn, because who does that, we said sure and of course, he pulls out his wallet and it’s a naked woman on top of a car. We both looked away and sat down but we had seen it, we did not ask to see it or want to but if found us.
That is one of the most important things about porn that most women and older people don’t seem to understand. It used to be porn was limited to VHS tapes and magazines, however now it is in the wallets, calendars, phones, pamphlets, computers and the possibilities of where it could be are endless. It is no longer a matter of avoiding porn, or situations where there could be porn, but what to do when you see it, because you WILL see it even if you were very careful to avoid it. Thankfully that is beginning to become the new strategy in combating porn. Teaching young men and women how to react WHEN they see it instead of how to supposedly avoid it.
The road to full blown addiction is blurry, I don’t remember any particular time where it was worse or better for any particular reason. It eats away at your soul. I became fairly addicted, 4 times a week probably around 17 years of age. I remember getting a girlfriend, talking to my church leader about my problem and that helping some. At that time in my life however my girlfriend was enough. I got away from porn long enough to stop feeling the cravings, she saved me at the time. The relationship ended and I stayed porn free til about 22 years old. Not sure how I got started, but again, PORN FINDS YOU. I believe I had hit a bit of depression (another hugely misunderstood mental state), I was up late at night, unhappy and eventually I became addicted once again. I hated myself for it. I knew it was wrong, I tried to stop but the most I could seem to go was a few weeks without watching porn. I spiraled bad, disgusted with myself and hating who I was knowing that I could tell no one.
I spend a lot of time online, playing video games is a hobby of mine, much of my college work has required the use of the internet and much of my actual job involves using the internet and computer. Not using a computer is not really an option for me. I will not be able to make money without using the internet. I remember hitting a point in my life where I had been addicted for a few years and couldn’t even remember what it was like not to be an addict. I felt like a shell of my former self. Quitting felt impossible. I still hated myself for it though I was becoming more and more numb to the pain. I started having thoughts about it. That maybe it was just part of who I was, why would God create a mind so weak that it could be conquered and ruled by videos and images? I began to accept that perhaps porn was just part of who I was. I tried to date to help overcome my addiction. Unlike the first time it didn’t work. I just felt like I was cheating on the women I was dating and would end up breaking it off with them. The interesting thing for me is that it was less about the computer and more about the phone when it came to porn, it was always near me. Falling to sleep was so much easier if I just watched some porn before bed.
That, that is the hardest part of addiction. When you’re trying to quit, the first day or 2 are usually not too bad. I would have a few cravings but overall I could pretty easily overcome them. After a week or so I would have an especially bad craving and after a week and a half it would be so bad that literally 9 hours straight I would fight against myself, the urge to look at porn would be insane. It was all I could think about, wanting to look at porn. My mind would keep saying over an over that’s all I needed and all this stress would go away. Imagine sitting in a buffet feeling like you are dying of hunger, you know the only way to overcome your hunger pains in the long run is to not eat any of the food but you’re SURROUNDED by food, the sights and smells. In your mind you know that all the hunger would go away RIGHT NOW if you just ate one small plate. The temptation for porn is even worse than that. I have become so much more loving and understanding of people who suffer drug and other addictions having had an addiction of my own. I literally did not understand what it was like. I have had addictions to other things, video games, soda, and many others have had those same cravings. That said, none of it compares to porn. So, if you have never been addicted to hard drugs, if you have never been addicted to porn, then please do not pretend to understand because I promise you that you do not understand and you should thank God that you do not. Addicts need your love, not your solutions or empathy.
My recovery was a very long process, I had nearly given up. I went in once again to my church leader. He offered the same recommendations as all the others. Most somewhat useless but a few things do help. I will say this, if you can make it past that really bad craving, the one that seems impossible, it may last up to 2 days, or so did for me, if you can make it through that it becomes so much easier. I began to thank God every day that I didn’t look at porn, it not only helped me stay closer to God but it also helps me keep track of how long I’ve gone without it. Looking for signs of depression or situations where I might be weak are another important step. Being mentally exhausted is a tough spot for me. It is almost impossible for me to sleep unless I am completely mentally exhausted but that is also the time I’m most vulnerable to being tempted to look at porn. The road to recovery is hard. Many say once an addict always an addict. It’s tough to have that mentality and still feel good about yourself. It’s hard not to think, I beat this, I’m better now. I think there’s some middle ground there where you can move past who you were and still keep in mind that you could be vulnerable in the future.
When it comes to those who have dealt with a loved one that is or was addicted to porn at some point, I never wanted to talk about it. I don’t need or want notes reminding me in any way that it happened. I don’t need anyone else’s approval but God’s. I don’t mean to be rude in saying that but I don’t care what you think about me, and I sure as hell don’t need to be reminded of my mistakes even in a supposedly ‘positive’ way. Through the addiction I’ve learned to see people for who they are and not what they were or what they’ve done. That’s not an excuse to others for my own behavior and not avoiding owning up to my mistakes. It’s how God lives his life. God forgives and forgets, it’s as though nothing had happened if you truly repent. Who are you to remember my past sins and hold it against me? Are you a greater judge than God? No, and that’s ok, all we need is love people.
That said, I do have some recommendations for women who are in a relationship with a man addicted to porn. If you are married, I don’t really know what to tell you, that is going to be a very tough time that I hope you will be able to overcome. If you are dating a man, or woman I guess, who is addicted and things are becoming serious. Give them a chance perhaps, but if they aren’t able to break the habit in a few months you should probably look elsewhere. I could not live with myself dating someone while addicted to porn and having had a friend on the other end of that your relationship will have a lot of problems if you continue while one of you is addicted. Sometimes it just takes time to break the habit, but that’s not something you need to suffer through with your addicted partner. You deserve better. As an ending piece I would just like to say it is wholly inappropriate to ask a date or girlfriend/boyfriend if they’ve ever seen/looked at porn. I am positive that 99% of men my age have seen porn, it’s unavoidable. The right question, which I do recommend you ask eventually is, do you look at porn? It is important not to judge someone for their past but also not to get into a situation in the present.
Sound advice. Have you ever taken a look in the mirror. I stared into my own eyes tonight. I always say the eyes say everything. You can tell if someone is lying by their eyes, how they really feel. It’s all in the eyes. Staring into the mirror it was like seeing someone I knew a few years ago. Someone I knew pretty well but had forgotten about as life had continued passing by. It’s a surreal feeling, seeing yourself but having an mostly unfamiliar feeling associated with it. I know I’m not the person I once was. Am I better? In some ways I believe I am, in other ways I have fallen short, in some of the more important ways. I am religious, I believe in a future life, a time when I will meet God. It’s always been important to me, its something I know inside. I’ve heard people say to just throw it away, free yourself from guilt and do what you want. I’d never be happy that way, sure its crossed my mind plenty of times. It sounds so easy, tossing my cares aside and running whatever way the wind seems to blow. It would never work for me, what I believe is instilled in me, its something I can’t simply just ‘stop believing’. What’s more is its never been a hindrance to me. Yeah I have felt the guilt that follows a mistake however its never caused me to make something worse. It always pushes me to improve. The only problem is when I let it get me down, if you let it depress you it can slowly start to crush you. If I lose sight of what is the true purpose of this life, which I believe is to improve, then anything I do, means nothing. I guess what I am really saying is that I ought to take a good long look in the mirror more often. Otherwise I start to forget who I am. Its a sorrowing feeling to look at yourself and not see someone you know well. I found looking into my own eyes that I justify the way I live my life too much, I don’t even believe the crap I’m saying at this point. We are all hypocrites a little bit. It’s just fact. The best we can do is to stare ourselves in the eye, find out who we are, and improve.
I went with some people tonight to a place I wasn’t sure I would ever end up. It was interesting, sometimes you just see things that make you think really hard about the life you are choosing to live now. Tonight was one of those nights where I really feel the need to re-evaluate what I am doing with my life. Is the path I’m on the one that should really be followed? Should I follow the path of another? I guess it comes down to what really matters as far as long term happiness. Really I know I am going down the road that God has chosen, sometimes I have a hard time seeing where its going. Many cases I’m distracted by others who take different paths that look easier, makes me wonder if there is a path of less resistance. I don’t know what I want to be, should I try and be who I was or should I try and recreate myself? For now, idling is probably the best option, stuck halfway between nowhere and nothing.
Time really is money. In a more literal way than I think I’ve ever understood. We can even spend time on money. Everything we do, every moment of every day is a decision of how we spend our time. I often find myself spending it watching TV and playing Left 4 Dead 2. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I find that these things are great stress relievers for me. My TV shows, aka the shows that I choose to watch bring me a lot of happiness and help me to have a more light-hearted attitude. Nothing this year or last can compare to the comedy of the show Community. So far I have yet to see a show with a storyline as riveting as that of Supernatural. I love shows, I’m very particular when it comes to that. I either will watch a show and follow it intensely or not at all. Sure I’ll sit through an episode of some crap like ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, but it will be a cold day in hell before I ever choose to watch every episode or follow it in any way. The shows that I follow I really like, I have seen most of the episodes of every show I follow more than once. There is just something awesome about the imagination of The 4400, the little things I missed the first watch through an episode of Arrested Development. However, I find myself getting to the point where I am wasting my time. Spending far too long playing with friends I’ve never really met on Left 4 Dead 2. Learning guitar better, getting into school, looking for a second job, finding another place to move to and a roommate. These are things that I should be spending time on. I should just do it, but I probably wont.
My name is Neil Today, I’m just a dude.
Today while driving home after watching 3 hours of TV with a friend, I began to contemplate my life. I’d give you an introduction to myself but soon you wont need one. I’m a comedy fan, and a TV fan at that. Over the past few years it has grown more difficult to dedicate over 2 hours to one movie. Even hour long shows begin to chip away at me. There is something beautiful about knowing that in 30 minutes, I will have sufficiently laughed and a show will be over. I’m all about efficiency.
In an effort to avoid going off topic too much and saying tons about my apparently interesting self, I’d like to say what I originally intended. Its 11 at night, pitch black outside and I’m cruising on the freeway and a steady 70mph. I don’t ‘zone out’ per-say like I used to when I was a kid, but I had almost one of those out of body experiences. Even though I knew that I was moving on the freeway, it felt almost like I was still and everything was moving past me. Reminded me of how time never stops, even when you’re standing still. I don’t know why I came to this place, its been 8 months already and it still feels unfamiliar. Visiting, that’s the best word to describe it. It feels like I’m moving in no particular direction. I don’t even know why I came here really, I guess having no where else to go had a lot to do with it. Ever feel like you’re not you? I feel that way the past few months. Like I remember who I am, but I’m not that person. What I remember of myself seems almost like someone I met in a dream. The memories I have are of me, I am in them all, however I see myself in them as if I was watching, as if it wasn’t really me there. I was taking a shower a bit ago and felt more like I was just controlling some big meat suit. I felt disconnected from me I guess, from my body at least. It’s kind of crazy how we can never really see ourselves. We see our image in a mirror sure, but its just a flat reflection. We never really get to see what we look like. We never see who we are to an outsider. The best we get is seeing most of our front side, our limbs and depending on how far you can turn your neck, from the lower back down. The view is still so close its hard to put into perspective. Lets be honest, 99 percent of the people out there are never going to see us from as close as we see ourselves. I hear those wax sculptures of celebs are amazingly accurate, also that the people who they are crafted after have a hard time believing that its them. Really what’s in a body? The face is what really matters, its how we recognize each other. Faces are all incredibly unique, and we can’t even physically see our own face. Weird huh.