I’m a “former” porn addict. Like many other men or women, I found a sort of comfort in viewing pornography. Looking back, I think I mostly did it out of curiosity in the beginning and because it felt good to me. Not much was going right in life, and this was one area I felt I could “control.” In fact, pornography addiction was all about “me,” like I’m the only one who mattered in life.
I remember being at a friend’s house when I was around 12, and the friend found pornographic magazines. I found the pictures appalling, turning my head away in disgust. I wouldn’t even think about looking at another dirty magazine or anything pornographic until later in my teenage years. One day at home, though, I was on the computer and came across my first pornographic site. I remember the emotions I felt as I was completely aroused by the image on the screen. I ended up defiling myself and felt extreme guilt over what I had done, vowing to God that I would not do this again. The next day I found myself breaking my vow to God and I would again ask for forgiveness, but as time went on I found myself getting more and more out of control. I didn’t recognize what was going on inside of me, figuring this was just a release for a hormonal 17-year-old. During the next several years a cycle would form where I would act out, seek forgiveness from God, then act out again. The addiction grew and grew to the point that I would not even feel guilty when I acted out. I became numb to the world around me and to God.
At about 21, I had my first girlfriend. Throughout our relationship I would continue to act out on the computer, but when we got engaged, I thought my addiction would be over, thinking that being married and having sex with my wife would cure me. That lasted about a week or so. I continued acting out, especially when my wife would say “no” to sex. For the next 10 years I was completely out of control. I would manipulate my wife to do things she didn’t want to do, getting extremely angry when she wouldn’t give into my desires. It got to where she didn’t feel safe around me.
After hiding my addiction from her for 10 years, I finally admitted I had this problem. I sat on the floor crying, wanting the addiction to be gone, but it was so difficult to let go. My wife was very understanding, offering to help me as best as she could, but she really didn’t understand my struggle. In November 2010 she caught me viewing pornography on the computer. I apologized, but I had no idea what this had done to her mentally or physically. The following five years would turn out to be a living hell. Even though I attended a support group for about two years, I still acted out. I could lie quite easily, saying I was clean when I knew I was still struggling. I came to Day Seven at a time of frustration and turmoil, as my wife had distanced herself from the relationship. I started one-on-one counseling and it helped somewhat, but communication at home was non-existent. We began doing joint counseling, but that was rough at times too. I was not able to find a way out of this dark season. My wife believed she had PTSD over what she saw when she caught me. It got to the point where I could not hug or touch her at all. We had no intimacy in our relationship for over two and a half years. Last May in joint counseling, things came to a halt, with my wife saying she couldn’t do this anymore. At that point I thought our marriage was over. I felt deep despair — what would happen to our daughter, and would I even see her again? The next month and a half was really rough, as we still lived in the same house, but my wife moved into the spare bedroom.
During that month and a half, though, a miracle occurred. We both started concentrating on our relationship with God, which was all we had left, but actually was everything we had left! One night we sat on the couch together and my wife told me she was praying and that God had begun to uproot her fear. As she spoke I felt the presence of God. As the fear began to lift from her life, we were able to start communicating and learn to love again.
Looking back almost a year later, it’s like I’m living with a completely different person. We have grown so close in our relationship with each other and we are keeping our relationship with God intact. There is no more fear, but instead there is love and intimacy I have never experienced in 16 years of marriage. God brought us through a difficult but important season, but He has made our relationship right with each other and Himself.
I think back on my 20 years of addiction and sometimes I wonder what really caused me to think my behavior was OK. Ultimately it comes down to a choice. For the porn addict this seems impossible, but when you step away from porn, the light seems to grow stronger. As you grow in your relationship with God and understand who He made you to be, eventually porn loses its pull.
Today I have become involved in helping those struggling with pornography addiction. We have a weekly “ReBoot” group, I’ve shared part of my story on the radio, and I’ve networked with other organizations trying to bring awareness to this issue.There are consequences to our destructive actions, but there is hope for conquering this addiction, though only through an ongoing relationship with God. It took me many years to finally come to terms with my desires, but there is so much freedom not being chained to this addiction. I pray that my story encourages and helps others in this struggle.