They Do Exist.

Pornography: Lessons From A Recovering Addict

Editor’s Note: Even if you are not addicted to pornography, please read today’s post so that you have a better understanding of it – I personally needed to read this today. Today’s post is anonymous. If you are watching pornography and want to stop, we have a growing list of resources here. – Lauren

My story is different than most women’s. Yes, my life has been affected by pornography. However it isn’t a boyfriend or spouse that has an addiction. I am the addict. For more than 20 years I’ve had a “problem” with masturbation. What started as innocent curiosity turned into an obsession with romance novels, which lead to erotic fiction, and eventually into full-blown hard-core pornography.

While mainstream society accepts and even embraces these practices, I knew deep down that what I was doing was wrong. I felt shame and guilt, and I tried many times to quit. I tried and I tried. Over and over again. I can recall two times over the years where I succeeded in abstaining for about a month, but then I would slip right back into the routine.

I felt I was the lone woman on the planet that viewed pornography. At my church they talk often to the men about the harmful effects and evils of pornography, but never to the women…which made me feel even more of a deviant. I began to have this skewed view that it was “normal” for men, but not for women. While it is certainly more prevalent with men, studies show 9 in 10 boys and 1 in 3 girls use pornography, and those statistics are steadily increasing.

One day last year, I began to realize I may be an addict. I read something that compared a bad habit to an addiction. What is the difference? A bad habit you can change on your own. An addiction is a bad habit that you can’t stop on your own and your personal willpower isn’t enough to help you overcome. I was floored when I read that. This description fit me to a T. I am an addict.

I started looking for ways to get help. I discovered support groups and 12-step programs for porn and sex addicts. I found therapists that specialized in these forms of addiction. Then I did nothing. In fact, I started delving even deeper into my addiction. This continued for a few months. Meanwhile, my whole world was coming apart. I no longer found any joy in the job I had previously loved. I dreaded going to work. As a result I started working fewer and fewer hours… which lead to making little money. I was having a hard time paying bills and rent, and finding money to buy food. I stayed up all night, slept into the afternoon and laid in bed all day watching TV… or worse. My family began remarking about my lack of joy, even going so far as to say I may be depressed. I hadn’t been to church in years. I was living in a world of darkness.

Then something happened. A friend of mine, who I had known for 15 years, was arrested in a prostitution sting. This man was a public figure, a teacher, a father, and an ecclesiastical leader. The community was shocked. I was hit over the head with a theoretical two-by-four. I didn’t want to end up like this man… so far down in the pit of my addiction that I would resort to doing things I would have never imagined I could do. Doing whatever it took to feed my addiction, and in the meantime shattering my family and disappointing those I loved.

I decided to take action. I made an appointment with the therapist. I found out when the next 12-step meeting was, and I made an appointment to meet with my ecclesiastical leader to confess. I knew that if I was to succeed this time I had to throw every possible tool of recovery at my addiction. I went in whole-hog. I quit cold-turkey. And I suffered withdrawals. I didn’t sleep for about three weeks. I couldn’t think. I didn’t want to eat. All I did for those three weeks was pray, educate myself on addiction and recovery, and do the bare minimum to survive physically. There were moments of despair and hope, pain and joy, fear and love, and darkness and light. In the end I was stronger, more knowledgeable, lighter and above all else: clean.

It has now been 10 months and I have not relapsed once. 10 months clean! Even a year ago I did not think that was possible. It has been, and continues to be, a journey of healing, forgiveness, and progression. Here a just a few of the more important things I have learned along the way:

1. I can’t do it on my own. “It” being everything in life; recovery from addiction, living life with joy and passion, forgiving and forgetting the mistakes of the past, etc. Only after I asked God to bless me, through Christ’s loving sacrifice, with grace and mercy did I have the power to truly begin healing from the inside out.

2. To the brain, pornography and sexual addiction are just as chemically addicting as drugs, alcohol and food. This understanding gave me power. I wasn’t just a weak person that couldn’t quit. I had damaged my brain, literally shrinking the decision-making area of my brain and killed brain cells with the over-saturation of chemicals. With this understanding I went to God and asked Him to heal my brain so that I could have my agency and choice back. I needed spiritual AND physical healing. I knew I would have to be patient and have faith because healing the brain takes time.

3. Addictions are not the problems that need fixing. The problems to be fixed are the character weaknesses and shortcomings that are at the foundation of addiction. I didn’t see this foundation until I was working through one of the 12 steps. I had to take an honest look at my life and write down all the things I had done wrong. What I saw emerge was a life-long pattern of lying, cheating, stealing, selfishness, pride, enmity, lust, and disobedience. Not a pretty picture. My addiction was the coping mechanism I had developed to numb the feelings of shame and guilt I felt because of my actions and those weaknesses and shortcomings. Unless I could address the real problem, I could never have any success at full recovery. I would relapse, or switch to another addiction.

4. As I have read others’ successful recovery stories, there are four things I see in common:

a) Utilizing an addiction recovery program. This entails attending meetings AND doing the steps and work of the program.
b) Working with a Christian therapist experienced in addiction recovery, specific to their addiction.
c) Confession to, and working closely with, an ecclesiastical leader.
d) Daily protection; spiritual (prayer, scripture study, etc.), physical (exercise, meditation) and emotional (hobbies, building relationships, service) activities that keep your mind, body, and soul on a path of healing.

From one woman to another: if you are struggling with pornography or other sexual addictions, please know that you are not alone.

There is hope available to those that repent and give their lives to Christ. Through Christ there is forgiveness, beauty, love, light, and healing..


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14 Responses

  1. Michelle

    Thank you. Your story is inspiring to me!

    November 16, 2011 at 7:49 am

  2. Thanks for speaking up. Thanks for sharing your story. Thanks for lending hope. May you continue to thrive and change your brain and heart.

    November 16, 2011 at 5:16 pm

  3. Anon

    thank you for sharing hope!

    November 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm

  4. Mel

    Thank you.

    November 22, 2011 at 11:32 am

  5. Ken

    thank you for sharing ;)

    March 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm

  6. Thank you. I'm on the road to healing as well. Your honesty and transparency has been a catalyst for change in my life.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm

  7. Hobbit

    :') Thank you so much for this. I've been addicted for almost two years now – not long compared to some, but it feels like forever. I've written over 25k words on my own journey through porn addiction; the writing has helped a lot to see where I've been and where I'm gradually going, but I still despair at times. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing.

    February 16, 2013 at 1:52 am

  8. Neil

    I'm a male, but this was probably just as helpful to me as it would be to your female audience. Thanks. I made a firm resolution to do this last night, and as I am already in a 12-step program (AA), I've got some foundational understanding of the truths you spelled out.

    July 1, 2013 at 1:54 pm

  9. nnamdi

    thanks for sharing.i’m a male living in africa and i can relate well with all you’ve said.i’m still struggling and because of i’ve relapsed too many times,my spiritual leaders seem to have lost faith in me.over here,we don’t have any recovery programs for addicts and i need to get my life back.my mind is so messed up,no social relationship,lack of interest at work,academic decline,the list could go on.any advice for me cos i’m dying slowly.

    February 13, 2014 at 10:50 am

  10. Jasmine

    Thank you! I needed this.

    January 13, 2015 at 3:19 am

  11. dwdf

    Good

    February 14, 2015 at 1:09 am

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  14. I'm a male, but this was probably just as helpful to me as it would be to your female audience. Thanks. I made a firm resolution to do this last night, and as I am already in a 12-step program (AA), I've got some foundational understanding of the truths you spelled out.

    July 10, 2015 at 10:29 am

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