90 Days and Beyond: Healing from addiction and sexual abuse
This may be a long post, and some of what I'm going to say might sound contradictory to some of the messages we've gotten from this site, but know that the amount of good this site has created is astronomical, and hundreds of thousands of us from different walks of life have been helped back on our feet.
WARNING: SOME OF THIS IS VERY GRAPHIC AND DARK. READ WITH CAUTION AS SOME OF YOU MAY BE TRIGGERED.
So what happened to me in a nutshell? I was sexually abused by my best friend as a child (he forced himself on me and violated me during sleepovers), and this in turn affected my self-esteem from age 5 onwards. Because my self-esteem and boundaries were destroyed, and there were strong overtones of emotional abuse in my household, I became very quiet, shy, and withdrawn from others, and I became the perfect victim for bullies and worse. Everything from social ostracism, to toxic friendships, to abusive teachers, to getting outright beaten up. To make matters worse, I never went to my parents with any of this, because I never felt like I could open up to them about stuff like that. It was the sort of environment where you weren’t “allowed” to be angry, sad, etc, or else you were ungrateful, or ‘had no right to feel that way’, you know?
Fast forward a few years to middle school, and I was a really awkward, angry guy, with no understanding of boundaries. Naturally, this brought about even more negativity, only it was worse, because it was primarily girls that put me down, called me ‘ugly’, etc.
Deep down, I slowly grew to distrust and hate people and resent girls, and I wasn’t even aware of it because I repressed and discounted my feelings so powerfully. I was very out of touch with myself, and had zero self-confidence. I had a very bad case of Nice Guy entitlement syndrome, and I absolutely hated the confident guys that I saw as obnoxious, who got all the girls.
Naturally, high school wasn’t a whole lot better. It was probably the most scarring period of my life. This is when I really got into porn and used it as an escape. The women on porn could never hurt me, and I could see them as I liked and could degrade them as I saw fit. Furthermore, it was in angry rebellion against the values of my conservative parents, who basically left me out to dry when it came to sex education. (To give you an idea of how they were about sexuality: you never talked about it. It was a taboo topic. And if they caught you with anything like an erotic book or picture you were ‘perverted’ or ‘depraved’. If you brought home a girl, you were ‘only going to get her pregnant, catch STD’s, and ruin your life for that skank’. Etc.)
I would go on porn for hours on end. From the moment class ended I would be running back home just so I could get an extra half-hour, and eight to ten hours could easily go by before I stopped (since my parents would come home). Quite simply put, I had no other sexual outlets. I was terrified of intimacy, and even when girls liked me I was clueless. This went on from about 14-18 years old, and by then, I was very desensitized, and had a very warped and skewed perspective on sex, women, relationships, etc. (Seriously, stuff like “All women can be turned into lesbians” was floating around in my subconscious!).
In my last year of high school, I was lucky enough to be intimate with a girl who liked me for years. I couldn’t even get it up with her, despite how attracted I was to her. She was deeply hurt, and so was I. And I was scarred in the sense that full-on sex was just too much at once; I’d barely even kissed a girl before then. Combined with the abuse (which I barely remembered, and had a distorted memory of what it was), at the back of my mind, I started to wonder “What if I was gay and never knew it?”.
University wasn’t much better. I was very isolated much of the time, watching porn, being angry and violent, etc.
After being alone and rejected by one too many girls after a time, and a history of difficulty having sex with women from ED, I was sexually harassed by gay men (I had no boundaries and shit self-esteem), and it seemed like only gay men were attracted to me and wanted me. I was so depressed, and I was totally thrown for a loop, and had everything from obsessive doubt, to panic attacks. I read articles about hocd, gay denial, coming out stories, etc for hours on end, and occasionally forced myself to watch gay porn in an effort to “check”, even though I wasn’t attracted to men, physically or otherwise.
After a while, I discovered this website and realized I had a problem with porn, and tried my best to work on that throughout university. With varying degrees of success, failure, etc. I felt absolutely wretched the whole time, and I hated myself.
Here is the terrifying part of my story though, that will totally blindside you, shock you, and throw you for a loop like it did me when I found out.
I was sexually abused again. This time by a man I considered my mentor and friend.
He was a close friend of the family; an uncle, really. It turned out that he had been grooming me for years, ever since I was 12. I just never realized that what he was doing was weird, because my boundaries were already destroyed. What basically began as seemingly innocent conversations about girls led into more explicit conversations, comments about my body, encouraging watching porn and erotic movies together and asking to see my dick, etc, until he physically abused me.
I was twenty-fucking-one when he outright propositioned giving oral sex to me. By then, I was so shaken up, so depressed, so thoroughly groomed and desensitized, so ashamed and afraid of saying ‘no’, etc, that I actually went along with it, even though every instinct I had was to run the hell home. In my mind, I ‘had to know for sure’, to make sure once and for all that I wasn’t gay or bisexual. He violated me, and he had been grooming me over YEARS. Moving so slowly, carefully, cautiously, like a spider, or a boxer probing his opponent’s defenses before the knockout punch. I didn’t realize what he was doing until it was too late.
After it happened, I felt numb. I only knew instinctively on the most primal level that he was poisonous to have in my life. He had been one of my only friends, and I looked up to him. Hell, I loved him as I would an eccentric uncle or a father that I never had. And it was so scarring to finally see him as he really was, and I realized I never knew the man at all. I have no doubt in my mind that he has abused other people. (He was also sexually abused by the way). I distanced myself from him, cut off all contact, and told my parents about everything.
A year of therapy later, and I realized that porn was only the tip of the iceberg: it was the sexual abuse, and the toxic shame about my sexuality (from my parents, peers, rejection from girls, toxic views of women, etc) that was the problem. It might have taken me years to even realize what it all was if I hadn’t gone for help.
Now, I can honestly say to you guys that I’m not addicted to porn anymore, because the shame, anger, and fears and difficulties with intimacy that I had before are slowly healing, and I no longer see porn as inherently harmful, just a bad habit that can catch up with you if you do it too much (like shopping, drinking, etc). As such, the urge and compulsion to watch videos is no longer there. I’d much rather make love with a real woman, or even just hold the hand of someone I love and have a conversation with her. I've finally been able to be truly intimate with women, and I've been able to have successful, satisfying sex for the first time in my life.
So have faith, there is light at the end of the tunnel my friends. Thank you so much to all of you. You have all been instrumental in my healing. I wish you all the best on your journeys, and do not hesitate to message me if you ever have any questions.
All the best,
ADVICE FOR REBOOTERS
1) Start with straight up abstaining from porn and maturbation, and have faith in the nofap community. This is the beginning.
2) Identify any cognitive distortions that porn has given you. (Ex: “Women are always primed for sex”. “All women enjoy being degraded”. “All women are bisexual.” “I deserve sex from beautiful women” “Women are objects, not human beings”. Etc etc). Write them out so you can get them out of your head and start to change your thoughts.
3) Figure out what it actually is that’s eating you up. It’s not the porn that’s the real problem. It’s the toxic shame you probably feel about sexuality, or the fear of rejection or intimacy, or the anger from childhood/adolescent wounds. You’re not a creep for watching porn or wanting sex. You’re not abnormal. There is nothing wrong with you. You are a human being. You have been hurt and had to retreat into something. And once you get to the bottom of whatever painful feelings and experiences you’ve had, and you truly start to heal, you’ll find that the desire to watch porn as much as you were before will fade away until you don’t even care about porn anymore. It’s just something that you’ve left behind. Start developing sex-positive views.
4) Start changing your actual life habits. Staying home alone playing video games or watching porn isn’t going to do much for you in the long-run. If you want different results, start changing the way you think, and what you do every day. Exercise. Go out with friends. Go out to events. Have fun! Meet people! Try new things! If you try to go cold turkey on porn (something you’ve depended on to manage your emotions and hide from your pain) without actually changing your life habits or thoughts, then of course you’ll remain dependent on porn. You are a human being with human needs, such as love, intimacy, physical gratification, etc. If porn offered that to you, you are not perverted, depraved, or bad for doing so. It was something that helped you survive. Now, it’s time to forgive yourself and change your life, so that you don’t need it anymore.
5) Forgive yourself, and change your life. Don’t beat yourself up for looking up a nude picture or looking at a video when you ‘relapse’. You’re a human being who hasn’t been getting your needs met, so your needs have been met artificially up to now. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. You are a member of the human race, with valid feelings, gifts, and a right to happiness. If any other person were given your experiences, they would have done the exact same thing.
In time, you’ll find that the real problem had to do with masturbating too much, and hating yourself and thinking that something was wrong with you all along. It’s the fear of intimacy, and feeling shame about sexuality that is your true enemy.
P.S: I’d highly recommend getting in touch with your true fantasies that turn you on and make you happy, no matter how ‘weird’ they might seem, because these give you the strongest indicators as to who you are and what you’re into. (Read the “savage love” column by Dan Savage to get sound advice on sexuality.)