Age 30 - Six months of freedom: my suggestions
So... Yesterday marked six months for me. It's been a very difficult path for me personally but one that I do not regret in any way. What has been the most challenging time in my life has also been the most necessary. Everybody's situation is different and I can't begin to imagine what situations other people find themselves in, but I would like to share a bit of my story in the hope that it would be of some encouragement and support to others who might find themselves somewhere along the path that I have been.
I'm 30 years old. I've never liked that I looked at pornography but I have looked at pornography to varying degrees since I was thirteen or fourteen years old. My initial attempts to quit were based entirely on prayer. I prayed that God would take away my sexual desires. I prayed for blindness. I even prayed, rather fantastically, that he would send me the relief of an angel who might visit me often enough to keep the urges at bay. None of these things happened and I'll admit that my shame and frustration surrounding lust and porn were largely responsible for me turning away from my faith when I was around nineteen years old. I told some people about my struggle but I was always full of excuses for my behavior. I was always quick to make myself out to be a victim in some way.
When I was in my early twenties I fell in love with a woman and thought I was finally free. I soon learned that I was not. We got married after a little over a year of being together and though my access and my use of pornography was limited, it continued to happen in brief bouts. It was rarely ever porn in the popular sense but even a modest photograph of a woman can be used as pornography if looked at lustfully. I tried quitting. I told her about it. I tried quitting but was too ashamed to really seek any help outside of myself. Two weeks before our two year anniversary she decided she could no longer stay with me. There were other reasons, but understanding now how porn has crippled me over the years I have come to see that even the other reasons, that ones that didn't seem to have anything to do with porn, were intimately connected to it.
For awhile, I was so ashamed and broken over my divorce that I lost any sex drive. I tried engaging with porn and was panicked by my lack of interest in sex. My sense of masculinity had been put into question and I had lost sense that I had any value as a man. Sex was the thing I turned to to try to reinforce my sense of masculinity. I looked at porn then with a level of abandon. Nothing mattered. I was broken. I was lonely. I had lost hope. I had also lost my sex drive.
I started seeing someone about a year later, which began a series of brief relationships, each with varying attitudes about pornography. Some women thought it was great. One demanded that I watch it, that I needed to get over my conflicted feelings about it. One encouraged me to watch it with her. All of this only confused me further. Even with partners who were okay with porn, I remained uncomfortable with it. I hated it. I hated that it had any power over me.
Then, I met someone new. I fell in love again. Again, I hoped and believed that I would be finally free. At first I was, but then I had a low month and found myself returning to it one night. Over the following year it crept up in moments. At times it was happening once or twice a week. I knew she would not be okay with it. I kept it from her.
It finally came up this past January. I wish that I had had the courage to confess it to her. Instead, I can only say that I had enough courage to say, "yes" when she asked me if I ever looked at it.
That was six months ago.
My relationship with my partner has hung in the balance ever since that night. Even now, I'm not sure what will happen. But I do know, that despite all of the tremendous pain that I've gone through these last six months, I am grateful for that night. I do know that I am grateful for her.
Everyone is on a different path, but I can share the path that I have been on the last six months, and the things I have done to find myself here and now -- certain that pornography is no longer something I will turn to.
1. Open up to those closest to you. It may not be necessary to be as extreme as I have been, but find anyone you trust and begin a conversation with them. There is no one in my immediate circle who does not now know this about me. My entire family, my partner's entire family, my closest friends, and my partner's closest friends all know. I've had to surrender my ego entirely. Among all these people I am blessed by a lot of understanding. I have friends who have been through the same thing and we now support one another.
2. Seek professional help. Talk to a therapist specializing in sex addiction, or join a group. You need some perspective and you will find it from others who have walked this road before.
3. Dig deep. Discover the reasons you turned to porn and lust. Recognize that it has always been an escape. There are five types of sexual addiction and chances are you have experienced more than one of them. They are: Biological Sex Addiction (your body is telling you you need sex), Emotional Sex addiction (You use sex to escape negative emotions), Psychological Sex Addiction (Past trauma has led to unhealthy associations with sex), Physiological sex addiction (your brain chemistry is all messed up), and Spiritual Sex Addiction (You're looking for God, or the divine, or your own higher power).
4. Begin to follow your dreams. You turned to fantasy as a way to escape the hard work of pursuing your dreams. But fantasy is a lie, and you're wasting your time.
5. Love yourself. Love yourself in the most deeply healthy way. This is the hardest one and maybe the most abstract.
6. Learn about your addiction. There are a lot of people here in this forum who have shared links and their own personal experiences. There are more and more resources becoming available as people are talking more and more about this issue.
7. Support others. Even just coming onto this forum and encouraging others is a way of helping yourself.
8. GET OFF YOUR SCREENS!!! This is maybe a little bit radical, but at the same time I gave up porn, I also gave up television and movies. There are so many triggers, and frankly, my life is way better now. I don't even know how I had so much time to waste. I'm busy following my dreams and I have no more time to escape.
9. Connect with real people. We've spent so much time on the cusp of giving into our addictions that we don't realize how far down the path we have wandered. Some people call an accountability partner right before they are about to open up a link. I reach out to someone the moment I am feeling lonely, the moment I feel like withdrawing, the moment I feel down. Reach out before the temptation to lust even enters your head. Spend time with people in real ways, face to face.
10. Recognize that porn is not the problem. It is a symptom. You were made for real love. You deserve real love. Embrace that truth and porn can be regarded as the ridiculous lie that it is.
12. Come to understand lust. Understand that it is not a part of you. It is a lie you have been believing. To be honest, I do not have a lot of faith in those who give up porn but continue to lust after the women walking by, no matter how clothed they are. Porn is full of all kinds of other issues, but lusting after women is no better.
13. Make the decision once and for all, with absolute conviction. 90 days is great but you have your whole life ahead of you and porn will never serve you. Even after 90 days it will remain as destructive as it has ever been. Moderation is a lovely idea for things that are healthy but I don't believe there is such a thing as a healthy dose of porn. From every angle it is unhealthy.
14. Know that as much as this is destroying your life, it is doing infinitely worse things to the lives of women. We are here to protect women, to uplift them, to honor them, and to love them. Porn defies our purpose. It mocks our purpose.
There is a lot more I could say. Ultimately, I am glad to be where I am. I am glad to finally feel free. Everyone here on this forum can experience the same level of freedom. It takes lot of work but the rewards are endless.
I'd be happy to help anyone wanting to talk more.
Thread: Six Months of Freedom