I was trapped. I wanted desperately to escape. Like a trapped animal I would have chewed off my leg if it meant my freedom.
Yet no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t escape my own destructive behavior. But I tried. At some point I did everything I could to escape: fasting, prayer, reading books, I did whatever I could think of. And of course I tried ignoring it, hoping my compulsivities would go away on their own.
But try as I might, I found myself returning to inappropriate sexual behaviors. I yearned for a deep connection with someone. But porn and sex addiction lie. They promise connection. Yet all it gives is intensity instead of intimacy.
Like a dog returning to it’s own vomit I returned to what I hated. In pursuit of that intensity I crossed boundaries I thought I’d never cross. And that hatred towards my behaviors turned inward. In my struggles I began to hate myself.
“Why can’t I stop? What is wrong with me? I’m an idiot! I’m such a hypocrite.”
I was a poster child for being a good kid. I got straight A’s in class, people liked me, I went to church, I even spent a year in China volunteering for a non-profit among the poor.
Yet despite all my efforts, despite my high convictions, despite my values and desire for integrity, I had to face the truth: I had a serious problem.
Worst of all, I thought I was alone. No one else knew about my struggles.
I vowed to myself: “No one can know.”
I swore to myself I’d never tell a soul what I’d done. Sure, I knew people look at porn. But I had never been honest with myself-never really told anyone where I had been or how bad it really was.
My deeds were dark. In my addiction things got worse. My behavior progressed. This only added to my shame and self-loathing. The deeper my isolation, the deeper and more damaging my addiction became.
I got to the point where I considered suicide. I began to believe the lie that killing myself and ending this struggle would be better than this hell.
I got to the point where I had three choices: kill myself, give in fully to my addiction, or tell someone the full truth.
I’ve heard from some of you. I know you feel isolated and alone. There is no one you feel you can tell about your struggles.
I have been there. Let me be as direct as I can with you:
Failure happens in isolation. It doesn’t come from what you’ve done.
If you are addicted, if porn or sex has become compulsive, then it is in control of you. You aren’t in control of it.
The lie of addiction is that you are alone.
The lie of addiction is that you aren’t worthy.
The lie of addiction is that you are a failure.
The lie of addiction is there is no hope.
The lie of addiction is that if you tell others you will be rejected.
Now you have only two real options:
Tell no one. Wait. Stay isolated. Hope it will get better over time. Pray for strength. Read books or blogs online. These things can help. But they aren’t enough. Significant change only happens in community. You are lying to yourself if you think you can conquer this on your own.
Tell someone. Tell the truth. Open up and let a friend in. Be committed to honesty. Talk to a counselor. Join a 12 step group. Add friends on rTribe. Go to any lengths to get the help you need.
Look, if you can change on your own, why are you still struggling? Why are you reading this?
If you could change without help from others, wouldn’t you have already done that?
If you are still reading this, good for you. It means you have the courage to consider what may feel like a harsh reality. Addiction is a harsh reality. But there is more to this reality.
The truth is you are not alone.
Read that again. You are not so unique that others can’t relate. There are millions of men and women who are also trapped and have similar stories. Those who reach out for help and become honest, and commit deeply to change can find help with the disease of addiction.
You might say, “Josh, I know I have a problem. I’m not in denial about that.”
But if you haven’t taken the step to tell others and get help, I have to tell you: “you are fooling yourself”.
Someone once told me: insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result.
If you’re acknowledging you have a problem, but aren’t willing to do what it takes to get help, you’re like a person who knows they have a leg infected with gangrene and you refuse to take the necessary action to get help, even if that means what feels incredibly drastic.
Yes, telling a safe person the full truth of your story is risky. It may feel like I’m asking you to amputate your leg. But what is the cost of not telling someone? Addiction, like gangrene that infects and decomposes tissue, doesn’t heal on it’s own. Addiction leads to the death of intimate relationships, your hopes, and your capacity to live a thriving life.
If you don’t tell you will stay stuck.
If you tell, you have hope for freedom, for connection, for life.
Tribe On, Josh