Married for 15 years with two kids. Been fighting this for 17 years. A year ago I was near ending everything. I’m a firefighter so I struggle with sleep deprivation. When I’m up at work at night the next day EVERYTHING sucks. There were days that I was PMOing 4 or 5 times a day. I could not stop, even though I’ve been trying to for 17 years.
A year ago I was ready to eat a bullet. Not by chance (but it seemed that way at the time) on a men’s retreat I met a group of guys that are mostly recovering drug addicts. Some had a few days clean and some had 10+ years clean. Immediately the met me with relentless acceptance right where I was at. They all go to NA (narcotics anonymous).
None of that, “if you just do this and this life will be better” shit. They just accepted me and asked me if I could just be concerned with making it through my next urge. Not even that day, just my next urge. They taught me “one moment at a time”.
First of all they urged me to start attending SA (sexaholics anonymous) meetings. I finally did after a bunch of excuses. There I was also met with absolute acceptance.
Over the next several months I relapsed countless times and I would always tell one of them about it. Every fucking time his response was absolute mercy. He would always tell me, “this doesn’t define you, lust and porn are not who you are”. Although I felt like a total fucking loser for not being able to stop. I could not understand how he didn’t get annoyed with my near daily relapses. But he was the first person in my life who treated like that.
My whole life I’ve felt like a total disappointment, to my parents, to God, to everyone. Honestly I was really fucking mad at God because even though everyone says He’s so merciful and kind it really seemed to me like He was always pissed at people for fucking up.
In SA you work the 12 steps just like AA and NA. I was stuck on step 3 because since I thought God was a prick I didn’t want to give my life over to His care. So the guy who leads the SA meeting said, “hey that’s fine if you think that. But can we both agree that lust isn’t the god you want to run your life? And it seems like lust is running your life”. I said “yes, lust isn’t my god even though I’m not real sure about God being my God”.
He suggested that every time I got an urge to respond by telling lust that it’s not my god. So with every urge (whether it be to m, p or fantasize) I would immediately say, “fuck you lust you’re not my god, you’re nothing but a liar and a thief”.
Up till that point I was never able to make it past 30 days (in most cases it was 3 days), because around the 30 day mark I had this feeling like it’s only a matter of time before I give in. I wasn’t experiencing any of the so called super powers. And the urges seemed near constant. But with the idea the guy gave me about not letting lust be my god I was able to make it to 40 days. Then finally around the 40 day mark the urges seemed to greatly lessen.
I just kept doing what I mentioned above with every urge. And my buddies were constantly talking to me about being fully loved and accepted whether I relapsed or not.
You see I grew up in a fairly strict Christian home with lots of rules. As long as I was “a good boy” all was well. So I perfected being a good boy. But some things with my marriage and church kind of made that all blow up. And I said, “fuck it, I’m tired of trying to make everyone happy, including God”.
But my NA buddies encouraged me to “get it out” because God didn’t mind, he could take it. While all the church people were constantly telling me “that’s not okay, you can’t say that”.
With the urges getting less and all this talk about acceptance I think I started to believe that I was fully loved and accepted even if I relapsed. Then a few months ago I was talking to another guy who was struggling with PMO and he was using all kinds of “shame” talk, like I suck if I can’t overcome this – just like I used to talk to myself. But all of the sudden his talk seemed strange to me and then I realized that shaming doesn’t help it only makes things worse. Because usually addiction is an attempt to cover pain. And although we don’t feel it, it actually hurts ourselves when we shame ourselves. So I said to him, “bro that’s not going to help you, shaming yourself or anyone for that matter never results in lasting freedom”. Then he responded, “yes it does”. That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks that I had lived my whole life trying to motivate myself with shame. And boom a flood of realization swept over me that God accepts me just as I am, even before I beat this. Which to mea meant that I can accept myself just as I am. And I can also accept my wife and kids just as they are.
So here’s the thing, I hope that I never relapse again, but if I do that doesn’t change who I am one bit. Doesn’t make me a loser and it doesn’t mean this streak is lost. It means that I’m human and I make mistakes. It means that I’ll have the opportunity to show myself mercy. When I can show myself mercy then I can also lovingly show others mercy when they wrong me.
I still have difficult days, especially when I had to get up in the middle of the night at work but damn this is a hell of a lot easier when I’m not living in shame. Hope this made sense.
I’m 39 years old
I don’t feel like shit all the time. I dont have as much energy as i want cause my job causes sleep deprivation. But even so when i was pmoing i just felt miserable.
The shame thing is huge for me. It doesn’t just affect me it affects people around me. I feel different about people and i treat them differently.
Obviously sex with my wife is much more enjoyable. She feels more desired and enjoyed. I personally think a fundamental longing of most women is to feel enjoyed