I started masturbating when I was 4 years old. No one taught me how, I just figured it out. I started viewing pornography when I was about 11. I carried these habits with me well into adulthood. I’ve often wondered what it was that made me stumble into these addictions before I even knew what they were, but I’ve found that ‘why me?’ isn’t as helpful a question as ‘what now?’.
I eventually got to the point where I couldn’t go a day without viewing porn and masturbating. Outwardly I seemed like a quiet yet well-adjusted person, but inwardly I felt empty. I had a wife that I didn’t really feel connected to. I avoided deep personal relationships like they were the plague. I remember feeling so empty inside that I couldn’t possibly conceive why anyone would really wanted to spent their time with me, so naturally I did them the favor (or so I thought) of avoiding them altogether.
I tried to fill my emptiness with porn and video games. To this day I love video games, but there’s a clear difference between playing for 30 minutes to unwind and playing for 12 hours straight and missing sleep, meals, and human interaction because you’re trying to block out your own feelings.
When I started to abstain from porn and video games I literally felt like I was going to die. All the feelings I’d been hiding for my entire life bubbled up inside me and I didn’t have any way to hide from them. Many of these feelings were clearly childish and inconsistent with reality. For instance, I felt like no one really loved me even though I had clear evidence that people had tried. The reality was that I felt unlovable because I had disconnected from others and myself for such a long time and I didn’t believe that I could ever re-connect. I felt angry because God/Life/The Universe had been unfair to me. I wanted to believe that I wasn’t feeling all these things and that I could just run away from them and create a new reality for myself. The problem with that strategy is that it was what I had been doing my entire life, running from my feelings and trying to force myself to be and feel something else.
At some point, deep in the darkness and fog, I began to embrace these feeling instead of rejecting them. When hardships came, when I got stressed out, when my life didn’t make any sense and I just wanted it all to go away, I embraced it. Somehow, I came to see that my life wasn’t merely a broken mess that I had to escape, it was a thing of beauty, flawed though it may be. When the fog lifted the things I thought were foibles actually made me more complete, more lovable, and more relatable.
There’s still fog every now and again, but I know how to deal with it now. Whenever a negative feeling pops up, be it anger, frustration, depression, anxiety, or whatever, I embrace it. I try to understand it. I don’t tell myself that I’m bad or wrong for feeling that way. Instead I try to figure out why I feel the way I do. I get to know myself.
I used to push my true self into a corner and replace him with a lie. I’d give people a fake, idealistic, too-perfect, but ultimately empty version of myself instead. Sometimes I still do subconsciously, but the more I get to know myself the more I am able to help others connect with the genuine ‘me’.
LINK – The Fog Goes Away Eventually