On the outside I looked like a normal guy – married, job, kids. The truth was though, that I was watching as much porn as I could – to remain comfortable, while doing all those “real life” things. Not that I was really seeing it that way. My attitude was that I was preoccupied with trying to stop!! Ha.
I knew that life was not supposed to be this way, but I always seemed to fall into trouble and act on my compulsions. I had a whole double life and I was tortured inside. I had thought marriage would help, but after marriage it actually got much worse. I went to a therapist under the pretense of “having marriage problems”. (I had to hide behind the marriage issue to get my wife to be OK with me going to a shrink). The therapist didn’t help. I even called a world renowned addiction expert who told me that I probably need a 12-step group. I couldn’t do that though – I thought, because my wife would find out (I couldn’t hide going to weekly meetings!!). Also, I felt that the whole complicated recovery thing would “cramp my style”. I resigned myself to thinking that the best I could hope for, would be to die at a ripe old age with a big, giant, ugly secret in my safekeeping.
I resigned myself to thinking that the best I could hope for, would be to die at a ripe old age with a big, giant, ugly secret in my safekeeping.
About six years later, I finally hit bottom. It became clear to me that I was getting only worse, never better. I felt everything I defined myself and life by, was “up for grabs”. I saw no way out and was afraid. I had been terrified many times before (usually by getting caught or fearing getting caught), but this was different. I knew it had nothing to do with getting “caught” by anyone. Even alone with myself “uncaught”, this life became unbearable. It became clear to me that the that the “trying harder” approach was not working, and I could see that. The reason it wasn’t working was not because I wasn’t trying hard enough, but rather because there was something wrong with me. Not being absolutely sure what it was, I went to another therapist the next week and told him my story, and he too suggested I go to a live 12-step meeting.
I came to the group the next week and discovered a room filled with other people who were stuck in a pattern of using porn and lust in ways that were harming them – and in spite of it harming them, but many of them finally got out of it and stayed out of it. In other words, they had found a way to live differently.
After doing the first of the 12-steps (admitting powerlessness) and sharing my story with others, it became clear to me that I was indeed an addict.
I have been going to the meetings ever since and have been helped directly and indirectly by God – Who I now know as my Best Friend – to stay sober so far. Today, my marriage and my life in general, are better than I had ever dreamed they’d be. I often have some awareness that I am really, comfortably, living with God. Of course, I still have plenty of problems and have ups and downs, but they aren’t as big a deal as they used to be, and there is always this “background music” of hope, telling me it’s going to be alright.
Here is my point: The traditional AA approach saved my life. By this I mean, the AA message that I have an addiction and a spiritual disconnect from God and from people. Taking in lust through my eyes (or in any way), makes my life unmanageable and makes me useless to others. Many other people appear to be able to use porn a little without suffering as I do. For them it may just be a fun past time, or at worst, a “moral failing”, while for me it leads to a downward spiral of insanity and failure, just like alcohol for an alcoholic.
I am not a BAD person getting GOOD, but rather a SICK person getting WELL.
The message of AA to me was about surrendering to the facts about myself through the understanding that I am different than non-addicts, and accepting that I am not a BAD person getting GOOD, but rather a SICK person getting WELL – with help from my Higher Power. I had to accept that this addiction had me beaten, just like cancer or diabetes. You don’t struggle against a disease, you get the treatment. I needed to first learn to get honest with myself and others. That took me about a year of frequent program calls, regular meetings, work with my sponsor, and the 12-steps.
And my recovery was still clearly a miracle. Just like God cures people from cancer and other illnesses when the patient takes his or her medicine/treatments, I had to do the same, and He did the same for me. And God continues to do it each day, because I believe that I would still use porn and continue to ruin my life, should I just get uncomfortable enough with living. Putting the steps into action every day, keeps me comfortable and sane (at least it has so far!).
I don’t think about never acting out again. Thinking about “getting free of it, or never doing it again” never worked for me. I also never ask God – tempting as it is – for sobriety this week, or year, etc. I ask Him for today only. I believe that God only asks of us one day at a time, and that is how I try to live. And thank God, I am clean from pornography use for a few good years already, one day at a time.