It happened when I was young. I was in middle school, I think. My memories of my youth are faded and patchy at best but what I can recall tells me I was somewhere around middle school age. We moved in with my mother's good friend and he became our step-father, if not in the legal sense but for all practical purposes.
I don't recall how it happened, but its effects still plague me to this day and only grew worse and more pernicious with time. My addiction grew in lockstep with the internet.
I am, of course, talking about pornography. That thing that was once kept to your father's or grandfather's dusty shoe box shoved in the attic somewhere has mainstream acceptance. You watch porn? Who doesn't? What's the big deal, amirite?
My introduction to it was my step-father's modest collection of VHS tapes and old Playboy
magazines. Pedestrian by today's standards but effective nonetheless. It colored my attractions ever since. Ask me what I find sexually appealing (don't actually ask me... weirdo) and I can point to the movie and Playboy
issue that planted the seeds. One movie, one issue. That simple.
Even after he died a few years later (suicide after it came out he'd been sexually abusing my sisters - and me albeit in a different way I wouldn't understand until adulthood) I kept those things and consumed them regularly. But I felt in my heart something was wrong. It wasn't right. And I eventually bagged it all up for trash collection.
Then retrieved them before the last moment.
This consumption, shame, purging, and retrieval cycle is a pattern I am intimately familiar with. I'm somewhere between the purging and retrieval stages right now. But how do you truly purge something that is literally at your fingertips any time of the day? Drug addicts, alcoholics, they have to make an effort to get high or drunk. Or at least make a purchase. Obtaining pornography is as effortless as flipping a light switch.
What pornography does is both rewire how your brain responds to sexual stimuli as well as warp your sense/expectation of what healthy sexuality looks like. And from a Christian perspective it turn the act of sex, which should be loving and giving, and turn it into selfish gratification.
Like all good things created by Yahweh and twisted inward by darkness, sex become less about your partner's pleasure and more about using your partner to masturbate. But the thing is, women don't act like the actresses in pornography. It's unnatural and, in many cases, demeaning.
"It's fantasy!" they say. Your brain doesn't know that. And I have been training my brain to respond to sexual acts no real woman (short of strong financial incentive) would ever perform with an appetite that is ludicrous to expect. Now, I know there are women out there with strong sexual impulses but that is not the norm. The simple biological reality is that men are far more sexually aggressive, the initiator of most sexual acts, and are wired to simply think about sex more often.
I say this because what will eventually happen when you do find a woman is this: Once the endorphin high wears off (and if you're having pre-marital sex) you will return to pornography. The reasons why you do will probably be different than my own, but it will happen, and it will slowly begin to destroy your relationship. It will plant the seed in your mind that you are unsatisfied with the woman you have at your side and, eventually, you'll act on that. It may take years but it will happen.
I cheated on my wife twice in the past month or so. We've been together 18 years and it came to pass. You may think you won't cross that line but I think we know it's a lie. You can't stop watching porn, can you? What do you think that is doing? Is that bringing your closer to your wife or further? If it's the latter what else could happen?
I'd been struggling with my addiction for over two decades and just about a year ago I told my wife about my problem. I told her that I'd consume porn several times a day, I'd consume porn at work, I'd wait until she fell asleep and sneak to my PC and take care of things there.
Even after sex I was ready for porn.
I told her that with this addiction came the desire to be unfaithful. That the temptation to do so was high. She said she understood and was supportive. I don't know if she truly grasped what I was telling her. The reality of it. That I was telling her, "Listen, if this keeps up I will cheat on you. If the opportunity arises I will sleep with another woman."
I've been travelling for work and there's a girl I was very fond of. She was funny, smart, very easy to like. And very attractive. Out of my league. But the thing was, and I didn't really understand this until later, was that she had her own issues and would deal with them with copious amounts of alcohol. Well, there was a lull in the work and we took a short day trip to a national park. I got a room for us with two beds that we'd share for the night. We went out drinking, came back to the hotel, and stuff happened.
The thing was I wanted it to happen. I was excited to be alone with her and I hoped something like it would happen. Got my wish and I've been miserable since. She and I talked later and she made it clear that what had happened was because of the drinking and it meant nothing. I was crushed.
Later the project moved to Canada and I discovered that escort services were essentially legal. Miserable about what had happened with my co-worker, desperately wishing it would change, and missing home and wanting just to be in my wife's arms and make the pain go away, I called an escort up. I was a nervous wreck. I'd never done something like this before. How does the whole deal even work?
She was a sweet woman, honestly. After we finished we simply talked. About crappy fathers mostly. She noted, however, that she could tell what I wanted wasn't sex but affection. And that was true. It was simply about the desire to be desired by someone.
But I already am, aren't I? I'm married. But that wasn't enough. After the escort left I was struck by how completely hollow the experience was. I couldn't understand how anyone would regularly pay for sex. What was the point? Then I recalled an article I'd read about prostitution and in it the writer noted that the women he spoke to said that most men they slept with were simply lonely.
I'm married and I felt utterly and completely alone. And my experience with my co-worker only hurt because I cared about her beforehand.
This is what pornography does. This is what pornography is. It's self-medication. It creates the disease and presents itself as the treatment. You become so focused inward on a fantasy that you will eventually destroy any healthy relationship you have with your spouse. And if you don't have one yet it is the poisonous seed you will plant with one.
Unfortunately the Church has done little to address this issue and has ensnared millions of men and, yes, women. If you're a woman and reading this don't think I don't know you exist. I'm just a man relating my own thoughts. But, yes, plenty of women are addicted to pornography as well. Awareness is growing but it is slow.
If you're addicted to pornography GET HELP. Get it now. You can find Sexaholics Anonymous and Sex Addicts Anonymous groups in your area. They're 12-step programs based off the Alcoholics Anonymous model. If, however, you're like me and want a more Messiah-focused treatment program there's Celebrate Recovery
. It's structured like AA but it draws from Scripture every step of the way.
Even if you don't use these resources, talk to someone. If you're married or dating your partner should be high on that list. Talk to your pastor. Talk to a friend. Talk to someone because you need help and you need someone to be there with you.
At the end of the day you have to make a choice. We all do. We have to choose life or choose death. Indulging your addiction is choosing death. Being an addict isn't a death sentence, but indulging it is. And when those voices come, those desires scream for your attention and tell you how miserable you are, choose life. Choose love. Choose the man or woman you love and repeat it over and over in your mind until it's real to you.
Cry, scream, fail (and you will fail... addicts relapse and you're an addict) but choose life because our time here is short and we're all meant for something greater.
Choose to live.
Everything above this sentence is opinion and worth precisely what was paid for it.
Everything below this sentence is indisputable fact as verified by scientists, philosophers, scholars, clergy, and David Bowie.
If Star Wars: Destiny is a CCG, X-Wing is an LCG.