- Mental Health
- Other Addictions
When I was 11 years old I was exposed to pornography by a friend who innocently wanted to show me a funny video on a website with a hodgepodge of videos. She was sexually experimenting and my curiosity killed the cat. What started out slow became a full blown problem and by the time I was a freshman in high school I identified as an addict. But I didn’t understand how I could be, because everything I read said men would be the ones to have a sexually active mind and hurt their wives with their choices. I was a single teenager with biological needs. How could I be doing something wrong? Well I was hiding, lying, on edge, over-achieving to make up for wrongs, using a boyfriend to toe the line and wanting to go farther, but keep my virginity.
No matter where I went (off to college, moving across the country, changing apartments), there I was in a spiral of insanity.
The turning point for me was when two close mentors and colleagues decided to have an affair. Both were in marriages and both chose to sleep with each other at work, damaging their relationships, breaking trust and being super selfish. I knew I couldn’t condemn them because I too was living in sexual sin. The anger and hurt boiled up in me so much I was physically raging. Porn had gone from being a virtual and distant thing to being real, messy and the concept of sex in an unhealthy context was more repulsive than ever. I had a flash-forward vision to my future relationship with a husband and I didn’t want to be the person that I was standing there having that terrible thought. I was ready to get my addiction under control, but not in my own power.
I was introduced to Celebrate Recovery held at my church by a friend. I had moved to a new state and I was ready for people to know the real me. To heal I had to deal. And if nothing changes, nothing changes. So I signed up for a step study to surround myself with accountability and begin to uncover the root of my issue. Saying the full serenity prayer and walking biblical based steps helped remind me of truth and walk in reality, not in denial or shame. I wrestled through childhood hurts. An extended family that on one hand supported me and on the other hand had their motives to use me as a pawn in their games of betrayal, manipulation and gossip. Mental illness was the family secret that was never properly explained to me, so I thought I had to perform to keep people happy. I thought it was the circumstances and the pressure from expectations of who I was supposed to be that had me addicted for 11 years to pornography.
I learned how to make amends and forgive without expectations. I am empowered by what I am in control of and unburdened by what is not on my side of the street. Things don’t have to be so complex and dramatic, but supporting one another, not fixing one another can be beautiful with no strings attached. It is simple. I discovered that only God can fight my battles. He does the heavy lifting and I surrender in obedience.
Life today can be frustrating, because I am still an addict. That doesn’t go away. But I have a great tool belt. I live authentically. I have friends who love the real me. I give myself grace. I have victory. I am twenty months clean from pornography, because God is my champion. I feel lighter and more mature. I seek what will bring me serenity.
Women can talk about this issue. We are all human. Statistically one out of three porn addicts are female. Society still views it as baggage a man will carry, but I finally found the space to be open about it without judgement and I am confident other women can too.
I had many relapse dreams, where I thought I chose to look at porn again, but when I woke up I realized my subconscious was thinking about it. Our bodies get used to what we give it and hypes up the reward it wants. Those things we just have to forgive our bodies for and realize we aren’t actively makings those choices. Only focus on what you are in control of and ride out the rest. Other positive actions can replace those desires in your sobriety and as the brain heals, satisfaction will be found in healthy things.