I can still remember finding the stash of porn magazines in my older brother's bedroom, and the diary of his exploits in Scandinavia, where he had hired a prostitute. I was about 11 or 12, I'm guessing.
It was at once thrilling, disorienting and guilt- and anxiety-provoking. I was opened to a world of mystery, one that promised all kinds of ecstasy on one hand and yet on the other, looked cold and intimidating. These were not descriptions of warm and loving encounters, but animalistic lust.
I couldn't help but to return to them again and again. But my fascination hardly led to filling my heart. Thus began a young life, like so many my age, of furtively checking out Playboys and more hard-core magazines whenever they could be found, which was very rarely.
Fast forward to my 20s, 30s and 40s. By then I had devoted my life to spiritual pursuits and was working full-time in faith-based education. I was married and lived and worked in close quarters with others who were similarly devoted.
By then, newsstands had entire racks upon racks devoted to nudie mags, and in lonely and depressed moments, I might guiltily indulge for a brief time.
As in most stories of this kind, there is the dramatic shift once the internet gets involved. In 2004, while working at home as usual, I chanced upon something accidental, and clicked it out of curiosity. Suddenly a flood of explicit obscene images opened one after another, unable to be closed except by turning off the computer.
I trembled afterwards, both horrified and fascinated, and of course--you know how the story goes. I would resist, then slip and feel awful, swear it off--and then do it all over again months later.
I eventually confessed it to my wife and kept her updated about any temptation and slips. And then came the more complete relapse a few years later and not wanting to tell her all over again. (Sound familiar?)
I did tell her eventually. But it would not be the last time I'd need to. I would struggle again every once in while, in a low moment. (And these were not as rare as I would have wanted. I was prone to depression and anxiety.)
recovery finds me
A few years ago, I became the director of a marriage enrichment non-profit. The founder suddenly decided to change direction and tackle porn recovery. I was now submerged in a sea of both information and support to help me finally and fully face and deal with own struggles.
My training in addictions counseling came in handy as my staff and I developed a recovery program that has proven effective, for our clients and for us staffers.
I have had to learn about my strengths and weaknesses, my motivations to overcome and my rationalizations to indulge, and to choose to get the accountability that I was lacking in the past.
surprised by love