George’s Story: I Stopped My Porn Addiction, And You Can Too

It took losing two wives before I finally admitted to myself that my use of porn was a serious problem. I finally realized I that porn and masturbation was running my life. That’s when I took the very big step (for me at the time) of calling a therapist to help me.

 

How did I end up in this mess?

 

My parents were alcoholics. As a result, they weren’t thinking clearly about being parents.  Their response to the stresses of parenthood was to turn their abusive attention on me and my younger brother.  I understood at a young age that my parents were crazy, and that’s a terrifying realization for a child.  I knew that I had to make my own decisions, because they could not be trusted not make them for me.  

There was no peace, no loving attention, and nearly no supervision in that household.  I was left to figure things out on my own.  I had nobody else in my life – no authority figure to model loving relationships, or even to give me the talk. With abusive, alcoholic parents running the show, it was up to me to figure things out on my own.

As I grew up, and my addiction developed, I didn’t even realize it was an addiction at first. Without anyone there showing me the important differences between sex and intimacy, I settled for the lowest common denominator: porn, which I found in my father’s briefcase.

I craved some kind of connection, because I wasn’t getting it at home.  Approaching girls in school was difficult to say the least  My low self-esteem left me feeling terrified in the face of real human intimacy, so I took the easiest route.  At the time, porn was mainly a print media (at first National Geographic and the Sears catalog, and later Playboy and Penthouse), but whether you retreated to the internet, or to your dad’s Playboys, you ended up just as isolated.

Sure, I had my girlfriends.  The problem was that they only existed in print, on film or on VCR tapes.  They were all beautiful, they couldn’t talk back, and they were there any time I wanted them. This was decidedly different from my mother’s intrusive, incestuous behavior. 

At the time, porn just felt like a safer route. You can’t be rejected by porn, you get to pick and choose, and you don’t have to feel embarrassed while trying to navigate all the subtleties of normal relationships.  You can open a magazine or press “play”.

The problems begin when you press “play” or watch porn more and more, in an effort to avoid real connection.

 

Your Addiction Keeps You Isolated

When you’re the only one who knows about your addiction, it’s a scary and lonely place.  You become filled with shame, self-doubt, criticism and anger.  You respond to these negative feelings by trying to soothe yourself with more porn, which of course only starts those feelings up again in a vicious cycle.

In fact, you have to remain isolated to engage in your addiction.  Porn watching is not a social activity.  An addiction to porn will make you do everything you can to stay alone and isolated. If my family was going out, I would make an excuse to stay home and watch porn. If a friend wanted to go to a movie or the mall, I’d decline saying I had homework to do. Then I’d stay home and watch porn. 

It goes without saying that I was the only one who knew what I was doing.  And anyway, who would I tell?

 

The “Aha” Moment

I rationalized my addiction for a long time.  I resisted change, because my behavior, at some level felt so good.  I was acting out in a way that provided a release and a chance to cope with my life, and it was impossible to deny myself that.

But as I got older, I began to notice more and more people holding hands, or touching one another in loving ways.  As I was pondering the relationships and marriages all around me, I realized I had over 50 porn tapes.  That’s when it clicked.  Real intimacy was something I hadn’t experienced, because my addiction kept me from it.  My addiction told me I didn’t deserve these things in my life, and they were just out of my reach.

 

False Starts On The Road To Recovery

I made a phone call, realizing that I needed some help.  Even though that was a positive first step for me, it still took me over a year to follow up. My mind was a worthy adversary. I kept having resistance.  I was great at sabotaging any kind of recovery that I could muster.  

Every now and then, I would get fed up with my addiction, and try to just white-knuckle my way out of it. I would “quit” by throwing away all the tapes.  Actually, I did this many times.  But somehow, within a week, they would always reappear. I had no plan, so I wasn’t recovering.  

 

I Didn’t Know There Was A Better Way

I found a 12-step group for men like me.  These meetings helped me realize I was only as sick as my secrets.  When first I got to the 12-step group, I was able to announce my addiction, like everyone else.  Finally, I wasn’t alone.  I wasn’t the only one who knew anymore. It was a great moment.  

Working with this group, I started to demystify my own secret. Sex and porn addiction are plagued by misinformation, and I finally had a chance to learn the real truth.  Even though I had walked in there as the only one who knew my secret, now there were others who could help me.

In my work as a counselor, I talk to men daily who are just like I used to be. When they first call me, they are the only one who knows about their addiction.  And just like me, when they speak their addiction out loud, a huge weight is lifted off their backs.  They’re so relieved to know that they’re not suffering from terminal uniqueness.  

It’s not terminal, it’s not unique, and you don’t have to be the only one who knows.

 

If you are living a socially isolated life and think you might be addicted to sex, one way to determine if you need porn addiction therapy is to take the Online Quiz at http://www.neulia.com/online-quiz/

 

 

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