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I was a porn addict but I found my out and now live a pretty spectacular life. I remember my first experience with pornography. I was probably 6-years-old and staying the night at a friend’s house. His father had a collection of porn magazines. That night we hid a couple of magazines under our pillows before going to sleep. I can’t even remember if we looked at them or even what I saw or didn’t see that night. I remember that just the idea of hiding the magazines delivered a charge. I wouldn’t see another porn magazine for 2 more years.
Growing up I did a fair amount of sexual exploration. I remember rationalizing it saying I was “practicing for a girl.” I don’t know if this exploration was a byproduct of some kind of sexual abuse, but I think it was. It helps me to think it was. When I was 5 or 6, I remember a neighbor kid and I were in his grandmother’s bathroom and we tried oral sex on one another. Maybe I just did it to him, not sure. I can still remember how his penis felt in my mouth, the taste, smell, but mostly I remember the shame I felt. It turns my stomach when I think back. It’s amazing how memories can become trapped in the mind.
This sexual exploration continued and eventually it involved my cousin. He was a year younger than me. I can’t help but feel I had become the instigator in this sexual behavior. We never actually had intercourse, but we would try and simulate the act as best we could. I can’t exactly remember how long this went on, but I do know when it stopped.
I was 8 and AIDS was exploding. Somehow I heard that boys could get AIDS by sexually playing with each other. Well that was it for me. I was sure I had AIDS and was going to die. Like I said before, the mind is incredibly powerful. (And when dealing with porn addiction, very unreliable). The memory of the terror of thinking that I had AIDS is still with me today. I can’t seem to shake it.
Once I thought I had AIDS (I do not), I became very destructive with my life. I was very open to using drugs and alcohol, but it was the porn that I found most soothing - my sex addiction was getting worse. I found my first stash of porn when I was twelve. A neighbor was having a garage sale and he had a box that had some trophies in it.
I can remember looking in that box and at the bottom seeing magazines. On top was Sports Illustrated, but some sick sense told me to dig deeper. Sure enough there was a stack of about 30 porn magazines under the Sports Illustrated. I grabbed the whole box and put it on my scooter and with one foot in the box for balance I high-tailed it out of there. I brought the box back to my fort and my buddies and I spent hours going through them. I was consumed.
This went on up into my teens. I would find magazines or steal them from friend’s houses and take them back to my house and then thrash at myself for hours - my porn addiction continued to escalate. Then when I got more deeply involved with drugs and alcohol I would incorporate the porn. I couldn’t wait to think of that next thing that would pack an even bigger high. My life was only about getting higher and higher. And I learned how porn could do that for me.
A magazine was also how I got my first glimpse into the dark side of porn. In the back of some of the magazines I would buy was a section of classified ads showing videos for sale, etc. In very small pictures I saw ads for videos – incest, bestiality, underage nudity, and transsexual videos. I remember at first telling myself that I could never masturbate to any of those pictures. But I ended up proving myself wrong. I would get a magnifying glass so I could see them better and… well, you know.
When I was 15 we got the Internet and even in those early days it provided a buffet of whatever you wanted. I would spend hours on the computer masturbating 3 or 4 times a day. I could not get enough-my porn addiction continued to grow.
I knew all this masturbating and porn watching was changing me, even though I knew nothing at the time about porn addiction. Even then I knew I didn’t want to be doing it. I would try to stop by doing things like cutting the Internet connection cord or trying to break the computer somehow, but I couldn’t stop. I would eventually always find a way to get back online. My parents never said anything to me about it. I can’t believe that they didn’t know, but even if they had said something, it was so shameful to me that I would of denied it anyway. As George says, “porn is the gift that keeps on giving.”
I knew porn was desensitizing me and turning me into a junkie - this is the telltale sign of porn addiction. I just wanted to get off and I didn’t care if I was pleasuring myself or if someone else was doing it to me. I dabbled in everything. I was filled with shame and had lost all hope. I figured if it was there, I might as well try it. I went to prostitutes. I had oral sex with guys. I went to the seedy theaters and jerk off booths. None of it was pretty. The whole time I knew that I really didn’t want to be doing it. But I was powerless over my porn addiction.
I started looking for help when I was 22. But no one seemed to know about porn addiction then. The groups I found were filled with sex offenders and people who were into some really dark shit. When I would share, they would all kind of laugh and dismiss that I was suffering. I told myself that the world wasn’t ready for my addiction yet, that I would have to wait. And wait I did.
During that time of waiting I started going to seminars and got involved in self-help style groups. I was at least receiving tools that helped me cope with the suffering of porn addiction. It was in one of these groups I met my wife. When I met her, I told myself, “Okay, now I can stop.” Things were okay for a while, but then I hooked the Internet back up and before I knew it I was spending hours and sometimes full days and nights masturbating and watching pornography.
I watched the porn stars go from having pubic hair to no pubic hair. I watched all the manipulations that the pornographers were doing to make their videos more taboo and more exciting. I started finding myself in some pretty dark places on the net. Still I knew that I had to change this behavior or I would have to give up my life as I knew it. I contemplated suicide to end my porn addiction once and for all. I searched for the magic pill that monks take. I was looking for anything that would take away this compulsion and give me some peace.
I went through several therapists before finding George. George was the only one saying that I could change my mind - he taught me the tools that he used to save his life from the grip of sex addiction - that I didn’t have to be a porn addict for my whole life. I wanted to spend more time on this earth being sober than I had spent being an addict. George showed compassion and understanding. For the first time in my life I was ready to receive that. I was willing to be taught a different way.
We did a lot of a lot of dialog work – talking to the parts of me that were running the show in my head. This helped me understand these internal personalities. I was able to put an age, face, and agenda on these sub-personalities. Slowly they emerged from being dark demons to being teachers.
I came to realize that my sex addiction was actually a gift of sorts and that we don’t get to choose the gifts that are bestowed upon us. I now had a different context for the porn addiction to live in – an empowering context – one that gave me strength and did not take strength away any longer.
Understanding my addiction not only gave my life a purpose. It expected something from me. It wanted me to now use my gift to be of service. I hope my story helps you. I’ve risen from the throes of sex addiction and porn addiction. You can too.
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