No More Dirty Looks

Pornography controlled my life for 10 years. I felt powerless and couldn’t shake off the shame.

"I shouldn't be looking at this stuff. This is so wrong."

When I was 13, I was picking berries on a farm and this guy was raving about these pictures he’d seen online. Being curious, that evening I used my ancient dial-up connection and googled “sex.” What I found was so much more explicit than the lingerie ads I’d flipped through in my mom’s Sears Catalog. Those ads had stirred something within me, but these pictures brought on a sudden thrill and exhilaration: my heart pounded and I felt more aroused than ever. But all the while this palpable guilt was sinking its fangs into the back of my neck like a spider.

But I grew immune to the spider's bite.

I fell deep into the addiction and justified my behavior, lying to myself like an expert. I was totally enslaved: joyless, living in a fog of shame, only feeling good about myself when I’d resisted for a few days. I was sick of doing things I didn’t really want to do, tired of the person I saw myself becoming: “Is this all my life is ever going to be?”

The intimacy pornography promised was proving to be an illusion. Pixels on a screen could not give me the acceptance and trust I was looking for. I wanted the fix without the consequences — the pleasure without feeling empty and ashamed afterwards.

I wanted the fix without the consequences — the pleasure without feeling empty and ashamed afterwards.

In 2009 I was travelling with a group of friends. Someone joined our group on Friday, and on Sunday he was hit by a car and killed. After I helped identify his lifeless body, I was struck to the core and found myself facing my addiction with new determination: “I’m wasting my life being addicted to this stuff? I need to kill this habit no matter what it takes.”

So I started taking big steps towards freedom. Just wanting it to go away wasn’t enough to make it go away. Good intentions weren't going to change anything if I didn’t take action. So I chose to own my problem and let my pride die. And that meant no more secrets. I had to get help.

Feeling more vulnerable than ever, I met up with a trusted friend and told him about my struggle. I gave him permission to ask me tough questions at any time, which he did in the weeks and months ahead to keep me accountable. Learning to tell myself and others the ugly truth was a huge turning point for me.

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