Ever wonder what goes on the mind of a recovering sex addict? Read this!
I AM A GRATEFULLY RECOVERING sex and pornography addict. As a result of sex abuse by a neighbor, exposure to pornography by the same neighbor and emotional abuse at home during my childhood, I became a sex addict at the age of six and have been fighting for my life and sanity ever since. This is my experience of overcoming pornography addiction.
Along with many others, I was under the false impression that my addiction was really just a “little problem” that more faith and a simple attitude adjustment could fix—eventually. As my addiction grew and became progressively more dangerous and out of control, however, I eventually resigned myself to the belief that I was destined for hell and could only hope to live out the remainder of my miserable life as best I could. Unable to find anything that really worked or anyone who could really help, I felt my only option was to continue fighting my battle in secret while doing all I could to be a good husband and father to the extent possible.
The compartmentalizing of my life into the “real” and the “secret” was debilitating on every front: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I finally reached a point where I simply could not go on. I broke.
In early 2010, over thirty-five years after the nightmare began, a friend in another state talked to me on the phone and introduced me to Sexaholics Anonymous. The result has been the complete sexual sobriety I had sought for decades but failed to find. It saved my marriage and my life. I have been overcoming pornography addiction!
I quickly learned that sexual sobriety and recovery elude so many of us addicts because we do not understand that our addiction is so much bigger, stronger and more cunning than we are. As I was writing about my recovery experience one day, the vision came to my mind of a six-year-old boy sitting in a little rowboat with a handful of marbles. A grey battleship was headed straight towards him and was going to crush him. In desperation, the boy was heaving the marbles at the ship as hard as he could, trying to sink it.
This pathetic picture of a frightened child frantically throwing marbles at a battleship finally and accurately captured the sheer futility of thirty-five years of fighting a battle I could not win and was ill-equipped even to undertake. Thus, the name of our website was born.
The very first thing I learned in recovery was that I had lost the war, or more precisely, every single battle I ever engaged in, because I did not understand that my addiction truly was more powerful than I was. When I fought it, it fought back with ten times more ferocity. I simply could not win. I could only surrender—not to the addiction, mind you, but to God. It was in surrendering, however, that I found victory.
In Sexaholics Anonymous, we work through the 12 Steps of recovery as originally outlined in Alcoholics Anonymous. The first step is that we “admitted that we were powerless over lust [and] that our lives had become unmanageable.” It took surrender for me to understand and acknowledge that I truly was powerless over my sex addiction and that it was progressing to the point where it would soon kill me. And that’s when my surrender began killing the obsession!
Following in short order for me was the second of the 12 Steps, when I came “to believe that [God] could restore [me] to sanity.” As a man of faith, I had always assumed that my life was guided by my faith. Imagine my shock when I discovered that I was, in fact, trying to “save myself on my own terms” all while professing my faith and acceptance of Christ and His Infinite Atonement.
Without realizing it, I had been crying out for the Lord to save me not so much from my addiction, but from the necessity of doing everything I could on my end so that He could then save me on His end. I really wanted Him to save me—from doing the dirty work in overcoming pornography addiction. Poof! I’m cured! Fortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
I have the privilege of working through the program of recovery in Sexaholics Anonymous with some of the greatest souls I have ever encountered. As we recovering addicts have journeyed together, buoying each other up as we move forward, my soul and mind and heart have changed. God has performed a miracle in my life. He has made the blind see; he has healed the leper; he has forgiven the sinner.
My prayers are different now. In the past, my prayers of repentance were desperate. I cried out for forgiveness and then for the strength to continue the bitter and bloody fight with an unrelenting enemy. Now my prayers of repentance are prayers of gratitude. I thank the Lord for sending one angel after another to help me find a solution, a sobriety and a recovery from an addiction that was destroying me. With a quiet confidence I can now ask God to accept my offering of a broken heart and contrite spirit as demonstrated by the fact that I have finally been able to forsake my sins, something I had tried and failed to do for more than a third of a century.
I am not cured. I will always be an addict. As I‟ve said in meetings, “I am sober and in recovery, but I‟m always about fifteen minutes away from acting out on my addiction.” I say this to remind myself and others that recovery is a journey not a destination. If I stop working my program and stop trying to share the message of recovery from addiction with others, I am certain to fall again. I don‟t intend to let that happen.
Like Alma, I wish I were an angel. I want to cry out to the entire world that there is an escape from the deadly grip of sex and pornography addiction. The Lord has described our modern day as one in which people‟s iniquities would be “spoken from the housetops.” As the internet has come to permeate nearly every facet of our modern lives and very little remains secret, I have often thought that this is surely what He had in mind.
In a way, the internet is allowing me to meld Alma’s prayer with the Lord’s description of modern life in what will hopefully be a successful undertaking to save lives, marriages and, ultimately, the souls of some of God’s children. As my sins are “spoken from the housetops” by means of an electronic megaphone, I pray that the message reaches the ears, eyes and hearts of those who are suffering in confusion and silence, as the voice of an angel crying out that
Yes, overcoming pornography addiction is possible and recovery is wonderful!