LDS View | Porn Addiction Is Like a Muck Fire in My Brain

When a skunk crawls under your front porch and dies, you don’t start hanging up air fresheners and hope no one notices the smell. You roll up your sleeves and go to work. You tear up the front steps, put on a mask and rubber gloves, and drag the bloated carcass into a double-lined plastic bag so you can haul it off. You can sing a hymn or recite a scripture if you want, but you still have to do the dirty work to get rid of the stink.

For me, getting rid of the stink has involved months of counseling and therapy to deal with the stuff in my head that was compelling me to self-medicate. As part of my twelve-step recovery, I am making lists of each resentment I’ve felt and every wrong I’ve ever done. It has been painful, it has been hard, and at times it has been embarrassing. But it has also been absolutely necessary.

The sources of the bad smell in my life include being molested as a child, being emotionally abused in my childhood and adolescence, and suffering a lifetime of depression. I spent thirty-five years trying to bury my hurt, shame and humiliation only to discover that, like zombies, they kept digging themselves out and showing up on my doorstep. And they smelled much worse than dead skunks! Since coming into recovery, I have been tilling the soil of the graveyard in my mind to make sure all the zombies are rooted out and aren’t going to pop up later at inopportune times. Whether muck fires or zombies, it can sometimes be rotten work. Still, it beats the alternative, which is more of the addiction and more acting out and more misery.

One thing I know is that addiction thrives on secrecy. The more secrets I hold onto, the more resentful and isolated I feel, and the more likely I am to act out with my “drug of choice.” By bringing the secrets out into the light of day, I eliminate the cancerous places inside me where addiction can fester. As I have “dried out” and become sober, I have been able to experience life with all its ups and downs, its good and bad, without the constant need to self-medicate. Fantasy has lost its hook. Its shiny allure is gone because I now see it for what it is. Like Dorothy, I’ve pulled back the curtain and found that the mighty Oz—the fantasy in my head—is nothing more than a strange miserable little man—my addiction—pulling levers, flipping switches and twisting knobs, all in an effort to keep me believing that Oz is real.

So as not to be misunderstood, I am not making light of addiction or fantasy when I reference The Wizard of Oz. They are not be trifled with. They will kill me if I don’t take them seriously. I am also not suggesting that merely reading about addiction and fantasy will cause a light bulb to go off in the reader’s mind and suddenly all his problems will be solved. To the contrary, recovery from addiction is hard work. It is progressive but slow. It requires the help of other people. To put it another way, you can’t recover on your own! In my opinion and based on my experience, Sexaholics Anonymous is a necessary component of my continuing recovery.

I am no longer a drunk—dry, wet or otherwise. I am living proof that there is hope for those who continue to suffer from sex addiction in shame and silence. No more muck fires. Sobriety and recovery are attainable and they are fabulous!


Comments

LDS View | Porn Addiction Is Like a Muck Fire in My Brain — 9 Comments

  1. Pingback: How LDS Husbands Can Overcome Porn Addiction | Recovery is Possible!RowboatAndMarbles.org

  2. Fantasy is practice, rehearsal for the actual act. Thinking and visualizing aobut performing an activity increases our skill even without ever physically performing the activity. Any fantasy of lust, therefore, is keeping the practice alive and well, in preparation for the final acts. Spark becomes fantasy, fantasy becomes planning, planning becomes actions, until the cycle takes on a life of its own.

  3. I am admitting that I have a porn addiction, and I am doing everything I can to overcome my addiction and live a clean, sober life. I understand that fantasy is bad and it is thoughts that are precursory sin. But my question is that if I think about my wife and I having intimate relations is that considered fantasizing? Am I understanding this correctly when I say that I am at work or deployed and think about how much I miss being intimate with my wife that I am still feeding my addiction? I am just confused, because I feel that fidelity in the mind and of the heart are equally important; but I see nothing wrong with imagining a that facet of our love when we are apart. I don’t spend hours, or even minutes on it, but I think “I miss her, or I cant wait to be reunited for you know what.” These thoughts and urges seem normal to me, human nature to be attracted and to physically want your spouse. Its not all about sex either, its the emotional connection that goes along with it.

    • BB: Thanks for the comment. You bring up an important point–several of them actually. I don’t think the very idea of “fantasy” is so much of a problem for me, although I know others who completely stay away from any kind of fantasy because that’s what works best for them. I read Tolkien books with my son before he goes to bed at night. That’s complete fantasy, but it’s not an issue because it’s not about lust.

      My problem is with lust. When I’m not sexually sober, I try to get lust into my mind in any way I can. Stories about hobbits don’t incite lustful thoughts in my brain. In contrast, fantasizing about sex–even with my wife–does incite lustful thoughts and it’s a pretty slippery slope once I go down that path.

      I had to get out of the mindset of convincing myself that if it involved my wife, it had to be OK. Lust means harmfully using other people or things for selfish purposes to fill up what’s lacking inside myself and without regard for the effect on them or myself–even my wife. Since I’m a lust addict and one of the ways I get my drug is through lust fantasy, fantasy about sex with my wife is harmful to me. My addiction is so dangerous that I have to live in reality in order to stay alive. If I don’t, my addiction could kill me. I don’t have the luxury–if you want to call it that–of lusting after my wife in my fantasies. Lust will destroy me after it destroys my marriage–or maybe before.

      I’m not telling other people how to live when I say this. What works for me may not work for others. What is necessary for me may not be necessary for others.

      My goal as a lust addict is the eliminate lust from my life because lust is deadly to me. Sexual fantasy overwhelms me with lust. It messes me up. So I have to stay away from it. Gratefully, recovery from addiction allows me to do just that.

      If you’re like me, I thinks it’s important that you see the distinction between intimacy and lust. I think you make that very distinction at the end of your comment when you acknowledge that thinking about your wife isn’t only about sex, but also the emotional connection–love.

      In other words, it sounds like you’re talking about the whole package of marital intimacy. You’re not talking about lust, at least I don’t think you are. It just seems to me that there’s a big difference between what you’re talking about and what the lust addict would be dealing with as he fantasized about sex with wife–and the neighbor and the co-worker and the porn star from the porn videos and the anonymous fantasy women–and then says, “I need sex. I’d better run home and get my wife to give it to me.” Big difference.

      Again, the problem for me is lust fantasy. It doesn’t help me deal with my addiction. It doesn’t improve my relationship with my wife. It doesn’t make me happy.

  4. Thank you for the quick reply and answer. I guess where I struggle is as I hand this over the Lord and do everything I can to work toward recovery is finding the fine line. As you stated it’s not going to be the same for everyone, and the same thing will not work for everyone. As I have read through your great articles here, I often feel overwhelmed as that this will never end, but I put faith in the Lord that I can be made whole. How? I don’t know, but I believe it can happen. I know that is will take everything on my part and He will do the rest. But I digress; I am new to this concept of being a lust addict. When I read your articles sometimes I feel as though I might be, then other times I don’t think I am. I don’t think about other people, or fantasize about doing things with anyone but my wife. I don’t see someone on the street and log them away for later. I don’t revert to images that I have been exposed to when I get stressed, or anxious, or anything. But I do know that if I am in a position to find pornography it takes everything in my body to not look. And I assume that this is lust, I mean why else would I have trouble not looking? But I do feel urges to be intimate with my wife, is this lust? If I got a “need” and she can help? I mean it’s not that I want to be with someone else when I have these urges, just human and have desires. I don’t feel like I am using her for ill or selfish purposes, and I don’t think she feels that way. But with something like alcoholism I imagine that it’s easier (forgive me if I offend anyone, I am trying to express my idea the best way I know how) to regulate. You don’t drink, ever. Never, ever, ever! That’s it! You’re done! You can’t enjoy it occasionally like a “normal person”. All alcohol is bad, and cannot be entertained. But with sex addiction, if you are married, it’s ok to have those feelings. You can do those things within reason and limits; there is no ultimatum like dealing with drugs or alcohol. So where is the line? I guess I am having trouble figuring out when these urges are normal, and when they are not. When they are acceptable to act upon, and when they are of the devil. Cause right now I feel guilty and shameful about doing anything with my wife and I don’t know if I will ever feel ok with those urges. Maybe with time things will work out. How do you react to urges that are of Satan when you do decide that is what it is? All I know to do is think of something else, leave the area, work out; something. But this is one of the hardest things for me to do is to “switch my brain to a different channel” when I see an image unexpectedly. I understand how you feel you will die if you are not carful. I feel the same way, and it terrifies me. I am afraid to fail again, so deathly afraid.

    • BB: Don’t feel overwhelmed. Keep reading. Keep thinking about what you’re reading. And then keep praying and asking the one big question, “Lord, can I get over this problem on my own or do I need other people to help me?” I felt overwhelmed at the beginning of my recovery and that’s where a bunch of guys in Sexaholics Anonymous stepped in and shared with me their experience, strength and hope so I didn’t have to travel the path alone. They made all the difference.

      You also need to remember to ALWAYS make the distinction between lust-driven sex and lust-free intimacy. Lust-free intimacy–which can involve sex with a spouse–is godly, uplifting and is absolutely, completely satisfying in all respects. It is also difficult for people who have spent years of their lives drowning in lust to figure out what lust-free intimacy is all about. For them, sex is so hooked into lust that they think lust-driven sex is as good as it gets. They’re wrong.

      You’re right to look to the analogy of alcoholism. But ask yourself this: If you’re an alcoholic, is it OK to drink alcohol as long if your wife if present? The answer, of course, is NO. Having your wife there doesn’t make the alcohol any less dangerous to the alcoholic. Now ask yourself a similar question: If you’re a lust addict, is it OK to consume lust as long as your wife is present? The answer is the same: NO! Lust destroys love. Lust addiction destroys marriages and eventually individuals.

      So what do we do? We learn to spot lust in our lives and eliminate it. We get the help of other recovering addicts to teach us and support us. We repent and involve well-informed priesthood leaders as necessary. We forsake the sin of lust and as we do so, we feel the power of Christ’s atonement changing us on the inside where we had failed to change so many time before.

      As we get rid of the lust in our hearts, minds and lives, what remains is lust-free intimacy–and I promise you it crushes lust-driven sex like a grape.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. As a daughter of a sex addict it helps me understand the severe mental struggle that my father had to battle. It’s helped soften my heart from feeling of anger and mistrust, to feelings of empathy and sadness for what a ferocious battle it really is. It’s also helped open myself up to forgiveness. Understanding and education really is the key for prevention for the future priesthood holders of the church.

    For those of you who continue to struggle with sexual addiction, please remember you wives, daughters, and sons. Educate and warn your sons and make sure that they don’t have to go through the same thing.

  6. Hi Andrew and fellow readers. First of all, thank you for moderating such an awesome and informative website, both for spouses and those of us suffering. I have been in the program for three years now and am grateful for my recovery and sobriety. I am far enough along now in my recovery that I no longer desire any of the things I used to move mountains for: porn, massage parlors, escorts, none of it. I have seen how destructive that garbage is and I don’t want any part of it! One thing that does keep coming up and is a major frustration to my girlfriend and I is the involuntary stuff that is as unwelcome as it is automatic. Things like a quickening pulse when a lady comes on the television. Not even provocatively dressed or anything, just a person there that happens to be a woman. Does anyone struggle with this stuff too, and how do you deal with it?

  7. I may not have reached the answer to this question….but I want to know how this changes a person. I have heard of manipulation, financial debt, anger, emotional abuse towards spouse etc. and why is it one way for one and not the other? I know we are all different…but I would think this type of thing has some generalities. My husband can be so mean to me. He has been since the beginning of marriage. Anyway, I want to hear what it does to a person. And how us women are supposed to stand up to that constant oppression.

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