Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship | Being LDS and Overcoming Pornography Addiction

A personal story of recovery from sex and pornography addiction.

MY FIRST EXPERIENCE with pornography was at age six. Six-year-olds don’t have the strength or capacity to say no to an older person looking to expose them to pornography. I certainly didn’t. This was especially true after I heard the enticing description of the pictures I would find in the magazine hidden out in the cherry orchard. This older person, a teenage boy in the neighborhood where my family had recently moved, understood that the pornography he showed me became a secret we shared. He formed a covert bond with me and then used that bond to coax me to an isolated place so he could molest me. These experiences, coupled with an increasingly compulsive desire to flee into fantasy to escape the difficulty of living with a mentally ill parent, flipped a switch in me at a young age and I became a sex addict.

I think a lot of people have a pretty hazy idea of what a sex addict looks like. We imagine a pudgy, middle-aged guy in a trench coat with greasy hair and twitching, crazy eyes who sneaks around and peeps at women through their bedroom windows because he can’t control his sex urges. The reality, however, is that in much the same way that there is a broad spectrum of alcoholics—from apparently able and functioning members of society at one extreme to the poor inebriate passed out in the gutter in some large city at the other—there is a broad spectrum of sex addicts.

To be sure, some sex addicts do sit in dark, dingy bedrooms with the curtains drawn surfing for porn on the internet for days at a time. But sex addicts are also very often some of the ordinary men, women, and children in the community around us. Some of them are your bosses or employees at work. Some of them are the people sitting with their families in front of you in the benches at church. Some of them are the kids on your child’s baseball team. Although they come from all walks of life, I feel certain that most sex addicts share some common traits: First, they are miserable. Second, they wish that sex wasn’t such an overwhelming part of their lives that devoured everything else. Third, I would also bet that many, if not most, sex addicts don’t know that they are addicts. They think they just have a “little problem.”

Addiction has been, and remains, very misunderstood. A lot of people fear that if we acknowledge that addiction is something beyond a particular person’s control, we somehow give that individual a free pass to do whatever he wants in society without any accountability for the consequences. Although we appear to accept the reality of alcohol addiction, hard drug addiction, gambling addiction, a myriad of food addictions, and even shopping addiction, many of us honestly believe that addicts merely suffer from a deficiency of moral character. Addicts are not as righteous, are not as spiritual, are not as noble, and are not as sincere as the rest of us.

Addicts, we believe, just don’t want to get out of their addiction. If addicts were truly serious and wanted to change, they would just stop doing what they’re doing. Simply put, we think that addicts prefer to be the addicts that they are. They like the bondage of addiction, we assume, better than they like the freedom that the rest of us enjoy. Apparently, they choose addiction. I absolutely disagree.

The greatest misunderstanding about addiction, I believe, has to do with its size and power. I hope no one seriously thinks that an addiction is like a little red devil who sits on your shoulder whispering naughty thoughts in your ear and who may be easily disposed of by a flick of the finger. Perhaps those who have never dealt with addiction might imagine instead a couple of wrestlers in a ring. They are more or less evenly matched in size, weight and skill. Sometimes one wrestler gets the upper hand; sometimes the other one controls the match. The addict is one wrestler and the addiction is the other. The idea here is that the addict just has to learn some moves, build some strength, think positively, listen to his coach, and eventually he will prevail over the addiction. It’s tough work, but that addiction can be whipped. Again, I flatly disagree with this perspective.


Comments

Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship | Being LDS and Overcoming Pornography Addiction — 32 Comments

  1. Andrew,

    Thank you for your book I’ve been sharing it with people since you spoke to a group of us [at a fireside in Utah].

    Your book helped me take the hard step of attending my first ARP meeting and later SA meeting. (I’ve only been to one SA meeting, I didn’t find it to be like you described in your book here in UT)

    I’ve been attending ARP meetings and seeking sobriety for the last 4 years. I was able to have long stretches of sobriety my longest lasting 10 months last year. I’m currently working on 153 days of sobriety, but this time I’ve just finished the arpsupport.org 90 program.

    During the program I was finally able to see the devastation my addiction has caused, and I was able to ask God to take away my lust. Up until the day I offered that prayer I always thought I just needed a little help… I almost have this thing beat… I just need a little more help.

    When I finally prayed and told God “I want to lust, I want to look at pornography, and I want to masturbate, but I hate the devastation these things cause in my life. Wilt thou please take this character weakness away.” God did take it away that day. and everyday since as I pray for him to humbly.

    I’m now sponsoring people in the arpSupport.org program and finding progressive victory over my character weaknesses.

    Thanks for your well written book, I’m glad you had to ability to put into words what I’ve felt.

    • Mike,

      I just wanted to share my experience with SA in Utah briefly.

      I have been to SA meetings in Provo, Pleasant Grove, Lehi, and Sandy. I tried out a lot of meetings because I wanted to meet more guys in real recovery and not just stick with my home group.

      I went to one meeting and I was very off put. It felt like people shuffled in, said stuff, and shuffled out. I really did not intend to ever go back. But it is a very convenient time and location for me so I went back. It was a very good meeting. I felt connected to the other guys and was very glad I went. In the weeks since, that meeting has been one of my favorites.

      One of the meetings I attend has a part of the script- “we recommend you come 4-6 times before you decide if this is for you.” I think that is great for the program, but would suggest 3x minimum on a particular meeting.

      Regardless, I hope things are going well for you.

      • Thanks, Things have been going really well. I’ve been to that same SA meeting twice now. And my second meeting was worse than the first. For me ARP support’s 90 day program and the ARP meetings is working well. I will still plan on visiting the SA meetings in the future. Thanks for your feed back!

      • Post script: a few months later I shuffled into a SA meeting and Michael went out of his way to make my first experience a very good one. Because he stuck it out, and kept going, I am now a regular attendee and beginning recovery in a way I never thought possible.

  2. I am super grateful for all the information on this blog. I am grateful for your courage to share your strength, hope, and wisdom to all of us who struggle with the gripping addiction of lust. I look forward to your posts, it has become a part of my daily meditation and study. Again thank you.
    Will

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