When I talk about my addiction and recovery with people, I often find them start to attack the substances I developed an addiction with. I think this is a distraction to recovery. It’s blaming something else, instead of taking responsibility for myself. I can’t change history, but I can control my future.
I don’t hate pornography. I don’t hate alcohol. I don’t hate work. I don’t hate anything that can claim me as an addict.
Yeah, I’m an alcoholic, work-obsessed porn addict and yes, I understand and fully subscribe to the idea that I have a disease that needs to be managed. But, I also don’t think the world should be without the things I couldn’t handle just because I couldn’t handle them.
There are plenty of non-addicts who hate porn, and there are plenty of reasons to find the material harmful and distasteful. There are studies that illustrate the harmful effects it can have on the mind, relationships and attitudes toward sex and intimacy. There are also plenty of first-person accounts how porn destroyed people’s lives.
But my battle isn’t against the evils of porn. It’s against the evils of addiction.
I recognized the rush that came with looking at pornography going back to being a pre-teen. The first time I saw it was a lot like the first time I felt the buzz of alcohol at 14 or 15. I knew that I had discovered something special – but as years wore on, I also recognized my compulsion toward it was not similar to those around me and probably not healthy.
But here’s the thing, not managing those compulsions is on me.
My story is one of addiction and recovery, not of railing against an immoral industry. I wouldn’t want any of my loved ones starring in or making porn. It seems like part of the entertainment industry that will chew you up and spit you out. I don’t know if the ratio of happy-to-unhappy porn industry veterans is any different than other forms of entertainment, and anecdotally, I feel like I hear a lot more heartbreaking stories than ones of triumph.
Based on statistics of Internet usage, it’s not like pornography is an underground thing, with some studies suggesting that a quarter of all Internet search engine requests are related to pornography. They’re not all coming from some pimply-faced 19-year-old in his mom’s basement home on a Saturday night. Somebody…many somebodies…are using it, dare I say, the right way?
You may think porn is disgusting, gross and scuzzy or it’s the finest example of our First Amendment in action. I can respect both sides. Debates about porn’s place in our society just derails my message that consuming it can grow into a nasty addiction leading down dark roads.
However, just because there are those of us who can’t handle it doesn’t mean it should be eradicated. Or if it should be eradicated, it shouldn’t be because of us.
Did you know there is a Clutterers Anoymous? Debtors Anonymous? Online Gamers Anonymous? They may seem far-fetched to anyone not in them, but I have a feeling the issues those people cope with and the addictive demons inside of them are cousins of those embedded in my DNA.
That said, I want the right to be a hoarder, go into debt and play online games probably as much as those addicts want the right to look at porn, drink alcohol and work 16 hours a day. Simply because a small group has issues with a substance or behavior does not mean that substance or behavior should be banned – unless it’s already illegal for good reasons, like hard drugs.
If I suddenly started eating nothing but fatty bacon and sausage three meals a day, I’d eventually have a heart attack. Is it the fault of the food? No, it’s the fault of me. The food wasn’t ingested in moderation. I let things get out of control and escalate to dangerous levels. I can’t blame the pig, the butcher, the grocer or the restauranteur who served it to me.
My fight isn’t about porn being immoral, degrading, or evil. That’s a political and social argument that has nothing to do with my recovery.
I don’t hate porn. I hate what I let it do to me.