QUESTION: How do you live with yourself with what you did? How do you look at yourself in the mirror and who made you the voice of every porn addict out there?

ANSWER: Your autographed 8X10 is in the mail.

Two questions in two days…wow. For anybody who wonders why I’m posting this question, you should have read the rest of the email this came from. I believe it was from somebody who discovered me during my ill-fated sojourn onto Facebook last week. Yeah, the email was full of bile, but when you strip it away, as I have, I think those are actually legit, rational questions.

I don’t think those questions are really the ones that person wants answered. I doubt they even wanted answers. They just wanted me to know they thought I was a bad person. At this point, all I can say is, “Noted.”

If I read between the lines, I think this person is first asking why I don’t spend every waking minute groveling and repenting. I think the follow-up question is about why I don’t just disappear into the darkness.

I am absolutely embarrassed and ashamed of what I did. The fact that I was able to let my mental health (and rest of my life) slip to a point that I encouraged women to perform sexual acts on their webcam is, in a word, gross. The fact I didn’t have the sense to somehow make sure no female under 18 ended up on cam is negligent at best and sinister at worst.

I don’t think that I’ll ever not feel embarrassment and shame for what I did. I don’t know if it had a lasting negative effect on that girl, or any of the other women I got involved. I do know it had a negative effect on my family and they never asked for that.

But here’s the thing, I’m not a disciple of Brene Brown, the shame guru. Perhaps this is narcissistic or means I’m denial, but while I did an embarrassing and shameful thing, I don’t think that makes me a person who has to define himself as ashamed or embarrassed. I did a horrible thing, but I haven’t let it affect my self-worth. I actually feel better about myself now, 5½ years into recovery than I ever have. There’s no defense for what I did, but I’m not ashamed of who I am. Those are two different things.

I think that there is a segment of the populace who, when they first hear my story, or are reintroduced to me for the first time since my arrest in 2014, they are shocked that I’m not on my hands and knees, begging for forgiveness from them and the world in general.

I went through that period. You just weren’t there. I believe at some point, you have to stand up, dust yourself off, and move on because, really, what else can you do? I think it’s like a lot of traumas that way. You deal with it and you move on or you let it totally consume you. I’ve seen people who get consumed and I didn’t want to be like that.

I had a deep emotional reaction to what I did that was on display for all early on. The amount of times I cried to my wife, or in therapy, were plentiful. If you need a show from me to believe that I will forever be deeply, deeply aware of what happened and what it means, the show’s over.

Finally, I’ve never claimed to be the voice of all porn addicts. Many never understand they are addicted. Even more never confront it or try to do anything about it. Very few have the law involved as I did. I’m critical of some of the online communities of men based on their methodology in trying to tackle the issue. I’m not trying to be anybody’s voice but my own.

I tell my story because I didn’t hear anybody’s story when I was in the same situation. There were few resources when I was going through this. I felt completely alone. I hope that telling my story makes a few other people feel less alone. I might not only help some addicts, but help prevent some victims this way.

I also want to raise the idea with people who don’t think of it, or don’t believe it, that porn addiction is a real thing and can have real consequences. If they can walk away understanding it’s not a moral failure, but an illness, that’s one more person in the world who might move us toward a place we can accept a national dialogue on the matter.

Finally, I tell my story because I don’t think I’m the stereotype people conjure when they think of a porn addict. If I can break the mold, and explain there is no “typical” addict, perhaps we can dump the stigma that a porn addict is a specific kind of a person.

I’m not trying to win fans, I’m just trying to make the best of what was a bad situation. I understand most people slink away and don’t want to talk about it. That’s fine, it’s just not the cloth from which I was cut. Much like my advice if you stumble across a TV show you don’t like, just turn me off if I bother you that much.

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If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start getting help. Click HERE

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

8 comments

  1. Obviously the child who asked you these questions was not mature enough to understand much about life. And I just want you to know that I get you, have been nearly where you were, also served time for it way beyond what was required, carried far too much guilt than a forgiven and debt – paid person ever should. What makes you qualified to help people on their same hellish journey is that you survived and got out of it and even are getting over yourself to help others. Your experience was a teacher far greater than any text book and some people just don’t get that and really don’t get much of anything. It is no loss to get a nasty letter from said person, just a validation that you are making a difference. I am proud of you for your journey. I am proud of myself and God who got me out of it. It is no small task. And as someone whose husband is still enslaved in it, your words encourage me so much. I will be buying your book when I get some funds in. Thank you for writing. Keep it up and please ignore those hypocrites who falsely believe they are perfect and can judge anyone. Jesus is the only one qualified. Anyone else who does so will answer to Him and I would hate to be that person on that day. Hugs!😄❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Tonya. That means a lot. It wasn’t the first time I’ve been asked these questions, so I figured it was time to answer them. I know from first hand experience that many of the loudest critics of anything in this world are hiding the most.

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    1. It makes you wonder if they’re jealous because there’s something they can forgive themselves about, or if somebody did something to them that they’re unwilling to forgive. Carrying around that kind of resentment isn’t healthy.

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  3. I really appreciate what you shared here. I’m glad you are able to move forwards with your life, and don’t feel you have to keep your head bowed down and to live in shame, and in the fear of judgment.
    Also, that was then. This is now. We need to be given the opportunity to change and to be allowed to be someone different today. These are things you did. They are not who you are. There’s a massive difference between the two.
    I would also say it’s important to bear in mind that everyone does things they regret – absolutely everyone! We’re all human and all have the capacity to surprise (or shock!) ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish more people saw that difference, Ann. I think there are many people who have just never had a life-altering regret and can’t fathom what it’s like when it happens. Compassion, empathy and understanding are three traits too few of us exercise.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “…the show’s over…”
    I found this a really helpful post for my own sanity – I remember saying to people, ‘How sorry do you want me to be?” which, at one point, lead to a serious attempt on my own life. I remember the judge at my conviction telling me he didn’t believe I was sorry at all and, basically, I was beyond redemption. If that’s the case, what’s the point of going on? But, you’re right, I’ve done my sentence – it wasn’t even custodial – I’ve lost all the friends I’m going to lose, being on the register means, not only that my career is over but that I can’t even be a volunteer in anything – what more do people want (apart from those who’d happily string me up from the nearest lamp post)? So I do the best I can to make the remainder of my life worthwhile and to do that I will just have to live with myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to hear you’re doing better. I remember just how freaked out – and rightfully so – you were in the beginning of your recovery. I’m guessing there will always be those people who learn about the offense and expect my reaction to be the one I had very early in the ordeal. It’s like, “I’m sorry you weren’t there in 2014, but much like grieving, you learn to live with it because you have no choice.”

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