Your Alarming Porn Statistics for August

I’ve given quite a few presentations based on the concept of “The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About” in the last several months. Most have been to small civic organizations or private healthcare companies, although there have been a few libraries as well. I’m hoping with the fall coming that I’ll be invited to a few colleges.

One area where I put out a ton of feelers but got very little back was the church world. I knew statistics were a little higher than the secular world, but I just attributed that to guilt in self-reporting on most surveys.

The Barna Group, one of the better statistical companies when it comes to pornography and pornography addiction released these church-specific stats not too long ago. It makes me realize that I may not be kept out of churches because of the subject matter, I may be kept out because so many people have an issue.

With things like the Pennsylvania sexual abuse priest scandal just erupting, it seems like churches should be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to the sexual behavior of their flock. Here are just a few statistics:

  • 68% of all church going men view porn regularly
  • 33% of church going females 18-to-24 view porn regularly
  • 76% of male 18- to 24-year-old church goers actively seek out porn regularly
  • 50-to-55% of pastors admit to viewing pornography online
  • Only 9% of church goers in the US and 7% of pastors in the US say they have a program at their church to help those struggling with pornography

 

If your church or organization would like a non-graphic, educational program about pornography addiction (causes, symptoms and ways to deal with it) please CONTACT and let me know.

Proof of a Soul and What I Think Happens After We Die

In almost every support group or group therapy I’ve been a part of on my road to recovery, there always seems to be a few people who are preoccupied with dying. Despite the fact we’re there to talk about pornography addiction, they can’t stop quoting the Bible or babbling on about the afterlife. I guess that’s good, because it encouraged me to address what I think happens when we die, and if we really have souls at all.

The day after you die, the sun is going to rise, just as it did the day before you were born. People will go to their jobs, have their lunch, watch TV and go to bed. Somewhere around 99.9999% percent of the humans on the earth had no idea you were here when you were alive. Of those who did know you, very few will be significantly impacted over a long span of time by your demise, much like very few people’s death have significantly impacted you – despite what you may want others to believe and they want you to believe about them. People’s deaths are sad for a while, but few are truly impactful.

On that happy note, I think my lack of aversion to dying is a big part of the reason I never grasped onto the religion presented by parents as a child, nor a lot of the spirituality others found in alternatives when I was a young adult. I would have like a detailed breakdown of how the Universe operates, but I wasn’t going to go to church every Sunday nor harness the power of crystals to get me there.

When I looked around at church, I just saw a lot of people who were afraid of dying. I’m guessing it’s because they worried they’d go to Hell, but something in me never was willing to believe in Hell. I don’t think I ever really believed in Heaven. I just believed in “After”.

I never believed “After” was the place where all your friends are waiting for you and every pet you ever had is there to greet you. Even from a young age, it seemed like a story designed to make people feel better about dying.

I do believe in a spirit, and probably unsurprisingly to you, I was able to come to that acceptance having it explained to me scientifically. I was told that all of the body’s cells regenerate every 7-to-10 years. This isn’t exactly accurate, but the moral of the story is that we physically change and evolve constantly. There isn’t anything about your body that is the exact same as it was 10 years ago, and again 10 years ago before that. In the case of most cells, it’s a much shorter time span.

So, if somebody who is 50 years old has every cell in their body die and replaced many times in their life, how are they still essentially the same person? You can’t tear down a house, rebuild it with new supplies and say it’s the same house. It’s because houses don’t have souls or a spirit. I think that there is something in us that can’t currently be measured by science happening much deeper than a cellular level. How else are you the same person? There’s some sort of glue, some body energy, something that binds us through our changes.

Forensic scientists can tell you that we’re clinically dead when certain organs cease to function, but that things like skin cells and blood cells can remain alive long after your heart stopped beating. Your physical body does not die all at once. I think believing your soul or spiritual body dies in an instant is probably also wrong.

I don’t think our soul goes anywhere otherworldly. I think it stays here and dissipates over time like a dimming lightbulb…and that’s OK with me.

I also think that part of your spirit while you are alive is your influence. It’s your legacy. It’s the impact you’ve made on others. If not for my parents, I wouldn’t be here. If not for being raised by those two specific people, I wouldn’t be the specific person I am today. When they die, I’m still here with all of the traits, both inherited and learned, they provided. Their influence is slightly less in my children, and will be slightly less in my grandchildren. I don’t know what influence my great-great-great grandfather has in me, because he long dead before I got here, but I’m sure there’s a little something there. His spirit…his essence…lives on that way.

And yes, eventually, like the dimming lightbulb, after more generations arrive, his spirit will probably not be a part of family members any longer…and that’s OK with me.

For people who are afraid of dying, I guess the fear is that Hell will just suck forever. For those that don’t believe in Hell, I don’t know what the problem is. Maybe it’s the fear of the process of dying, like it will hurt, or a narcissistic belief their absence on earth will be felt much harder and deeper than it actually will. The people you know, even those close to you, will be able to go on without you.

I think part of the problem is that people associate some sort of consciousness to the state of being dead when it is the exact opposite. The total lack of consciousness is too scary, so we say things like “Doesn’t he look peaceful?” or “He would have liked this” to make ourselves feel better at a wake. Saying “He looks like he’s in agony” is just as accurate as the peaceful statement, but won’t play as well to the crowd around you. They need to believe that the transition into whatever is next isn’t fraught with peril, because they still have to make the journey. The only evidence they have to draw upon is the body in front of them at a wake. Interpreting it as peaceful is more for them than the person in the pine box.

I would love to believe that there is a state of conscious bliss after we leave this world. I really would. I think, like the family gathered around the casket, it would make me appear more peaceful. But I just can’t believe that. There has never been a shred of scientific support that we “go somewhere” when we die. Until there is, I’ll assume our soul stays here…and that’s OK with me.

I have a feeling the day after you die is a lot like the day before you were born. Find peace in knowing the sun will rise, people will eat their lunch, watch TV and go to bed. Be OK with that.

Getting Trivial Things Off My Chest – August Edition

A couple weeks back I saw the Mr. Rogers’ biopic that’s been in movie theaters lately. It’s actually the highest-grossing documentary this year thus far. For me, Mr. Rogers was a signal that I was in the clear. My parents would pick me up at the abusive babysitter’s house around 3:45 p.m., when they were done with their elementary school teaching jobs. After being in a tumultuous environment for the previous eight hours, there was something calming and soothing about being able to sit in the safety of my home and a kindly gentleman telling me that everything was OK. My mother called him “Mr. Boring” but after the days I had, I was totally ready for Mr. Boring. I got choked up watching the movie several times because of my admiration for how truly decent a human being he was. Truth be told, I find most children irritating. I think those people who don’t and can be their mentors are very lucky.

I went to see that movie with my son. Since he’s on school vacation, I try to find at least one or two things a week for us to do so he doesn’t get too bored with his summer. He just started driver’s education this week, so I don’t have to work as hard at keeping him occupied. The fact he will be driving soon is a reality – and age – check for me. He read my book when it came out in January and he’s had a few questions here and there, not necessarily about my crime or even my addiction, but about things that happened in my childhood that may have contributed to where I ended up. I think at nearly 16 he’s ready to hear non-graphic accounts of what happened to me and my opinions about it. I grew up in a family where we didn’t talk about a lot of things. Feelings and “the past” were tops on that list. I’m hoping that my openness with my son will carry through to future generations. I know older people lament the good old days being gone when children respected their elders and blah, blah, blah, but I think our interpersonal communication skills are better than they’ve ever been as a people and while far more work needs to be done, we are finally accepting mental health as a real thing. I know there’s a tendency to romanticize the past and ignore its problems, I have a lot of optimism for the next generation. Sure, the younger generation utilizes electronic communication devices and platforms that I will never integrate into my life, but that’s not a reason to dismiss them. There’s still plenty of work to be done in areas of accepting all people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientations, etc., but if I compare my grandparents’ generation to that of my children, I’ll pick the new generation every day of the week, even if I still don’t understand the point of Snapchat filters. My parents and grandparents did not come from “The Greatest Generation”. They came from the most self-righteous, and you reap what you sow.

Do you ever wonder who the heck is reading your website? I mentioned at the beginning of last month that my numbers were exploding, but that was nothing compared to what happened through the rest of July. I saw overall users for July grow by 39% and hits grow by 45% and the numbers may be even better for August. Who are these people finding my site? Are they reading anything helpful? Am I being duped by robots and crawlers who aren’t actually real people? I know there are plenty of companies that can tell me exactly what’s going on if I drop a load of cash on them. Not going to happen. So much of my life has been about trying to manipulate and overanalyze results and I kind of like the organic nature I feel this whole thing has taken on.

I’ve been working pretty steady on the second book over the last couple of weeks. I still find it a challenge to balance my freelance and ghostwriting work, which pay the bills, with my pornography addiction work, including this blog, which are my passion, but aren’t putting a roof over my head. I think this book, both in structure and content, will be like nothing else the pornography addiction recovery community has seen. I’m very excited, or at least more excited than I am about writing healthy eating blogs at $50 a whack for people who claim it’s their own work. That balance between passion and responsibility is a tough one to manage for me at times, and those people who can blend the two are truly lucky.

You may have seen the entry I made recently about resentments and how I think there are still people in my area who are resentful against me less for the things I did and more for the fact they see the entire episode as a betrayal of trust. I mentioned an Amazon review that had recently gone up that was an attack on me as a person, not a commentary on the book. As expected, it was pulled quickly. A few days ago, I got what you might call my first “bad” review, and you know what? It didn’t bother me nearly as I thought it would. I think the reviewer missed the bigger picture of what I was trying to do, but who cares? I don’t need to explain the nuance. They didn’t like the book. I can’t count the number of books or movies people have liked that I can’t. I’m sorry, but The Big Lebowski is asinine. There will be plenty of people who say I don’t “get it” but that’s fine. I still think Jeff Bridges is a fine actor, I just didn’t like the movie. It’s reassuring to know that a negative review on the actual subject matter won’t get me down. Negative reviews of me as a person just make me feel bad for the other guy.

 

 

Coming to Terms With My Pornography Addiction Took Me A Long Time

As many of you know, I have a side business where I counsel pornography addicts or the loved one of addicts. You can learn more about it HERE. One of the people I help, who I told I would be writing this, said to me the other day, “He’s not like you, he’s not just going to accept he has a problem.” Wait, what?

That blew me away. I feel like I was dragged kicking and screaming over a long period of time into recovery and accept myself as an addict. Maybe because I’m writing this 4.5 years after I started I appear like I had it all together in the beginning, but I didn’t.

If you’re the partner of a loved one who you think is an addict, be prepared for a long road that is especially bumpy in the beginning. Sometimes, all you can do is plant a seed, stand back and hope it germinates.

It’s not like there’s a blood test or urine test you can force a porn addict to take that will reveal it. If you’re not willing to be patient, you may have to talk to him in a different way and not use classic terms like “addiction” when it comes to his use.

I think there are two ways to go with this:

First, you can agree with him that he’s not an addict if it’s going to help the situation get resolved. Saying something like, “I respect the fact you don’t think you have an addiction and you would probably know better than me, but I don’t want pornography in this house and I don’t want my husband looking at pornography. I don’t want you to get to the point where you think you are an addict, because either way, I feel like it disrespects me. If you continue to look at pornography, it will be hurting me and our marriage/relationship. I won’t stand around and let that happen. If you don’t think you can do that, either because you don’t want to or you’re unable, there are a lot of places that will help, but that’s your decision.

Second, go the scholarly route. This is more for the person who thinks they are smart and needs facts about porn. Figure out why you think he has an addiction beyond, “He looks at a lot of porn.” What negative effects has his pornography had on his life or your life together. Take a look at the definition of addiction. It may feel like you’re building a PowerPoint presentation for work, but if he’s anything like me, he’ll accept he has an addiction once presented with the science and data.

It took me about eight days of listening to hard data regarding alcoholism at a rehab before I accepted that I had a problem with drinking. It was another six months and hundreds of hours of therapy before I was able to wrap my arms around the idea I was a pornography addict and was another six months before I finally accepted that addiction is a disease.

Yes, 4.5 years later I may appear to be fully active in my recovery, but the first year of my recovery was a slow, slow build. I had to get there on my time regardless of what the experts, therapists and family members said around me. I got there, but it wasn’t on their timetable. If you told me in that first year I’d be a pornography addiction expert by this point, I would have laughed in your face.

You’re not going to be able to force you partner into rehab or know that he’ll walk through the front door of a 12-step meeting just because you tell him it’s best. Even if he accepts the fact he is an addict the moment the words come out of his mouth, there’s a lot more work that needs to be done.

You plant the seeds, you water them, you hope for sun.

Q&A Time: Even if Porn Addict Husband Doesn’t Go To Therapy, Should I?

QUESTION: My husband has told me that he looks at pornography, and he will stop. I’ve suggested couple’s counseling or even individual sessions and he has said no. I read an online board that says I should still go by myself. Can that really help anything?

ANSWER: I don’t think it will come as any shock to you that I answer this with a resounding “Yes!” It may not directly help with his pornography addiction since it sounds like he hasn’t actually accepted it as a problem. That may just take some time.

Get a therapist…and be honest with your therapist.

I believe that even though I wasn’t 100% honest with my therapists through my 20s and early 30s, they were still instrumental in helping me get through some of the challenges I faced that had nothing to do with my addictions. There is something powerful about somebody who is there to advocate for you, is rooting for you, but isn’t emotionally involved, nor plays an active role in your everyday real life.

The relationship between a therapist and patient is unique and unlike any other. I think most people fear going to a therapist because they think it will be a complete bearing of their deepest secrets and simply by the act of seeing a therapist, it must mean there is something wrong.

I wish that I could go back to the beginning when I was 20 years old when the therapist inevitably asked me if there was any sexual dysfunction, I could say, “I have been renting porno movies or buying Playboy every month since I was 14 years old.” I don’t know what I thought the blowback would be. They weren’t going to kick me out of their office.

But, like so many guys who believed porn was something to be ashamed of and that I was just walking around with this invisible black cloud of perversion over my head, I kept my mouth quiet when it came to the pornography. I didn’t talk about any of my sexual hang-ups, either. I just said everything was fine and complained about work or my parents.

Would I have ended up behind bars if I had been honest with my therapist in my 20s? Honestly, I don’t think so. Part of the reason my addiction festered into a nasty wound was because I never had the salve of a professional’s ear. That’s on me, not them.

A therapist is a great sounding board and somebody who isn’t going to take it personally when you get mad or start crying or blurting things that you can’t believe are coming out of your mouth because you’ve tried to suppress them for so long. A therapist is going to know the next thing to say to keep things moving in the right direction.

I will mention that not counting the pair of couple’s counselors that my wife and I saw, I’ve seen five therapists, but I say I’ve only had two. I probably saw the other three a combined eight times.

If you’re not clicking with a therapist, find someone else. In your case, it would help if you could talk to someone who has experience working with relationships and hopefully has some experience in dealing with addiction, even if it is drugs and alcohol. Your personalities must mesh and there needs to be the opportunity for a level of trust to develop. You’re wasting your time if you don’t have a bond, or at least I was.

Ironically, the therapist I have now who has seen me through all of my recovery is the first woman I’ve seen. I never would have guessed it, but it isn’t an older man who I clicked with, but a woman only a couple years older than me.

You’re going to learn a lot about yourself in therapy you never otherwise would have. I wholeheartedly endorse therapy for anyone with a pulse.


If you’d like to check out recent Q&A articles, there is a link to the last batch on the HOME page.

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

DISCLAIMER: While many call me a pornography addiction expert, 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.