Taking Some Time Off, But I’ll Be Back

I think after almost two straight years of blogging – this is post No. 140 – I’ve earned myself a bit of a vacation. Between the load of work I have in my professional life and wanting to enjoy the few months of warm weather Maine has with my family, I’ve decided to take a hiatus from this blog until after Labor Day.

I’m not going away forever, just a couple of months. There have been many weeks over the last couple months when I had to really dig to find something to write about. I understand that the people who are in the throes of pornography addiction and first discover my site have used it as a resource, but there are more and more times where I feel like I’ve said all there is to be said, often two or three times. I need an opportunity to unplug and recharge.

I will still get alerts if anybody comments on a post or if somebody wants to get in touch with me via the contact page. I’ll still help counsel those who visit my other page, and if something is important enough for me to write about in a timely manner, I will.

I want to thank everyone who regularly reads and contributes to this blog. When I started it was just going to be a marketing vehicle for my book, but it turned into something much more important. I know it has helped people and it has made me feel like maybe my self-imposed journey into hell five or six years ago wasn’t all for naught.

We’ll see you when the leaves start to change!

I’m Wondering if Confronting a Bad Choice from My Past is the Right Choice Today

One of my poor choices of the past found me today and I’m still unsure how to handle it.

I feel like I’ve lived a lot of lives in that I’ve really packed plenty into my 43 years. One of my little adventures that people have found among the most interesting was from 1998-2001, when I was a co-owner, promoter and performer with a professional wrestling company that produced shows throughout New England.

I very rarely ever wrestled. I just didn’t have the interest nor commitment to train. I enjoyed writing the scripts and serving as a bad guy “manager” for those wrestlers who were not good at working the crowd. We can get into the pathology of me actively trying to get crowds to boo me another time, but for a short while, I was considered one of the better talkers in the area when it came to eliciting a negative reaction from the audience. I’ve included one of my headshots and a photo where I was trying to help one of my wrestlers to his feet because, well, they’re funny as hell two decades later. I don’t completely shun that time of my life and it’s important to highlight that.

Anyway, this morning I was watching TV and my son was going through old New England wrestling videos on YouTube. Years ago, I had a DVD that showed some of the things I did in wrestling, so he’d seen me before and wasn’t specifically looking for me on there.

He called my attention to a video he found from 1999. It was called “Josh Shay promo” and was one I have never seen and didn’t realize a tape existed. This misspelling of my name in the title kept it in hiding all of these years.

This particular show was not one I promoted. One of the wrestlers who worked for me pulled together a show as a fundraiser for his father, who was well liked in their Rhode Island town and had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Both he and his father asked me to be on the show because they knew that I could rile the crowd up with some dark references to his cancer early in the show. They also knew I wouldn’t have a problem “getting what came to me” at the end of the show when a 300-pound wrestler would jump on me from the top rope, and then the father would run into the ring and put a foot on me to make the pin. It was illogical because neither the father nor I were wrestling, but would send people home happy.

I got to the show about three hours early because I thought Rhode Island was much further. When I ran into my wrestler friend and his dad, we briefly went over the plan and then he told me I could go downstairs to wait at the American Legion hall, because that’s where the “locker room” was set up.

Screen Shot 2019-05-26 at 4.57.02 PMIn reality, it was the bar at the Legion hall, and since it was a Sunday afternoon, the bar was open, serving its regular members. The locker room was really the men’s bathroom and the performers stuck to one side of the basement that had a lot of tables and chairs to wait.

Now, I was 23 at the time, but had been drinking – often heavily – for six years at that point. I knew that I’d never performed under the influence before because I was usually heavily involved in the planning of a show. That day, I was just a performer, and didn’t have anything too athletic to attempt, so I figured it was OK if I got a buzz.

Fast-forward three hours – and around 8 beers a couple shots – later and I was far drunker than I intended on getting. When it came time to go upstairs to do my nasty promo, I may have had a little trouble walking…but I don’t remember.

Later I was told that I gave one of the most venom-filled-approaching-inappropriate speeches most had ever heard. The workers appreciated it for its rawness and the crowd was full of genuine disdain…but I don’t remember.

I faintly remember the end of the show, when I took the big splash from the top rope and the father pinned me.

A few times over the next year or two I was reminded of that promo by some of the people who were there and how I probably crossed real-life lines the audience wasn’t ready for. A wrestling crowd expects a live-action stunt-filled cartoon show that doesn’t challenge their values. I heard enough reports that I crossed that line.

So, this morning, my son finds this promo and asks me if I wanted to watch it with him. I hadn’t thought about this show for years, but the entire situation flooded back into my mind in the blink of an eye.

Screen Shot 2019-05-26 at 4.56.18 PMI told my son the truth. I was drunk, don’t remember what I said, was told it was too much, and that I think I’d be embarrassed. He took his iPad into his room and watched it alone. He told me later, “That was really pushing it, but you did get a good reaction.”

In the eight or nine hours since that’s happened, I have felt tempted to have him play the video for me, but it gives me a real bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. There I am, in the early years of a drinking problem that would turn into full-blown alcoholism trying to pretend to be an asshole, only to legitimately come across as one.

I like seeing a car crash as much as the next guy, but I don’t know what would happen if I watched this. I’m not afraid I’ll return to drinking…in the three days I’ll be 5 years, 2 months sober. I just don’t want it to be a black cloud over my head for a few days. I could say it might serve as a reminder to stay sober, but I don’t really need those reminders anymore.

There are things that I actively avoid, like a large box full of trophies, plaques and certificates I was given in the few years leading up to my downfall when I was a magazine publisher and city councilor. When I clean the garage and see them, it gives me a sick feeling. I still debate tossing them in the garbage, but it seems almost disrespectful to just throw the Key to the City away.

I don’t think seeing this video would be a real trigger for me, other than seeing something I wish had never happened. If it were someone else, maybe it would be entertaining, but I don’t think there’s any bad drunken behavior of mine that I’d laugh at on video, even it’s 20 years old.

Anyway, it’s certainly not life or death. I’m sure I’ll forget about it in a few days. I’m just surprised that it’s stuck with me all day.

What I Wish I Knew Before I Wrote My First Book

As many of you who read this site regularly know, I have been working on a second book for much of this year. It’s a self-help book written with an LMFT from California that is geared toward the female partner of a male pornography addict.

While the last part of the book is still being edited for clarity and content, I have begun the arduous task of finding a publisher. There are a lot of lessons I learned the first time around and am being reminded of as I look for someone to put their company behind the book. If you’re reading this, there’s about an 80% chance that you’ve got a blog of your own, and I would bet there’s just as equal a chance you’ve considered writing a book.

Here are the three main things I wish people told me before I started the first time:

It’s a very impersonal process – Despite the fact many agents and publishers specifically say, “We will get back to you within 12 weeks, if we don’t, it means we’re not interested” it is still a bit of a blow to the ego when it’s not even formally rejected. When they are kind enough to send a letter of rejection, 9 out of 10 times, it’s a form letter.

With a memoir, like my first book, it felt like a rejection of my personal story. It was as if my tale of redemption was not important. The most grueling, yet transformative part of my life – easily the part of my life that deserved a book – didn’t deserve most publishers’ attention

The truth is, publishing houses will get hundreds, if not thousands, of queries every year. Let’s say a publisher gets 1,000 queries per year. They may ask to see 150 manuscripts and of those manuscripts, they may only print 20. When you boil that down to real numbers, that means only 2% of the original queries become a book. Those are mighty odds no matter what your story is about.

It’s a very long process – Aside from the fact it took 8-10 months to write and edit the book to a point I was happy to share it, I started looking for a publisher in May 2017. It wasn’t until August that I found the right one. I had a few nibbles of interest here and there, but people either wanted me to change the language to make it more salacious or were trying to get me to front the money to publish the book to be my “partner.”

We originally planned for the book to come out in October 2017, but when I wanted to give it another hard edit to eliminate a few thousand more words to make it tighter, it was pushed to early January 2018.

Aside from the initial burst of sales in the first 10 days, it took about six weeks for the book to gain traction. My best selling months were actually April and May. I didn’t see my first royalty check until July. My guess is if you figured out the dollars and cents, I probably made 40 cents per hour.

You will be doing the marketing – Unless you’re with a mammoth publisher that makes up one of the big five, you’re working with a smaller publisher that may help with marketing, but you’ll have to carry most of the load. This website was started to help market the book – although it grew into something bigger. I spent many hours just as the book came out searching for people to review it (very few people review non-fiction) and for podcasts to appear on. Thankfully, over time the podcasts and radio shows started reaching out to me.

I know that a lot of people make the Field of Dreams-inspired mistake of “If you write it, they will come.” That’s not true. You have to drag them to it, give away free copies and hope they read it and tell others. If you don’t have it in you to spend dozens of hours promoting your book, don’t expect much in the terms of sales.

Also understand that many media outlets are not interested in promoting a book that is self-published. While there are many fine self-published titles, the fact is, a self-published book doesn’t go through the same vetting process as one that has a commercial publisher.

And, much like with finding a publisher or agent, most of the time your queries to media outlets will go unanswered or rejected with a form letter.

It’s a small miracle any book gets a legitimate publisher to stand behind it. I’m hoping that this second go-round is a little easier, but at least I know what I’m up against. If you are thinking of writing a book, good luck. It’s one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had.

 

 

Why do I have a pornography addiction awareness blog?

I was giving an interview to a podcast yesterday and was giving my standard answer to the “Why did you write this book?” question and it occurred to me that I don’t think I’ve ever directly answered the question on this blog which is strange, because the two reasons I write this blog are the same two reasons why I wrote the book.

1. To reach my fellow addicts who need to go get help

First, for addicts, or people who engage in pornography use more than they wish, I try to use my experience as a cautionary tale. Statistics suggest that one-out-of-three men between the ages of 18 and 35 believe they use too much pornography, have a problem with it, or are in the throes of a full-blown addiction.

I didn’t recognize I had a pornography addiction until long after I was arrested for inappropriate behavior with a teenager in a chat room. I believe one of the reasons that I never thought about porn addiction was that I never heard anybody talking about it.

Would it have stopped me before I let it get too far? I don’t know, nor will I ever know, but I can at least try to be that voice I never heard.

If you believe that you have a pornography addiction, please begin to get some help. That could mean a 12-step group, rehab, a therapist, online forums, research…whatever. Just don’t sit there are let the addiction fester. Check out the Resources page for more info on multiple ways to get help.

I know there is an addict reading this now who thinks, “I may have an addiction, but it clearly wasn’t as bad as yours.”

That’s probably true, and consider yourself lucky you have yet to reach the critical point that I did. If you think that I had some idea I’d ever reach the place where I was capable of going into a chatroom, look for a woman to talk to and make the mistake of engaging a teenager…well, you’re wrong.

I would have sworn to you probably up to the last two or three months before I made that horrible mistake I was incapable of doing such a thing – and I would have been telling the truth.

The gambling addict never thinks they’ll lose the house, the guy who snorts cocaine never thinks he’ll be putting a needle in his arm, the person who find solace in food never thinks they’ll get to 300 pounds.

If you have a problem – it doesn’t have to be an actual addiction yet – get some help soon. Stop this before it festers into something you can’t control.

2. To remind non-addicts there is no stereotypical addict

If you’re a male under 40 years old and you don’t look at pornography regularly, you are in the minority. If you’re a female under 40 that doesn’t visit a pornographic website at least twice a year, you’re in the minority. 98% of married men and 70% of married women under 35 report having looked at pornography at least once in the last six months. It’s not just people born post-1978 either.

Most people look at porn, but they won’t admit it. I think that they believe that people like themselves don’t look at porn and they are an exception. We need to acknowledge that more people look at porn than ever before, even if they’re not talking about it.

When I was in rehab for porn addiction, in 12-step groups, or in a group therapy setting, one thing always struck me: These are not similar people. I have met doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, people ranging in age from 19 to 78, the rich, poor and everything in between. I’ve met several women and people who can claim to be of just about every race.

Why is it important that we not stereotype who a porn addict may be? When we stereotype, we miss the outliers. If we’re led to believe that every porn addict is a 22-year-old pimply faced kid who lives in his mom’s basement and has never kissed a girl, we’re going to miss all of the others. It’s kind of like how we seemed to all agree that opiod users in the 1980s and early 90s were homeless types who weighed next to nothing and were making bad choices, not actually sick people. Now, almost everyone knows someone struggling with opiods and they don’t fit the morally bankrupt hobo profile.

Your husband, daughter, father, co-worker, clergy member, etc., may not only look at porn, they may have a problem with it. How would you really know?

I was a 37-year-old civic-minded business owner with a wife and two kids when my recovery began. I believe that the reason I had so much negative fallout locally was not only because of the charges against me, but because the community felt duped. Since I didn’t wear the tag of pornography addict on my sleeve, I certainly couldn’t be one, right? Well, they were wrong and I think felt betrayed for it. The reality is, you can’t spot a porn addict. The moment you think you can, you’re stereotyping and potentially missing something important.

 

 

 

Thank You For a Year of Reading My Pornography Addiction Blog

I just had to renew my subscription on this website, which means that in a couple days, on September 1, I’ll have hit the one-year mark on this website. I wanted to post a note of thanks to those who have been with me for a while, whether it’s only 10 days or 10 months. You’re a big part of the reason I keep doing this.

As somebody who is both a natural-born statistician and has a tendency to be a narcissist, there are few things more pleasing, or infuriating, than rankings and tallies in my life. While I save most of my bile for how my book is doing — or not doing — on Amazon, I find that the stats page through WordPress sometimes consumes me a little too much, but it also shows me how far I’ve come.

I started the site simply as a marketing tool for my book, which looked like it was originally going to come out in October. It’s probably good it was delayed because I averaged 1 visitor per day in both September and October. A year later and I regularly do 70 times that on most days. It’s all about perspective, I guess.

When the book got delayed because I wanted to fine-tune some things, I recognized that I had a window to try and engage with people before the January release. I started writing blog entries and never really stopped. It’s been cathartic for me much of the time, but it’s also hooked me into a wonderful community I never knew existed.

Whether you’re a Bible thumper, are dealing with betrayal trauma recovery, are hiding the fact you’re an addict or just find the whole thing fascinating, I want to thank people for sharing and following. I’ve read statistics on the ratio of followers to viewers and mine are way off. I think that’s because the word “porn” is in the title and most people fear putting a permanent “like” or “follow” on anything with the word “porn”. So thank you to the brave souls who did and are the first to get notification when I post something.

I saw an upswing after I started regularly posting, then I saw a big upswing when the book came out because the marketing materials referenced the site. It saw yet another uptick when I started going on podcasts and radio shows talking about the addiction.

Shortly after that happened I realized the site wasn’t just a commercial for the book and the book wasn’t just something I wrote in jail to pass the time. I’m supposed to be writing and talking about pornography addiction. That’s my purpose right now. Sure, I may piss a few people off and even miss the mark from time-to-time, but everything that’s happened to me has led up to this time. I’ve always had this feeling that I have been put on this earth to spread information. I think that’s why I was a journalist for so many years. Now I realize I was wrong about the kind of information.

I created many victims in my wake. I don’t know the exact number and we could quibble for days. However, I believe that I can make that number infinitely small compared to the number of people I help educate.

You’ve all been a big part of making that happen in my first year. I never would have thought I’d be where I am now a year later. I’m excited to see what the next year brings. Thank you.

Lessons I’ve Learned While Helping Pornography Addicts & Their Loved Ones

For the last couple months, I’ve been offering a porn addict peer support service where I lend my expertise to people struggling with pornography addiction and spouses/partners who are living with a suspected or outed addict. I’ve learned a heck of a lot from dealing with these folks, which number around 8 or 9 at this point.

It’s evolved into a weigh station of sorts for people to figure out if they need to, or are willing to take the next steps, whatever that may be, to get help. I probably average 3-4 interactions per person and am proud to say most go on to official therapy after talking to me.

There are several things I’ve learned up to now on this little journey:

Porn Addiction Knows No Bounds: I have had a woman, a doctor and a former school teacher who are among the people I have worked with on the addict side of things and everybody’s story is so different. One of the reasons I wrote my book was to show that even successful white-collar guys with families can get hooked…which means anybody can. I want to repeat that for the doubters who are like, “Even a cross-eyed Eskimo with a skin condition or a Chinese millionaire who also gambles too much?” Yes, even them. Anybody. An-ee-bod-ee.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery is Brutal: I’ll often go to my own therapy sessions with a question or two for my therapist who is well-versed in this area with questions about how to handle the wives and girlfriends of sex addicts who have been hit with betrayal trauma like a ton of bricks. I’ve never lost a spouse or child, but I imagine the trauma is similar to what many of these women are feeling. I’m forever grateful my wife handled my situation much more smoothly than would have been expected.

We Are the Stories We Tell Ourselves Only to Ourselves: I don’t know if it’s a 12-step saying or if it was just popular at one of my rehabs, but I’ve heard, “We are the stories we tell ourselves” too many times. I understand it means that we like to believe things that aren’t necessarily true about ourselves. But I think there’s also a level of belief that other people are buying our stories. Forget gaslighting your partner, I have worked with so many addicts and loved ones who continue to tell themselves stories that are simply not true. We may believe our own BS, but there are plenty of people out there nodding who let you live in your fantasy world but can see right through you.

Porn is a Concept, Not an Actual Thing: Porn is like: Anger, Cold, Bright, Proud, Alert – these are all words that mean basically the same thing to all of us, but not EXACTLY the same because they are concepts or ideas. One man’s pornographic film is not necessarily another’s. I can’t disagree with your conservative definition of porn, but I can’t disagree with the next person’s liberal definition. One of the most important things when I talk to people is to find out what their definition of pornography is before I start asking too many questions.

Porn Addiction is Rampant, Yet Invisible: Statistics suggest that 18% of all men in this world are addicted to pornography, with the largest group – 18-to-35 years old – at around 33%. I believe this and think those statistics are under-reported. I also have a feeling the rate of female addiction are far less underreported. We once lived in a world where you had to go to a store or a disgusting movie theater to get your porn needs met. Now, you can see porn as easily as you buy tickets, plan a trip, or send an e-mail. When the barriers for becoming a porn addict all drop, you’ve got loads of susceptible people that easily fall into the trap.

This Is Going to Get a Lot Worse Before It Gets Better: I remember first hearing about heroin in middle school. It was one of those drugs so far out of the mainstream, like PCP, that it seemed like it was almost a myth. Now, 30 years later, it’s probably more difficult to find cocaine or speed on the street than heroin. Why? Because we let it happen. I recall learning of the dangers of a handful of drugs in school, but never learning about heroin. It must have not seemed important to the curriculum. I don’t know what they’re doing about it now, but they failed a generation or two. That same mistake can’t be made with porn.

I talk to people in such pain over this, wracked with guilt, shame and embarrassment who feel like they have nowhere to turn. Resources for porn addiction are few and far between. In the state of Maine, there are 5 meetings of Sex Addicts Anonymous statewide per week. There are over 50 per day for Alcoholics Anonymous.

In Maine, there is no designation for a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT). You can certainly go take a course on it, but the State doesn’t seem to want to recognize it as an area for professional certification among therapists. This means that an addict largely has to cross their fingers that a therapist who lists “sexual issues” in their areas of expertise aren’t simply trawling for clients and that they know their stuff.

Unfortunately, Maine is far more typical than atypical. We are horribly behind the times here, but like most places, there’s a tendency for the herd to gather, not want to talk about uncomfortable things and shun those who do. The herd will eventually talk about these things, but as the opiate crisis shows, they’re often decades too late. The herd is reactive, not proactive.

I’m trying to do what I can, talking about this problem with anybody who will listen. I love to do podcasts with people who have thousands of listeners, but I’ll do them with podcasts that have dozens. Once people learn they won’t become, nor will be perceived as a porn addict for simply having a conversation, maybe we’ll start making strides.

One day, I hope to step away from my daily job of ghostwriting to focus on porn addiction education full-time, but that’s about 20 clients away. It’s OK, I’ll get there someday.

If I can give you one call-to-action it’s that whether an addict, loved one of an addict, or someone who just stumbled upon this article, please don’t carry fear or embarrassment when it comes to talking about the scourge of pornography addiction. We need to normalize the conversation in society before anybody is going to do anything about it.

And of course, if you’re interested in my peer support services, click HERE.