Pneumonia reminds me of my real place in the pornography addiction world

I find that I have illnesses so rarely that when I do I always end up saying, “I haven’t been this sick in a long time” despite the fact I couldn’t actually tell you the last time I was ill. I don’t get those three-day colds twice a year. I get bronchitis every couple years, or end up with something that technically isn’t an illness, like needing my gallbladder out or a knee operation. This time, the culprit has been pneumonia.

It started as a nagging cough in late August and after about 5 days I finally went to the doctor – only because we’d already met our deductible – and found out that it was pneumonia following a chest X-ray. I remember back in the day when an X-ray would take 30 minutes to develop and read.

I’ve spent most of the last week in bed. One of my once-in-a-great-while freelance clients fired me because I couldn’t produce a project as quickly as he’d hoped. I think it’s kind of an asshole thing to do, but I also believe karma will get you in the end. I can’t recall the last time I’ve been this consistently tired, or had a cough that just won’t quit.

I’m feeling better, though still a bit weak. The doctor said it could be a month before I feel back to my normal, jaded self.

Along with ignoring my work, I ignored updating my site. It’s the first time I’ve ignored it for over a week in the year I’ve been operating it. Despite my hits dropping by half, it was nice to see that people still used it as a resource even if I was AWOL.

Not only did I ignore my site, I had to cancel an appearance for a library presentation on porn addiction and two podcast appearances. I completely got off my porn addiction high horse for probably the first time in three years. I didn’t write about it, talk about and for the most part, think about it.

Instead, I watched reruns of Match Game ’78 and Card Sharks. I watched a little bit of the supreme court nomination hearings (anybody who can’t or refuses to answer questions as much as this guy – liberal or conservative – wouldn’t get my vote). I read an old Malcolm Gladwell book called Outliers and I improved about 40 levels on an iPad game.

This taught me that it’s OK to walk away now and then. When I’ve taken vacations or breaks in the last few years, I’ve not taken breaks from the porn addiction stuff. Despite the fact I felt like crap, I think the last 10 days has shown me that recharging my batteries is going to be a vital part of keeping my message fresh moving forward.

I don’t know how many more people crossed the line into porn addiction in the last 10 days, nor do I know how many entered a program of recovery. Both numbers have nothing to do with me. I am not the end-all, be-all of porn addiction and if I walked away from this cause today, the world would not come charging, begging for me to return.

Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself that you’re just a small cog in a giant machine that can operate independent of your placement. It doesn’t mean you’re not important, just that you’re not vital to the continuation of the mission.

Years ago, I would have either denied I was a small cog, unimportant or that the world could continue spinning without me. I think I’m far healthier – despite being far more unhealthy than usual – in knowing and accepting this.

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.

Teach Me: How does name-calling help get over infidelity?

As a lot of you know, I’m working on my second book right now. It’s a collaboration with a great therapist out of California that is going to be geared at the female partners of male porn addicts. He’ll handle the therapy side, I’ll handle the been there, done that side. The early work we’ve done is good and I look forward to continuing.

We’re not talking about sex addiction in the book. My co-author could, but I don’t have experience with it. My life was not secretive rendezvous and texting on burner phones. I don’t have the DNA makeup for that although I don’t judge any of them harsher than any other addict.

There are many women who have to deal with men who are both porn addicts and sex addicts. Many of them are loyal followers on this site and I always appreciate their feedback to me. Knowing what’s important to them helps me focus on what I should put in the book.

Sometimes I’ll need to directly ask them about something I don’t understand. I’ve never been in their shoes and betrayal trauma recovery is nothing I’ve ever participated in.

I suppose I could ask them the question central to this article individually, but I’d rather pose this to the community as a whole because I’d love to get feedback from different kinds of people who have had different experiences around infidelity and addiction. I sincerely hope it doesn’t trigger or open any wounds. There’s the warning. Trigger, trigger.

Why hate the other woman/women so much? I understand that they participated as your husband’s illicit partner, but why does it matter what their story is?

In the best possible scenario, your husband was lying to them the whole time and they had no idea your husband was married or boyfriend was in a serious relationship. They were duped the same way you were.

In the worst-case scenario, they knew he was married, were a close friend of yours and set out to destroy your relationship.

Either way, your husband was a willing participant and these women owe you nothing. Sure, it’s kind of sleazy to sleep with another woman’s husband, but it’s not like the husband didn’t also sign-off on the dalliance.

No perfect answers

I spent most of my last therapy appointment talking about this book. My therapist is voraciously secretive about her clients, but she told me she’s dealt with women going through betrayal trauma and it’s even harder to deal with than somebody going through the death of a loved one much of the time.

She said for whatever reason, there are just some women who can’t let go of the betrayal, yet don’t want to end their marriage. After running around in circles, she said that there have been a couple where she just didn’t know what to do with because they either couldn’t or wouldn’t move on.

The betrayal to my wife was on a lower scale because it was just pornography and chat rooms, or at least I think that’s what she told herself. There was also the involvement of the police and legal proceedings, so I think that threw the average betrayal situation off its normal track. I believe getting myself healthy over the course of time, and her having the time to do the same for herself took care of most of the pain. Either way, I know that I got lucky with how little she held against me. She could get totally mad at me, but the women on the other end of the computer had no idea who they were talking to…how can they be the target of her betrayal?

Oh yeah, well you’re a stupid head

In reading many of the entries these women put on their blogs, I’m impressed by their strength and dedication to their families and their systematic way of picking up the pieces and fixing things. Sometimes I think they may go too far with the boundaries/discipline with their husbands, but that’s probably natural for me to think things are excessive for the guy since I was the guy in my scenario.

The one thing that almost all do, that I have never been able to understand is how much anger, hate and resentment they carry for the “other woman.” Since none of these women use their real names on their blogs, everyone gets a nickname. Usually the husband or boyfriend gets a positive name, although I think it’s used ironically. The other woman, though, gets roasted.

I won’t use the real nicknames I’ve seen but they would go along the lines of “Supertramp,” “The Homely Whore,” or “Satania.” Feel free to use any of those, ladies.

Why so much hate toward the other woman? I read some of these terrific entries that encapsulate their feelings of grief, anger, betrayal and loss and am right there with them and then the other woman is introduced as “The Angry Cow.” It takes me out of the blog entirely.

I understand these women being an object of scorn, but is the name calling just to lower them? Is it to degrade them as a human? It is to build yourself higher?

I’m not saying the name calling is right or wrong, but it comes off so jaded sometimes. It’s hard to see the blogger as the better person when they write 500 fantastic words about dealing with their situation like an adult and then refer to the other woman as “Pig Face.” I wonder if being supported by similar women who also use name-calling as a literary technique clouds any objective view toward it.

I know it’s a complex set of emotions and I really don’t mind those names being used if the feeling is genuine, although I think healing is going to involve letting those monikers go. It’s easy to say how much you hate a situation, but when you call someone a name, you’re putting that hate on display. Much like I said in a recent blog, somebody once said the best revenge is living well. How can you live well when you’re still calling someone names like you’re in middle school?

Holding onto Hate, Grudges and Resentments Hurts You More Than The Other Guy

At what point is making the other person pay for their sins enough? When have they atoned for the wrongdoing they did to you or the wrongdoing they did to the world? Who decides? A judge? You? Them? When is it time to let somebody move on with their life…but more importantly, move on with yours?

Now, obviously, if you murder someone, you’re going to be paying for it the rest of your life behind bars. I’m not talking about extreme circumstances like this.

The judge in my case seemed to be very clearly weighing two options: nine months in county jail or three years in state prison. Since I attended two inpatient rehabilitation facilities and had been part of intense therapy for the 22 months between arrest and sentencing, not-to-mention that my support system was local, she opted for the county jail, followed by three years of probation.

This week, I’m finished my second year and the countdown to being off probation falls under 365 days. For anybody who thinks probation is easy, spend some real time on it. When I got to jail, I met people who opted to do extra jail time to NOT get probation. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. It’s a cross to bear and a black cloud that follows you everywhere – or at least the places you’re allowed to go.

I have heard people say my sentence was too long and I never should have seen a day of jail time and I’ve heard people say they should put me in prison and throw away the key. From the moment I heard her verdict, I made the decision to accept the nine months I got (of which I served six months and six days) was appropriate. After all, isn’t the judge the person who was appointed by the Governor of Maine to make these kinds of decisions?

Dealing with injustice

Are you able to let things go? As I’ve mentioned on this site before, letting go of resentments has been a huge piece of my recovery. There is too much energy and thought wasted on resentment.

Sure, there were times that resentment felt good because I felt there was genuine injustice happening, but I now practice the concept of radical acceptance. It’s found in the Serenity Prayer in its purest form…know what you can fix, what you can’t and how to tell the difference.

Do I still think there is a lot of injustice in this world? Absolutely. Whether it’s a bunch of inept duck boat operators or a President who seems to get a pass on behavior that would have taken down any public leader before him, I see all kinds of injustice in this world. I just accept that my righteous indignation doesn’t change anything. And putting that righteous indignation on display says far more negative about me than about whatever I’m railing against.

If you want to see a bunch of resentful people, visit the comment section of any story on the Fox News website. Even when a story isn’t about politics, there are people who will twist whatever the topic is into a political debate where they are correct, you are wrong, end of story. And this comes from both the right and the left, politically speaking. It’s a place where people go to argue politics and when there are no immediate politics, they’ll argue about anything because they don’t know how to communicate any other way. It’s actually quite sad when you just stand back and watch.

Resenting other people takes time and energy and thought. Do you really have those things to spare and in looking back, how many positive results have developed out of your resentments?

Grudges are Resentments, too

Maybe you don’t think you carry resentments. Maybe you’re able to let the injustices of the world melt away. What about grudges? Carry any of them?

While it will probably be gone by the time you read this, somebody posted a vitriolic review of my book on Amazon recently. It wasn’t a review of the book at all, it was just a chance to call me a few horrible names. I don’t think the person did it to try and hurt sales. If they did, they don’t really understand how the process works. I think they did it to feel better about themselves. I hope it worked, but I know resentment doesn’t ultimately work that way.

Based on the content, they seem to be local and seem to still harbor a lot of anger toward me. It doesn’t seem like we were close based on what they said, but they knew me from afar, or maybe was an acquaintance. Six or seven years ago I would have been crazed to get their review off the page and making a federal case over the fact I was called a few names.

When I read this review, which is probably gone because it violated Amazon’s terms of services, I immediately felt bad for the person who wrote it. They seem very angry at me not just for the crime I committed, but for the fact I presented myself as someone I wasn’t prior to the arrest.

I still get the feeling that the populace where I’m from hasn’t let it go. The funny thing is, it’s not about any crime I committed, it’s about a deeper betrayal. I was a City Councilor and the “good guy” magazine maker who had the film festival that brought celebrities to town every year. I was eccentric, but in the best way possible. I was an interesting guy who was fun to have a conversation with.

Most of those things disappeared in many people’s eyes when I was arrested and convicted. Anything positive I did for the community was buried. I erased everything positive in one fell swoop.

There’s nothing I can do about that view of things. Once I figured it out a few years back I let it all go.

Let It Go

I will not be welcomed back into my community at any time because there are too many people who spend energy disliking me for poor choices I made five years ago when I was sick. I don’t use the illness as an excuse. I allowed myself to get there, but I also feel like I paid my dues and I’m done groveling. I’m sorry. I’ll always be sorry and I’ll always be vigilant to make sure nothing like my behavior ever happens again. But I have to move on. If you’re waiting for more groveling, you’re going to be waiting for a while.

I am a vastly different person today than I was prior to my arrest. Those who know me best can attest to that. Those who only knew me back then through Facebook postings couldn’t tell you anything about me, so they hang onto the anger and hate. I can explain for days I’m now a pornography addiction expert trying to do good with my situation. It won’t matter. They’ve frozen their opinion of me in time. I can’t unthaw it, so why try?

I paid my debt to society, or at least I’m in the last year of that process. I can get into the pathology of the people who yell the loudest about me not getting enough time, but it fascinates me far more than it bothers me. People don’t get as angry at gang members who knife somebody in the park. That person is expected to do that. I was never expected to commit my crime. I violated their trust.

I know there are plenty of people like that Amazon reviewer still out there and there probably always will be. It is what it is. I urge them, as I urge you, to let things go. Hate, resentments, grudges…they’re all a waste of time. Still hate the ex-husband or ex-wife? Let it go. Think Trump is the devil? Still want to prosecute Hillary Clinton? Let it go. Planning on being a bitch to the bitch who was a bitch to you in high school when you get to the reunion? Let it go.

When people get angry or indignant with me now, it just kind of goes through me. If they have a point, I’ll address it, but mostly it’s about needing to spew venom. That’s OK. I’ve got a permanent snake bite kit working 24/7 inside of me. That is one thing I will never let go of.

Keep Your Friends Close, and Your Good Friends Closer

I know I’m writing a bunch lately. Whatever the opposite of writer’s block is, I have it, and you’re the victim. One of the things that my 15-year-old son doesn’t seem at all interested in doing in life is creating or maintaining close friendships with other people. I guess it’s OK, but as somebody 27 years his elder, I worry that he’s going to come to regret it, especially if he finds himself with his back against the wall like I did when my pornography addiction was revealed in a very public way.

For those of you who follow this blog, forgive the next few sentences. You’ve read them too many times, but I’ve got to bring the newbies up to speed.

I was a prominent member of my community six years ago. I was the editor/publisher of a popular regional lifestyle magazine, was co-founder of a film festival that was finally getting national recognition and I’d just finished a term as a City Councilor where I lived.

I also had bipolar disorder, alcoholism and a porn addiction. Through a series of bad choices, I ended up engaging with a teenage girl online, convincing her to perform sexual acts on-screen. This is obviously illegal, I was arrested some months later in early 2014 and within an hour of my arrest it was the top story in Maine media and remained so for a few days. I ended up serving six months in jail for it in early 2016. I’ve been in recovery since April 1, 2014 with no relapses.

I was never the guy who formed deep bonds with people going back to my youth. I didn’t have a large group of friends. I had a large group of acquaintances in school. I had four or five good friends, but nobody rose to the “best friend” status.

I did a year of college in Rhode Island, made some friends, but never stayed in touch with them. Same thing happened at several work places I’ve had. I can be very, very close to you in November, but if you’re laid off in December, there’s a good chance we get together once in January and then never talk again. And for clarity’s sake, liking a photo of a “friend” on Facebook doesn’t count as friendship.

When I was running myself into the ground with the many full-time jobs (not to mention being a husband and father) six years ago, I thought I had more friends than I did. Since I had a big hand in the local media and the local government, I didn’t recognize exactly how many pretended they liked me much more than they ever did just to get my ear.

When I was arrested, about six people from that world of hundreds dropped messages to me on Facebook. When details – many that were incorrect – were in the media, even a few of those dropped by the wayside.

By the time sentencing rolled around in the first couple weeks of January 2016, I was left with two friends. Two. One had been around since 7th grade. The other was the ex-husband of a co-worker I met back in 2000 or 2001. Neither really had anything to do with the fast-paced life I created. They were around well before that time.

These two guys are not high-maintenance. We can go six days, six weeks or six months in between talking. It’s not a lot of effort to stay friends with them. It’s probably a big reason it worked.

I’ve reached out to a handful of other people who I thought I was closer with than most, but have received unanimous silence. When I see somebody in public who I know, I don’t go up to them out of courtesy and say hello. I allow them to come to me. Why create an awkward situation? I think people have said hello to me twice in 4½ years.

I understand there are a lot of things at play here. I was accused of a heinous crime, convicted on lesser charges and most people don’t know the actual details. I am probably more of a bogeyman in their eyes than is factually correct. If I am now just my crime, who wants to be friends with that crime?

I also understand many were never my friends. I do understand how friendships come and go while few stand the test of time. I thought that I had at least a half-dozen others out there that would last through everything.

I believe most people locally don’t actually despise me because of the crime. I think they despise the fact I presented myself as one thing while behind closed doors I was something else. I think there’s a level of betrayal there. If I were truly a monster incapable of change, I don’t think I would have sold any copies of my book or have been invited on so many radio shows and podcasts for interviews.

I have sold around 50 copies of my book locally. I was actually thinking I’d sell more, if for no reason other than people wanting to see if their name was in there. Honestly, I thought I’d sell a few hundred here. Thankfully, the higher-than-expected sales elsewhere made up for it and I’m still further ahead than expected.

I’ve not heard a review from anyone local other than my family. I wonder how many of my former “friends” have even read it.

The flip side of this is the idea that this is just part of my punishment. I shouldn’t be given a moment of pity over losing any friends I had and it’s all part of the package that comes with doing something as heinous as I did. I hope people recognize how much of the punishment and consequences of a crime don’t come from the legal system, but from society in general.

In the end though, I know it comes down to the fact I just wasn’t the kind of person who valued friendship for a lot of my life. I was content to let people go and I think because I gave off that vibe, others were content to let me go. I’m sure for many, I’m now just a guy they used to know.

I doubt my son is going to do anything as stupid as I did, but I worry that if he does, he’s going to have as little a support system outside of our family as I wound up having. I wouldn’t be this far along if it weren’t for my two friends, but I also wonder if I had four or five friends if I’d be even better off today. It’s one of those questions there is no answer for.

Cultivate friendships and nurture them. You’re going to be thankful they are there when you need them.

 

 

Practicing Empathy Has Been Huge to My Alcohol & Porn Addiction Recovery

Early in recovery, going through the inpatient rehabs, I was told many times I had a history of exhibiting a clear lack of empathy in my life’s decision making. I understood what they meant as I tended to be outwardly cold and indifferent. I would listen to another person’s problems simply to wait for my turn to talk and put on display I had mastery over their issues, which made me superior.

For most of my life, people did not come running to me for emotional support because they knew they’d be met with a logical answer for solving whatever ailed them. I’m sure there are people who are born with a legitimate lack of empathy, but mine was shut off as a defense mechanism.

I was the guy at funeral who would blurt things like “I don’t think he looks peaceful, I don’t think he looks dead” or “You’re right, he’s not suffering anymore. He’s not anything anymore.”

I knew even then how things like that sound, but it was a way for me to ignore not only my feelings, but theirs as well. I could barely deal with my own stuff. I didn’t need theirs cluttering up my head.

In recovery, I came to the recognition that I would need to work on how people perceived me. I wanted the world to know a more authentic Josh, not just the carefully crafted eccentric character I portrayed. I’d done such a good job building up these walls of emotional resiliency, people actually thought nothing was on the other side.

Because of my probation restrictions, I wasn’t able to get on social media for a long time. Lacking an audience for my philosophical or political rants was good for my mental health. I stopped following national and international news and I actively started to practice putting myself into other people’s shoes when they shared their stories.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to let down my guard and let the world see my more authentic, empathetic self. It was less energy than trying to keep my armor up at all times. While I know many simply can’t believe this, it’s actually easier to find why you’re more alike with someone than why you’re different.

I think the biggest piece of self-realization came when I recognized most people didn’t care what I had to say and that was perfectly OK because almost nobody was ever going to change their opinion based on what I said, nor was changing their opinion going to result in anything different. They just wanted to be heard for reasons that had nothing to do with what they were saying.

There has been a giant change in the social landscape of America in the last five years, probably becoming it’s more outward “authentic” self as I’ve been going through the same process. It’s not like people just got racist and hypocritical and mean in the last few years. They always just hid it, the way I hid who I was. I think it’s politics and social media that have caused this change, but that’s a discussion for another time.

What I see in this world now is so much anger, fear and sadness. I see so many people who have such little sense of self-worth and need for validation. I see people who reach conclusions without even consciously deciding to ignore the facts. I see segmentation into more “tribes” than ever before and an instinct to blame others before looking within. I see who I proudly once was.

Five or six years ago, I wouldn’t have let myself care. I would have played along, making sure I portrayed myself as righteous to those who agreed with everything I said and vilify those who didn’t. I would have used my communicative skills to manipulate to get what I wanted in both my professional and private lives. I would have played the game so many other people were playing, fooling myself that I was two moves ahead of everyone else.

At the end of the day, when there wasn’t anyone around, I’d retreat to my world of alcohol and porn because I knew I wasn’t the guy I was showing the world, but I wasn’t ready to meet that guy either. The pornography and alcohol allowed me to run from myself.

I don’t use those things anymore and I don’t play that game anymore. I’m so much happier and healthier for it. Years ago, my life was about fooling myself into thinking I was successful. Now, if I give an interview and someone calls me a “pornography addiction expert” I kind of laugh inside my head….of all things to finally be successful at.

Today, I can clearly see all of the people who I acted like still living in the world around me. I couldn’t back then. I see the people with all of the negative emotion and non-constructive ways of dealing with it. I read the words of those who are so blinded by resentment and greed that they can’t fathom how resentful and greedy they are. I witness people pointing fingers at others and wonder if they could do that in a mirror for any length of time.

I see a world that appears to be on the verge of throwing punches or collapsing in tears. Who wouldn’t want to have the kind of defense mechanisms I used for all those years? Isn’t it obvious why addiction rates are sky high? Isn’t it clear why so many young people choose pornography over real life? And in a very sad way, isn’t it somewhat understandable why a person might confuse suicide with a positive conclusion?

I’ve read 101 definitions of empathy in the last few years. I’ve come to believe it’s about recognizing the character flaws in others, yet not letting those flaws disqualify you from caring. I think it’s also about recognizing what you see as flaws, other see as virtues, and debating which-is-which is a waste of energy. Empathy is about not letting your own baggage get in the way of someone else’s. It’s about understanding, even if they can’t, and especially when they can’t.

What did it feel like to be a porn addict?

As I was reconfiguring my home page yesterday, feeling it was time to freshen things up by giving the book promotion a less prominent place, while still feeding my ego by listing all of the podcasts and radio shows I’ve done, I recognized that unlike Playboy magazine, people actually do come here for the articles and one I’ve never written about is what it felt like to be a pornography addict. Yes, that run-on sentence was 71 words.

It was shameful and lonely.

During most of my recovery, I’ve operated under the idea that I got some very mixed messages about sex and sexuality when I was a kid, and while that’s true, all of the messages were received in a negative way. Whether it was the conservative Catholic attitude of my parents or the inappropriate actions of my caregiver, I was left feeling like sexuality was a bad thing at about the age of 5.

Knowing that, on the surface it seems odd that I would have had such a visceral positive reaction to seeing pornography for the first time as a 10-year-old. You’d almost think I should recoil in disgust. Instead, for the first time, I found a “safe” outlet for my sexuality and although it would be many years before I regularly had my hands on the stuff, but I was an addict the first time I saw it.

Once I had the resources and ability to regularly consume porn, I knew it was an activity that you don’t talk about, pretend you’ve never heard of it, and talk down about the people who do use it or treat it all as a big joke. In essence, you’re denying who you really are.

Why? Because of the shame. Because you desperately don’t want to feel the humiliation or distress that comes from being judged not just by others, but by yourself. You know you’re doing something society has deemed as abnormal and wrong that’s rotting your soul, but you can’t stop. You can’t stop because you’re weak and that weakness is another reason to be ashamed.

It’s also a solitary addiction. My alcoholism was much more of a social addiction. It’s OK to drink. It’s even OK to drink too much from time to time. How many stories in this world have started with, “There was this one time that I was totally wasted…” I think a real argument can be made that my alcoholism was more critical for a longer time than the porn. I don’t feel nearly the shame about that. Maybe I should, or maybe the porn has vacuumed it all up, but I think it’s about how society views alcohol vs. porn.

While the very end result of indulging a porn addiction, a three-second orgasm, obviously feels good, there is nothing to enjoy about being a pornography addict. It’s a search for something that you can connect with because you can’t connect in usual ways to the outside world. It’s a search for intimacy and it’s a way to just block out all of those things that have happened to you that were out of your control when you were younger. It’s a lonely, lonely path.

I think one of the biggest reasons for writing my book, maintaining this website and offering advisement/support is simply because I wish somebody would have told me, “You’re not a freak. You’re not a bad person. You’re not the only one. It’s OK, you’re just ill and need to deal with some painful things and there are people who will help you in a safe, non-judgmental environment out there. It’s going to be OK.”

These days, I feel like a pornography addiction expert. I can quote stats all day long, have met dozens of people in real life and hundreds online with the issue, I read about it like there’s no tomorrow and of course, what porn addict expert isn’t complete without his own tale. But just because I may be a pornography addiction expert doesn’t mean I don’t still think about that dark place I was many years before I knew porn addiction was a thing or anybody else was dealing with the same thing.

You don’t have to live with the shame and the isolation of pornography addiction. Yes, it’s going to take society a long time to come around to treating pornography as an addiction, but you can do the research on alcohol and see how they treated alcoholics in the early 1900s. You’d rather be a porn addict now than an alcoholic then. It may not be in our lifetime, but society will come around. But you can’t wait for that.

You’re OK, and you can be much better. You’re not alone. Just reach out for help.