I Almost Pulled My First Book Off Amazon Out of Shame This Morning

We had a beastly nor’easter here two nights ago and while we didn’t lose power, our satellite TV was still pixilated last night, meaning I couldn’t embrace my usual Thursday night flip-back-and-forth between Thursday Night Football and Everybody Loves Raymond.

A month or so ago, I read the last few chapters of my first book. It had been well over a year since I cracked it open. I wanted to add a new chapter to the end of the book before I reintroduced it to Amazon. I forgot that those were the chapters that briefly detailed the beginning of recovery, so they generally have a positive tone.

With the lack of consistent TV last night, I figured I’d read the rest of the book again. I have a lot of podcast interviews coming up in support of the next book, so reviewing my history seemed like something that would at least fill the time in my Raymond-less life.

It started OK because the first chunk of the book is about why I wrote it and how I get better in the end. My former publisher told me that we should establish upfront that I wrote the book for the right reasons and was on the path to turning my life around when I was working on it. The theory was that if we immediately got into the bad stuff, people might be turned off. I think that makes a lot of sense.

Maybe I’ve started to block, or forget, some of the details of my life in the last year before the police showed up, but for the first time ever in reading my story, I felt a pit-of-my-stomach shame and embarrassment I’d never felt before. I think just a day or two ago I wrote that I felt ashamed of what I did, but I’m not ashamed of myself. Scratch that.

I really can’t believe what honesty and detail I put into the book. It’s all there for people to see: the unbearable boss I became, the narcissistic local celebrity, the horrible father and husband and worst of all, perpetrator of a disgusting crime. It really blew my mind that I was willing to release it to the general public. It’s not graphic by any means, but it’s brutally honest.

I recall the bullet points of what happened and recount them for the podcast and radio interviews I do, but this was a level of detail that didn’t stay top-of-mind. It was difficult to read.

I wrote the book as a cathartic release in jail, found it even more therapeutic when I edited it down from 200,000 to 90,000 words, and felt like I put a lot of those demons to bed when I finally read the finished version in book form. I think I got a glimpse of those demons last night through different eyes.

As I was trying to fall asleep, it dawned on me that I didn’t want anybody reading it because I didn’t want anybody to know that stuff about me. It’s not who I was for most of my life and it’s not who I am now. Sure, I think a lot of people found me difficult to deal with through a lot of my life and I did have my addictions, but they were nothing like they became in that last year before the arrest.

I figured it would be easy enough to get rid of the book. I just had to pull it off of Amazon since that’s the only place currently selling it. Problem solved. I drifted off to sleep and had a dream I can’t recall.

My son has a nasty cold, so I don’t need to rush around in the morning to get him ready for school. This means I can sleep in a bit and check my phone from the comfort of my bed in the morning. I was reminded of killing the book when I came to check the overnight stats of this blog.

It dawned on me while I could ax the version of the book currently for sale on Amazon, I can’t eliminate the first version. It sold almost 1,000 copies, include around 250 into libraries across the country (and for some random reason, New Zealand). I can’t recall those copies. I also remembered the people who wrote to me after reading the book thanking me for being brutally honest; not just addicts, but their loved ones and members of the healthcare community.

After hesitating, I decided I’ll leave it out there. I guess it’s easy enough to find a copy at this point that eliminating it is pointless and, if I want to spin it for good, despite being a very shameful experience reading it last night, the book might still help people and that was the reason I wrote it.

I need to just own that it’s out there. I own what I did, why it was wrong and how I became that way. I’m a writer. Is it so strange there is a written record? It’s what I do.

In many podcasts I’ve done where the host has read the book, they often say I’m brave for coming forth with my story. I never fully understood that sentiment. I think today, I get it. I feel an unease, but a bravery for leaving it online.

I’m not asking you to buy it, but for strict transparency’s sake, if you’re interested in seeing the book, click here for the soft cover and here for the Kindle. I think one of those options leads you to be able to read the first few pages. I can’t run away from it, so I may as well embrace it. I’m probably done reading it, though.

God’s Confusing Role in My Recovery

I’m going to be totally up front here, and I really hope that I don’t unintentionally or ignorantly say something that offends, but I’ve got to say that since entering the world of blogging, I’m more confused than ever the role God plays in recovery and my life.

I was raised Catholic but left the church because of what I saw as a lot of hypocrisy. I found that too many people brought their politics into the church and twisted the Bible to fit their worldview. The “social justice and peace” group at church comprised of people I would never call fair nor kind. I was also discouraged by the number of people who carried an invisible moral superiority entitlement badge, yet were horrible people and by the number of people who refused to answer my questions, yet seemed like smart people outside of church.

I liked the ideas of Jesus, but felt like most people twisted what the meaning of what he said and what he did while on Earth to match their agenda. The Bible is open to interpretation and I don’t think they could see other angles than ones that already fed into their biases, stereotypes and superstitions. I think that someone with no ties to religion at all would look at the Bible and tell you that Jesus was the kind of liberal that is too liberal for most liberals. But that angle isn’t one that a lot of followers can accept.

So, I walked away. I even started calling myself an atheist for a decade or so. I actually called myself a “non-practicing atheist” because even most atheist people got on my nerves. Whether it’s an atheist, Christian, scientist, politician or my parents, I’ve never liked it when people tried to tell me they had the answers for me. Nobody has all the answers and I’ve always felt the best way you can try to have all the answers is to understand all sides of an issue. That’s not a position many in our society, regardless of socioeconomic or religious background, take. Social media and a 24-hour news cycle has fueled the fire of the need that every person is correct in their beliefs and everybody else is wrong.

It was while I was writing my book in jail (The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About – seriously, I need some sales this week – go buy it) that I realized in looking back over the last 20 years that I’m actually one of the most faith-filled people I know. I not only believe things are going to turn out the way they should, I believe things are going to turn out for the best. When they don’t, I’m disappointed, but can move on pretty fast because disappointment usually makes sense down the road, even if I can’t see it now.

What I also realized when I was writing the book (again, it’s call The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About – for some reason, Amazon is selling it for 6 cents off the cover price, act now!) is that I do believe in a higher power, but I’ve been calling it “The Universe” since I left the church. My higher power isn’t really an active, take-sides kind of ruler. Mine is just a stabilizing energy that makes sure things stay in order. There’s something maintaining the balance and providing me with what I need – or don’t need – in this world.

I don’t think the human mind is supposed to understand a lot of things and I think that forces us to take the dual tracks of science and religion. Both exist to codify our existence. I love quantum physics because I think it’s the closest marriage of science and religion, but again, feel like our mind doesn’t really have the capacity to comprehend ideas like eternity and infinity.

As I was writing the book (you know the title) I started to feel this calling to talk about my experience. This feeling came over me that now it was my turn to help others who were pornography addicts and perhaps even more importantly, to inform the world about pornography addiction. It doesn’t take a PhD in statistics to look at the numbers and recognize it’s going to be a major health crisis in this country.

So, I started this blog about four months before my book (the title escapes me at the moment) was released and was so wonderfully surprised how many people responded positively. There were those who had either porn addiction, other forms of addiction or mental health issues in their lives, or lives of their loved ones who could relate, but there was also a lot of people who just wanted to learn. It was invigorating, and made me want to share my story even more.

But then I started hitting the strong religious types. I have no problem with them and try not to judge them, but will admit I do have a problem not judging people who I feel are judging me. Maybe it’s a PTSD thing back to being a kid in the church, but certain things make me feel like I’m having a physical reaction. I get really worked up at some basic stuff and I don’t know exactly where it’s coming from. I could give examples but don’t want to offend anybody because I have nothing against you or your beliefs. I’ve actually enjoyed getting to know most through this site and share many of your beliefs, I just take a different path to the same solution.

When the book (the title is…no, never mind) came out in January, I started doing a lot of promotion, which I continue with today. This process of telling my story again and again has been amazing and absolutely drives home the point that I want to help. I want to be a source of information and support. I want to bring the concept to people that anybody can be a porn addict and that the addiction can lead to some horrible places.

When I step back, I recognize that I sound like someone who is joining the ministry. I know what the devout Christian would say. God has chosen me to deliver this message and is using me as his vessel. He put me through these trials because I have a greater purpose than the life porn addiction took away from me. The real hardcores would throw a Bible verse or two my way to drive their point home, and that’s where I’d start to curl into the fetal position.

I’m now at a place where I’m putting together two presentations – ironically both title “The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About.” A version of one of the presentations is geared toward a Christian audience. Despite their telepathic link with God, Christians have higher rates of porn use and porn addiction than secular types. Let’s not debate why today.

I want to stand in front of church groups and talk about this issue. It’s important. But I can’t quote Scripture and I can’t tell them if their invisible friend is going to help the kick their porn habits or not, and that scares me, because I think that’s what religious people want to hear. I have an invisible friend, too. And I know he helped. I’m just not sure it’s the same invisible friend. I’m a big believer in doing what you need to quit any addiction, but I don’t know why God chose you to have it nor do I know if he’ll help solve the problem. If you think he will, that’s important. Faith is huge in recovery.

When I was a kid, nobody at church ever abused me, yet my religious upbringing has somehow traumatized me. Blogging about porn addiction, and now trying to spread my message, is bringing up a lot of hard-to-explain feelings. I don’t know if it’s God. I don’t know if it’s religion. I don’t know if it’s people who practice. I can’t put my finger on it yet, but I know it’s not just when I log-in. It’s bleeding into real life now.

I share what’s happening to me not to get any answers, be preached at or be given any kind of great advice, but just really to remind everyone that faith, belief and the role of God differs in many people’s lives. It doesn’t make any of us better or worse, chosen or cast away. Some of us feel like we have all of the answers and some of us know that we’ll never have any. Some absolutely need to believe in God to function and others don’t give it a second thought. It’s OK. It’s all OK.

Now go buy my stinkin’ book.