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.

Life Can’t Be Consumed By Work, Even if The Work Is A Good Cause

Sometimes you don’t plan on taking a week off. You just notice on a Sunday morning that your throat is a little scratchy and later that night you’re lying on the couch, writhing in pain with whatever hit the wife and son a few days earlier. Despite it not being a vacation, there is something to be said for Mother Nature stepping in and stopping you dead (or at least feeling nearly dead) in your tracks.

Aside from the obvious addiction to pornography this site is devoted to and my co-addiction with alcohol which also gets a lot of words on here, the third part of the unholy addiction triumvirate for me back in the day was work. I used it for the escape of stress alcohol gave me and the sense of control the porn provided.

I cannot undercut the role that work played in my eventual downfall in late 2013 and early 2014. If I didn’t want to deal with issues at home, I escaped to work. If I was feeling low, I’d do something at work to get praise from the public. When I didn’t have enough work at the magazine I operated, I started a film festival. I created a world where there was something “important” for me to always be working on.

While I spent plenty of time in rehab dealing with the porn and alcohol demons, I never went anywhere to deal with my work addiction. Once my life was steamrolled, the work disappeared. About six months after I was arrested, I started with a little freelance writing here and there, never more than a few hours a day. I did this for the next year until I went to jail.

When I got out, I didn’t feel like doing much work. I’d written the first draft of my book in jail and knew I wanted to edit it, but I didn’t start on that task for about three months, around the same time I returned to freelance writing and never worked more than six hours a day, usually not more than four. Thankfully, I have a couple of clients who demand quality over quantity, so I can make a livable wage and keep my hours low, something I knew that I’d have to watch because of my tendency in the past to get lost in work.

Very late last year, after I started this site, I found out when the book was coming out and I started working to identify marketing opportunities. I bookmarked a lot of podcast sites, media outlets and book reviewers who I knew I’d have to go back and track down later. This added a little bit to my workload, but nothing major.

Once the book came out in early January, though, I was starting to replace my regular work time with promotion for the book. I followed up on all of those leads and cultivated dozens, if not hundreds, more. I did the interviews and the guest blogs and sent copies off to reviewers and libraries.

After a couple weeks of this, I noticed a dip in my income, so I started pushing the freelancing back, but didn’t cut down on the book promotion. I noticed that most days, instead of being in front of my computer 4-6 hours, I was now in front of it closer to 8-10. I told myself that at some point, I’d be done with podcasts or have contacted all of the libraries, but I think that was a matter of justification.

Logically, I can look at the math of it. I can work for three hours for one client and make around $100. Or I can spend three hours and send out copies of my book to reviewers or libraries or participate in another interview. If any one of those things results in the sale of three books, well, I’m putting around $7 in my pocket.

It doesn’t have to be a matter of either/or, as I know I’m in the infancy of whatever the porn addiction awareness path I’m on is to become. But, it also can’t become an obsession. I do feel a strong calling toward it, but I also need to make sure the electricity stays on in the house and the kids are fed. But, me being me, I tried to take it all on from the middle of January up until about a week ago.

Floored with this horrible chest cold/pneumonia, I didn’t do any freelance work, nor did I do anything with the porn addiction side of things for about a week. I cancelled meetings and podcasts, opting to lay in bed and on the couch. When I sat up to try and even answer basic email, a coughing fit would hit and I’d be back in the horizontal position quickly.

While there was a little bit of withdrawal the first day or two, I have to admit that despite the physical pain, it was nice to only worry about the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right and how long of an afternoon nap I should schedule. My body needed a physical break to recuperate, but my mind needed a mental break as well.

I now see that I need to balance things a little better. I need to make sure enough money is coming through the door for what I need, and I know there is still plenty of time to work on the porn addiction piece of my life without overdoing it. People can wait 24 hours for an email to be answered 99% of the time. The addiction will still be here tomorrow.

As I look to next week, I do so with a renewed focus. I cannot get obsessed with my work, whether it’s completely self-centered money-making tasks or strictly altruistic-based opportunities. Life is about balance and thankfully I’ve been able to spend the last week recalibrating the scales.