The Grateful Eight – June 2020

Only one day late, which is pretty good for me. If you’re new, this is my monthly dive into gratitude, which is a big part of recovery from alcoholism and pornography addiction. I like it more than the flood of awards out there. I try to get it done on the eighth of every month because of the rhyming scheme, but it doesn’t always happen.

As always, I try to mix the obvious with the mundane and love to hear what you’re grateful for. I think when you sit back and think about it, you’re grateful for a lot more than you realize.

  1. Marriage – Oh, there have been plenty of times when I’ve fantasized about packing up the car and heading west to find my fame and fortune, leaving my nagging wife behind. But that’s usually after an argument, and most often after and argument where I was wrong. Yesterday, June 8, we celebrated our 17th anniversary. The simple fact anybody would be married to me for that long, especially with all the massive life changes and crazy events I’ve put them through is a testament to her… or an indication of an undiagnosed mental condition.
  2. Writing My Latest Book – The book itself is good (I think) but I realize just how valuable those three weeks in May when I was absolutely killing myself 12-15 hours every day to research and write it were to my mental health. I haven’t kicked myself in the ass to get something done like that in a long time. It felt like I tapped into a manic pace of working and thinking that I hadn’t felt since my days at daily newspapers. My body and mind could do this more than a couple times per year, but it was a great way to get through the quarantine.
  3. Outdoor Dining – For the first time since mid-February, I went with my wife, two kids and father out to eat a beautiful country inn about 20 minutes away for dinner Saturday night. They had outdoor seating, and thankful canopies, as a light rain fell for a few minutes in the middle of dinner. My 20-year-old daughter is living at her boyfriend’s house now so we don’t see her nearly as much and with my mom in LA helping with my brother’s new baby, it was a refreshing change to get to eat with just him. There was a lot of laughing, playful teasing, storytelling and great food. I can’t remember the last time I told my wife I had a great time going out to eat, but that was really something special.
  4. Finally Taking a Stand – I’m not going to make this political, but I feel so much better about myself for deciding I cannot support Donald Trump anymore. When all of the former generals and ex-employees (usually fired for standing up to him) came out a few days later and gave their first-hand accounts about his lack of leadership, I felt vindicated. This country needs a leader, not just a guy who has fooled the Cracker Barrel crowd into believing he has their best interests in mind. My natural instinct is to wait until the last minute to make a decision in almost any election, but I feel good for being on top of things here.
  5. Band-Aids – I don’t think I’ve put a Band-Aid on in six months, but I’ve needed two in the last 12 hours. First, my cat gave me a huge gash when I quickly tried to toss it off the bed in the middle of the night. I heard it making “Here comes the hairball” noises and my wife celebrated Kohl’s reopening by getting us new bedding, so I tried to get it off quickly, but it hooked one claw into my index finger and when I tossed the cat it just pulled a huge gash into the tip of the finger. I haven’t bled like that in a while. Then, about two hours ago, I was outside fiddling with the pool and stepped on a stick or something and put a nasty splinter into my fourth toe. I was able to pull half of it out, but the other half is still there. I have no idea who originally invented Band-Aids, but that person has had an impact on basically every life in the civilized world when you think about it.
  6. A Lack of Corporate Writing – I’ve seen my income take a pretty serious nosedive in the last 6 months. My biggest client out of Australia who I wrote corporate biographies closed shop. Then, COVID-19 killed off a major client for the time being and there’s just not a lot of work out there that pays what I require. That said, it’s been a nice break not writing about the business world. There is just so much BS about business that I think the world could have 25-hour work weeks and everything would be fine if pointless meetings, strategy sessions, and dumb reports were banished. I’m enjoying the break from writing about business.
  7. Road Trips – My daughter is constantly complaining after last year’s 28-day jaunt across America that she’s getting really antsy to take another trip (even though she and I went to North Carolina two weeks before the lockdown started) but knows we can’t since so much is still not open. I haven’t mentioned that I also haven’t saved, nor planned for a year. It’s not like I randomly stumbled on a free Haunted Cruise in Wisconsin or free Zip Lining in Idaho, but since she didn’t plan or pay, it probably seems that way. I always dreamed of that kind of road trip after taking a few with my parents as a kid. I’m so glad I got to do it with her, and that the rest of the family joined us for a week of it on the West Coast. I can only imagine the pain I’d be feeling now if I planned this trip for this year.
  8. Drumsticks – Not the musical instrument accessory, the ice cream treat. God Bless the bastard who invented those.

Q&A Time: Did He Come into Our Relationship as a Porn Addict?

QUESTION: My husband says that he became a porn addict only in the last couple of years. I have a hard time believing that. I think he was a porn addict long before I ever met him. What do you think?

ANSWER: Depending on how long you’ve been together, he either was already there or the pieces were in place and it just hadn’t blossomed into something terrible yet. I maintained my addiction for over 20 years without recognizing I had an addiction and once it was brought to my attention it still took six months and hundreds of hours of therapy before I was willing to truly accept it.

Reading between the lines, you could be asking the question “Is this my fault?” and that answer, even if he’d never seen porn before meeting you (which is unlikely in 99.99999% of cases) is that none of this is your fault. This isn’t a blame situation for you…or him.

If he’s an addict, it means he’s sick and he doesn’t have to come to terms with it to actually be sick. Just because I came to accept my porn addiction as a mental illness did not mean it began in that moment of revelation. It means I saw it was there with clear understanding for the first time. Denial or acceptance has little to do with his condition.

I’ve seen statistics that say 90 to 95 percent of people with sexually focused addiction issues had some kind of trauma from abuse that took place early in life. It doesn’t have to be sexual in nature, but it often is.

I was not in the critical stage of pornography addiction when I first met my wife in 2002. I had long been in the ongoing stage where usage would cyclically spike and wane for at least a decade by that point. I don’t think I reached the critical phase, when things started to go off the rails until 2013.

Were the pieces all there when I met her? Probably, but like a stew, they needed to be mixed and boiled to the proper temperature. I think we’re all capable of a lot of negative things, but never reach that breaking point.

Looking at it objectively, I can’t point a finger at her for any of it. These were my issues and she is to be commended for keeping the family together not just during the first 11 years of my marriage before I entered recovery, but even today deserves a medal for shepherding her flock through those years when I was at inpatient rehab or doing my jail time. Life is probably as easy for us as it ever has been now, but through it all, none of my addiction issues had to do with her.

He probably was that way when you got together and it’s just that other influences have let it get out of hand. You didn’t cause any of this, even if he claims the exact opposite.

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If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

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

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, 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.

Q&A Time: My husband has a porn addiction – Should I tell other people in his family and see if they can help?

QUESTION My husband has a pretty bad porn addiction and knows it, but doesn’t seem to want to do much about it. If this is a real addiction, would an intervention work? Should I at least tell other people in his family and see if they can help?

ANSWER This is another tough one there is no easy answer for. I want to immediately say no, but in my case, it was helpful.

When my story hit the media, everybody knew about my addiction overnight: family, friends, neighbors and even people who had no idea who I was.

I was in and out of therapy for years in my 20s and early 30s and never once mentioned my porn addiction. I was married for a dozen years and it never was addressed. Short of being publicly outed at age 37, I can’t fathom a scenario where I would have sought the help of anybody else, be it family, friends or professionals.

Why? Because it’s about sex. It’s about naked people. It’s about what turns you on, which may be kinkier than most. And let’s be honest…any conversation about sex is still socially frowned upon. Viewing pornography is a behavior most people pretend they don’t engage in. People won’t admit to looking at pornography despite statistics proving the vast majority do, so how can somebody openly admit to having a problem with it?

The day after I was arrested and my lawyer asked me (with my wife and father in the room) if I had any addictions, I immediately admitted to my alcoholism, which they both suspected. It took me another six months before I stopped blaming the alcohol for the mistake I made, finally recognizing I did have a porn addiction problem.

Looking back now, I don’t think I would have progressed to the point that I’m now at in recovery if not for my family. They have been a non-judgmental safe haven in a world where many either don’t view pornography addiction as a “real thing” or condemn those who suffer with it.

That said, if I was a part of many families I know, I would have been disowned, not helped. While my immediate family has been wonderful, there are pockets of my extended family who I have basically ceased to have relationships with. You’ve got to have a solid barometer on how the family will react before you bring them into the mix.

I believe this question can best be answered by looking at his relationship with his family, looking at the history of their values, opinions and behaviors and if they are likely open to being part of the process of recovery.

I know how helpful my family has been, but I have talked with so many people where their family’s intervention had a different outcome.

Support doesn’t mean his mother or sister sitting down and working out with him why he became the way it is. It can be as simple as just letting him know that they love him and have faith he can overcome his addiction. It’s about love and support.

If you make the decision to seek help from his family, I would start with the male relative he is closest to and allow them to have input on if, and how, the family should be involved. They may have insight about the family you don’t possess.

I don’t think a mass intervention is a good idea. People usually don’t do a good job of hiding being a drug addict or alcoholic. When an intervention happens, the family has known for a long time, and the target of the intervention is well aware the family knows about their addiction. Imagine your husband walking into a room of family members and learning they all know about his addiction. I would think that would just be too overwhelming. Even though my family was supportive, it was embarrassing when it all came out.

As for friends, I wouldn’t get them involved. Friends talk. If he wants help from a friend, leave that up to him.

In the end, I never would have asked my family for help unless it was forced upon me. Thank God it was, but don’t base my experience as what always happens.

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If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

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

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, 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.

Q&A Time: Does Hiding a Porn Addiction Mean He Hid Affairs?

QUESTION: I know my boyfriend is addicted to pornography. That’s obvious. He’s a very sexual personal overall, making comments and jokes about never being satisfied. Of course, he won’t admit he’s an addict, but I wouldn’t expect him to. Since he’s addicted to pornography, does this mean he cheated on me?

ANSWER: I think this is one of those individual situation scenarios. I can tell you that in the first 11 years of my marriage, all while addicted to pornography, I didn’t once cheat on my wife in the traditional sense. We can debate if talking to women in chat rooms is cheating, but in the case of a traditional affair, I never went down that road.

This is one of the reasons I don’t like being labeled as having a “sex addiction.” I think when people think of the word “sex” they immediately jump to intercourse. I had no interest in pursuing women outside of the pages of a magazine or on a computer screen. Frankly, I think that if I had ended up in a situation where it was possible, I would have fled out of fear.

In talking with male and female porn addicts, it’s clear to me that men use pornography as a coping and soothing mechanism. They are not using it as a substitute for intimacy. I never saw it as a replacement for real intimacy. The only thing that sex with my wife and masturbating with pornography had in common was the physical end result.

That said (and this may be a stereotype) but I believe that women are seeking romance and value a deeper bond with their partner than a man generally does. If all women needed to be satisfied was a naked body on a screen, wouldn’t the pornography industry have been catering more to women long ago? The economics proves that women don’t use pornography in the same way men do.

I’ve only known a handful of female pornography addicts and almost all of them acted out beyond their relationship because they were seeking a connection pornography alone couldn’t provide. It’s not just my anecdotal observations either. Statistics prove that women take their porn addiction to a different level far more than men. If you’re asking yourself this question about his fidelity, it could be that you are a woman and like most women, the wiring in your brain is different than a man.

Yes, some men start with pornography and move on to having affairs and develop intercourse addictions, but there are also plenty of men with intercourse addictions who have no interest in pornography. And as we all know, there are plenty of men with no addictions whatsoever who still cheat on their partner.

It’s impossible to say for sure if he cheated on you, but I don’t think it’s a conclusion that should be reached or an assumption that should be made. This speaks directly to the issue of how much you really want to know.  Please, used a trained facilitator if you think this is a conversation you should have with your partner. A random Tuesday night on your couch after a long day will not have positive results, regardless of his answer.

 

If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

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

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: 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.While many have labeled me as a pornography addiction expert, 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.

Q&A Time: Reader wonders about her husband’s lies around porn usage

QUESTION: I *KNOW* my husband is a pornography addict. He’s a landscaper and watches it on his phone at work. That browser history is full of dirty movies. At home, he likes to watch porn at night after I go to bed, but he says he doesn’t watch it every night because he also watches a lot of sports. I don’t know if I should be worried and I don’t think he’s telling me the truth about his use. Should I assume he’s lying to me about it?

ANSWER: Like every question about pornography use people seem to be sending me lately, there are multiple issues working at one time here. I think the most important thing to take a look at here is if he is an actual addict.

You say that you “KNOW” he’s an addict, but aside from a lot of watching, you don’t say specifically why you think he is. When he watches at work, is it on his lunch break in the truck, getting a laugh with his buddies, or is he neglecting his duties? When he’s watching at night, is that taking time away from something the two of you would be doing? I’m not going to disagree with you that he’s an addict, but I’m not going to agree with you either. This kind of plays to the point that at the end of the day, “Addict” is more a title than anything else.

You probably are safe to assume that he’s lying to you about it, but again, that doesn’t mean he’s a full-blown addict. Pornography is one of those things that I think 99% of people lie about. If you look at the studies that are coming out almost weekly now, porn consumption is at an all-time high. A recent study by a few Canadian researchers found that 98% of married men 18-35 years old looked at porn in the last 6 months. I would say that unless you have that seriously rare snowflake, any married woman reading this with a guy in that age group should assume he’s looking at porn. The number for women was 73%. Young married people are looking at porn. I don’t know if you’re young or not, and that’s really not the point. I think that almost everyone lies about their porn consumption and it’s a trickier red flag to spot than many other addictions since the majority who view it are not addicted.

I’m a little troubled by the fact you’re looking at his browser history on his phone. Are you looking only for porn are you going through his texts and his other personal information? If you are, that’s a serious trust issue that you have. Maybe your lack of trust is warranted, but invading his privacy should be an alert that something unhealthy is happening here. Whatever is causing you to snoop needs to be addressed. It may be his problem, it may be yours, or it may belong to both of you.

My advice to you would be to book a few marriage counseling sessions. You may just be at a bump in the road and in need of a little tune-up or you could have some serious issues. It’s hard to tell based on what you wrote. Getting the help of a professional is never a bad thing and they will probably help you be able to put your problems in perspective and help define what they really are in the first place.

 

If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

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

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: 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. While many have labeled me as a pornography addiction expert, 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.