Last week I ended talking about how I began to realize I was drowning in an ocean of porn. Part of what helped me realize I was drowning was being able to see how porn had crept into what I thought were unrelated off-limit aspects of my life. When I saw porn infectious influence on my life, it terrified me.
Porn does not just stay in your bedroom on your laptop. It gets up and walks around with you as you go about your day. It starts as a friend, but quickly becomes the hard-to-shake cynic that constantly whispers lies into your ear. It’s not exactly surprising that watching a recording of two individuals having highly choreographed sex changes how you see relationships. By design, porn exalts the act of sex. It does not promote healthy relationship dynamics. Likewise, when porn stepped into my life, it changed the way I saw the world. I was no longer able to see women as people with interests and personalities and souls; instead, I looked at them like objects to satisfy my desire for pleasure. It’s a humbling experience realizing the first thought you think about a girl involves the viability of sexual positions, not her personality or interests. Healthy relationships can’t exist under that kind of mindset. The more I lived in that mindset, the more my relationships gradually started dying.
The sense of guilt and shame that lingered stopped me from being able to be vulnerable. The growing half-truths and lies even stunted my friendships. My desire for porn was like an itch that I needed to constantly scratch. It stole my time, and robbed me of my ability to focus. When I eventually realized how negatively porn was affecting me, I panicked. I was lost at sea, tired of swimming, head slipping below the surface. I felt isolated and alone. But somehow, I knew I wanted to be free.
Do you find yourself struggling in the same way? Do you want to be free?
My journey to freedom and recovery started by finding community—good people who would hear my struggle and support me in my journey. It took changing the media I consumed. It took changing where I left my phone or laptop at night. It took changing the way I viewed women and relationships. It took vulnerability and confession. I’ll admit, there were days and nights on the journey when I would give up, just open my laptop and dive back into the ocean. The shame of failure in those moments was nearly unbearable, but I couldn’t allow myself to give up. I’d pull myself together and start the journey again. Friends came alongside and encouraged me. I started creating safety nets against unexpected desires to watch porn. It was the hardest and most painful thing I’ve ever done. But after what felt like an unendurable six years, I can humbly say I stand in a place of freedom.
Like I said earlier, this journey away from porn is a life-long one. But I hope that in writing this that I can offer you a glimpse of the freedom that exists on the other side of that initial decision not to accept porn as a normal aspect of day-to-day life. And that freedom feels so good. Every free day feels fresh and light, and I feel renewed and transformed. I hope that in writing this, I can be another voice that encourages you: making this change is worth it.
Riley wrote in one of her earlier blogs that she’s chosen not to have sex because of her faith. I have to admit: my decision to leave porn behind was spurred by this same faith. God came to me in the mire of pornography and showed me I was dying. He also offered me a new life.
What Riley has written about sex and singleness applies here as well. I pray you have faith to believe that something more for your life exists. And let me tell you, it is so good! I invite you to realize that this burden was never meant to be yours to bear. If faith isn’t your thing (which is okay!), start by simply desiring more for yourself. Desire freedom, and picture how positive—not only for you but also for those around you—that freedom will be!
As someone who knows this struggle well—as deeply as is possible—please hear me when I say that I see you. I know how hard this is. I know how uncomfortable it is to talk about. I know how easy it seems to find intimacy and pleasure in porn; but I also know how damaging it can be to your emotions, thoughts, and relationships. But the story doesn’t have to end there. There is more, and it is so good. Let me be the first to offer you a hand of friendship on the way to finding that freedom.
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Journal of a Virgin