Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Step 1: Honesty

Ok.

Deep breath.

I'm addicted to porn. My life is out of control. I can't stop.

Although I've been blogging for months, I have yet to really address porn in any constructive way. I just seem to acknowledge it and move on whenever there's a problem. And that's fine as far as it goes--my mental health is pretty good and I'm relatively happy. But it doesn't get rid of the problem. It just accommodates it, and that's not good enough anymore.

So, I'm going to take Samantha's advice and use the church's 12 step addiction recovery program. There's magic in that program. It has been proven scientifically again and again to produce results. Admittedly, there isn't the robust data for porn addiction that there is for other kinds of addictions, but I'm willing to give it a try. Doing something (anything!) proactive is progress for me.

So today is the start.
KEY PRINCIPLE: Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.

I started looking at porn of my own volition (not just glances in the school hallway) when I got back from my mission. I had seen an "internet phone book" in a member's house once and when flipping through it saw that the internet was largely full of porn sites. So, in a moment of idleness after being one of the first folks in the neighborhood to get the 'net, I typed in my search: "naked men". I was not disappointed. Far from it, the subsequent experience was one of the most intense of my life. I had certainly never seen male porn before, even at a glance, and I was suddenly so powerfully immersed in desires I had never admitted to anyone. My experience was certain to be repeated, and it was.

Over the years I learned about auto complete, browser caches, and the history. I was always ahead of the learning curve out of necessity, and I was rewarded with successfully clandestine indulgence. I became so brazen (and skilled) that I viewed porn in a number of unlikely and risky situations. I viewed it in places that had safeguards in place by subverting the admin's token precautions. It seemed that much more exciting and rewarding.

I became skilled enough with computers that I actually found myself catching other people viewing porn--a roommate who borrowed my computer, residents of my dorm,... others. As I realized how pervasive the problem was for others, I minimized its significance for me and advanced deeper and deeper into the trap. I abstained from R-rated movies religiously and listened and believed the counsel from church talks on the evils and snares of pornography. But, my duplicity didn't command a lot of my attention. I was already in the snare. I was hooked. I am hooked.

Despite efforts with my wife, counselors, bishops, and friends, I can't go longer than several weeks without turning back to it. I'm ashamed and repulsed by the prospect of how little control over my own actions I have. I'm inclined to minimize the problem when I discuss it with others--overestimate the time since I last slipped, underestimate the hours spent. And regardless of what I see as a healthy amount of insight into the subject, I can't get myself to really believe my problem is significant or that I must immediately change. I'm more comfortable with the prospect of change always being in the near future.

But not anymore. I'm powerless to overcome porn. My life has become unmanageable.

16 comments:

EnduringtotheEnd said...

Great first step -L-! I don't know much about the 12 Step Program. What are the 12 Steps? Congrats on taking the first step! I am interested in your journey through the remaining steps, so stay the course to completion and do tell the details of the journey along the way!

Samantha said...

You've done something that takes lots of courage--bravo! The course isn't easy. It can be very humbling, and you'll be recognizing things about yourself you wish you could ignore. But in the end--freedom? What could be better...

You have my utmost respect just for trying.

Beck said...

Wow!

To a lesser degree (at least so I believe) I may be right behind you.

Thanks for leading out!

Elbow said...

I just want to tell you how cool I think you are...honesly, I really mean that.

You have a weakness that you are aware of and that you are going to work on. I think that's admirable.

Don't get down on yourself. You have so many other amazing and awesome qualities that you shouldn't let this get you down.

Use all of your strengths overcome this and I know you'll become the person you want to be.

Chris (hurricane) said...

L, I wish you well in dealing with this. I want to offer some additional perspective for you to consider.

While I think that it's important for you to bring compulsive and addicitive behavior under control, there is, of course, a very significant complicating factor in all of this. You are a homosexual living a heterosexual life. It seems to me that part of your attraction to pornography is the outlet it provides for your homosexual desires. Even if you believe that you can, over time, change your orientation, those desires are not going to go away over night. Those desires are going to continue to seek an outlet. It's not as though you can simply replace pornography with more satisfying sex with your wife as a heterosexual man could.

I don't mean to be discouraging here. But I've seen this before and have been through my own version of it. In retrospect, the truth is I think pornography and masturbation actually helped me stay faithful while I was married.

So bring this under control, by all means, but think about how you are going to deal with the urges and desires which are going to continue to come to you quite naturally.

AttemptingThePath said...

L, youre amazing, we're in the same boat!

best of luck on the journey!

-L- said...

I imagine many of us struggle with porn, and I wish each of you the best as you deal with the challenge.

Hurc, your point has occured to me before and ultimately viewing porn as an unconventional solution to my special circumstances doesn't help. Maybe I'll post on my reasoning some other time.

Chris (hurricane) said...

L,

I'm not suggesting that porn has to be your solution.

-L- said...

Regardless, I've given the prospect consideration and found it to be untenable within a faithful LDS approach.

Chris (hurricane) said...

Again, I'm not suggesting that it is tenable withing a faithful LDS approach.

Indeed, I think that's the point. The Church denies that there is ANY healthy outlet for your homosexuality and that ultimately makes being gay and faithfully Mormon untenable in the long run.

-L- said...

That's just a plain over-simplification. It's clearly possible as people do it, by the statistics you quoted yourself. I know a man personally who fails to fit the miserable gay Mormon stereotype of decades of repression. It seems obligatory for those who hate the church for its position on gays to say that people like him are lying. "Ex-gay for pay" or some such character fallacy. But, it's all empty furor, as nearly as I can tell.

Chris (hurricane) said...

Ok, I'll amend my statement thusly:

Again, I'm not suggesting that it is tenable withing a faithful LDS approach.

Indeed, I think that's the point. The Church denies that there is ANY healthy outlet for your homosexuality and that ultimately makes being gay and faithfully Mormon untenable in the long run for the vast majority of homosexuals.


Also, you said: It seems obligatory for those who hate the church for its position on gays to say that people like him are lying.

Which is not something I have ever suggested. Nor do I "hate the church," as you seem to suggest.

Another Other said...

It's not as though you can simply replace pornography with more satisfying sex with your wife as a heterosexual man could.

Pornagraphy is an addiction. Therefore, even if you are heterosexual, no amount of "more satisfying sex" with one's wife will help the addiction. Just ask the approximately 20 married heterosexual men I was in a porn recovery program with a couple of years ago. Sex didn't help them. It was irrelevent to their struggle to overcome their addiction.

The idea that there is a part of ourselves that can not be satisfied until we achieve a certain kind of sex is fallacious. I feel quite satisfied with my sex life (as did many of the heterosexual men in that group) and any struggles with porn that I have had have been entirely peripheral it. Addiction to porn is addiction to porn. No amount of great sex, hetero or otherwise, will change that.

-L- said...

Yet again, my efforts to be brief have sabotaged my effectiveness in communicating. Part of my comments are in regard to your comments, Hurc, but part are just the next stop down the road my meandering mind happens to take. I was specifically thinking about Dr. Drescher in my last comment, the foremost opponent of reparative therapy. He's on top of the science, sure, but his commentary beyond the science is too much. He generalizes pretty much everything: anyone who wants reparative therapy is motivated by self-hate or coerced into it, anyone who performs reparative therapy is motivated by money, and anyone who believes there can be good and valid reasons for wanting to change their orientation is a two-faced liar speaking "love" for gays in public and calling them an "abomination" in private. Such nastiness gets little tolerance from me. He made it clear he hates religions, he hates NARTH, and he's convinced every person who claims to have successfully converted is lying for ulterior motives. So, if I sounded condemning in that last comment, you heard right. But it wasn't directed at you. In fact, more than once it seems my musings were taken as a misinterpretation of what you had said when they were in fact just ruminations on the subject at hand. I didn't mean to put words in your mouth.

I think your initial comment was a good one--porn is perhaps tempting in a unique way for gay Mormons. I can think of several reasons for this, and I think I agree that using it as an outlet may make it easier to be faithful in marriage. But apart from the most obvious reasons this is incompatible with the LDS faith (i.e. the church says "no porn" period), I see it as problematic in other ways. The main one is that while having that outlet keeps me literally faithful, it denies crucial opportunities to grow closer to my wife, the only meaningful purpose of sexuality beyond procreation. Making that work for me as a gay man is the alchemy we're working on.

Chris (hurricane) said...

Pornagraphy is an addiction.

Actually, no, it's not. Plenty of people view porn at some point without becoming addicted to it.

Therefore, even if you are heterosexual, no amount of "more satisfying sex" with one's wife will help the addiction. Just ask the approximately 20 married heterosexual men I was in a porn recovery program with a couple of years ago. Sex didn't help them. It was irrelevent to their struggle to overcome their addiction.

This may be true, but it's not my point. My point is that a closted gay man's compulsion to porn may well be driven by his need to express his repressed homosexuality. Getting a hold of one's porn addiction is fine. For most gay men, it won't end the need to seek an outlet for gay urges.

The idea that there is a part of ourselves that can not be satisfied until we achieve a certain kind of sex is fallacious.

I completely agree, which is why many men who thing their homosexuality is only about sex and seek out satisfaction in purely sexual form--pornography, anonymous hook ups, etc.--are rarely if ever satisfied.

Addiction to porn is addiction to porn. No amount of great sex, hetero or otherwise, will change that.

Sure, but addiction to porn doesn't just happen. Something drives one to it.

Chris said...

I think you will be blessed for trying to become a better person and overcoming your trials. Keep up the good work!