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.