Thursday, February 28, 2013

Guest Posts About Pornography and Sexual Addiction

This is the last day of my series on Pornography and Sexual Addiction. I had an overwhelming response to my call for submissions and feel badly I can't publish them all. I've tried to pull from different view points and spots along the way to recovery. I hope we've done some good here these past few weeks. I know it's changed my life. I am deeply grateful for all the stories I have read and the important discussions that have followed--including all the surrounding viewpoints.

Six Sons
by Anonymous

I raised six sons.  Six.  That means six eagle projects, six gigantic pairs of Adidas to trip over in the front hallway, six sets of mission papers.  Six junior proms, with me ordering the corsages because they were excited and clueless, and six times weeping when they walked out the door in their first tuxedos, weeping when they wheeled their suitcases through the MTC door and out of my life for two long years, and weeping in the temple when they knelt at the altar, remembering when they said as toddlers that I was "bootiful" and they would marry me one day if I was still alive by then.

I also wept when three of the six were caught viewing things they shouldn't on the family computer, while they were in high school.  I was infuriated.  How could they sully our home in that way?  They knew better.  We taught them better.  They knew what the Spirit felt like.  They were planning on missions.  How could they?  So there were lots of parent-to-son discussions, and off they went to the bishop, and it broke my heart when they couldn't take the sacrament, much less bless it.  But they did feel genuinely remorseful and they repented and served honorable missions where they turned from boys to men, and when they returned they were married, and as far as I know those three have left that challenge behind them.

But then.  To get the call five years ago from the one son -- the one I never had to worry about.  He was the one who did his homework without being asked, who didn't have to be nagged to get his merit badges, who got straight As, who volunteered first for the Young Men service projects.  The one, still, who gives the tightest hugs.  Who does the dishes at family gatherings.  Who has the most brilliant smile you can ever imagine.  The perfect son.  Of course he wasn't one of the "three."  Or so I thought.

He called, and talked, and as his words poured over me -- well, that's what happened, they poured over me and off me because I couldn't accept them into my brain.  Not only did he have a very serious addiction to pornography, he was in trouble with the law.  His wife was taking their child and moving in with her parents.  He was beside himself.  "I don't know what to do, Mom." 

I didn't know what to do either. 

Somehow I found words to say.  We will help you.  You can change. We will always love you.  Help us to understand.  And words I never thought I would say to a child: We will find you an attorney.

Talk about weeping.  For a year I could have filled a swimming pool with my tears.  People at work knew when I had a certain look on my face, not to approach me because  I wasn't capable of conversation or coherent thought.  I thought I knew what unconditional love was, but during that year I had it seared into my soul.

You know there is going to be a positive ending to this, or I wouldn't be writing to you.  My son squared himself with the law.  He counseled with his bishop weekly.  He worked as hard at the church's addiction recovery program as he has ever worked at anything.  And he can work.  He reconciled with his wife.  They had another baby.  They bought a home.  He has a good job.  He gained back everything he had lost, one agonizing step at a time, except for his innocence which is gone and I have to accept that in this life he won't get that back.  I got up the courage a year ago to ask how the addiction recovery is going.  He still goes every week.  It is a long time since his last "slip" and he recognizes this is a lifetime challenge that he won't ever really put behind him.  But his progress is very good.  Without the atonement, good bishops, a wife whose value is beyond rubies, and the LDS church addiction recovery program, I can't say where he would be.

What have I gained from this?  Another trip through the refiner's fire, perhaps my hardest ever.  And I understand the issues of addiction recovery so much better than I did before.  Boundlessly better.  I don't feel disgust when I learn of another mother's son who carries this horrible burden.  I feel sorrow and love, and hope that they can find a way forward, battling this demon all the way, so that they can love themselves again.

Porn Angel
by Monica Rai

I don’t want to talk about porn. Or email accounts where his verbiage is lewd and someone completely different than the man I married. I don’t want to talk about infidelity. I want to live it even less. But yet, I am. He confessed as I sat with my legs on his lap during family visit at the Ranch. I had found the accounts before this: the Myspace and Yahoo and Hotmail and the numbers in his phone. But now, he looks at me and cries and tells me of how he cheated on me while he was high last summer. Only a couple times, and then it stopped, he says. I looked down at his hands, and focused on the wedding ring that just moments ago I had taken off from around my neck and given back to him. Because I thought he deserved it. A moment can change your forever, I have decided. The lies unraveled like the yarn of a bright red scarf. Now my hands are full with string that winds its way around my body and constricts my breathing, covers my eyes, and ties my ankles together as I trip and fall…
And I can’t get up. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up (I say in the sing song voice)…I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.
This time, though, there’s no audience to laugh at the appropriately timed jokes. I am the butt of the joke of my own life. Aren’t I supposed to be the beautiful, ever-evolving-towards-perfection-likable-protagonist? Apparently I was mistaken. Or am not good enough, worthy enough, loved enough to fulfill that role. No one will come to see this movie…
I cannot reconcile the man whose screen name is Devlish Ass Licker, with the sweet words he said about the first time he laid eyes on me…
which was December 5, 2003
“I went back to the kitchen to help them clean up, and as I was loading up my plate, I turned around and ran into the most beautiful, stunning girl that I had ever laid my eyes on. She had these facial features I had never seen, I thought she was from some exotic place; long wavy brown hair, and these big huge lips that I wanted to kiss right off the bat. And her whole facial structure, looked like she was from some exotic place under a waterfall. She just had these really round, big hazel, green and brown eyes that just looked right into my soul, just piercing me. Her countenance, she had angels flying around her. If I had looked down at her feet, they would have been six inches off the floor. She just looked at me with this big huge smile that made her whole face light up, and perfect white teeth. And just as I was about to spit out one of my world famous pick up lines, my teeth stopped my tongue from talking, and my heart pounding out of my chest, and after a few non-verbal grunts I finally got out a shaky, ‘…uhhh, what’s your name?’ She told me her name was Monica, and I said ‘I’m Brent.’ Then I took off. But I didn’t go far…”
Putting those two truths together defines the irreconcilable existence of what I am breathing today. Nothing makes sense. How can he be so perfect and so cruel? Apparently, I am the Porn Angel. I feel like my innocence is gone. He once called me an angel, he once saw one. My wings have been clipped and I flutter along the ground, the stubs where my feathers once were now bleed and seep their pain wherever I go. Where is the purity that once lay between us? Where is the clarity that I saw through the mirrors of eternity? Singing, “Where, oh where has my little dove gone….where oh where can he be?”
I don’t know how to deal with adultery. I know something about addiction; there was some pocket of information and knowledge in my brain that I pulled experience from, that guided me in these darkest of days with a vague idea of how to go about life and recovery. This, though…this new monster has me by the throat and I do not know the magic words to make it let go. My only experience with this is horrific, and I cannot pull on those memory strings for fear it will drag me under again. I am lost, I am unmanageable, I am unable to do anything but stand here and weep, twisting innards and metal blasting, shrapnel through my heart. I don’t know how to stop my own bleeding. I do not have the skills for this. I cannot stop the bleeding…
I’ve fallen and I can’t get up
* cue the audience to laugh, they’ve forgotten how

To Love Again
by Anonymous

To love and be loved was the dream of my young, romantic heart. And when I fell in love I did so with all my heart. To know and be known became my next dream. I gave myself completely. It seemed as though he couldn't get enough of me. He wanted to know everything about me just as I wanted to know everything about him. We talked and talked and talked. It felt like magnetism between us: a constant pull to be closer and closer. It was like coming home. All the past hurts seemed nothing but a distant winding path leading to him.

So we were married. And then we had two years of newly-wedded bliss. And then real life caught up to us or so it seemed. There was always some excuse for the distance that seemed to be lurking between us. I often felt like I was swimming upstream. I tried and tried harder to live a “perfect” life. Somehow it never seemed like enough. But mostly we were still young and in love.

About seven years into our marriage, a nagging feeling and a tear-filled prayer led me to find pornography on our computer. How could this be? I confronted my husband. He looked right at me with big innocent eyes and lied.

When his “little problem” finally came out, I was devastated and also relieved. I was so ready to have a name to that feeling of inadequacy--so ready to do battle. And battle I did. There were passwords and articles and meetings with the bishop and a therapist. Until I realized that the “little problem” wasn't so little. He was addicted to lust. And his addiction was just a mask—a cover-up of deep wounds, pain and shame. It seemed to attack me right in my core and threaten everything that was most sacred and dear to me—my family, my faith, my love, my very being. All those past hurts and childhood wounds broke free, mocked me and said, “It's true—you are not worth it.”

Four years and an excellent therapy program later, we have done some serious battling. My husband is conquering lust. I am healing. But now that I finally do know him and everything about him, he is like a stranger to me. I fell in love with an ideal. And now, I ask myself if I can fall in love again? Can I know and be known by the real him? Do I believe in second chances and happily ever afters?

He is Not A Monster
by Anonymous

It was like every other lesson, discussion and/or talk I had heard about pornography in the past.

Yet, completely different.

It was different because for the first time in my life, we weren't talking about some faceless man who had a "horrific" addiction. At least I wasn't. Even though no one else in that room knew,  to me, we were talking about a man I loved. Completely. And entirely.

I remember our Church leader asking the room full of 100 women to describe a man who was addicted to pornography.

A young woman rose her hand. "Disrespectful and aggressive," she said with disgust.

Her words were like an undeserved slap to my face - because she was wrong. Dead wrong.

And because of it, my heart raced. I knew I could not let her disillusion be left as truth to everyone else in that room. They had a right to know the truth. And I knew it was my responsibility to provide it.

I rose my hand. And told that room of 100 women the description I knew intimately of a recovering porn addict.

He was the most respectful man I had ever met.

He was the most tender.

And the most gentle.

He was kind.

He was thoughtful.

He never failed to make me feel like I was the most important person to him. 

He was funny.

He found joy in serving others and making others happy.

He was adored by all children I had ever seen him interact with.

He was honest. And open. He was truthful about his addiction, his life-long dedication to overcome it and the times he had setbacks. 

He wouldn't allow for secrets about his problem. 

He loved God.

He loved me.

He made me happier than I could have ever imagined being. 

He was the man I wanted to spend all of my life with.

He was not a monster.

He was not disgusting or gross.

He made me want to become a better person, a person more like he was

He was a man I could only hope, all men could aspire to become like.  

He, WE,  would have given up anything to rid himself of his addiction {and try everything he did}.

He was successful, yet at times had setbacks.

He wasn't going to give up on that success and I wouldn't either.

He was not defined by his pornography addiction. And neither was I.

He was a good, good man ... who just sinned differently than you and I.

That was the man I knew recovering from a pornography addiction.

That was our truth. Which tells me it can be the truth for other men who do not want the secrecy and lies that pornography can lead to if they let it. 

This is our truth and I will continue to declare it to all who will listen for that man I love and for any other pornography addict out there like him ... and most importantly for everyone woman out there who loves that man.