At the age of 13, I knew that viewing pornography was wrong, but after one particular day at school in which my classmates had berated me for not looking at it, I had begun to question my own sexuality. Wanting to prove to myself that I was interested in women, I decided to search online for seemingly innocent images of women. However, it was not long before I started searching for increasingly graphic images and eventually pornographic images and videos. Initially, I felt sick to my stomach after binging on these images, but after weeks of viewing the pang of my conscience began to subside. From that point on, I went to porn when I felt that I could not deal with my emotions. Often, when I felt alone, friendless, angry, inadequate, bored, or hopeless I went online to find images of women to make myself forget. Depression and thoughts of suicide were often followed by bouts of searching for pornography and masturbation. Until the age of 22, I was regularly watching porn every day.
Throughout these years of self-abuse, I knew that porn and masturbation were harmful and that I was causing myself to going into deeper emotional pain. Despite this knowledge, I was helpless and unable to quit cycles of anger, porn, masturbation, regret, and self-loathing. Every time I went through this cycle, I promised to myself that I would quit, but I would always repeat it within days. Within the span of 9 years, I could only maintain a meaningful level of abstinence for a few weeks at a time. I sought counseling to help me to understand the root cause of my problem, but following these sessions I felt absolutely unable to resist temptation. I tried sharing with my father, but he did not know how to help me. I tried reading online about the harmful effects of pornography to educate myself, but I would still be drawn back to pornography when stress of everyday life overpowered my will.
After almost a decade of struggling alone, David, a good friend reached out to me while I was visiting his family. He told me that he was aware that most men around my age were addicted to porn and masturbation. He asked me if I was having this problem and I was honest with him. I told him that I believe that there wasn’t much hope for me quitting, but he shared with me how he was able to overcome his own problem with this issue. He offered to talk with me on the phone every week to help me address the problems that were allowing me to continue being addicted. During these talks with David, I learned a little more and gained more resolve to quit. He encouraged me to download an internet monitoring program that reported my internet usage to him, and to restrict my phones’ internet access to adult websites. By closing off the pathways for accessing pornography, I began to take back control of my sexual purity.
A few months after David and I started our weekly conversations, he introduced to a community of men who were committed to ending their own cycles of sexual self-abuse. I learned to trust these men, share with them about my problems relating to pornographic addiction, and began to heal from the wounds that had developed in my heart. Within our group, I finally felt the acceptance, concern, and brotherhood. Being open with this group allowed me to break free from being drawn to porn. In place of using pornography to simulate happiness, I let myself feel miserable. It was painful to live without pornography, but eventually I found ways to be genuinely happy. Being productive during free time, going on adventures, spending time with family and friends brought joy into my life. I no longer feel helpless, depressed, nor do I feel doomed to be a failure for not being able to accomplish my goals.