What is an Addict?

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Today marks a special and pivotal turning point here at Your Other Brothers. For the last four-plus months, we’ve been bringing you four blog posts a week from me and my same-sex attracted brothers the world over. We’ve seen incremental site growth from week to week and month to month, and lately it’s starting to feel like a family in here.

I couldn’t be more pleased with the last four-plus months.

I speak on behalf of all my other brothers when I say thank you for joining us on this strange new journey. With every passing month, it feels less and less strange.

Today is special, because it brings to life a vision planted at the start: a new medium to broadcast our stories. The written word is great — I personally adore blogging — but sometimes, the written word can only go so far. Here at YOB, we want to share our stories however we can, however effectively we can, diversifying our reach in the process — even reaching beyond the blogosphere.

And so, it’s with great excitement (and admittedly some trepidation) that I bring you our very first YouTube video — or, YOBTube, if you prefer. (And, be honest, don’t you prefer it?)

It’s called: What is an addict?

If you’re looking for the short answer, it’s me. I am an addict. For the longer answer, give our first video a watch.

We’d love it if you’d SUBSCRIBE to our shiny new channel. And if you enjoy the video, give us a big THUMBS UP on YouTube as well. Every little bit helps!

If you, dear reader, do enjoy this video, then there’s a high likelihood we’ll put out more videos in the future. We look forward to all the twists and turns to come to our growing brotherhood.

Today’s video also marks the start of what we’re dubbing #AddictionWeek, as we’ll be posting our personal, diverse stories of addiction all week long. It’s sure to be a week to remember here at YOB.

Don’t forget about the discussion questions below; we’ll see you in the comments, as always.

And now, for our first video: What is an addict?

Do you currently suffer with addiction, be it alcoholism, drugs, or sex addiction of any form? Have you ever embraced recovery and vulnerability with others? What will it take for you to jump to the opposite of addiction and embrace legitimate, life-giving connection?

Enjoy our content? Consider supporting YOB!
  • Thanks for the video and for this blog. Double your age and imagine still asking the same questions and feeling the same never’s and not enough’s. Forever hopeful, trying to gather the courage to brave the vulnerability again.

    • David Fournier

      Hi Ken – I’m in your age bracket and this sure looks like a place to work on that vulnerability. Nice to meet you.

    • If there’s one thing I’ve learned and am still learning, Ken, it’s that it’s never too late to brave those vulnerability waters. Every epic journey starts with a single precarious step.

  • Jeremy

    I can’t say I’m mad about the video thing, even though I love video for movies and music, not so much documentary or discussion though. It was very nicely filmed and it downloaded pretty well, so that was all good. And for someone with hearing difficulties the sound was pretty ok too. So well done for that.
    On addiction. Oh my! I guess I have those too. I’m pretty good at the vulnerability thing, but have found that usually chases folk away rather than draws them in. I have a problem with intimacy rather than vulnerability. I shy away from being intimate in a face to face situation. For me this would be a key to dealing with addictions which are fantasies that comfort where intimacy fails. Online vulnerability is much easier as you never meet the people face to face even though you may be very open and vulnerable. It’s a false vulnerability in many ways, though it helps some.
    I don’t have folk I can really talk to face to face about stuff, so the internet is a great place to share, though not very satisfying for really dealing with stuff. However, I love this blog site and the interaction here. Thank you.

    • We’re glad you have us on the Internet, Jeremy, if you don’t have anyone in “real life” with whom to share. Thanks for the kind words about the video! Our community will stay mostly blogging, but we definitely want to branch out over time.

  • Jon Evan

    Love the video as it brings the poignant human face to your story in a way that written words can not. Because addiction is a disease of feeling, we see it plainly in your face and body language Tom as you tell your story. This is very effective and makes it human and real. The video draws us into your story by engaging our own feelings more powerfully. This is good because when feelings are stirred we become alive! Being alive is good.
    I also love your conclusion about addiction that its opposite is not sobriety or healing but human connection. This is so true. While AA/NA has it’s limits the human connection that it provides is what brought me back for over fifteen years. I still miss it. Addiction medicine defines it as a chronic relapsing disease and it is… That’s something that Christians don’t like to hear, but it is nonetheless true and we must never beat ourselves up when we fail. Your final glimpse at the camera telling us your name is filled with new strength of hope that this is not the end of your story. Looking forward to hearing and seeing that :). This is a very exciting new chapter for YOB and I congratulate you.
    Having been extensively involved in what previously was Exodus ex-gay ministry it was disheartening to see its demise and even more depressing the return of leaders to gay life. But God moves on and it’s exciting and heartening to see YOB arising in a new way forward in this message of hope for those with ssa. May God keep you strong.

    • Thanks Jon. It can be all too easy for me to write my story vulnerably and yet still hide behind a glowing screen. I think I honestly need to get out from the screen every now and then for my own sense of progress and continual courage. It’s scary to step out, but that’s where growth happens. We’re all grateful you’re finding a sense of community and restoration with YOB! We do, too.

  • Karl Jacob

    Wow. That was a hard video to watch. Genuine human connection…definitely something I’m not that good at at this point. But I’m learning. Thanks so much, Tom, for your vulnerability. Through you and many others, I’m learning how to have real, vulnerable relationships, and most of all how to honor God in them.

    • You’re awesome, Karl. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. Glad to help play a role in your own wading of the vulnerable waters. I hope we can trade real life stories at a coffee shop one day!

      • Karl Jacob

        Thanks so much for your encouragement. And, yeah, meeting up would be great!

  • Brandon Burrell

    Brave. I can definitely relate. Phone sex and random hookups were my thing for years. It was never what I really wanted, but often what I craved, not realizing that I could have so much more in Jesus. Through Him my connection with others, other men, other people, some believers, some not, is far deeper. More real. I pray that we both continue to strive toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, which can only lead to deeper connection with others. There is a risk of being hurt. And thank God for that. You can only be hurt if you care. And you only care if you are alive. You are alive in Christ Jesus. God bless you Tom.

    • I absolutely LOVE your hurt -> care -> alive -> Jesus progression. Resonates on many deep levels. Thanks, Brandon. And thanks for sharing some of your own addictive behaviors. I pray you continue finding fulfillment for the true desires of your heart.

      • Brandon Burrell

        God bless you Tom. So glad this blog exists. You are in my prayers as well.

  • Tom Kirn

    I’ll echo the other sentiments. Very courageous, especially putting it out there on Youtube. Tom, it would be interesting to see additional videos for your process of ridding addictions

    I know my biggest addiction is to masturbation and porn. I think that it started out with curiosity, but its so hard to get rid of. I go through good period and then relapse; however, even during my relapses I can finally see the path to salvation that God offers. It just took me a while to surrender to His way and not my own. It still hurts though.

    It’s refreshing that this place exists, so I can vent to you all. Most other guys aren’t so open!

    • Thanks Tom! There will definitely be more videos covering a variety of topics, and I’ll most certainly revisit the addiction topic at some point. I’m currently taking some new/daunting steps in this addiction journey, and I’ll at least be blogging about that in the weeks to come.

      Thanks also for sharing some of your addiction-journey. It always seems to start as innocent curiosity, doesn’t it? Even though I regret my past failings, I can now move forward in full confidence of what I truly want and what I truly do not.

  • NoName

    Hey Tom, love the video. Beyond the thoughts, it’s produced well, and as someone who lives urban, wherever you were looks crazy beautiful. Based on this video and the pic on Kevin’s last post, your profile pics on the blog do you guys no justice. For what it’s worth, my vote is do more videos.

    Listened to your video twice. Connection with/to others may be the best and hardest thing about being alive. I’m pretty new here but do you think connections like you talked about are possible here online, without a face to face?
    Even sharing Jesus and SSA in common, and being honest with each other, I’m thinking while this can change thinking and be helpful and encouraging – all good – there’s limits here on reaching that kind of connection or even that simple but real thing Kevin last wrote about.

    I get that it’s easier to be more vulnerable online with others who are basically strangers, but that’s just admitting a lack of courage with people who know us, isn’t it? I’m not throwing stones, I suck at vulnerability. I have this irrational sense that comments I leave here, if people knew me, would count for less. I know, it’s stupid and I’m being a coward too. Seems to me that unless we can take the good things here prime time real life, we’ll never really know the connection you spoke about.

    Gonna be thinking about what you said for awhile, and for that, thanks man.

    • Jon Evan

      NoName, I recall in your initial post here you said you wouldn’t post much :). But look many great posts from you. So good. I think it’s cuz you found connection here thru the stories of YOB & the posting chats :).
      I think we are wired by God to respond to story and this new format of video makes the story more authentic. The effect is that story makes us feel. We become alive. Addicts are not really alive just numb to real life. These stories stir up many good feelings of hope. If Tom can be vulnerable and there has been good in that then we will want to use his story to define us as well. We will want to join him in that story of change and growth into what God meant for us to be human. As you can tell I’m so enthusiastic about this new adventure!
      Who knows this might grow further into real time skype in the future to connect more fully. I see YOB members who initially connected online have met in a retreat to further cement their connections. That’s good!

      • NoName

        Yeah, man, I did say that. But think I also said something about being a hypocrite. Damn. Yeah, it’s good here, and trying to keep it honest. I don’t want commenting to be a cover for being self-serving. I’d owe y’all if you call me out whenever I’m full of it or full of myself.
        You’re right about story Jon. Even with the bible, appreciate theology, but story hits home more. Was taught Jesus loves sinners as gospel, but when Jesus calls Judas ‘friend’ in the garden that night, that’s helped me more in my dark times.
        And you’re right about Tom and his story helping us. Hey, how about we vote Tom in as leader? Heard it’s easy to do that when they’re not in the room 🙂

      • Your excitement is our excitement, Jon. Grateful for you and all these other brothers!

    • Thanks for the compliments, NoName. Speaking from personal experience, online relationships can only take you so far. When used as the primary avenue for vulnerability and connection…it doesn’t end well. I’ve had several friendships break off because I placed all my energies into them instead of focusing more on the actual people around me where I live. I think online relationships can be a great supplement, with appropriate boundaries, but I’m a firm believer that everyone needs face-to-face vulnerability with the people around them. It’s scary as all get out — but it’s so vital to our health and continued growth. I’m speaking to myself lately.

      • NoName

        I’ve been thinking about what you said on your video about fantasy and manipulation and realized it’s not just connection that I want, it’s being genuine. Online it’s too easy not to be, and find either I’m trying to look good to others, or if I’m hurting, drawing attention thru weakness. Being online and bouncing between the two, with no checks on that, makes genuineness hard to find. Even with vulnerability, deep desire isn’t just to be open and exposed, but when there that’s what found is that I’m true.

        • NoName

          Hey Tom and brothers, only been here a couple of weeks and everyone’s been great. I need to head out and want to thank everyone. Any reason I’d give would only be a bad attempt at sounding like I know what I’m talking about so I’ll skip that. Praying for God’s best for y’all on this crazy journey,

          • mistaken identity

            And prayers that God will direct and shower grace on your journey as well.

          • Oh, okay then, you’re welcome here anytime! Blessings.

    • Alan Gingery

      Dear Noname,

      Read this post and wanted to add my thoughts. I have face to face friends that I have spilled the beans with and though that took guts and I was selective in the men and women I was vulnerable with, I have not been sorry. My connection to them and the mutual respect we share is so amazing. SAFE friends that hide their shadows and you must hide your shadows from will never meet the real needs you have for true connection. It really helps to have some friends online that you relate to, but the face to face friends can give you the real hugs and affirmation that all of us need.

      Take the chance to find one or more guys you trust and tell them your struggles. It is a risk, yes! But it is a risk will real benefits, in my experience. Alan

  • mistaken identity

    Yes, I like the video very much. More please, sir. Like Jon, I love the conclusion about connection. My own story confirms that. I have come very close to a gay porn addiction in my fifth decade. I realized I needed to do something fast or risk falling into an ever deepening pit of depravity and self-deception. Increased connection has been a major factor in moving away from the pit. Though I appreciate NoName’s comment about “the lack of courage with those who know us,” I have found these online connections to be very helpful. They have lead to a few real life, in the flesh connections, that the Holy Spirit has been able to use to facilitate my growing up. I know there is a concern that such contacts could lead to sin and falling, but that has not been my experience, Thank God! And as a result, real relationship away from the internet are marked by more vulnerability as well. I still have not shared my story with a great number of folks, but I seem to be more at ease in following the Spirit’s prompt to share with that one. Thanks again for all you do and risk here, Tom!

    • NoName

      Hey mistaken identity, don’t get me wrong, it’s good being here. Just wondering if it’s ever enough to get to what Tom was talking about? Hey, I’m here too.

      • mistaken identity

        No, not at all. I love your input. Your concern is valid. This could be an end in itself and then limiting. I have just experienced the opposite.

    • Thanks for your input, mistaken identity. As I said in another comment, I think these e-relationships can be a great starting point. But I don’t think they can be the be-all end-all. I’ve also had numerous online friendships turn into solid offline ones. But I still need the face-to-face vulnerability and support on a regular basis. Finding a church, small group, support group, etc. is vital to my continued sobriety and growth. I pray you find similar connection where you are, one step at a time.

      • mistaken identity

        Thanks Thomas! I appreciate that. It is happening, thanks be to God.

        And my wife and I have been praying for you, Kevin, and others regularly.
        Sincerely,
        John

        • You can call me Tom! And thanks so much for your and your wife’s prayers. Wow. That encourages me and all of us greatly.

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  • Mark Buzard

    Great video Thomas. I love and appreciate your vulnerability, and can identify with what you said, though sadly I wasn’t just addicted to the thoughts of what you mentioned, I was addicted to doing it. Thanks for posting this. You da man

    • Thanks, Mark. I hope I was clear in the video, though, that I have indeed done those things. They weren’t just thoughts and fantasies; they were actions. Moving forward, I hope to break free with a new groundwork of support and vulnerability. It will take time. It will hurt. But I intend for it to happen. Stay tuned.

  • C. Marque

    Great video man! I like the “connected to somebody” phrase. If only we could connect to someone in real life that easily, that fast… But, you alluded to how easy it is to disconnect too. It kind of reminded me of one of your recent posts on your personal blog. You used another phrase I like “learning the art of staying”. I think that’s definitely part of connecting to people too. Not to just connect and dump, but to learn how to stay connected through thick and thin. I love seeing how God is using you through your words. You’re gifted brother!

    • Good to hear from you again, C! The connecting and staying is so very hard for me. I’m learning a lot about myself in this season. I hope to emerge a better version of myself. Thanks for encouraging me, brother. Miss you much.

  • Kevin Frye

    You’ve got balls, Tom. I’m glad we’re brothers in this. 🙂

  • David Fournier

    Connected! Sweet!!!!

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  • Alan Gingery

    Powerful video Tom! Very vulnerable and gutsy. Thanks for making it. I am a brother who shares you shadows and accepts you just as you are today.

    Yeah, I am a sex addict too. Gay porn. Started about 4+ years ago. Made some progress in recovery, but also had my slip ups. Recently I was triggered and started again and I am working to be in recovery again and not in addiction again.

    It helps to know that I am not alone. And you are right, the connection to real people is the key. When I feel connected and meet those relational needs, the addiction has no power over me. Stay connected my friend. Stay connected!

    • Thanks Alan! Prayers for authentic connection on your end and mine. Thanks for being so bold to share some of your own addiction with us.

  • Bryon

    I saw this video when I first came out, but I guess I needed to see it again for it to sink in. I had never considered this kind of addiction before, web chatting. I hadn’t really thought of it at all, or even it’s existence. I can see the allure though, especially how you described the anonymity of it and how easy it is to use others. I have always longed for connection too, but it was always illusive. My mother didn’t allow me to play with other children unless it was away from our home. I was never purposefully socialized and I an an only child. I never developed good social skills and I developed a fear of other children, and eventually adults. Social anxiety is what they call it now. I was always too intense, needy and messed up for other teenagers or young adults. It seemed like everyone else had it all together and that made me isolate even more.

    It wasn’t until recently, about the last 7 years that I started forming more close relationships with other adults. It started largely with an older church friend who struggled with a different kind of sexual addiction than my own. We set up a weekly phone meeting, despite seeing each other each week, for check-in’s. That was 6 years ago. It opened the door for my bravery to disclose my mental health struggles with other people. I am so grateful because about 4 years ago I remembered my sexual abuse and that trust and vulnerability was my saving grace. I had to suffer alone in many respects, but I got through the tough part because I was able to share. The shame was the hardest part to get through, but I had a few very loving and accepting people who were able to listen and comfort me despite their not having the same experiences. I also had some friends I found out did have the same experiences. They too were still struggling with their own shame. We were able to be there for each other and mutually comfort one another.

    Thanks for being so vulnerable with me Tom. I can imagine this was a big step forward for you and after reading about your recent success with SA, I believe this video was part of that process towards successful freedom from sexual addiction. Isn’t it wonderful to help others in a way that helps yourself? It is such a beautiful exchange.

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  • Jacob Baranowski

    Wow, Tom! Your courage and vulnerability are incredibly inspiring and encouraging. Thank you for your bravery and authenticity.

    • Thanks, Jacob. Means a lot. I tend to need lots of reminders to continue in bravery and authenticity. Prayers for the same displays in you!

  • AJ Tamagotchi

    SO guilty of all of this as well, bro. I struggle with it on a daily basis. Here are 9786392729 eprops cuz you’re mad dauntless. Hope to be this free one day.

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  • I have an addictive personality (thanks mom and dad). However my addiction did not involve alcohol like my father, or drugs like my mother; it involved gay porn. I thought of it originally as an outlet for my homosexual tendencies since I went celibate. Instead it became a serious addicting force in my life, always hiding it from my family and masturbating to it. The guilt was immense. I started breaking away from it in February of 2016. Since then I have only had three relapses, mostly because I wasn’t on my guard. The last time was after a stupid argument with my wife or something stupid. I was angry and just wanted to get back at her. I was out of communion with my Lord for a few days, not that I wasn’t repentant, but because of my stupid pride, that I had gone so long without viewing it and then fell right back in as if I had never left. I am back in communion with God again, and try to remember that I am human and prone to failure. It keeps me humble.

    • Malcolm

      Bradley, it’s great having you on here. Would you mind sharing what you have done to overcome your addiction to porn. Many people on here, including myself, struggle with gay porn.

      • I will gladly share! I first had to admit that I had an addiction. I was being controlled, looking for times where I could be alone, even sending the kids to bed early enough to be alone. I was being controlled by my lust and I had to overcome my prideful nature and admit this before the Lord. Pride is a terrible thing, because it kept me from even admitting I had a problem and that I couldn’t overcome it on my own, as my flesh is very weak and I am prone to temptation. I had to ask for God’s help to break this addictive cycle. Part of this was learning that I was God’s child, not His pet faggot (I was apart from the Lord for 21 years because of this view). I needed His help and I was ashamed to ask for it because of pride. I asked for His help, and he provided. Just like celibacy was difficult so was abstaining from porn. I had to break from viewing it daily for hours, to none. I had to pray for His strength because I couldn’t do it on my own. I still can’t. But the urges subsided. Anything can set off the desire to viewing it, be it an underwear ad or seeing some cute guy’s butt at the gym. Each time the urge comes over me I have to bring it before the Lord and tell Him of my temptation and that I need Him to keep me pure, because I can’t do it on my own. The only times I have failed since February 2016 was when I didn’t rely on Him for His strength. Last year, since I started actively combatting this I have failed three times. This year I hope to do better, and if I fail, I have to remember that my flesh is weak and He is strong.

        • Malcolm

          Bradley, thank you for sharing. I find that the longer I stay aware from it, the less desire I have to look at it. However, when I get under stress, the desire comes back, and sometimes I fail. I think that you are right, we have to go to the Lord and rely on His strength. We are too weak.

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