I brought up something called “The Pink Question” in a previous post:
What is your heart’s real desire, the legitimate need crying out to be heard? What is the real desire that you are fulfilling when you don’t want to stop watching porn or masturbating or whatever?
Finally, here is my own answer to that question:
I continue to cling to my sex addiction because it makes me feel in control and allows me to be intimate with others.
In high school, I was a stressed out mess: hormones, paranoia over friendships, fights with parents, grade competitions with my twin, anxiety over being gay, fear of going to hell. Whenever I masturbated, it would all be
It would all stop.
Those moments, those 3-4 deep breaths, that’s why I would masturbate. Those little moments of control.
Christ calls us to give up control. But by masturbating, I would actively, physically take control of my world. It made me feel powerful, potent, and to an extent — normal.
As I got older, I figured out how to use masturbation as a tool for manipulation. I came to a place where a few deep breaths each day was not enough. I wanted more.
It wasn’t just control I wanted. I wanted intimacy. I wanted to feel loved, and I had no problem forcing people to love me.
I could kill two birds with one stone; I could get control and intimacy.
Let me explain.
I’ve had countless accountability partners over the years: people I would text if I looked at porn or jacked off, but also people I could text or call if I was “struggling.” Quickly, I found that I could force people to talk to me if I would send them a few words, “I’m having a hard time.”
You see, my sex addiction is not just compulsive masturbation. Even by getting others to help me not masturbate, I was feeding my addiction. I got to feel as if I was getting better — masturbating less while also knowing that someone cared enough to talk with me at any hour.
Instead of trusting that my friends loved me, I needed to control them, control their interactions with me. I would force them to care enough to save me.
It gets worse. When I was angry at them, if they didn’t talk to me or if they said something I took personally, I would masturbate to make them feel bad.
I’d tell them: “Looked at porn last night, I was just so hurt and angry,” forcing them to take responsibility and apologize.
Or if they didn’t respond to my bat signal: “I tried to resist but ended up jacking off again,” not taking responsibility for my sin.
Looking back, I think I was hoping one of my friends would do / not do something that I could turn into an excuse to gallivant on the Internet.
Even with people whom I’m not accountable, I would try to force them to be intimate with me. If I got someone alone, I would turn the conversation toward masturbation: intimate, personal, and generally not talked about.
I would start talking about my masturbatory life and would then try to push them to do the same. I believed that their openness meant that they trusted me.
And it might have.
But more than likely, they were just succumbing to the social pressure I put on them not to make me feel awkward or isolated.
For a lot of reasons, this was helpful to an extent. It gave them a space to talk about important issues. It also started many of my closest friendships. My unconventional friend-making practices did produce relationships that gave me a true, lasting intimacy.
But my actions were also manipulative. Sinful. Redeemable, but sinful. It fed my sex addiction, the worst and darkest parts of myself.
I was feeding that Sylar-like hunger for control and intimacy.
My desires for control and intimacy fueled my Internet chats. Getting someone to send me a picture was great, but what I really wanted was for someone to share with me their secrets: all the things they thought I wanted as payment in order to turn on the webcam or meet them in person.
I got to be intimate with these strange men. They desired me and let me into their lives. They trusted me. They exposed themselves to me. They turned a lonely Friday night into a connected Friday night: twisted, sure, but connected.
I don’t want to stop chatting with men online because I am afraid no one else will be intimate with me otherwise. I’m afraid I’m not valuable enough for people to want to love me if I’m not forcing them.
In the lonely moments, going to those chat rooms allows me to take control of my life and ensure that people will be intimate with me — even if it’s cheap intimacy.
If I stop masturbating, if I move past my addiction, I’m afraid I won’t have anything to talk to people about.
Sometimes I think I mess up just so I can go to those accountability partners of mine and reassure myself that they care about me, that they are still present in my life, that they still love me enough to rebuke me or rebuild me.
My sex addiction consumes my life. In my weak moments, I’m terrified that once it’s all gone nothing will be left to entice people to be my friend or love me.
What if I’m boring? What if I’m not someone people want to be around?
Without my sex addiction, I can’t control people. I can’t force them to be my friend. I have to open myself up to the possibility that I am boring or not someone people want to be around.
That’s scary. Giving up control is scary because it could be as bad as I fear. This stuff is hard.
Porn is easier. It’s easier to manipulate people into caring about me. But I’m not convinced that Jesus really cares about what is easier.
Obedience is not easy. To be obedient means I need to give up my sex addiction. It means I need to give up control. It means that I have to face the possibility that I might not get my intimate connections from other people.
And that’s hard. But Jesus is real and that means something.
So, why won’t you give up your sex addiction? What, like me, is really keeping you shackled? Do you have someone you can be honest with and share the answers? Have you noticed your reasons for acting out changing as you age or enter a different phase of life?
* Photo courtesy jonathankosread, Creative Commons.