Three months ago, sexual sobriety was an illusion. A fantasy, even. The mere thought of never again web chatting with another dude or watching gay pornography or even masturbating was enough to make me laugh a derisive laugh and say, Yeah, right; dream on, Dreamer.
100 days later, my sexual sobriety still very much feels like a fantastical concept. But it’s easier now, I guess. Now that I’ve been sexually sober for 100 days.
Working with students in recovery, I hear it all the time: get a year of sobriety under your belt, and your chances of long-term sobriety increase dramatically. The science proves it.
When I started this journey 100 days ago, I never quite set out to get a whole year under my belt. But now that I’m over a quarter of the way there and blogging openly about it and talking face-to-face with others about it…well, I kinda sorta really, really want that year.
For the first time since masturbation and fantasy snagged me as an unaware 11-year-old, I find myself deeply wondering:
What would my life look like if I lived out an entire year of my life with sexual sobriety? No illicit web chats, no gay pornography, not even any masturbation?
As a “simple” psychological experiment, this concept intrigues me. I simply have NO idea what my life would look and feel like beyond a year-of-sexual-sobriety scenario.
I’m sure I’d still face temptation, I’m sure I’d still have weak moments, and I’m sure it wouldn’t get magically “easy” because of a colored chip in my pocket and 365 red X’s on a calendar.
But wouldn’t overcoming temptation for one night certainly look and feel and BE more doable if I had a whole year of overcoming to my name?
It’s tough. Even typing this out right now feels silly.
The rest of my life?
Never again acting out — for the rest of my life?
What am I smoking?
Am I just setting myself up for the most disastrous of falls?
Yes. Maybe. And not at all. Maybe. It’s a bit of both, I’m sure.
On the one hand, I feel bolder about combatting temptation and sin when I’m basically dragging my darkness into the “public arena”; on the other, it’s all too easy to make this battle, this fight for sexual sobriety, this never-ending striving my identity, my idol, my everything-I’m-living-for.
It’s all too easy to make recovery itself an addiction.
100 days is a big milestone, to be sure. I stare at my most recently acquired green chip and wonder how in the world I’ve made it this far. I’m checking in today because I’m proud of that number. I’m proud of my progress, and I’m proud of how much better I’ve been able to breathe these last 100 days.
I write more, I relate with others more, and I feel generally less distracted, less obsessed, and more focused.
Yeah, I’m proud of myself.
But I don’t want pride to be my story. I don’t want recovery to be my new addiction.
I just want Jesus.
And truth be told, my relationship with Him has been foggy in these recent months of stepping into a new frontier, both geography-wise and recovery-wise.
I want to continue devoting energy to my recovery and further boldness on this blog, because I do believe individual vulnerability sparks something vital in us all.
Assurance. Bravery. Camaraderie. I’ve seen it displayed by others and felt it myself.
But beyond my sexual recovery, I want to fixate even more of my energy on knowing Jesus.
It’s hard being a Christian kid-turned-adult, because, well, don’t I already know all the Bible stories and lessons and Jesus-isms? What else is there to “know”?
And yet whenever I drive into the Blue Ridge, these beautiful mountains that cup my new home, I can’t help connecting my relationship with Jesus to these puffy green mounds that turn supernaturally blue the further out you go.
We have Jesus here, now, green and leafy and everything we could ever need, and He meets us here.
And yet this same Jesus of the blue beyond beckons us even deeper . . .
I want to set my eyes more on chasing Him into the blue than not navigating to one particular naughty website, or not binging on porn, or not having sex with self. By chasing Him into the blue — reading my Bible again, journaling again, risking conversations with others about Him again — I wonder if I’ll soon start to lose track of this silly tally, if it will just fade into the blue horizon.
I wonder if my life will be marked more by joy in Jesus than in accumulating chips and escalating numbers.
I want my Jesus journey to be real and raw and true and blue. Both online and offline.
I want Him to mean far more to me than the next fix — or even the next refrain.
How do you approach sexual sobriety? How do you approach your relationship with Jesus? How do you merge these journeys together or diverge from them?
* Photo courtesy the author, thomasmarkz, Instagram.
First of all, WELL DONE MATE !!!!!!!!!
I’m mighty proud of you Bud ❤️
You’ve done flipping well !!!!
Even so Tom, I’d still have a tonne of respect and love for you and be cheering you on from the sidelines whether you’d managed one day or a hundred days of sexual sobriety ❤️!!!!❤️ Whether you last (I’ll be praying for you that you do) or whether you don’t (heaven forbid !!!!), what’s marvellous to my eyes here is that you’re trying and doing your darnedest to to be obedient to Christ Mate.
I know that you’re doing this out of love and thankfulness for Christ !!!!!
Christ is cheering you on Buddy !! He’s inspiring me to cheer you on too ❤️
Kev, you always make me smile with your enthusiasm and support for my journey. Blessed to know you. Thanks for the cheers, mate!
For me, the thought of never masturbating, watching gay porn, sexting random guys, webcamming or hooking up with a guy ever again seems impossible, ridiculous, and even a little heartbreaking. But knowing that this lifestyle is not a morally right one and definitely not an emotionally/ mentally healthy lifestyle, I know that it MUST come to an end. It’s usually the same pattern for me: go for a week without anything and then always say to myself that I need to at least jack off to release the tension and then end up back in the same spot as before. And then repeat the cycle again.
To hear about you going 100 days without anything is mind-blowing, inspiring, and proof that it is possible. But to me, that’s just some fantasy that I can daydream about but never have a chance at reaching that goal. I know that a tight relationship with God is key to getting over these addictions and desires to be with other men, but struggling with all this makes me feel unworthy to receive His help. I also feel like all these things are keeping me from having that relationship with Him to get me through these tough addictions. Do you have any tips that maybe helped you resist those temptations when they came calling? Or maybe new habits you made to replace your old ones?
I hear you, Bryan, and I relate with the cycles. It does sound impossible and ridiculous, doesn’t it? I’m trying to focus on what I fill my life with instead of what I take away from it. I want to dive deeper into that concept and answer your questions about tips and habits in another post soon.
I remember in 2013 I decided to give it one more go at ridding myself of my masturbation and fantasy addiction. I knew that I had failed so many times before and had never really made it much further than 3 months if I was being honest with myself. What I challenged myself to do was take it a month at a time. Not masturbate that month and then take in the next months that came ONE AT A TIME. That made it easier for me. I would go to my accountability partner at the end if every month with a very excited face so i could have someone to celebrate with. Once I got to five months I began to think like that too, “I might actually be able to do this.” I’d like to say that I had 0 slip ups after that, but I went nearly 3 years. And the struggle is different now. Not always on my mind like before. When I do slip up its just a slip up and not diving head first into a binge like before. I remember when u hit the 9 month mark it was the best month because i was talking to God and He congratulated me because He said that I had brought myself to a place where I no longer needed it. That was my proud moment. That was when knew it was possible.
And actually that process was what brought about my convictions that even if my SSA doesn’t change I can live without sexually experimenting with it.
You’re doing good man, and from one fighter to another, I’m proud of you.
Thanks Ashley! You’re such a great encouragement to me. I appreciate your boldness in sharing your own journey here. Inspiring!
Hi Tony – 100 days is awesome. I did it once. It was a great experience – until the crash and burn (perhaps another post sometime…).
I think you hit upon key points. Sobriety/recovery is really really TRULY a spiritual undertaking.
I still visit sites like this, other recovery sites, and have a few good (though distant) Christian friends – fellow strugglers. I have also joined a “start-up” 12 step sex addiction group. Remote using go-to-meeting – with a “retired pastor” counselor trained in sex addiction/trauma recovery. The group is kind of “group therapy” with 12 step work. But chaotic as the counselor brings in more folks, and the meeting focus might change abruptly. Such a huge contrast to the Sexaholic Anon (SA) group I used to belong! We are using the book “A Gentle Path Through the 12 Steps” (Patrick Carnes) which has workbook exercises on “history”, etc, Sigh…. you guys already know some of my history….
As I work through “Step One”, I get to the point of facing my “God abandonment” issues. The feelings of being “set up” and the futility of any kind of “recovery” if it’s dependent on my relationship with God. It’s a “rubber meets the road” place – can I get past this? One of my priest friends suggested I pray in an active “conversation” way, imagine God sitting next to me and letting loose. I tried it, but alas I just become submissive. “You are the Creator of the universe – and have shown me my insignificance – so what could I possibly say to change your mind?” So instead I wrote a “letter” to God – stating all the things I perceive as being “God” related. It ended up being 2,500 words. No “response” from God yet – but at least I got it “out” and on the table. He knows all this stuff already right? I guess it’s more for me. To express how it feels to be on the “outside”, to be “left out” and a failure at relationships – no matter what I do. A loner who strives not to be alone.
I don’t have many Christian friends who understand this. I know many who have been through more horrific things than me – yet still believe God has gotten them through it. I used to use these testimonies as hope that maybe God would do the same for me. Yet every time I “trusted” I seemed to get knocked down again. Re-taught the lesson from my youth – I am worthless.
As I said – this is a spiritual challenge for me. I don’t even really fit in here – yet it is one place I can reveal all this. Not to make you feel sorry for me, or convince you to console me. But alas – is my fate already decided? Does God care about me at all? Isn’t it really futile to think he should? When I think of “surrender” I see it as surrendering to this “fate”, which is really giving up.
The name’s Tom, not Tony! But thanks, Jim, for this comment. I’m a huge fan of letter-writing, both to God and for ourselves. Writing in general has been a therapeutic journey for me. I hope it’s the same for you.
Regardless of where you fit or think you don’t fit in the “real world,” Jim, know that you have a spot at the table here with us. Prayers for today and the week ahead. Thanks for being with us.
Thanks TOM (sorry about that… old age??).
Appreciate being at the “table” here!
30 days clean (from the nasty cyberstuff). Working step 2 in the skype SAA group (we use Patrick Carnes “A Gentle Path through the 12 Steps” workbook).
Lots of questions about early religious experiences, and assessing our attitudes regarding HP (Higher Power = God) – e.g. “What Obstacles does your religious background or upbringing give you for trusting in an HP?” and “Based on what you have learned about recovery so far, how do you see the “turning over” process of Step 3? What are the things that might prevent you, EMOTIONALLY and intellectually, from accepting the help of an HP?” (emphasis is mine).
This is what I am working on today for our Skype meeting this evening.
Amazing honesty, Tom. I agree about the comments regarding the Holy Spirit empowering us believers. I have no idea why I’m not tempted to look at porn, or Skype, or install grindr (I have before, and sinned!), or even date. I spend a lot of time alone, or working, or inordinate amounts of time on social media goofing off and arguing with atheists…haha!…and listening to sermons on the radio or worship music. The things we put through our eye & ear gates. I’d like to join a “sexaholic anonymous” group just so I could be a friend, I suppose. I’ve struggled with drinking before, but it’s less of an issue these days for whatever reason. I’d still like to be in deep counseling/therapy if I could afford it. I’m rooting for every soul on this amazing blog.
Thanks, Joshua. I edited out that one specific outlet for temptation in your comment; don’t want any seeds to plant here. That’s amazing that you don’t face temptations in certain areas, though. I also don’t experience temptation in certain areas that others do, and I don’t know why I’ve been blessed not to battle with those things and others have. We all have our hands that we’re dealt, I suppose.
Appreciate your rooting for us. We hear you, and we’re glad you’re here.
I love what is in your heart as you fight this battle, which you expressed in these words:
“I want Him to mean far more to me than the next fix — or even the next refrain.”
Pursuing joy in Jesus Christ Himself instead of joy in sexual pleasure is the way out. You can’t just say no to addiction, you also have to replace it with something better: God Himself!
Thanks Marshall, you’re an encouragement and an inspiration for me. Grateful for your cheers!
[…] been sexually sober for over 100 days now — not a lick of masturbation, pornography, or promiscuity — and I get a lot of […]
Good questions TOM! I understand that behind my sexual addiction there is always a healthy need that I don’t feel is being met. Many times, acting out in some unhealthy behavior (for me it’s porn), is because I have a legitimate healthy need that I need to find a way to meet.
And make no mistake! I am in charge of meeting my own needs. I must Figure out what is behind my bad emotional state and find a healthy way to deal with it! My biggest trigger is loneliness. Healthy need is to feel connection to people and especially to men since I have high same-sex needs because of my former SSA. Soooooo…making that phone call and asking some friend to do something or even just talk with me can really help. Point is, I can be proactive to find a healthy way to counter my temptation to act out in unhealthy ways.
Understanding that behind all addictive behaviors is something deep inside that needs to be addressed, helps me. And I also understand clearly I don’t have the power (willpower or any other power) to heal those broken parts of me. I must come to Jesus and surrender what I cannot do and depend on him utterly.
He has helped me look inside and understand my brokenness. I know what triggers my addictive behaviors and what unmet needs I try to medicate by my addictive behaviors. Now, I have found healthy ways to meet those needs. But sometimes in the struggle, it is just easier to fall back on the addiction and forget God’s there for me or that he provides better and fulfilling ways to hamdle my life.
My next step is to seek help from the body of Christ and join a twelve step group.
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