I lost my sexual sobriety a few weeks ago.
Just cutting right to the chase — it’s been a hard few weeks.
From the start, I knew how risky it was to write so openly about my journey through sexual sobriety. I don’t regret doing so, but I feel all kinds of yucky confessing my pitfalls of the last few weeks: the masturbation, the online promiscuity, the repetitive search for “connection” that never fully fulfills.
I feel knots and sores in my stomach, and I haven’t slept well for weeks. How did this happen? How did I go astray, how I did I fall back off the wagon after five long months?
Is it even possible to stay on the wagon?
On the one hand, I’m so incredibly blessed by this online brotherhood. It’s a brotherhood extending even beyond this blog. Our new Patreon campaign is introducing me to readers — fellow brothers — on an individual basis.
Yet on the other hand, I continue to feel invisible and unknowable among men where I live. This pursuit stretches back three decades as I’ve searched for men in churches and places of work who will hear me, know me, love me — beyond the same-sex attracted friends I’ve made from the Internet.
It used to be that road trips and long conversations and hugs from my same-sex attracted brothers filled this deep longing inside me — now, not so much.
Don’t get me wrong. It still does something, and I do love my same-sex attracted brothers. But the reality is this: those SSA connections just don’t “do it” for me like they used to.
Does that make sense? Does that make me awful?
I lost my sexual sobriety because I went in search of shortcuts to intimacy with other men. I knew it wouldn’t satisfy. Just like all the other times. But it was something, at least.
I need to eat something. I can’t just not eat. If I can’t consume a bountiful meal of true brotherhood, then the garbage of a promiscuous chat room will have to suffice.
I’m at the crossroads of several struggles right now: sexual frustration, relational barrenness, emotional insecurity, and spiritual wandering.
How can I join a church if every prior experience with church has resulted in fracture and failure?
How can I hope to stay sexually sober the rest of my life if the longest I’ve ever lasted is just 5 months?
How can I find and nurture genuine brotherhood if I’ve never experienced it for longer than a few weeks or months?
How can I trust God to provide solid opposite-sex attracted men when, to be honest, I feel like He’s failed me for 29 years?
I like to think in my car, and I like to pray in my car. Maybe “like” is too strong a word — but I do it. I do it a lot. I talk to God, and I say I’m sorry. Sorry for going to garbage, time and time again. Sorry for filling my heart with things that never satisfy, things that make His heart ache. Mine, too.
And yet as my patience runs out, I’m also not sorry. I grow indignant toward God, because here I am staying faithful in what I believe to be His sexual plan for my life — not looking for a boyfriend or running around with sexual promiscuity beyond a chat room — and He isn’t providing me the ground troops necessary for my survival. He isn’t surrounding me with willing men.
In short, He isn’t making this easy.
As the cofounder and editor of YOB, I feel definite pressure to be an “example.” For all the progress I’ve made in “coming out” and growing with my story, I feel woefully bankrupt in so much life experience.
I’ve never dated a girl.
I’ve never kissed anyone.
I’ve never had a male best friend.
I’ve made straight guy friends and lost them.
Like, I’m 29 years old. Shouldn’t I have just one redemptive story of opposite-sex brotherhood to share?
Shouldn’t I be able to celebrate this reality rather than mourn over such a fantasy?
Shouldn’t I be further along than I really am?
I don’t know where this new chapter is going. I don’t know who will enter my life or whose life I will enter, and I don’t know if the brotherhood I’m seeking will actually heal the deep dark parts of me that currently throb in my gut.
Is Jesus really “enough,” are brothers really “enough,” will there ever really be “enough” this side of Paradise?
I’ve lost my sexual sobriety. It was a good run. If nothing else, the last 5 months of sexual sobriety taught me I can indeed abstain for long stretches.
But it’s just one thing to abstain. You also have to fill the void with something.
I figure that if I can last that long without a solid network of face-to-face brothers, I’m hopeful that I can last longer with them. I do hope. In the meantime, I want to remain painfully honest on this blog, my other blog, and social media.
I want my Internet persona to translate more and more into my “real-life” person. I want my online accountability and connection to bleed more and more offline. I’m praying I somehow rediscover real-life masculine connection.
I just want to be real in every facet of my life. No facades. No faking.
Just Tom. All of him. Take him or leave him.
How do you stay sexually sober? Do you experience real-life accountability and connection with other men, opposite-sex attracted or otherwise?