A year ago, I posted on my personal blog about #NoPornNovember. And since it’s that time of year again, I’m revisiting that topic for this audience!

My story with pornography begins back in the teenage years — the great days of hormones and keeping up appearances. The “CliffsNotes version” is that I stumbled upon internet porn, felt a mix of excitement and guilt, and chose to keep looking in secret — all the while carrying the mounting shame (not a light burden).

College was a mix of successes and failures in this area. Eventually, I told some guys my story, including my struggle with porn. The result was accountability, which was good and bad. I felt some unhealthy pressure at times, but I self-started some programs to help myself, even going an entire semester with my laptop at a friend’s dorm so I wouldn’t have easy access.

So, why does pornography’s influence in my life matter? Well, porn impacts more than just the sexual part of my brain and life.

Adult life after college produced good and bad moments, revelations and confusions. I’ve worn my “Fight The New Drug” t-shirt days after looking at porn. My laptop shows the sticker “Porn Kills Love,” even though it is the source of love being killed often.

Unfortunately, visual reminders aren’t always helpful.

There have been times I and others have used/considered the word “addiction” for my relationship with porn. Maybe that is true. At times, I find myself drawn to it for no reason. I usually head to porn when I’m stressed, anxious, confused, tired — all the triggering feelings resources tell you to watch for as you’re more susceptible.

My counselor once asked me if I go to porn to feel power, to be in control. My first response was no — I don’t feel powerful at all when I seek out porn. I feel weak and helpless.

But maybe there is a control aspect to my porn usage. I can choose who/what I see. Even typing that makes me uncomfortable.

Part of me wants to reject the idea of addiction. Why? Because there are many times I don’t need porn in my life. When porn is inaccessible, I don’t miss it: working at camp for weeks at a time or traveling overseas (3+ months without porn).

Even when I remain active and involved with my communities, there isn’t a sense of missing porn.

I’ve heard and read many times that the opposite of porn/addiction is connection. I can’t just get rid of porn; that leaves a void. I need something to take its place — both for time and whatever other “benefits” porn provides me.

This past year, I’ve had stretches of sobriety and great times connecting with people — but also the pull back to porn.

WHY?!

Maybe it’s because I do have an addiction.

Maybe I’ve just formed a habit.

Maybe I don’t deal well with stress.

Maybe I’m not letting myself connect well with others and engage with real issues.

Likely, the reason for my porn usage is some combination of all these things. Which makes this tough to write. I wanted to write a post about how I’ve stumbled with porn before, but this time I’m going strong.

I wanted to be the hope I was looking for. But that’s not what my story looks like.

I am me. The messiest version. Messy enough that I struggle even to let myself process with other people (several friends had to encourage me to blog this).

So, I move forward into #NoPornNovember.

The past few months, I’ve started meeting regularly with a group of guys from church. We’ve made it clear from the beginning that this would be intentional, honest, and intended to produce growth. Hearing their steps to pursue holiness, and in some cases break the chains of porn, pushes me to live a healthier, fuller life.

So, here’s to our feeble attempts, to brothers and sisters who call us to something more, and to Holy Spirit renewing us each moment.

Do you struggle with pornography off and on or to the point of addiction? How do you find victory over pornography? Are you partaking in #NoPornNovember?

  • I don’t know if porn is an addiction. I always thought it was a habit triggered by messed up brain chemistry. If I find myself hungry, angry, lonely or tired I am more susceptible to all kinds of nefarious behavior. This would explain why you (we) do not miss porn when we are actively involved in other pursuits that meet our needs and meet the needs of others. At the end of the day though, we still go home alone…or at least I do.
    The availability of porn has evolved a great deal over my lifetime. It was once only available by subscription or from some sleazy store in a bad part of town that I would have been too embarrassed to walk into. Now, in the digital age, a quick Google search on the laptop at home will yield whatever we want to see and the worst part is that it’s free.
    Last week, I clicked on an ad for a shirt I liked and ended up at this men’s clothing web site. The opening page had not only shirts, but also beautiful men in very tight fitting underwear. It seems that one man’s porn can be the same man’s search for a shirt. Needless to say, I looked at all the underwear on the page. Is it porn? I didn’t buy any underwear or even the shirt I was looking at, so you decide.
    Different things trigger different people, but really, shouldn’t we be able to view the underwear without the men in them? Just a thought. So no clothes shopping in November. Okay?

    • Yes! Good old H.A.L.T. as warnings for when we might be more susceptible to porn. I think there is something to be said for both addiction and habit… maybe there isn’t much difference depending on how one defines those.Is porn something I crave/need, or is it just something that I have created a habit of going to? Not sure.
      .
      And yes, triggering images can be anywhere. I’ve followed the clothes shopping rabbit trail too far before. For me, I think it’s about recognizing the triggers and being willing to stop/move when those images/feelings are noticed.
      .
      Keep journeying Friedrich!

  • Oof, I resonate with this line: “I wanted to be the hope I was looking for.”
    I’ve been there so many times, wanting so desperately to write from a place of victory and triumph. But just not being there. Thanks, as always, for being raw and true to where you are in the journey. Means a lot, Kevin.

    • Ah, what an unintentionally quotable thing I wrote. True in more scenarios of my life than just this one related to porn.
      .
      A week into the month and doing well (so far).

  • Porn induces a dopamine surge. Orgasm boosts it even higher! Why would you want that? Disorders like depression, addictive substance abuse disorders, or abnormal genetic dopamine receptor issues all result in low dopamine levels making you feel blah. See a psychiatrist then.
    Most of us don’t have those. We just like dopamine. It feels good; that’s why we do it! The sol’n for me is to *learn* to elevate dopamine naturally by *learning* to get ‘high’ on life like Paul & Silas did in that Roman jail! Learning to *enjoy* life by taking captive every thot making it obedient to Jesus. That always feels good. Human connection so helpful for that. Getting married for me was both radical and life saving. Journaling helps to rewind after a porn fall to learn what went wrong and to correct.
    If that fails then “if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out”! A hyperbole from Jesus requiring a radical sol’n . My friend just went to a Recovery center to spend a year after getting caught watching porn at work. Do what’s necessary or it will poison our souls!

    • Yes, why would anyone want that? Nevertheless, we do. It’s sin Mike, not just porn but sin in general. There is a laundry list of things that we could credit with boosting our dopamine levels or making us feel good with their own chemistry. Figuring out where one is in the process often takes its’ toll and its’ time as your friend found out.
      Just saying ‘stop it’ or ‘do what is necessary’ is not always the immediate answer. We have to be willing to look into that dark pit of sin and say that we do not want to go back there. From what I’ve read here, Kevin seems to be making his way back and I’m sure he will have more on this in the future. Let’s see what develops okay?

    • I can definitely say that connection with people and more regular journaling have been parts of my journey that helped recover from pron binges and stay more focused on Jesus.

  • Romans 7:15-25(ESV) For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want—instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.
    21 So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. 23 But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

  • Im single for almost 2.5 years. I’ve realised this afternoon noon that I use porn to recreate me and my ex’s most beautiful moments. The sad thing is… After the climax i realise he’s still gone and im still single.
    So porn is absolutely useless….

  • I’ve started to wonder if many of us come from alcoholic families (or families with a history of alcoholism). I read daily meditations for adult children of alcoholics & the day’s thoughts often resonate with what is written in here. Today’s reading was about being aware of substitutes. The author said that when something important is missing in our lives, we scramble around until we find a substitute to fill the gap. Maybe we use pornography, maybe we use masturbation as substitutes for love & acceptance in our lives. The author concluded by encouraging us to ask our Higher Power for insights into our real needs and an awareness of the substitutes in our lives. One other idea I came across while channel surfing is to say a prayer for the men in the pictures. Seems strange but give it a try.

    • I do that too, pray for the guys I lust after, especially the ones I’m obessively attracted to. I think of it as redeeming those unhealthy passions and turning them into something good.

    • Interesting thoughts. I don’t have alcoholic tendancies in my family, but I can see the idea of finding a substitute. Because, yes, when I’m lonely and don’t have a real guys to connect with, even a guy on a screen can seem like a decent filler.
      .
      Also, never thought about praying for the guys….. may have to try that next time?

  • Hi Kevin,
    Thanks for being honest and vulnerable with all of us here in cyberspace! This quote from your post hit home the most:
    “I wanted to be the hope I was looking for. But that’s not what my story looks like.”
    I literally said “Me too, Kevin!” out loud in front of a few co-workers…. I got a few strange looks…
    So many times I’ve cried out to God…. please help me to despise what is dishonoring to you and set me free from this addiction.
    Like you described in your post, my tendencies to look at gay porn come when I’m feeling isolated, lonely, frustrated, or worried. I think there is some truth about connection being the solution to this addiction. If I could find some other guys to help me walk through frustration, disappointment, and worry perhaps I wouldn’t even have the urge to look online for my “drug”.
    Thank you for this post! It really means a lot Kevin, it makes me feel less isolated in this struggle. Praying that this group of guys you’ve surrounded yourself with do build each other up, and we get an update at the end of #nopornnovember

    • Yes!! Landon, this is why I write. To remind myself and other that we all go through crap. And that our journeys don’t have to be neat and linear.
      .
      And may we both have the people around us that push us closer to Christ.

  • I like your honesty.
    I like all your “maybe(s)”. I, too, have a dozen and one maybe this or that causing me to go to porn. Even, thought it was my “thorn” like that Paul of the bible. But discarded that thought cause I know my “thorn” is this gay thing and not porn.
    I know that if I allow my glances to evolve into stares then my porn urges rise fast! I work on that.
    It must feel good to share that with friends. I don’t know. If could never do that. I don’t have anyone to share that with and I don’t think I would. I’m not sure how that would help. I never have shared this gay thing either. Except with Jesus. He tells me to be patient with myself. Not to beat myself up. Jesus tells me He will fix it (porn) in time. He is so so patient with me. The hardest thing is going to Jesus after a porn binge. I feel so ashamed. Yet, there He is to pick me up and to love me anyway. It’s so crazy. It makes me cry every time.. Sorry to go on. It’s the first time I disclose this part of me. I think Jesus only can fix me.

    • Hey Gab!
      Honestly, how great that Jesus is patient with us! And that we are covered by his life, death and resurrection! Glad you know to run to Jesus – hope that in time the shame lessens and you find people to be vulnerable with.

  • Porn….I have questioned why it is such an allure….why have I stumbled with it in my past? I am old enough to remember when the worldwide web came into being. I am convinced that every man on the planet assuaged his curiosity. What was there? For me, I only searched for young men. Even though I had a very satisfying sex life with my wife, I turned to these images and masturbated. Very disturbing-the shame, guilt, self-loathing unbearable. Fortunately, I found Covenant Eyes—I was a charter member. It kept me completely safe for 20-25 years until I took it off my computer 5 years ago when I was forced into retirement early. I thought I walked in victory over this temptation. But, my transition into retirement was extremely scary and I was ill-prepared to face days with doing nothing. Unfortunately, the siren song played its tune during my times of loneliness, frustration, and loss of identity. I, unfortunately, clicked-in again, but this time without the masturbation. Then, about two months ago God clearly told me to tell my secret of SSA to my wife-something I was planning on taking to the grave. I said, “No, it will hurt her too much”. But He said that if I confessed He would bring healing. I did, it almost killed her, and God did for me what He promised. An amazing freedom and healing that comes from confession—I wish I had done this when I was first married and not 38 years later. Of course, I signed up again for Covenant Eyes and it is keeping me safe and sound once more. CE is the only tool I have found that keeps me safe and on the right track.

    • Michael – Glad to have you journeying with us! I can’t imagine what that has been like – to be without porn for such a long time. And WOW about telling your wife after so many years – proud of you!
      Covenant Eyes is definitely a great tool in a day with such easy access.

  • Kevin, you’ve hit the nail on the head for me on this one. I completely connect with everything that you said on here. Going down the black hole of porn when feeling stressed, worn out and at times for no reason at all outside of it just giving me something to do. And it’s one of the few things in life that I have control over. I think that’s where the addiction comes from for me. The longest I’ve gone without looking is 2 months. But now when I do find myself looking, it only lasts for a few minutes instead of hours at a time. Like you, I’ve worn my Porn Kills Love shirt, sometimes on the same day! I just wish our society as a whole would be more open about this topic and people would stop feeling so alone in their struggle and addiction. I’ve had a couple slip ups this month, but for the most part, yeah trying to keep No Pornovember going, even after the month is over.

    • Hooray for a fellow nopornnovember dude! Planning a post in early December for what the month looked like for me / what I learned…so stay tuned I suppose.
      And I very much agree that this needs to be talked about more – though I think it has gotten easier / more common of a topic.

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    Born and raised in the Midwest, I find my heart bent toward nature and travel. Things that I love? Travelling, cooking, trying new food, hiking trails, exploring other cultures, the arts, stories – told and read – summer camp, and lists (seriously). Personality tests run the risk of putting people into boxes, so I'd rather let you get to know me before sharing what I "test" as. "Sojourner" is a term I'm becoming more comfortable using to describe myself and my lifestyle. Random facts about me: I played the bassoon for eleven years and can speak French. Let's journey together.

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