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.
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?