Well, it’s been a minute since I’ve taken the time to blog (or process anything on a deeper level). But here we are again — a buzzing mind, a confused heart, and a very blank page in front of me.
After my last blog on pornography, several people commented or talked to me about writing a follow-up. And that was in early November.
Better late than never I suppose.
What took me so long to write this follow-up to #NoPornNovember? Well, let’s begin with a confession: honestly, I failed pretty hard at that self-imposed challenge to go porn-free all month.
Much of me really wanted (wants?) my follow-up to be a success story. I wanted to share how much I had grown by not looking at porn and to be an encouragement, maybe even share some awesome pointers for how you could quit porn too!
But that isn’t my story. At least not this time. The past few months haven’t been easy.
I started a second job in November — partly because it sounded interesting and partly to use up any free time so I wouldn’t look at porn. I learned that balancing two jobs wears me out. When one job drains my energy and the other feels outside my comfort zone, there isn’t much energy left for me.
Or Jesus, really.
Despite growing with my church community last autumn, I felt distant with them and Jesus. My community group took a break during the holidays — and I suffered without them.
The “good Christian” part of me wants to share that I reached out to guys in the group about connecting over break. And that is true. But these attempts to be in community were last-minute and half-hearted as well.
The authentic reason for my loneliness these past few months is that I had overworked myself and chosen isolation. This is almost humorous now that isolation is somewhat of a forced norm due to COVID-19.
If I haven’t said this before, I am very prone to isolating and numbing behaviors. Give me the choice, and I will almost always choose Netflix, YouTube rabbit trails, porn, or a nap over something I know to be good for me.
I’m working on this, but it is a process for sure.
Life is crazy, y’all. And trying to power through life to make everything look okay, all on my own, has been my downfall. Admitting this has taken four months; apparently, I’m a stubbornly independent human.
This blog started pre-coronavirus, and maybe I needed a full stop to get back into it. Being forced not to work made me stir-crazy — and it still does some days. But slowly it’s been teaching me what I need to learn, where I can grow.
While I often complain about a lack of community, I also keep people at a distance. Being real isn’t easy, especially since I tend to isolate.
At different points these last few months, I saw this lack of community as a failure of the church in my city. Or I directed my failure inward, regarding my own inherent character somehow.
Only during this socially distant time of coronavirus have I realized something: maybe my community felt lacking because I wanted it to solve all my problems.
And finding a community that felt authentic, one where I could be vulnerable, couldn’t exist because I wasn’t connected with Jesus.
Maybe connecting with Jesus felt difficult because work had become an idol. I had never categorized work as such, because idols are supposed to be something you love, right?
But if work uses all my energy, then maybe that indeed counts as an idol as well.
Blame. Overworking. Shame. Isolation.
Looking at it from this page, easy connection with Jesus would have been impossible. As I write this, connecting with Jesus still isn’t easy.
Yes, I have plenty of time now. But I still worry about what work will look like whenever I do start working again. I’m drawn to YouTube and Netflix because they are easy ways to pass the days with humor and thrills and music.
I’m still working through my own doubts and fears that keep me from Jesus. But slowly, ever so slowly, I am trying to hold onto Truth. To remind myself that God is good. God is present.
And God is faithful.
Do you struggle with authenticity amongst others and with God? How have you coped with isolation in the past and currently during this coronavirus pandemic?
Yes Mike! I love your reminders that
1) I don’t have to clean up to be near with Jesus and
2) Jesus understands my mess (and thus my inherent goodness) in an intimate way that nobody else could
Both of these are such good news!!
Glad to be journeying with you.
Thank you so much for sharing, Kevin. I can relate a lot, sometimes I tend to self isolate rather than deal with reality. I often go on lots of long walks but I also often turn to lots of endless YouTube videos and porn as well. Always such alluring things. Just escapes for reality and poor substitutions for real intimacy. Even during the lockdown there can be long stretches in which I just don’t want to talk to people. Its hard. Would rather crawl back into the world of my mind.
Isolation. That could be an entire blog post….
But yeah, I get it (clearly). The good thing I’m realizing is that other people want connection too. Maybe that should be obvious, but as a self-doubter, it has been encouraging for me to realize. Reach out! And celebrate the times that we reach out rather than isolate.
I hear ya Eugene
I’ve been reading The Velvet Rage, and your words reflect what the author Alan Downs says. It’s hard for us to be honest with other people. It’s easier to hide the truth or let people think what they want. Honesty is about bedrock facts & feelings that are consistent over time. Authenticity builds relationships that are satisfying & emotionally fulfilling. Relationships that are filled with secrets & omissions will not be emotionally fulfilling. I guess it’s been easier for me look at pictures of hot men who can’t reject me than to be honest about who I am, think about what pain I’m trying to numb & moving forward to build healthy relationships in my own life.
Thanks for sharing your story Kevin. You’re loved for whom you are now. Our heritage is people going from slavery to freedom, darkness to light, & death to life. It’s not a straight path; there can be a lot of detours, circling, & going back. You might not get where you thought you should be, but you have the freedom to travel & discover. Be careful & keep us posted!
It’s been awhile since I’ve read Velvet Rage… I may have to dig it out again. This past month is showing me bits of what you are saying. When I’ve reached out to friends, or spent time with coworkers and roommates, I find myself more fulfilled. I can go to sleep at night feeling like I lived rather than existed.
Thanks for your encouragement. Let us continue the path.
Kevin, I love your posts man, they always read as honest and transparent. Even when there’s a lotta maybes and searching for answers, somedays that’s the most authentic we’ve got.
There’s something really attractive about people who are the real deal, there’s no surprises or 180s in their character the further and deeper you go with them. And doesn’t it seem like the most authentic guys aren’t self conscious at all, they just are? That seems like being really free.
Authenticity is like sincerity tho, it’s no measure of truth, it matters what you’re authentic about. I once knew a guy, we met at the gym and started out as racquetball buddies, playing every week, and became friends, catching a beer after work and talking about things you only can with guys you trust. Jeff must’ve trusted me too, he invited me to these talks about some pseudo spiritual new thing he was into. I went a few times cause of Jeff but could never commit to it like he did. But I went further with it than I ever would’ve on my own cause he was so passionate about it. Jeff was a good guy in my life, but good guys can take you down the wrong path they believe in, especially when you’re not sure where you’re heading.
It’s different with God, even when you’re not sure of anything, or sure of the wrong things, you can only be authentic with him, he only deals with reality. Sometimes I let that stuff get in the way of going on with him, when it’s only with him that we become authentic about what matters.
Thanks for your kind words. It’s easy for me to question whether I have much to say, so I appreciate that my honesty comes through the screen.
And yes, I would agree that authenticity can be attractive. I would say the people I’ve gotten closest to are the ones who can show up fully – both in courage and vulnerability.
Jeff sounds like a good guy. And maybe we all have a Jeff in our lives. Somebody we connect with well in one (or more) areas, but not at all in another, maybe more important area. It’s good to recognize and appreciate friendships for what they are. And also keep check of how much one invests? Those “Jeffs” can be helpful, and have gotten in my way of God at times as well. I think that God desires us to have those deep friendships while maintaining Christ as our overall focus.
It’s pretty hard right now. Isolation isn’t easy. I need a man to cuddle with, preferably a believer. I hear you about the porn thingy, that too isn’t easy. In fact, I just got done watching porn. It’s hard finding intimate scenes of love and affection. Then I cam here. Thank you for connecting with us regarding this issue.
Hey At Peace!
I think being with others will mean so much once we are able to spend time together again. Whether for the physical closeness, or just being able to have a conversation and look at the person (rather than a screen).
And in regards to p0rn – maybe those are hard to find because they are difficult outside of authentic relationships?? Just thinking aloud. Glad to have you here journeying alongside us!
I’m on my own journey too. I’ve been having more success so I’ll share what’s helped me while recognizing that everyone has different motivators. First, I remind myself that I have free will, and God wants me to succeed. This makes me acknowledge that things don’t “just happen” as well as empowers me to make a better choice. Then, I ask myself, “What are you looking for?” I have to recognize that there is a reason I go there. I’ll use loneliness as an example. That’s a legitimate reason. But if I’m honest with myself, I see I’m being deceived (or lying to myself) into believing my loneliness will be assuaged by these videos. This part of the process is about getting to the truth of where I am and how I got there. I’m watching porn…because…
The next step is to establish where I want to be and how I get there. I don’t want to be watching this. I had to be sure that was true. I meditated on it to ensure I wasn’t covering any hidden desires. Once I was sure what choice I wanted to make, I started reinforcing the reasons for making that choice. I asked myself, “Are you sharing in the intimacy with these people through the video?” In reality, no. I asked myself, “Do you desire those acts for yourself or others?” In reality, no. They’re titillating, but if i care for myself and others, I have to answer no.
The deception that porn is a simple indulgence had to be broken for me to stay away. I began to recognize that I wasn’t the only one suffering when I engaged in it. I started wondering what led those people to those rooms, companies, and situations. I started to see that there was a lot of pain and suffering there. Trafficking, bullying, and a false sense of love and belonging were all working to put these people before my eyes. This gave weight to the choice of looking at porn that our technology took away. Because it can be done quickly and anonymously, we are easily tempted. Yet, each of these truths became like a hurdle my flesh had to jump over to make it seem okay. So far, that has deadened the impulse so that I can step back and hear the still, small voice crying out to go no further.
I hope this helps in some small way.
My apologies for not responding sooner AJ – balancing work and COVID.
I appreciate your thoughts / steps that you have shared. And yes, overall the need/desire to look at p0rn has reduced, but also the greater deficit I felt (and still feel at times) is with my own tendency to isolate from others and choose to numb or zone out rather than engage with my thoughts, feelings, relationships.
May we continue to walk toward and with Jesus.
Kevin, I do hear what you shared here, and I fully understand the isolation and unwillingness to be transparent at times. Heck, it took me 38 years of successful marriage before I told my wife I had SSA last September. How’s that for isolation? But, my Covid story is much different than yours. I experienced just the opposite. God gave me an amazing SSA counselor who heard every wretched detail of my life. God put me in a group of SSA men who are as transparent as glass and we call each other and pray for each other daily. The burden of hiding all those years is gone, I am free, and I am a wild man about getting answers to my issue, hearing others stories, and sharing my own. Cathartic, but liberating, the cloud is gone. Yes, I have indulged in porn in my loneliness and isolation of the past, but God told me to swim at the shark-my SSA. And, I did, and the rewards are great relationship and encouragement. But, I have been doing something else to stand against porn and have done for probably 25 years. I am accountable through Covenant Eyes. I am not strong enough to stay away from porn on my own, I will admit. But, I have erected a fence I cannot and will not climb over. I know, you younger guys will say “easy-peasy”, I can get over that fence. But, I cannot and I do not want to try, and I don’t want you to tell me. I am safe and am determined to stay that way. I cannot go back to hiding and isolation, it is too difficult.
Michael! So glad that you have found places and people to get connected! Ever so slowly, I am finding some of those connections as well – and learning more about myself. Each of us has to find and live out our path, but it is definitely worthwhile to listen to how others have walked/are walking through similar situations. Keep pressing on friend!