Maura would like to extend an exceedingly heartfelt thank you to this weeks writer for Made in His Image’s Men’s Section. This gentleman emailed me to ask if he could write for MIHI. I thank him for his candor, courage and perseverance.
Ladies, this is not just for men. There is great hope in this story for you as well! You deserve a man who will honor your dignity and cherish your beauty. From my heart to yours, a man’s pornography addiction deeply effected me for years and our world needs more men to stand up, and combat the horrific evil, which is pornography: Satan personified.
From the Bottom of the Ocean Floor: One Man’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography
My first interaction with pornography occurred around the same time my father wrote the Bible verse Philippians 4:13, in my new Confirmation Bible. I had such a strong example of the word of God to give me strength and it pains me that I fell from grace. Initially, the pornography was on a hidden VHS I found when I was a junior in high school. It excited me, but it also confused me. This tape, led me towards more private selfish strategies such as the internet. From one on-line site to the next – each advancing in quality, range of categories and length of viewing.
Since I wasn’t having sex, I wanted to taste as much of the “real thing” as I could. I yearned for that contact and attention. Since I’m not one to drink myself into oblivion or do drugs – pornography sufficed.
“I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
Let it sink in.
And let it keep sinking in.
You are falling deeper into the water and will eventually hit the bottom of the ocean. Down there, it’s dark, cold and unlivable and you are at your ultimate low. You feel worthless because you can’t stop. You need it, you desire it and can’t live without it. You’re drowning in guilt and misery. You are losing sleep, as your body is beating your faith. But, let the words of Paul reaffirm you that there is hope in the One who came to shed His blood for you.
Just because you struggle to get yourself away from the computer screen, smart phone, magazine or television, doesn’t mean God has left you. He isn’t turning His back, He isn’t staying behind the locked door. He is ever patient and always waiting for you to say, Help me! When you call upon Him, He will extend His hand of aid, strength and encouragement.
There are only two opinions, either stay on the ocean floor and wallow in sin and self-pleasure, or use your two feet to push-off the bottom of the ocean floor and swim towards the surface. Unlike cigarettes or alcohol, this is a cold turkey addiction, there is no slow withdrawal. You either view pornography or you don’t. You either touch yourself or you don’t. There is no in-between. I can attest to the above after years of an addiction. And only one gave me hope – and it’s through Jesus Christ alone that you find freedom and healing. Christ’s merciful heart can truly turn the tide.
I knew it was time to stop when I felt completely numb after watching and reacting to the videos. When I was in the skeleton thinking it was as needed of a routine as brushing my teeth at night. I started to believe I couldn’t sleep unless I released the stress. Another consequence to this numbing was that I didn’t truly listen to those that said it was inherently wrong at Church or from authority figures. This happened frequently since I ironically, have a passion for serving my Church, Catholic college community, and all male Catholic fraternal organization. Know that God doesn’t want to take away something that feels good. He wants you to be happy. However, he wants you to do it in a loving way.
Love: the selfless act of showing God’s grace and mercy to another without expecting anything in return.
When we masturbate, we take it all in for us. We don’t use our sperm to procreate and bring another child of God into this world. We expel it, like a delinquent in the classroom. Banished and thrown away as if it has no meaning or purpose in our lives.
When I reached my ocean floor, and continued to fail getting back up, I realized I couldn’t recover for myself anymore, I had to externalize my drive. I had to do it for others. If I had me time, I knew I wasn’t serving others and the guilt plagued me.
Two women (ladies, this is where you will be able to relate) in my life were essential in my road to recovery.
One young woman, who suffered abuse from a relative when she was a child, confided in me her struggles of self-worth, image and reoccurring nightmares from the abuse. In my opinion, if I continued to view pornography, I was going to become the same man who took away a piece of this woman’s purity and innocence. I had the potential to then ruin families and countless lives.
The other young lady, who confided in me, is in the Made in His Image accountability program. She has constant struggles when looking at herself in the mirror and extremely self-conscious with the hopes of being a Hollywood model. With my pornography usage, I was reaffirming the image that she was seeking. And through my actions, I was telling her that I was attracted to a fake woman, who appeared perfect on camera. Because of men like me, she was only getting worse.
Each time I thought about using the computer for anything besides its original academic purposes, I reminded myself what type of man those two lovely ladies needed in their life. Putting it in this selfless context, kept me honest with myself. As I started to change this dark habit, I found ways to cope and make it easier to avoid temptation, especially when you are in college and need the internet for a large portion of your school work. Each day when I go to sleep and realize I have passed another day without the dark past, I realize I am that much further from not turning back towards it. Once the distance is great enough, you start to focus inwardly and respect yourself with greater dignity.
Here are a few other suggestions that I highly recommend.
1. Never delete your search history in your web browser. By seeing what you have looked at keeps you honest and stops you from numbing the guilt.
2. Go to Confession immediately after falling, don’t hold that emptiness within you. Christ wasn’t able to carry the cross on his own either. He fell three times and each time he was able to find the strength to continue. Eventually at the end of his journey, he conquered death itself.
3. Keep your bedroom door open when you are on the computer.
4 Set prayer alarms throughout the day. By forcing yourself to pray at times you would normally comfort yourself with pornography, you shift towards God. For me, daily mass at 5 PM was an essential element to the day.
5. Get in an accountability group. The best one by far is www.covenanteyes.org. Type in “catholic” in the coupon code to get 3 months free. I highly recommend it!!