I now acknowledge, no matter my past illusions, that pornography is harmful to me.
I recognize that though some people are able to view pornography occasionally without becoming addicted to it or developing acute symptoms such as sexual dysfunction, emotional distress, or relationship strife, I am not one of those people. I am addicted, and I will always be an addict. This does not mean that the potential of my life is any lesser, but it does mean that I will never be able to view pornography in a way that does not recall all of the problems that brought me to this moment.
No matter the temporary pleasure that using can bring me, I now understand that pornography has taken much more from me than it has ever given. My ability to enjoy physical and emotional intimacy with a partner, my self-respect, my time, my ambition, my relationships, my respect for others as people deserving of love—not just sexual objects, and my own integrity are all under threat if I continue using as I have been. As such, I am not “giving up” pornography, but rather reclaiming the kind of life that I know I am meant to have. I have no doubt that this is what I want, and I am 100% committed.
I expect this path to hurt at times. I expect to be challenged. For years I have relied on pornography to distract me from my true needs and problems and to protect me from loneliness, depression, anxiety, shame, and other difficult feelings. However, though using allowed me to feel these less, it only agitated and amplified the source of these emotions, limiting my ability to grow, develop, and attain the kind of life and joy that I really want. I am done weighing myself down with armor that keeps me comfortable but cut off from really living. I am now ready to face my pain without distraction, naked and vulnerable. I accept the pain, because it is not my enemy. The pain is trying to tell me what I really need: connection, love, purpose, self-esteem, and passion; only by first listening to its message can I attain these goals.
If I slip in my journey toward a pornfree life, I will not hate or shame myself for it. I understand that my addiction began at a time when I was vulnerable and ignorant of the dangers presented by pornography. No one warned me about the impact that using could one day have on my life, and it is not my fault for walking unawares into that trap. Addiction is a disease of impaired self-control. I am not to blame for becoming an addict, but I am responsible now for learning how to become free. I will learn from every slip and use that knowledge to make changes that will make a difference. I will spend more time and energy on what I do want in my life than on what I don’t, because I understand that until my real needs begin to be addressed and fulfilled, I will be more likely to relapse into my old self-destructive behaviors.
I understand that addiction thrives in isolation and secrecy. I will not be too proud to admit when I cannot do this on my own. Though it may be embarrassing and difficult to admit my faults, I can no longer hide what I am going through from everyone. I need to open up to at least one someone, whether it be a family member, friend, pastor, or coach. We all have our faults, but I deserve love and acceptance as much as anyone else, not only from my loved ones but also from myself.
By fully accepting who I am now and how I arrived here, I can start to build upon this foundation. This journey does not have to be onerous; this time is about empowering myself and building my best life, and that is something to get excited about. I am ready to seize my own life and live it to the best of my ability. Yes, that means facing hard emotions, but it can also mean experiencing the most joyful and meaningful moments of my life. I will not seek alternative means of escape in drugs, alcohol, excessive gaming or media consumption. Instead, I will seek to learn, to grow, to connect with and give to others, and to enjoy my life in ways that do not leave me feeling drained, disconnected, regretful, or ashamed.
I am ready for my new life, and I will not ever give up on myself. No matter how long this journey may take, I am worth it.
Listen to me read through this and comment on it in this episode of Love People Use Things.