I woke up at 4am today and knew I was in trouble.
4am is, in my body’s stupid opinion, late enough. This boggles me because the earliest I’ve ever had to set my alarm is 5am, and I haven’t had that job for two weeks! I’m supposed to be an unemployed lazy bum sleeping til infinity o’clock! C’mon!
But the reason I worry is because when I’m sleepy is when I’m most vulnerable. That’s when my mind wanders, and a wandering mind is always the start for me. And it’s when I’m too tired to fight it, and when I try to think of anything else, I keep myself up, making myself even more tired and the vicious cycle starts again.
What cycle? The cycle where I cheat on my wife with pixilated images and deleted web histories. The cycle where I tell myself “just a little further” until my dopamine is through the roof and I wouldn’t stop if you begged me to. The cycle of pleasure and shame.
My Name’s Mike and I’m a Pornography Addict (Hi, Mike)
Recovering addict, I should say. It’s been five years since I began my journey to recovery–almost to the day! While at a men’s conference where the key speaker was the founder of a sex-addiction-recovery ministry called Pure Desire, God pretty much spelled out that I was an addict and needed help.
Oh yeah, I’m also a Christian. Funny combination, that.
In a way, it was freeing. Addiction means you can’t stop, so even though I love God and love my wife, my brain’s chemical makeup has been twisted by years of sexual highs and shameful lows. It helped me understand. Of course, it was still a problem. I went through the program, loved it, and would highly recommend it.
But Let’s be Honest. Addictions Don’t Go Quietly.
It’s not that the program failed, not at all. It promised that this would be a long struggle. And even when you recover, it doesn’t mean you’re addiction-proof. Anyone who’s ever had an addiction knows what I’m talking about.
So Here I Am, Talking to You While Everyone Else Is Asleep
It’s been a hard few weeks. I moved my family from St. Louis to Denver trying to be the artistic person I want to be and like an artist, I’m broke. My family needs to eat. And I feel responsible.
Stress is a killer, or so says Bartok on Anastasia. It sends you looking for a high. Some people have heroin, some have cake, some danger, some have sex. While sexual acts have been a temptation, too, my primary addictive focus (makes it sound like a specialization) is pornography. And the internet is one hell of a dealer.
I remember when I first read Pure Desire, the author pointed out how easy it is to get porn. All you need is a website and a Mastercard, he said. And I laughed. “Dude, you needed money? Don’t you know how much free stuff is out there? Don’t you know how to turn Safe Search off? Don’t you know about back doors?”
I do. I remember them. I remember everything. And they come back to me. Haunting me, calling me, pleading with me. Come back, Mike. Come back to us. Remember how much fun we had?
But I can’t do that. I love God and believe he created sex as a bond between husband and wife, and that pornography degrades a woman and turns me selfish. And I love my wife and don’t want to lose her or have her self-esteem drop any lower. She needs me now in a hard time. And I love my son and want him to grow up better than I did, but I have to lead by example. And I’m hoping to have a daughter, and I want her to believe she’s more than a body.
I Suppose Talking is Theraputic
Much as I believe in the power of prayer, prayer alone doesn’t always cut it. My biggest problem with pornography was shame. I couldn’t talk to anybody about it without hurting or disappointing them. And when you’re a Christian, you’re not allowed to be human, or so others would have you believe.
Isolation. Shame. They forced me to push the stopper down on a volcano, only delaying it, intensifying the explosion. When I speak, it gets easier. When I talk to my wife about my struggles, I feel closer to her and start to want her and her alone.
Perhaps that’s why I’m talking to you. I didn’t have a point when I started this post. I just wanted to share some struggles because I’ve been awake for two hours now with too many thoughts in my mind and everything is setting me off.
Memories. Fantasies. An innocuous comment. Even here on WordPress, I’m remembering bloggers who followed me, bloggers who talk lewdly and freely. Bloggers who detail their sex lives or write erotica. Dealers for my next fix. It’s so easy.
But Maybe This Is a Good Thing
I think the surest sign of recovery is knowing when you’re in danger. To see the slope before you’re on it. I know I’m in the most danger when I’m trying to sleep because I’m a writer and my mind zig-zags all over naturally. Bed just sets a context.
So here I am, ironically on the internet. I wanted to continue writing my awesome, guaranteed-best-seller, read-it-right-now-right-now novel, but I can’t think about anything else. So I talk about it to stop it from happening because when I’m silent, I relapse. The cravings have been intense lately. Internet search ideas, past highs, excuses that start me down the slide to relapse, all swirling in my head.
But I’m taking it one day at a time. One struggle at a time. I’m staying away from my trigger zones. I’ve already spoken to my wife. And I’m not playing that old “God-hates-me-now” tape. He doesn’t. He knows all about addiction and wants to walk me through it to healing.
And I’m talking here. Confessing, perhaps, though I’ve mentioned my struggles on this blog before. Getting it into the open so it can’t swirl in my head. And I’m not letting shame hide me anymore. Never again. Not after it nearly led me to suicide a little while back.
I guess I should go. My son is waking up, which means everybody wakes up. One more struggle conquered. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for letting me ramble. It helps.
Maybe you need to ramble, too. I get that. Shame sucks and it’s hard to talk, especially with Christians or to Christians. But I’ve been too far in it to judge you now. So if you want to ramble, I have a comments section. And I have an email address in my on my Contact page at up top. It can be sex, drugs, alcohol, food, any weird thing that makes you afraid to share. I may not have the same triggers as you, but I know addiction and I know it well.
I see Batman as something of a role model (I’m a guy). So as Batman said in The Killing Joke, who knows? Maybe I’ve been there. Maybe I can help.
One last thought occurs to me as the clock strikes ten-after-six on a Sunday morning. I’m going to church later today. God doesn’t hate addicts, but he does hate fakers. So maybe this is me keeping the Sabbath holy. You can’t hide from anybody once you’ve written a post like this on the internet.
And I don’t want to. I don’t want to go to church with the fake smile so many “Christians” put on. I want to lift my hands and worship knowing I have nothing to hide, yet God loves me anyway.
I’m free. Free. Free.