In a far-too-telling episode of Friends, Joey and Chandler discover that they’re suddenly getting a porn channel for free. But then they learn that if they shut off the TV or change the channel, the glitch will fix itself and they’ll lose their free porn.
So they do the logical thing: keep the porn on all day every day. But at the end of the episode, both men recount strange tales.
“I was just at the bank,” says Chandler. “There was this really hot teller, and she didn’t ask me to go do it with her in the vault!”
Joey says the same thing happened with a pizza delivery lady. “Gives me the pizza, takes the money, and leaves!”
Chandler gapes. “What, no, like, ‘Nice apartment, bet the bedrooms are huge.’?”
That’s when the guys realize that 24/7 porn has skewed their perception of reality and turn it off. Now, this is TV, so of course they turn it back on later and we all laugh, but the gag illuminates an extremely unfunny truth:
Our focus becomes our reality.
Sexual addiction likes to arrest our attention. Whether it’s porn, prostitutes, voyeurism, or any angle of sexual desire, addiction keeps our eyes focused on what we don’t have, keeps us craving it. It gets to the point where all we see is a million means to our sexual ends, and everything becomes about getting our next fix.
I say “our” because I’m in that boat, too. But I’m getting out, and I’m taking as many of you as I can with me.
Healing sex addiction is a multifaceted quest with no one-answer cures. I’ve already talked about one of them: how what’s going on in your heart keeps you in addiction or helps break it. Now I’d like to share another tactic of freedom I’ve learned: fixing your gaze.
And by “fix your gaze,” I don’t mean, “Well, just quit looking at things that arouse you.” Yeah, right. Instead, I want to help you fix your gaze on something else.
Here’s what I mean…
BOW-CHIKA-WOW-WOW OR NOT
Although my wife is a beautiful woman, she’s not porn star material. You know what I mean: double-gigunga breasts, flawless skin that doesn’t even know what body hair is, and a veritable army of make-up, airbrushes, and plastic surgery.
The kind of body to which I was heavily addicted.
On the upside, I fell in love with my wife almost on day one. We dated, married, and eventually I began to crawl my way out of porn. And I made a major leap when I realized something.
When you love somebody, they become your standard of desirability. Addiction eats at this, of course, but even so, you start to wonder why more women don’t look like your wife, or more men like your husband. Who says my wife isn’t smut material?!
And when that happened, one of my addiction’s many tendrils broke away from me. I began to see my wife’s body as the baseline of perfection, something most porn stars didn’t even try to meet. I began to desire the real thing over the fantasy that led me down the shame spiral so many times before.
Like I said, addiction still warred against that, but it was a war now, not a one-way slaughter. Addiction now has to fight to get to me.
A Tough Application
Now I know, not all of you are married and not all who are married love their spouses, so this doesn’t translate to every person. So let me whittle it down to a core principle: when you love something more than yourself, addiction loses hold.
That doesn’t mean you’ll stop, per se, or that your addiction will vanish. Maybe. I hope so, but it’s not likely. Instead, it puts you further along the path to freedom.
For some, it’s a spouse who becomes their standard of sexiness. For other’s it’s children. The addict yearns to be an example more than they yearn for release.
In other cases, it may be a career, as shown in the movie Thanks For Sharing. A doctor is fired because he was sneaking upskirt videos on the job. This shakes him into realizing the depths of his addiction because he wanted to be a doctor ever since he was a child. And now his dream is gone.
Maybe it’s a life goal that clashes with addiction’s life-sapping tendencies. Maybe it’s loving God and hating what he hates. Maybe it’s just seeing your fellow men and women as friends and family members instead of means to your own pleasure. The applications are endless.
So let me ask you: what do you love more than addiction? Or at least, what do you want to love more than addiction?
Focus on that person, dream, or whatever. Search it or them for all their glorious wonders. See your husband’s best traits. See your dream’s fruition. See the things you already love and find new things to love, too.
The more you focus on that, the more you bend your reality towards something good, something healthy, and the further you bend it from the deceptive and destructive ploys of sexual addiction.
An Aid, not a Cure
Once again, this is not an easy answer. Loving takes time, effort, and practice, not to mention uncomfortable amounts of sacrifice. And even then, this is not an insta-fix. Loving your wife doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll stop being looking at porn. Addiction doesn’t give a damn what you want.
Rather, see it as one more tool on your belt. The most important thing is clearing out the gunk in your heart, which I talked about here, but fixing your gaze helps clear the fog sex addiction uses to cloud your eyes and keep you hooked.
Recovering from any addiction is difficult and intricate. I can’t fix it for you in one post. I can only share stories and realizations that have helped me undo the knots in my sexuality and given me a better life, a cleaner life. And fixing my focus was one of the key victories in my recovery.
So I’ll ask you one more time, and I’d like you to think about this: if you’re a sexual addict, or any kind of addict, what is it you love or want to love more than yourself?