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It Wasn't Discussed

I like to think the home I grew up in was a typical Christian household.  A father, mother, and two older siblings who all attended church every week.  We loved Jesus and we loved each other, but the topic of sexuality was never discussed in our home.  At most, pornography was a topic that was mentioned in passing as ‘wrong’. As an adolescent who socialized with others my age, it was only a matter of time before I was exposed to online pornography.  

At twelve years old I witnessed pornography for the first time while playing at a friends house.  I didn’t understand nor was I really even interested at the time, but as my body matured and my curiosity grew, I knew a place I could look to find out what I wanted to know about sex.  The new excitement that it provided was unlike anything I had ever experienced!  While I was excited by my discoveries, I felt guilt for my actions as well.  I did my best to keep my behavior a secret.  I didn’t want my family to know that I was looking at pornography. After all, sex was not a topic that any of us were comfortable talking about with one another, and I knew enough of what the Bible said to know that what I was doing was wrong.  Even after being caught when my parents saw the search history on the computer, the only punishment I received from my parents was an uncomfortable admonishment about how they were glad I was interested in women, but pornography is not a good way to satisfy that interest.  Suffice to say that parental comment did not solve the root of the issue; my heart was trapped in the excitement and variety provided by pornography.

The result of my behavior made me even more secretive about my pornography and masturbation habits than ever. During high school I managed to limit my viewing to once every few months, but I felt so at odds with myself! After every slip up I would pray to God to take away my sin and keep me from ever looking at pornography again. I promised myself that I would have better control over myself this time. This time! Everything would be different if I could just control myself. Most of the time I would attempt white knuckle away my desire. Sometimes I would look at models in their swimsuits and underwear and tell myself that I wasn’t ‘going all the way’. I even managed to go cold turkey for about eight months at one point. Never at any point did I tell anyone about problem. I wasn’t entirely antisocial. I had friends from class, sports, and my church small group, but I shied away from deeper relationships. This was especially true when it came to dating. I was convinced that I would be rejected if people knew what I had done. After bottling up all my shame and desire, it was only a matter of time until my meager defenses broke down. Unfortunately, my time in college provided the perfect opportunity for my bad habit to come back to the forefront with a vengeance. The newfound difficulty that school provided in comparison to high school contributed to a large amount of stress. There were also copious amounts of alone time to deal with. My addiction came back worse then ever. For the first time ever, I was desperate enough to admit my problem to a few of the men I attended a weekly bible study with. One of them told me that I was not alone and that it was possible to find healing for addiction. I knew then that I was addicted to porn and masturbation, and I wanted to know more. He agreed to begin meeting with me so we could hold one another accountable. For a while we would share bible verses and talk about whether or not we messed up that week. The experience of being accountable was completely new because I had always kept my problem a secret before. Unfortunately, neither of us knew what we were doing enough to provide a significant level of healing for one another. Our meetings became more infrequent as our schedules varied, and eventually the lack of new material to talk about led to the meetings tapering off entirely. Without a source of accountability my behavior returned just as bad as before, and it became even worse when my father died of heart attack just a few months after my twentieth birthday. By the time I graduated college, I was making up sexual fantasies to masturbate to multiple times a week and watching porn at least once a week.

I had seen the advertisements for FMO on the screen at church every couple of weeks, and I knew my problem was worse than ever. It took me at least a year later before I finally called Pure Life Alliance to sign up for a group when I was twenty-two. I felt so nervous and ashamed as I shared my story for the first time. I never had to dredge up something so deep with the brief foray of accountability I had in college. To my amazement, many of the other men in the group had stories similar to my own and had found real healing from their sex addiction! Even more amazing, they didn’t think I was an awful person! I realized that I wasn’t alone. In group, they encouraged me to look beyond the surface addiction and slip ups to the pain and emotions that I had been trying to medicate with sex. I learned what events and triggers led me to pursue an unhealthy course of action, and I developed plans to avoid such triggers. By having a solid group of supporters and regular frequent accountability, I have seen my sex addiction change dramatically from what it used to be. I still have a long way to go, but having been an FMO group member for three years and a volunteer for PLA for two, I can say with confidence that I am now proud of the person I am when I look in the mirror.

—25 year old male

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