Monday, March 18, 2013

I just  found the chart below online the other day and I thought I would share it. 

But first, a note about me and my addiction:

 I got my first "hit" of pornography when I was just a kid...like 5 years old, and no one told me, heck, I don't think anyone outside the psychiatric community knew that it could be addictive.  As a teenager, I had bishops tell me that I just needed to be stronger, and that I wasn't serious about repentance.  

I remember being at a fireside on BYU campus and the speaker was talking about eating disorders and pornography addiction. We were in a large auditorium that seats about 700.  The speaker had 1/3 of us  stand up. She said, "You who are standing up, you represent the 1/3 of BYUsudents who suffer from an eating disorder or pornography addiction."  

At the time I was fairly under control --not acting out or actively seeking pornography--but I remember thinking then, "Wow, I have a real problem," because I think I'd always known, or at least a part of me had always known, that I was addicted.  I knew what compulsive behavior was and I knew my desires to seek out pornography were not "normal," that the "need" was much different than my need for food or sleep.

But I didn't know how it worked on a chemical level.  

And now I do.  And it has helped.  I am sober and have been for a while, but every few months I go through a mini version of the acting out cycle wherein I begin to seek out pseudo pornographic images on the web--celebrity photos, swim suit models, etc.... and then I turn off the computer and walk away.  

This always brings out two emotions.  First, a sense of failure that I even went looking, and second, a sense of relief that I was able to pull back from the edge before I'd indulged in anything "really bad."  

Of course, both these emotions are false.  On the first count, I have an addiction, so feeling temptation will always be a part of my life.  To feel like a failure because I felt tempted isn't very helpful. And on the second count,  to feel a sense of relief because I "pulled back," is to fool myself into thinking that for someone with an addiction,  the line between pornography and not-pornography is blurry, when in reality, if I want to be healed, the line must be black and white.  

I imagine its the same as an alcoholic who can't walk past the liquor store or who can't go out to eat at a a bar.  At some point, If I want to be completely healed, I have to be willing to extricate myself from the situation.

Of course, I can't just stop using a computer. But I can keep my office door open.

But I was talking about addiction knowledge and how that has helped. 

This is one way.  When I am tempted to act out, when I venture into the blurry boundary that surrounds obvious pornography, I can feel that chemical high and now I know what it is. When it goes away and I feel empty and I want to replace it with more porn, I know why.  And depending on how far I venture down that path, it can take a day or two or longer for that chemical "need" to wear off.  And I see how this effects the way I view women on the street, the way I interact with my children, the way I treat my wife. 

Knowing I have an addiction has given a face and name to the compulsion and I can longer pretend that its "me," or that its just "who I am," or that I am powerless. Instead I can recognize whats going on and I can focus on clearing my system. 

I can stop blaming my wife for not meeting my "needs" and start repenting for creating artificially inflated "needs" through my pornography addiction.

I can take action to combat the chemical "need" through prayer, through exercise, through breathing exercises, through writing, through service, through talking with a trusted friend.  When I do these things (especially when I'm feeling vulnerable and weak and compulsive), I feel myself becoming stronger, I feel myself gaining more control, and I feel myself healing, or rather, I feel the Lord healing me.  

I think the process of healing from pornography starts with knowing about addiction.  Without that, a person struggling with pornography will think its merely a matter of will power, which is a battle against the self...And pornography addiction isn't about battling the self, its about discovering the self buried beneath the addiction. Every bit of self-discovery, every bit of knowledge that I am a child of God, that I am in control of my future, that I am okay, that I am good, every bit of that is a bit of healing.

And that is a wonderful thing.

I hope that you are healing today in some way.

-AC