Hell is Porn

Hell is Porn

Porn grabbed me by the balls at a very young age and has never let go.

My Addiction to Pornography has dogged me relentlessly for years. Ever since I discovered the cocaine-like rush of a pornographic orgasm -one induced by masturbation to irresistibly seductive images of tantalizing women exposing themselves in ways far more exquisite than a mortal man’s imagination could possibly conjure.

I first stumbled upon this “key to the heavens” of indescribably mind-blowing and readily available instant gratification when I was just 11. My first “sex partners” were literally a Hustler magazine and my hand.

Ironically, it was the Boy Scouts that introduced me to Pornography. One of the older Scouts in my troop took some Playboys on a camping trip and my friends and I flocked around to see what they were all about. I had never seen such a magazine or such photos before.

I don’t remember it being particularly arousing at that time (aside from the thrill of breaking a taboo), but that experience definitely planted seeds that sprouted in very fertile soil and grew like wild fire.

When I got my first opportunity to get my hands on my very own magazines (Penthouse and Hustler -Playboy was already too tame), in what was uncharacteristic behavior at the time, I stole them, smuggled them home, and hid them away from my parents and the world like they were buried treasure. They were my first big secrets. And we are indeed as sick as our secrets.

This seemingly innocuous, yet disturbingly precocious, flirtation with Pornography was the only nudge the sleeping ogre of Addiction needed to awaken from his slumber. It is my belief that he dwelt within my psyche and soul from birth. Just waiting to be summoned from hibernation.

Unbeknownst to me, I had unleashed a demon that would worm his way deeper and deeper into my psyche day by day, year by year. As I grew ever more comfortable with the habit of chasing the orgasmic high of masturbating to Pornography nearly every day, and was frequently on the hunt for more magazines to add to my clandestine collection, the footing became more and more treacherous as I traversed the slippery slope that led to a deep and frightening rabbit hole that almost swallowed me forever.

This Devil stunted the growth of my sexuality, molding me into a fundamentally selfish and dishonest person -perpetuating a facade of normalcy, all the while lying, cheating, stealing, and objectifying women to satiate my endless desire for Pornography and the intense orgasms it provided so “freely.” Porn Addiction became my master. Yet, insidiously, I was unaware that I was enslaved.

As I grew older, my obsession with Porn and my compulsion to use it for self-gratification became increasingly strong. Through my teens, I perceived myself to be an honest person of integrity. I was an Eagle Scout at age 14 and went on to become Valedictorian of my HS class of 360 people. I did acts of service, stayed out of trouble, and excelled academically. Yet I was developing a monkey on my back the size of King Kong and had a stash of Porn big enough to fill a small storage locker. Behind my Dr. Jekyll persona, there lurked a Mr. Hyde who was preparing to go on a spree of emotional damage inflicted upon the many women who would come into my life over the next several decades. And to hammer me with significant spiritual damage.

Mind you, my nasty habit’s formative years took place in the 70’s and 80’s, so there was zero to limited digital Porn. At least not until the advent of DVD’s. And I wasn’t resourceful or restive enough to seek out VCR tapes or any of the local Porn theaters, like the Strand or the Dove. My appetite for Porn videos had yet to be whetted.

From my late teens into early adulthood, I remained content with still photos in magazines. My tastes remained pedestrian and typical for a CIS-gender heterosexual male. I jerked to individual women (and to lesbians having sex) whose photos appeared in Hustler and Penthouse, and, after finally screwing up the courage to make purchases in adult book stores, Chic, Club, Gallery, Genesis, Stag, and Swank. In retrospect, I remember looking at the other guys in the adult book stores as perverts and feeling like the “normal” one who didn’t belong there. That was rich! I have since learned that we weren’t perverts. We were Addicts. And I was as sick as them.

The first time my Addiction did measurable, tangible damage was during my first marriage. My (then) wife and I were both in our early 20’s. We got pregnant and I became decreasingly physically attracted to her. As a Porn Addict who objectified women as a means to reach an orgasm, physical attraction was my sole focus in a relationship. Once I was no longer attracted to my wife, Porn still satisfied, but I began lusting for more.

Patrick Carnes, the renowned pioneer of the treatment of Porn and Sex Addiction once characterized this Addiction as the “athlete’s foot of the mind,” as it itches perpetually and can never quite be satisfied. And I sought other ways to scratch my itch.

Lacking the social skills and self-confidence to pursue other women, I opened another doorway and entered a world that further eroded the dignity of myself and others, my integrity, and what little self worth that I felt.

Fearful and utterly clueless as to how to navigate the situation, I found the numbers of some escort services in the Yellow Pages and made some phone calls. It was awkward at first, but a month, several hundred dollars, and my first meetings with total strangers in motels that rent rooms by the hour later, I had had sex with three lovely call girls. And though I wore protection, in the aftermath I became terrified that I may have picked up HIV (this was during the HIV/AIDS hysteria) and transmitted it to my pregnant wife. As an Addict, I was still having sex with her too. In addition to utilizing Porn.

I didn’t tell my wife until later, but became so obsessed and concerned that I went to a clinic and had myself tested for HIV. The shame and guilt that I had risked infecting my wife and child were nearly unbearable. And the sheer terror that I felt when I went in for the result was indescribable.

But fortune smiled upon all of us and the test came back negative.

After what I considered to be a brush with risks I wasn’t prepared to take, I stopped seeking call girls and confined myself to Pornography and occasional sex with my wife.

As I continue to wend my way down the memory lane of my Porn Addiction, and how it deformed and crippled my sexuality, I am reminded that my Porn Addiction manifested itself in a number of ways.

Pornography was definitely the secret nexus of my life that revolved around sexual indulgence and gratification. Despite the outward trappings of normalcy and full functionality. Yet there were certainly other elements, some more prevalent than others. For instance, throughout my adult life, excepting a year and a half, I have had a female significant other with whom I have had a sexual relationship. Masturbation when Porn was unavailable was also a means to orgasm. Eventually overlapping relationships with women began to wiggle their way into my once quasi-monogamous lifestyle. And there were, of course, the women who sold their sexual services. Porn was my drug of choice. Sex in a relationship was good and what I had been taught was the way to do things. But I was willing to get my orgasm fix in a variety of ways.

My next “romantic endeavor” was with a woman, who ironically, had just gotten out of a relationship with a man who sexually abused her by forcing her to act out female roles in Porn videos they watched together. It was tragic, yet seemed odd to me, as I rarely, if ever, mixed my “poisons.” in any way shape or form. She and I got married after being together for a short time. Our sex life was abysmal, as her previous experience “compelled her” to look the part of a porn star, and her expectations were that I would be extremely aroused. In another ironic twist, my taste in sexual relations with women was gentle, “normal” sex with the “girl next door” type of woman. My Porn/fantasy arousal template was vastly different from my “real life” template. So our clashing notions of sex and, in retrospect my mounting difficulty in having sex with a real woman due to excessive Porn abuse, torpedoed our sexual experiences nearly every time.

And I continued to use Porn, despite knowing that she had been abused with it. That’s the narcissistic element of Addiction. An Addict in the throes of their illness is all about themselves and their desires. Regardless of who gets hurt. She ended up leaving me. Best thing that could have happened for both of us!

A year and a half passed during which I white-knuckled my way through sobriety from Porn, feeding my habit with masturbation. Remarkably, that was also a period during which I had no significant other. Still severely limited in my confidence to seek women in a conventional way, and miraculously staying away from call girls, I dated a couple of women twice, having sex only a few times during that whole period. Not counting where I am today, that was the healthiest I have been in my life from a sexual standpoint.

As I met and began dating my next wife, PC’s and the Internet started to become widely accessible. For a Porn Addict, Internet Porn is Manna from Heaven. A wide variety of free Porn videos funneled into your home computer? It’s like a mainline Morphine drip for an Opioid Addict. And once I got my Morphine pump, I kept hitting that button over and over and over again. We had a PC in our bedroom and I would be up until 2 or 3 AM each morning, including work nights. Surfing the Internet, I watched video after video until I found that “perfect” one that would take me to the Promised Land of a crescendo of a euphoric orgasm that flooded my neurons’ synapses with dopamine.

Despite my wife’s angry objections, and despite the ridiculous time that it took to download videos via dial-up Internet, I remained undeterred and continued full speed ahead. Interestingly, our sex life was very good, and in spite of my daily abuse of Porn, my appetite for sex with her was voracious and we engaged in it frequently.

Finally, she had had it with the Porn. Threatened with divorce, I agreed to go to couples therapy. That’s where my guile as an Addict served me well, at her expense. Addicts are adept chameleons. Masters of disguise who are able to put on convincing performances that they have changed their ways. I put on just such a performance, pulling the wool over the eyes of my wife and our therapist. Meanwhile, I adjusted tactics such that I was acting out with Porn (via cable Internet now on a laptop) when my wife was away. I also bought some DVD’s at a local adult toy and entertainment store as back-ups. At last, I had my cake and was eating it too.

However, I was in for a rude awakening. My wife eventually caught onto my charade and we parted ways. Yet again, I found myself single, hurt, lonely, and feeling inept at pursuing women. And, more importantly, I had severely damaged another human being.

However, another attribute of an Addict is that we are resourceful. Again finding my “saving grace” online, I began dabbling in Internet dating. Initially, I tried the more conventional route and enrolled in Match.com. It didn’t take long to realize that none of those “squares” would want to have anything to do with a “worldly guy” (whose moral fiber was tattered and whose soul had been corroded by Porn) like me. So I ventured where the other bottom dwellers go. Plenty of Fish. For the first few months, I didn’t get much “action.” But as I tinkered with my profile and adjusted my tastes so that they were realistic, I started making connections. The more I met women in person and hooked up, the more confidence I gained.

The landscape of the next several years of my life was littered with corpses of more highly charged sexual relationships that typically ended disastrously. Two sick people coming together in an effort to have a monogamous relationship that was predicated on a week or two of dating is a recipe for a toxic brew. Porn remained, of course, my constant companion and my primary source of sexual pleasure. The “beauty” of these relationships was that these women knew that I used Porn and didn’t care!

Of course I eventually found my way back to the call girls. Porn Addiction is progressive. It leads to a need for more Porn, a greater variety of Porn, and eventually, to ways of acting out beyond the virtual world. The Back Pages provided a convenient source of a few more encounters with beautiful young ladies who fulfilled some fantasies I had never experienced with a woman. And one, as might be expected, was a dreadful scenario involving a woman who had recently been beaten about the face, a seedy motel room, an abruptly abbreviated session ended by mutual conclusion, and me having thrown a few hundred dollars away.

As if that time in my life wasn’t hollow and meaningless enough, it was a mere precursor to my lowest Porn rock bottom. (In the interest of full disclosure, I suffer from a mental illness and a cross addiction as well, so I have had multiple bottoms).

Time continued to tick away, my hair slowly began to gray, but Porn was relentless in maintaining its stranglehold on my soul and psyche. On more occasions than digits on which I have to count, I made resolutions to quit. But it was usually only a few weeks before I capitulated to the irresistible allure of beating off to digitized images of attractive women performing increasingly perverse sexual acts involving increasingly more women.

My primary sexual/romantic relationship from age eleven until I was in my late forties was with the harems of Larry Flynt and his ilk and, later, with pixelated images of women, many of whom I have learned are sexual abuse survivors and drug addicts who are forced to perform unprotected sexual acts with strange men. For every Porn starlet with a high-paying contract and free will, there are 100 “Porn performers” who were human trafficked into the industry in their teens, hooked on drugs, and who are often brutalized and coerced into doing their “jobs.” Pornography is a soulless industry that profits from the misery of its prostituted “performers” and its Addicted consumers.

Pornography is nothing more than a link in the chain of human trafficking. It’s legalized prostitution in a socially acceptable way. And while I am in no position to pass judgment, as I benefited from it for many years, I don’t want to be a part of the demand anymore.

The more I learned how unsavory and insidious Porn is, for both the performers and the consumers, and the more I began to recognize what it was doing to me, the more my desire to break its chains grew. It had cost me two marriages, my integrity, my honesty, my ability to be present and enjoy life, a lot of time and sleep, other relationships in my life, my mental health, my ability to interact with women in a healthy way, and my soul. It had also filled my head with garbage. I had been pouring it into my brain for years and its foul stench had wafted down to my heart, polluting and darkening it with cynicism, perversity, and resentments.

Driven by the lash of my Porn Addiction, I surrendered to the fellowship of Sex Addicts Anonymous, a program of Addiction recovery premised on AA’s Twelve Steps. I attended meetings. I got a sponsor. I worked through all 12 Steps. I read “Out of the Shadows,” by Patrick Carnes, which is the “bible” of Porn and Sex Addiction recovery. I stayed sober for a year. God’s grace and hard work!

Then, disaster struck. My sponsor informed me he could no longer work with me. Filled with shame (of course as an Addict I internalized it and determined that there was something wrong with me), cast adrift without my mentor, and unable to find a new sponsor in a reasonable period of time, I seized the opportunity to salve the pain of my self-pity with Porn, the ease and comfort I had always sought when things got difficult. My usage started slowly, but it rapidly gained momentum. Seemingly before I could blink an eye, I was back at full throttle.

And so it went for the next few years. Hidden from my new wife, it was once again a staple in my spiritual and intellectual diet (Note: my additional take on Porn is that it is the ultimate junk food for the brain, providing no intellectual sustenance and eroding its capacity to imagine, connect, and emote), Porn had renewed its unyielding grip upon me with a vengeance. As with any Addiction, Porn has no mercy, pity, or remorse. And it never, ever quits.

Finally, I landed with an excruciating splat onto my fifth (second directly related to Porn) rock bottom. The healthiest, most loving, and most together woman with whom I had entered the sacred contract of marriage was about done with me. As I had done with several women in the past, I had wounded her severely with my abuse of Porn. The dissolution of our marriage would have meant more pain for her and for a number of family members. And lastly, there was my own self-inflicted agony to consider.

At the time, the fear, shame, and agony were so intense, I wasn’t sure I was going to survive. And I had been through many harrowing experiences as a result of my mental illness. Yet it was just the opportunity for growth and the motivation that I needed to begin what I hope is my finally extrication from Pornography.

As I scribble this out for you, I have only gone approximately 1500 days without abusing Porn since I was age 11. And 348 of those days have come since I hit bottom about a year ago. So for 12,775 days of my “post 11” life, I have acted out with Porn. That’s a lot of time and energy spent wallpapering over my toxic shame with something that provides very temporary relief. And in a very short time, that shame always hits back with even more potency before.. It’s a “sick cycle carousel’ and I am glad to be off of it. One day at a time. By God’s grace.

So how does a Porn Addict stay clean? That answer would be different for each person, but most of us use many of the same tools. In different ways, to different degrees, and following different paths, but we do find commonalities with our Fellows in Recovery.

This is how I have been doing it:

Surrendering to the Higher Power of my understanding, as I learned in AA, was my first step. And some days I have to re-surrender several times to stay clean. Ongoing therapy, in which I was already engaged for my mental illness, plays a large role. As does AA, which has been a big part of my life for several years. Talking to other Addicts. Prayer, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Mindfulness and redirecting my thinking. Developing and maintaining healthy interests and passions. Learning and practicing healthy sexual expression. Working the Steps. Going to meetings. Having a sponsor again. Exercising. Cyber accountability through the web browser monitoring program called Covenant Eyes. Working on my relationship with my wife. Daily spiritual readings and meditations. And playing the tape all the way through (remembering the pain) when I feel tempted.

Embracing an eclectic and wide-ranging approach to staying clean, I also incorporate a number of other elements into my recovery regimen. Helping others and doing acts of service gets me out of self and is a powerful means to stay clean. In that same vein, specifically helping other Addicts is very beneficial. Reminding myself of the pain I have inflicted on others with my Porn abuse. Remembering that I am doing a living amends by staying clean. Keeping the dark side of Porn in the forefront of my mind. Continuing to learn to appreciate the joy of everyday, healthy experiences versus the momentary high of acting out with Porn followed by the crash of shame and remorse. And one of the most critical pieces was total abstinence for the first 90 days to realize that an orgasm is optional and not a must or an entitlement.

If it reads like I brought out the big guns, I did. As a hard core Porn Addict for many years, I have no choice if I want to stay clean. And staying clean from Porn is as important to me as anything in my existence. Because due to its impact on others and on my spiritual and mental health, my existence depends on staying Porn free.

The existential philosopher, Sartre, once wrote,”Hell is other people.”

From my experience, “Hell is Porn.”

Research, Treatment, and Recovery Treatment Tools and Resources:

https://www.pinegrovetreatment.com/patrick-carnes.html

Home

An Overview Of The Issue

You are not alone.

https://www.projectknow.com/sex-addiction/?utm_term=p_addiction

Sex Trafficking and Porn:

https://enough.org/stats-sex-trafficking

The Essence of Evil: Sex with Children Has Become Big Business in America:

The essence of evil: Sex with children has become big business in America

JM, 5/29/19

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