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Brett’s Story: How Porn Has Affected My Life & Why 2017 Is The Year I’ll Finally Break Free

By January 20, 2017 October 9th, 2017 No Comments

We recently received a very powerful and well-written story from a Fighter named Brett. Brett is a talented musician and gifted writer who has struggled with pornography for many years. On January 1, 2017, he wrote the following post on his blog and posted it for all his friends, family, and social media followers to see. Fight the New Drug was tagged in Brett’s post several times and we asked his permission to repost it. His story is one that we think many of our Fighters will be able to relate to and one that not only shows the harms of porn but just how liberating it is to fight.

Photos by Daisy T. Photography

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January 1st, 2017.

For a couple of years now I have wanted to write about my experiences and thoughts surrounding the subject of pornography. 2017 is the year, today is the day, now is the time. Porn is a problem that many people are uncomfortable talking about and often isn’t even acknowledged because of the social discomfort, or maybe apathy, that accompanies it. I want to change that.

I was ten years old the first time I saw a legitimate porn site. I had been exposed to porn in other forms earlier in my life, but this was the first time that I saw it coming and didn’t do anything about it. A friend of mine opened up the site on my family’s laptop and we both waited for the dial-up internet connection to load the images inch by creeping inch. To this day, twelve years later, I can still vividly see the first pornographic image that I willingly allowed into my mind.

The human brain is an amazing thing. One way to watch the glow of your mind sporadically flicker then dim to the lowest of light is to expose it repeatedly to the damaging effects of pornography. Over the past twelve years, mostly intermittently, other times more routinely, I have battled the plague of porn. Growing up I was always told that it was bad and that I should stay as far away from it as possible, but only in recent years have I truly understood for myself just what it is that makes this ever-growing disease so dangerous.

In no specific order, I am going to share with you a list of issues that I have seen in my life that I believe have direct correlation to my struggle with porn. My goal is to shed light on an often dark subject and hopefully prevent others from learning these lessons in a much more painful and exhausting way.

Self-confidence.

Oh boy, where do I begin? Quite simply, viewing pornography over the past twelve years has destroyed any sign of my self esteem. Over time, I started to hate myself for allowing such a shameful and unworthy practice to become part of who I am. And it truly has become part of who I am. Not part of who I am like “Hey, I’m Brett. I love to play the guitar and also I look at porn,” but it is something that has altered the direction of my life, even if only slightly. It has shattered any bit of self-respect that I started out with, which has in turn affected many relationships or even potential relationships. How can I allow someone to love me when I don’t even love myself? I share this to illustrate how low my mind has gone at times after trudging through the mire of pornographic wastelands. Nothing that is positive, valuable, or honorable will ever lead you to these thoughts.

One solution that I have found to this self-hate is remembering that everyone struggles with something. Some spend their lives fighting drug addictions, alcoholism, depression, mental illnesses, etc. I have learned to accept the fact that this is my struggle, and I am no different than anyone else who is confronted by the various demons we all must face. Once I realized I was mostly plagued by the shame that accompanied my explicit secret rather than the secret itself, I was able to begin moving forward. I’ll explain some ways in which I have been able to do so a little later.

Natural beauty.

One of the most shocking side effects I have experienced after consuming the pill of pornography is the lack of appreciation for natural beauty. I’m not just talking about real women, though they do fall under this category. I’m talking about flowers blooming, wind blowing through tall grass, the sound of thundering waterfalls, waves crashing on a beach, you know, nature! It might seem unlikely or far-fetched to some of you, but speaking from experience I can tell you that the fake and, well, far-fetched world of pornography has the potential to blind your mind from seeing the beauty in the world around you. Over time you almost unknowingly train your mind to seek after those images that have so often lined the walls of your memory’s art gallery. The more you fill your head with worthless and degrading information, your desire to dispel the darkness that clouds your mind will slow, flowing less and less until finally it lies stagnant. Then before you know it, you don’t care about what’s beautiful in the world, you just care about that temporary escape from a sad reality.

Let me give a more relatable example. I live about 48 seconds from the nearest Taco Bell. To say I enjoy Taco Bell would be an insulting understatement. I’ve eaten so much of it in my lifetime that at any given moment I can recall the exact taste of my last meal there. The way the brown paper bag sounds as it passes through the drive-thru window and rests safely in my passenger seat for the 53 second (1 minute, 12 seconds if I have to wait for the stoplight to change) ride home; the way the Fiery Doritos Locos taco shell brings out just a hint of lime when chased by a sip of Mountain Dew Baja Blast, all of it. With those vivid memories tucked tightly into the California King bed of my cranium, how hard do you think it is for me to convince myself to cook a real meal for myself on a regular basis? Of course, a home-cooked meal would be infinitely better for my body, I would save much needed money for better things, and I would have the satisfaction of knowing that I took the time to prepare a meal for myself…“But Taco Bell is so good. It’s so much easier to just grab a quick bite so I can get to more important things. Netflix isn’t going to watch itself!” Just like that, even though I know there’s a better option, I cave. And so there I sit, once again surrounded by traces of cheddar cheese and taco shell crumbs, planted in front of the TV with my sugary soda soaking the dentist’s paycheck deep into my teeth. One day my body will pay for all of the fast food that I’ve eaten and I can tell you already that I’m going to wish I had spent more nights throwing together a nice green salad and sipping on a cold glass of ice water. It’s the same with porn. I’ve always known that it’s not good for me, but it’s the easy way out. It’s the fastest way to temporarily cope with a stressful day. It’s not the best option, but it provides an escape from my problems, right? Wrong.

This is exactly what dealing with porn is like. You know what you’re getting into. You know that if you look at it for ten minutes you’ll spend the subsequent ten hours telling yourself you’re disgusting, that you’re worthless and that no one is ever going to love you because of what you’ve become. You know that if you just spend your time doing something else you will receive a grand return on investment, but instead, you exchange that which is most valuable for a cheap and demeaning high lasting only as long as your eyes are glued to it. Think about it. Does it sound healthy to you to allow something into your brain that will eventually turn you against everything you value, everything you truly want, and everyone who wants to see you become the best you can be?

Relationships.

Friends, parents, girlfriends, siblings, employers, the list goes on and on. Perhaps the weight most noticeably placed on my shoulders by the looming hand of pornography is the strain of keeping normal, healthy relationships all the while knowing I have this deep, dark secret that I can’t let the world see. I remember times in my early teens when I would choose to stay home from a family outing or a chance to go out with friends because I knew I would have more time to myself to discover more of this unexplored world of pornography. Though this isn’t how I saw it at that point in my life, what I was really doing was placing the derogatory digital world higher on my list of priorities than real people and real experiences. Sad, isn’t it?

The first instinct many of us have when we’re ashamed of something we have done is to hide it. Take it and bury it so deep that no amount of penetrating questions could come close to uncovering our shameful secret. I tried this for years. I thought “It’s best to keep this to myself. If anyone knew about this, they’d never look at me the same.” There were times when I would reveal fragments of the big problem to my parents, a brother, or maybe a close friend in some instances. Most of the time though, it was kept tight under wraps. This was an unhealthy practice for so many reasons. How do you fix a problem you’re not willing to acknowledge? Where do you get help if you don’t place enough trust in someone else to lend you aid?

One of the things that has bothered me more and more in recent years is my perceived inability to completely open up to another person. As we all know, being able to spill out every gory detail of our lives to someone and still feel loved and appreciated by them is one of the most liberating experiences we can have. Now that I’ve learned more effective and healthy ways to cope with my problem with pornography, I have taken that leap of faith on multiple occasions, to put everything on the table in front of those I am closest with. In every serious relationship that I have had, I have very sheepishly approached my significant other and fumbled words around until finally explaining my history with this dirty little secret. It’s amazing to me that just by letting someone else in on your struggles, a burden is lifted that you could never hope to lift yourself. Not once has someone reacted with words of disgust and disgrace; rather an almost unbelievable bond of trust, support, and encouragement is formed.

As most of us do, I have been holding myself back from my full potential. I have allowed myself to believe the lie that because I hated myself, so did everyone else. The truth is, everyone has been standing at the ready, willing to hoist me up out of the hole I dug to hide in. Healthy relationships are not available only to the flawless and those who pass through the struggles of life unscathed. Quite the opposite is true, actually. I’ve learned over time that allowing others to see my weaknesses has strengthened the love we have for each other. Anyone who doesn’t choose to accept me after I have chosen to confide in them the most painful of confessions has every right to do so. At least that person knows that I am no longer living a lie, which is much more important to me than having relationships teetering on a foundation of half truths.

Solutions.

I’ve told you all about the negatives, about how one choice as a curious ten-year-old and many more choices over the following twelve years led to all this depression and self-doubt. But how did I get to this point? How did I finally break loose the treacherous tethers that kept me tied to the ground far below a sky of opportunity?

When I was 18, I went on a two year service/humanitarian trip. I had very limited access to a phone with no internet connection, an hour of computer time per week to email my family and friends at home, and no access to a TV. My mind has never been more clear than it was for those two years. After everything I’ve told you about clouded thoughts and constant shame can you imagine how amazing it felt to be free of those feelings? After I returned from my trip and was submerged back into a world more fast-paced than I had left it two years earlier, little by little I could feel myself sinking back into the “old Brett.” It didn’t really bother me until one day, for the first time in approximately two and a half years, I looked at porn again. Talk about a slap in the face. Everything I had overcome and all those habits I had left behind were suddenly right back in my lap. It was then that I realized just how degrading and dilapidating pornography truly is. Since then, though I will it admit it has been most difficult and exhausting, I have worked tirelessly to rid myself of this unwanted passenger.

I think the fuel that finally started a fire of progression and change was motive. I spent so much time buried beneath the surface of my shame and guilt that I rarely stopped to think about what I was missing out on. It’s all so obvious now, but it has taken me years to piece it all together. I finally gave myself the ultimatum that so many had given me before: “It’s ____ or porn.” It’s that simple. There is no possible way for the lofty goals and aspirations that I have to coexist with the lowly and despicable enemies to my success that porn invites to the table.

Allowing others to know that porn has been a struggle for me for more than half of my life has truly been key to my process of change. That’s why I have spent so much time explaining every little facet of this deep, dark secret that I’ve had for so long. I want to own it. I’m putting everything out on the table so that I don’t have to have secrets anymore. I want to be able to talk about this like it’s a casual conversation over dinner. I’m sick of allowing shame and guilt to run my life. I have finally started to love myself for the good things that I do rather than drown in an abyss of self-loathing. The past is gone, so let’s focus on the future.

The point.

Yes, I wrote this for my own benefit. It’s helping me to take responsibility for my actions. Writing this is giving me a sense of newness and clarity. But my goal is far from selfish. I hope that I can help open the eyes of even just a few people to the reality behind the world of pornography. I’m sure some people will read this, laugh at it, and maybe share it with some friends so they can make fun of it as well. I will take that risk over and over and over again if it means there is a greater chance that somebody will read my words and understand in an easy way what I have come to understand the hard way. Porn is not harmless. It destroys lives. Like the jagged edges of an iceberg deep beneath the ocean’s surface, pornography will tear the hull of your sanity apart and watch you sink slowly into freezing water. I don’t know the words to adequately express how dangerous it can be. What I do know is that I don’t ever want anyone to experience the things that I have experienced chasing after something that never gave me anything in return except feelings of self-hate, shame, and depression. Please, take my word for it. It’s not worth the extremely short-lived excitement that comes with fraudulently satisfying your curiosity.

If you are in a state of depression or helplessness, reach out. Just tell somebody what you’re feeling. You may be surprised at the support and love you will receive. Identify one good thing about yourself and build on it. It might be hard at first, but allow yourself to see that you are more than your struggles.

Much love,

Brett.

What YOU Can Do

Show support for Brett and encourage him on his journey. SHARE this article to raise awareness on the harmful effects of porn and help others who might be struggling as well.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with an obsession or addiction to pornography, you are not alone. Check out our friends at Fortify, a recovery program that will allow you take a step toward freedom. Anyone 20 years and younger can apply for a free scholarship to the program, and it is an inexpensive fee for anyone 21 and older. There is hope—sign up today and start getting the help you need at your own pace.

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