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Why I Quit Watching Porn for My Family and Myself

“Last week, I celebrated my 500th day free from porn. Even though I have been in recovery for two years, it took most of the first year of working through my baggage and getting the tools I needed to find freedom.”

By September 23, 2021No Comments

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Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.

This story was sent in by a Fighter who has recently found freedom from a crippling porn obsession. His experience shows how valuable it is to realize all the things that hold people back from thriving in real relationships and real love. Freedom is possible, and there is hope.

Every addict has their rock bottom….I found mine.

Two springs ago, the beginning of the outdoor track season (that is how I track time), I was hiding. Not figuratively, not emotionally, but literally hiding.

I had just been busted for a porn habit that led to an affair. My world had been blown up. My fake reputation was torn apart. I was a man I never thought I would be, and I could not face it. My phone buzzed. My wife had texted, “Get home, your kids are a mess.”

As I walked into my parent’s house in complete shame, I looked at my oldest son—he was only two. He said to me, “Daddy, what’s going on?” with absolute terror on his face. I was immediately reminded of the promise I made him when he was born: I would fight for him till he was old enough to fight for himself.

Related: Can Watching Porn Impact Family Relationships?

I realized I had to fight for myself first, and everything had to change, or I would lose him and my family.

Store - Love

Self-protection and self-destruction

Seventeen years prior, I had made a decision that I thought would protect myself.

Through a series of events like getting beat up by my cousin, and getting a knife pulled on me, I decided that I would never be the weakest person in a room again. This decision immediately put up “walls” to keep everyone out. I was alone and angry and eventually just empty.

My medication for these negative emotions was sports and porn. The physical pain of sports allowed me to release some of my anger, and the porn numbed the rest of my emotions.

Eleven years into my compulsion to porn, I got married. I had numbed every emotion with porn for so long that I could not connect with my wife. Fighting seemed to be the norm. In my mind, I was not responsible because I was not saying anything. And it turns out that was exactly the problem.

Related: Let’s Talk About Porn. Is It As Harmless As Society Says It Is?

My wife would bring up something, I would shut down. She would yell. I would stare at the wall. She was screaming, “Just say something!” Inside, I was pleading with myself, “Just say something, anything! Let her know you have a pulse.” But, NOTHING. I was so numb I could literally do nothing. I would stare at the wall and hope it would be over soon so I could “medicate” with porn.

The stresses of being a father, a failing marriage, depression, loneliness, anger, running a business, and trying to chase a dream of becoming a college coach started to make porn ineffective to numb myself. I needed to go more extreme to get the same effect.

So, I started a relationship, not caring about the consequences just to continue to “medicate” away the pain. A few months after the relationship went physical, I was busted by my phone bill.

Learning to feel again

I knew I had to really change and go above and beyond to show that porn was not going to control me anymore.

I had to start communicating emotionally with my wife. Talking is not a strength of mine, so I took to writing her letters every night. I wrote over 40 letters trying to convey my thoughts and emotions. The goal was to be able to emotionally connect with my wife.

Related: I Quit Watching Porn And Here’s Why I’m Never Going Back

In another attempt to save our marriage, my wife and I attended a four-day intensive marriage conference. During this “group therapy” session, I was able to find my heart, weep through my pain and forgive myself.

At the end of the week, I was able to look my wife in the eyes and ask her forgiveness. We had the tools needed to work on our marriage. And I could actually feel, again.

Finding freedom

When we returned home, I applied to and landed a job coaching in Indiana. We packed up our two boys and our lives and moved 800 miles west. And my wife was seven months pregnant. We needed a fresh start.

We landed in Muncie, IN. We joined a community there, and I attended their recovery program. Through the Step Study of the program, I put together a toolbox that I could use to really find freedom from my unwanted porn obsession.

Related3 Real Guys Explain How Giving Up Porn Changed Their Lives

Last week, I celebrated my 500th day free from porn. Even though I have been in recovery for two years, it took most of the first year of working through my baggage and getting the tools I needed to find freedom.

As I finish writing this, I look up to see my three kids laughing and playing with the dog in the living room. I am overcome with thankfulness that my wife, family and I did not give up.

I can tell by the look in their eyes and the happiness on their faces that it is all going to be ok.

T.

Fortify

You never fight alone

The worse people feel about themselves, the more they seek comfort wherever they can get it.

Normally, they would be able to rely on the people closest to them to help them through their difficult times—a partner, friend, or family member. But many porn consumers aren’t exactly excited to tell anyone about their porn habits, least of all their partner. So they turn to the easiest source of “comfort” available: more porn.

Studies have found that when people engage in an ongoing pattern of “self-concealment,” which is when they do things they’re not proud of and keep them a secret, it can not only hurt their relationships and leave them feeling lonely, but can also make them more vulnerable to mental health issues.Laird, R. D., Marrero, M. D., Melching, J. A., and Kuhn, E. S. (2013). Information Management Strategies in Early Adolescence: Developmental Change in Use and Transactional Associations with Psychological Adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 49(5), 928–937. doi:10.1037/a0028845COPY Luoma, J. B., et. al. (2013). Self-Stigma in Substance Abuse: Development of a New Measure. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 35, 223–234. doi:10.1007/s10862-012-9323-4COPY Rotenberg, K. J., Bharathi, C., Davies, H., and Finch, T. (2013). Bulimic Symptoms and the Social Withdrawal Syndrome. Eating Behaviors, 14, 281–284. doi:10.1016/j.eatbeh.2013.05.003COPY 

Related: 3 Ways Facing Shame Can Take Away Its Power & Help You Quit Porn

If you have been struggling to quit an unwanted porn habit, know that you’re not alone.

It can feel really lonely and frustrating, but there is hope. While research shows that consuming porn can fuel the cycle of loneliness, research also shows that it is possible to overcome a porn habit and its negative effects.Young K. S. (2013). Treatment outcomes using CBT-IA with Internet-addicted patients. Journal of behavioral addictions, 2(4), 209–215. https://doi.org/10.1556/JBA.2.2013.4.3COPY Nathanson, A. (2021). Psychotherapy with young people addicted to internet pornography. Psychoanal.Study Child, 74(1), 160-173. doi:10.1080/00797308.2020.1859286COPY 

According to one study of individuals trying to quit porn, researchers found that shame actually predicted increased pornography consumption while guilt predicted sustainable change.Gilliland, R., South, M., Carpenter, B. N., & Hardy, S. A. (2011). The roles of shame and guilt in hypersexual behavior. 18(1), 12-29. doi:10.1080/10720162.2011.551182COPY  So if you’re trying to give up porn, be kind to yourself and be patient with your progress. Like anything, it takes time for the brain to recover, but daily efforts make a big difference in the long run.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your unwanted porn habit, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

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