Yep, it’s the porn thing again

So I’ve been asked to give an update on where I am in recovery (a little over-dramatic, but it works for now) and restoration. It’s bittersweet, you know? The sweet part being that people care. The bitter part being that people are watching. Just in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the nitty gritty: https://monniiee.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/go-big-or-go-home/ and https://monniiee.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/love-awoken/

The short version is (deep breath) for a long time, honestly I can’t even remember how long, I struggled with porn. As you can probably guess, it had a tremendous influence on my life in ways that I initially couldn’t see, and then when I could recognize them, I was too far in to get out on my own.

That sin became a cancer that I was too afraid to give to God so I built fortified walls around myself and basically rotted from the inside out. I spent a good bit of the last few years as a highly functioning shell of a person. On April 17th, I was in the very beginning stages of restarting my walk with Christ and he gave me a way out of these chains of that sin and it was tailor made for who I am: post an honest blog entry about my struggle with porn; don’t sugarcoat it and don’t be vague. I did so, but only after an epic round of refusals and attempts to compromise. Neither worked obviously.

It’s been 4 months since that post and a lot has happened. I never intended for this to be an ongoing thing, but it seems that’s where I’m being lead so why not? I wanted to share how this has all affected me and how it’s affected others. Keep in mind this isn’t any fairy tale so not everything is tied up in a neat and pretty bow at the end, but it is a miracle so there is a happy ‘ending’. Here goes:

  1. Porn isolated me. Since all of this, I’ve been muuuuuch more of myself (joyous, generous, social, loving, improving, encouraging, engaged, etc) and in return I’ve created some rich new relationships and renewed a lot of my old ones. There’s no longer anything nagging me saying “They see it. If I hang around any longer I’m going to let it slip”. I will say that it wasn’t until recently I realized how paranoid my sin made me. I still catch myself flinching a little every time there’s a “we need to talk” on the horizon because I’m still in that mode of being worried about someone confronting me about it. I still have to emphasize to myself that I have nothing to hide anymore. You have NO idea how good that feels unless you’ve been there.
  2. I objectified MYSELF. Definitely still a big thing for me. I catch myself looking in the mirror a little too long. Caring a little too much about who’s paying attention as I walk by. It’s somewhat funny because when I catch myself doing it I’ll mentally cringe. To always feel hyper aware of what others are thinking about how I look? Not fun, not worth anything. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with liking the way I look, but when I’m that concerned with how everyone else feels about it, I’ve gone the wrong way.
  3. I started seeking out things that used to disgust me. There’s been the most progress here. I cannot say that I haven’t been tempted to go back to porn every now and again (though not as often as I expected) but I can say that I haven’t gone back once and because of that, there’s not a pull like there used to be in this area.
  4. Porn became a way to numb myself rather than satisfy. Well since, there’s been a lot of therapy sessions with God. (It’d be amazing to have a professional one soon just to air some things out but anyway…) Yea, it’s been difficult and really uncomfortable at times, but I know so much more about myself now that I’m not running from facing these things. There’s a multitude of things that God had been trying to address and bring to light so we could deal with them and porn became my chosen distraction. Then it became the issue. Now, there’s still much to be desired in my progress, but we’re facing them head on; sometimes eagerly, sometimes hesitantly, but facing them nonetheless.
  5. My pride swelled as my self-worth diminished. I think this is one of those areas that’s hard to purposefully work on. Rather, as I begin to work on improving other areas of my life, this seems to be falling in line. Though pride still has a big pull, it’s not so much of an issue in this area.
  6. I met/connected with some great people. So while my views after posting were sky high, the actual feedback I received from this was minimal. Of course that induced a pretty potent panic but God constantly reminded me that the post was to release me from this secrecy, not to gain popularity or criticism. However, as time has gone on, there have been a few people who’ve confided and/or encouraged me in my decision to air it all out. These relationships have totally surpassed the (in my opinion) boring stages of slowly getting to know each other and have gone straight to the heart of who we are. Let me tell you, I am FAR from the only person that struggles/has struggled with this… specifically speaking of women.  It doesn’t all manifest the same way, but we struggle with understanding how to handle our sexuality in a way that’s glorifying to God. There have also been very many men who’ve confessed how much they underestimated the similarities men and women have in our struggles.
  7. I met/connected with some… um people who really need God to some into their life like he did mine. I was surprised that I didn’t receive any criticism, but unfortunately I did come into contact with people who desperately need the victory I have. Not everyone who read the post saw pain, shame and self-abuse eating my alive. Some saw an opportunity to (try to) prey on weakness. First and foremost, let me be very clear: having a weakness does NOT make a person weak. I’ve learned much about testing the waters and understanding that not everyone has your best at heart. I was upset and hurt initially, but honestly, I do feel sympathetic for those who think I’m living in some 50 Shades of Gray world where I’m just waiting for someone to ‘set me free’. NO, when I was struggling with sexual impurity, I was not empowered. I was not ’embracing who I really am’. I was not ‘freeing myself’. This, where I am now, is free. If you’re attracted to weakness, not transparency and vulnerability, but the weakness that damages confidence, relationships, and intimacy, then there is something in you that you are not free from…

So I’ll leave it at this, victory is not a one time deal. There’s still conflict here, but now I’m on the winning side. I don’t ever regret my decision, not even once. However, the effect that my sin has had on my mind and my perspective will take a lot of work, a lot of grace, a lot of discipline, and a lot of faith, a lot of God.

It never gets easier to share this part of my life, but the conviction gets stronger every time and it eclipses the fear of rejection, shame, and ridicule that may come my way.

A few corners

Oh, that sweet seemingly unattainable thing called ‘balance’

Blessed to carry so much, but burdened with tipping the scales

Not the well-rounded person; all arcs and no corners

Every surface smooth and welcoming, pleasently ending where it started

Finding the ‘happy’ medium between fierce and meek

The place where ‘unique’ and ‘familiar’ harmonize

The tension is there, but the retention is not

Something’s always shaking, moving, shifting

No such calibration, so good luck with equilibrium

Senseless shuffling to create stability and symmetry

Merciless pursuit of a faulty fantasy

But I’m mostly arcs with a few corners, smooth and angled

Reality Sets

Despite today’s smiles and laughter, yesterday’s tears and heartbreak will not be forgotten

To try to force them out only buries them deeper

To try to forget and discredit them will only disguise and solidify them

To have a sob story or two is no defeat, to have nothing but fulfilled wishes is no victory

All my “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be” brought me to “But this is how it is”

All my “I thought it was supposed to be better” brought me to “This is actually pretty good”

The “I’m so lonely” is now followed by “But I know I’m not alone”

The tragedy only ushered in the reality

When you can accept what’s real you’re not paralyzed by the broken promises that were never made

You can dream as long as you keep in mind that you have to wake up

Solidified in Solitude

There’s power in unity, in community, but surely there are places you can only get to on your own.

The times that are for you and you alone to step forward, to step up, to step down, to step in.

Where the certainty doesn’t quite match up to the calling, but the determination overpowers the doubt.

When “This isn’t going to work” is the smart answer, but not the right one.

You’ve decided to enter in alone, but you’re not going in blind.

If you’ve never gone anywhere solo, you’ve never been anywhere at all

Sometimes in kneeling, you look around and you only see critics

But the real anxiety kicks when in looking, you see no one at all

Not even a heckler made the trek…

But the awareness that alienation is only a vehicle, not the objective keeps you from bailing

Just beyond your line of vision are others who are being prompted to move when all else is still

You begin to realize it’s just a fog and that there are objects closer than they appear

That in seclusion, there can be solitude just as much as there can be isolation

There are some places you can only get to alone

The best thing that can happen realization and comfort in knowing that you were never really alone at all

Cadence

Curl up real tight with the pleasant truths of the day

Grab a handful of the bold words you wish to say

Taste the sounds in shallow patterns of youthful thought

Play a song on the plans you made with the dreams you bought

Sail away on the beach of preparation that will surely heal your wounds

Recite your memories that you’ve elaborately dressed in costumes

Extinguish the lesson that taught to you to journey well

Close your eyes to our hands and the stories they tell

Follow the leaves and they’ll lead you to pure gold

Breach it with lock and key to watch your past unfold

You see, none of these things make any bit of sense

But everything sounds beautiful with just a touch of cadence

The same with unsuspecting life in its everyday living

The fascination is not in our perceiving but in our giving

Again: Why I will not be with a non-Christian

This will have been the 3rd time I’ve posted this blog (with alterations of course) and with every post it’s become abundantly clearer why I feel the things I do. That being said, I’ve learned so much in the 3 (almost 4 years of the initial post). The first being very honest and sincere but without a lot of life to back it up, the second having a little more experience to add some conviction, and this one compounded with more wisdom that makes any other reality even hard to imagine. Another round:

One of these days I’m going to bind myself with another person and like most people I had a list… you know what I’m talking about.  Since initial conception that list has evolved (Darwin-style: only the strong survive). The list has gotten shorter but the principle has become unshakable.

Numero uno on my list of ‘has to be’ is a Christian follower of Christ.  Not a person who simply believes in God, not a person who just goes to church every Sunday, not a person who owns a Bible, but doesn’t read it.  But a person who is trying to follow God and has surrendered their life to Christ. It sounds very old-fashioned and restrictive if you don’t understand my reasoning behind it so (again) I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain my (and maybe a lot of others’) reasons as to why I have no problem being friends with people who do not follow Christ, but will not pursue a relationship with a person who doesn’t.

From my own walk, I have a better understanding of how messy that can look. Following Christ often appears less inviting than a life that’s not, but somewhere in that mess is a man that’s priceless to God and now, to me.

  1. My faith is not a religion or set of rules to me.It is the way I live and how I operate. With every day that passes the goal is to make it my only the motivation in anything and everything I do. Two people can commit to different ways of living and beliefs without ever offending or disrupting the other’s faith in friendship.  (This is why I like having friends who think differently as well as family in the faith.  We don’t learn if we all think the same. God has not called us to live in a Christian bubble.) But in the two-become-one kind of relationship, that’s not an option.
  2. I will not date someone I don’t intend to marry. I know that you never really know whether or not a person is a good match until you date them blah, blah, blah. There’s some truth to that, but very little. There are many guys I liked-liked (middle school throwback) and didn’t have to date them to know that they are not my husband… even when I was in like with them, I knew it was a dead-end. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ll never talk to a guy and be friends in some capacity, but we aren’t going to date.  I got this advice from a high school teacher when I was 16 and it sounded so dumb at the time (so dumb), but now I understand. I’ve never been ‘casual’ about much of anything anyway. I have an ‘all or nothing’ mentality and understanding that about myself is enough to make me hella cautious about commitments. We develop deeper feelings than we gambled on when you open yourself up to a relationship of any kind, especially at this stage of life as compared to high school.
  3. When we commit to a relationship we are two separate people creating one relationship. All relationships are founded on something (complementary personalities, likes, dislikes, routine, lifestyle).  If we’re both bringing our foundation rooted in God together, we’re combining and multiplying.  If we’re trying to combine two mismatched foundations, we’re subtracting and dividing. Compromise is healthy in a relationship depending on what is being compromised. The behaviors, likes, dislikes, etc can be compromised without requiring one to abandon who they are. But compromising anything that God’s put in my heart is on the ‘not gonna do’ list and it would be unfair of me to want my potential mate to do something I’m not willing to do myself.
  4. As a couple who has vowed to spend the rest of our lives together, being his #1 supporter is high up on the responsibility list and I’m looking forward to it. I want him to complement me in my walk with God and I want to do the same for him. A marriage of tolerance is the best we could hope for if we’re heading different directions and that’s not good enough for me nor is it an unrealistic desire.  For us to agree on the critical things that will surely come up, we’ll have to have the same desires, same goals. Mine are from God, deeply rooted in there. If he has no relationship with God, how is it possible that he’d have the same?  When things get difficult, I want it to be us vs. everything else, not me vs. him. We’ll both be consulting the same source (God) and although our methods of handling the situation may be different, our end goal will be the same. A husband who doesn’t commit to the same things may support my earnestness in seeking God, but unless he’s walking the walk himself, he can do nothing more than say “go get ‘em”. I want to be able to fully put my support him but the same holds true for me. We’re teammates and in order to be effective, we have to be playing the same game.
  5. Humans were created to worship something. We worship work, money, fame, talent, fantasies, etc. I don’t want to be worshiped (seriously, no) because I’ll only disappoint him as I’ve disappointed myself in doing the same. However, I also don’t want to be second best to any of these material worldly things either.  I’m not gonna lie, I love attention and I will not spend my life trying to compete with his other idols.  The ONLY thing I will happily and respectfully step down to in my boyfriend’s/spouse’s worship is God.  Since I also love and worship God, I personally know this God my husband is devoting his life to.  I know for a fact that our God will guide him and teach him how to love me.
  6. Last but not least,I will not date a non-Christian because I’m crazy.  Seriously, I’m amazed at how complicated my mind is. Sometimes I look to God and just ask him, not out of self-loathing or self-pity but stupefaction, “Why?” What were you trying to get done when you put the puzzle that is me together? If a guy doesn’t have the patience and love of God and the patience and the gentleness of God and the PATIENCE and wisdom of God in him, I wouldn’t even ask him to go through the trouble of trying to handle me. I’m a handful to say the least and human hands will be crushed under the weight of Simone if they are not held up by an almighty God.

It’s a tall order for anyone, which is why I would never ask anyone who hasn’t been led by God, to do any of those things.  So, my reasons for not dating non-Christians, have absolutely nothing to do with separation or dissociation.  I simply know the big picture of what will and will not work in the future. I’ll let God handle the details of personality, timing and what not, but we both deserve a good shot at a realistically healthy and enjoyable relationship.  If we’re going to have that, the Christian (me) and the non-Christian (him, whoever he may be) must realize that it’s not with each other.

Weighted and Weightless

As a leader sometimes my role is infected with desire for power

As a Christian sometimes my sight is clouded with self-righteousness

As a woman sometimes my femininity contaminated with cattiness

As a worker sometimes my ethic is muddied with entitlement

As a friend sometimes my relationships are polluted with selfishness

As a human sometimes my behavior is tainted with imperfection